Location: 1 West 67th Street
Best Dish: We are torn between the “Gnudi” with its delectable buttery sauce and the Paccheri tender bits of pork and expertly prepared pasta. Both dishes were sublime. The Gnudi was smooth and buttery and the Paccherri hearty and comforting. We highly recommend adding both to your foodie bucket list.
Overall: The Leopard at des Artistes is an elegant space framed by a series of artful murals. Its aestetic appeal is evenly matched by it impeccable service and delicious menu. The venue is a grand space for your next special event, an important date night or a treat for your favorite foodie.
The Hotel Des Artistes was erected back in 1918. It was designed to give artists access to high ceilings and natural light. Its purpose was to foster limitless creativity and beauty. While there are artists that still call the co-op home, many venture to the address for a different reason. Artists such as Kevin Bacon, Steven Speilberg, and Howard Stern have ventured to the the beautifully charming restaurant for its ground floor bistro “The Leopard”. The eatery is named after a 1960’s film starring Burt Lancaster and features a menu of sumptuous Italian dishes. The decor is made up of rich wood tone furnishings and bright white table cloths framed by Howard Chandler Christy murals, a nod to its namesake. The atmosphere and dress code are casual but the opulent surroundings deserve a bit of effort, show up in your Sunday best, or at the very least something clean and pressed. This isn’t the local pizza place it is a fine dining establishment.
We approached the dining room on a Wednesday evening and found the dining room buzzing with happy diners. We were led to our seats at the upper level and perused the offerings. For an authentic experience, The Leopard at des Artistes offers a three-course Prix Fixe menu complete with an optional wine pairing provided by the house sommelier.
Dinner started with the “Gnudi” Buffalo ricotta gnocchi, in butter and Parmigiano Reggiano sauce, with sage and wild mushroom ragout. The buttery sauce was a succulent counterbalance to the dense gnocchi. The mushrooms are sweet and aromatic providing a unique flavor profile to the tasty appetizer.
At the sommelier’s suggestion, this dish was paired with an Il Bruciato Bolgheri. The fruity woody flavor intensified the flavor of the tender chanterelle mushrooms.
For a burst of freshness to clear our palate we also enjoyed a fresh leek salad with grilled octopus, fresh mozzarella, and grilled zucchini. The fresh salad revved up our appetites for the next course.
Our next dish was the Spaghetti Carbonara, it was recommended as one of the house favorites. The pasta is tossed with a light sauce of egg yolks, parmesan, and guanciale. Guanciale is an Italian cured meat similar to salami and made from the jowls of the pig. The cured meat added an intense flavor to the dish that gave us mixed feelings. We liked the tasty pasta and bits of pork but the flavor was in some bites too intense with notes of sour and salty.
Another crowd favorite is the duck breast. The plump duck is pan-seared with fennel pollen, cipollini with aged balsamic vinegar served with pickled raisins and vegetable caponata. The breast is tender, cooked perfectly the caponata is tasty and balanced with bursts of sweetness and savory vegetable flavor. The duck was paired with the Lentsch Klaus Pinot Nero Bachgart. The wine was intense and fruit forward with a subtle hint of vanilla.
Executive chef Vito Gnazzo’s most celebrated dishes is his Il Gattopardo paccheri pasta with “Genovese” sauce. The typical Genovese sauce is complex and time-consuming taking over eight hours to prepare. In our opinion, the time was time well spent. The entire dish is delicious. The pasta is superb and the sauce is rich and well seasoned. The soft chunks of pork simply melt in your mouth.
Three words that will get us drooling every time; Nutella, chocolate, mousse! The silky Nutella chocolate mousse is served on hazelnut crunch and topped with a creamy dollop of banana gelato.
The Leopard at des Artistes is an alluring eatery. Its exquisite murals and splendid setting provide the right backdrop for an amazing Italian meal. The staff provides exemplary service with a warm friendly attitude. At The Leopard at des Artistes food is done with respect to Southern Italian cultural traditions, absolute quality of ingredients, hospitality, and outstanding service is our formula, and life passion.
Dining times: DINNER, Mon – Sat, 5 – 11 PM; Sunday Dinner until 10 PM; BRUNCH, Sat and Sun, 11:30 AM – 3 PM. For more information on The Leopard at des Artistes, head over to theleopardnyc.com