Many of the city’s most popular restaurants have reopened for indoor dining at 50 percent capacity, but the magic has yet to reach some wonderful and/or iconic places that remain depressingly dark inside and out.
Certain famed eateries say they can’t afford to open until full capacity is restored — which could be a long time coming, given Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s slow pace of reopening. There’s an 11 p.m. restaurant curfew — it pushes back to midnight on Monday — and a rule against serving drinks at the bar.
Some await the return of neighborhood crowds while others are caught up in landlord and legal issues. The gnawing absence of so many beloved destinations leaves a gaping hole in the otherwise increasingly buoyant dining scene.
None of the restaurants we look at here has given up its lease, so we can hope they’ll be back one day soon. Here’s what their owners and representatives have to say.
The elegant, landmark Italian fine-dining temple anchored what’s now called Restaurant Row between Eighth and Ninth avenues for more than 100 years. It pioneered Piedmontese cuisine in New York. Its glamorous setting spread throughout four linked townhouses has drawn romantics throughout its illustrious history. A 175-year-old chandelier presides over the 100-seat main dining room that’s decorated like an 18th-century palazzo. But its fate is unknown. Laura Maioglio, who’s owned it for about 60 years, is said to be weighing options for its future. She could not be reached.
Barbetta, 321 W. 46th St.
The Upper East Side’s luxe haunt for power players, celebs and socialites has been closed as the Surrey Hotel’s new owners, British real-estate moguls Simon and David Reuben, finalize their future plans for the property. Chef Daniel Boulud tells The Post that he has only a year and a half left on the lease. He said that he and the Reubens “have to decide” on whether to renew it, but, “Our plan is to reopen Café Boulud with them, either in the same place or in a different location” owned by the brothers nearby. “If we move, it will be in the same area, very close” to where the Café has been for nearly 30 years, Boulud said.
Café Boulud, 20 E. 76th St.
Owner Stephen Starr plans to reopen his eatery empire’s culinary crown jewel in the Howard Hotel at the end of August. He earlier said it would have to wait until 100 percent capacity is allowed due to its high food and operating costs, but notes there’s now “a plan to be viable at 50 percent” if the rules don’t change by then. So chef Daniel Rose’s contemporized French classics like quenelle de brochet and tout le lapin (“all of the rabbit” including ears) — and the dining room’s high-ceilinged, whitewashed-brick and chandeliered splendor — seem once again within reach.
Le Coucou, 138 Lafayette St.
The classic Wall Street-area steakhouse, a New York institution at the same triangle-shaped corner since 1837, was another victim both of the pandemic and a power struggle. Brothers Ferdo and Omer Grgurev recently won control over two other partners in a court battle and just announced on their website that they’ll reopen in the fall “with a timeless and refreshed dining experience.” Let’s hope they don’t mess with the signature Delmonico’s steak (boneless rib-eye) or with the chandeliered, art-drenched dining rooms — they’re as resplendent as any historic venues in town.
Delmonico’s, 56 Beaver St.
The stunning, Philip Johnson-designed landmark space that was originally the Bar Room of the Four Seasons — where the “power lunch” was invented — won’t reopen until it can serve at 100 percent capacity, Major Food Group owner Jeff Zalaznick said. The same’s true for his company’s the Lobster Club in the same building and Santina at the foot of the High Line, a rep said.
The Grill, 99 E. 52nd St.
There’s no word on when Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group will revive the contemporary American restaurant with formal and casual dining rooms. It’s puzzling because the Museum of Modern Art, where it’s located, reopened to visitors months ago. Reps didn’t get back to us.
The Modern, 9 W. 53rd St.
Ralph Lauren’s gorgeous underground American restaurant, a haunt of power brokers, showbiz stars and supermodels, remains closed “as the team works through the plan and timing for reopening for dinner,” its rep said. So fans of its signature Ralph’s corned beef sandwich will wait a little longer. It’s currently open only for small private events in the ground-level Club Room.
Polo Bar, 1 E. 55th St.
You won’t learn a thing from its irresponsibly out-of-date website and useless phone line (where a recording incorrectly says they’re open). But we’re told the nostalgically decorated setting festooned with show business caricatures, which hosted hundreds of Broadway opening-night parties across from Shubert Alley, won’t reopen its doors until the theaters come back, likely in September.
Sardi’s, 234 W. 44th St.
Shun Lee Palace
Midtown’s last surviving “luxury” Chinese restaurant of the 1970s-1990s era, a premiere celebration venue for families, lovebirds and business deals, offers only limited-hours takeout and delivery. It’s no substitute for the comforting embrace of the Adam Tihany-designed dining rooms. The good news: A manager said it plans to reopen “around September.” Meanwhile, its younger sister restaurant, Shun Lee West with the endless gold dragon, has happily reopened indoors at 43 W. 65th St.
Shun Lee Palace, 155 E. 55th St.
Owner Shelly Fireman was hurt more than any other restaurateur by entertainment-venue closures. Most of his places are near Broadway theaters and Carnegie Hall. Multi-level jumbo Trattoria, marked by the giant nose out front, was a favorite Midtown Italian spot for more than 35 years. But it’s totally dark (no outdoor seating because the sidewalk isn’t big enough). Fireman first told us he wasn’t sure when he’d reopen Trattoria – then that he wouldn’t do it “until May 30.” The clearer news is that he plans to reopen next-door Redeye Grill (890 Seventh Ave. at 56th Street) around May 1 and Bond 45 (221 W. 46th St. in the Edison Hotel) by May 15.
Trattoria Dell’Arte, 900 Seventh Ave. (between 56th and 57th streets)
The fate of the fabled Big Apple institution is the biggest reopening riddle. Owner LVMH announced in December that it was closing the beloved ‘21’ for good “in its current form.” It booted the staff and removed 35 iconic jockey statues from the stoop and railings. At the time, LVMH hinted at an eventual reboot to achieve a “distinctive role in the city’s future.” This week, LVMH subsidiary Belmond told The Post, via a spokesperson, “The company is exploring potential opportunities that will allow 21 Club to remain a viable operation in the long term while retaining its distinctive character. We are not ready to announce any final concept or timeframe.”
21 Club, 21 W. 52nd St.