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The Leopard At Des Artistes: A NYC Restaurant Destination

The decorative masterpieces- Howard Chandler Christy murals-restored.

Relaxed elegance - bright with matte white walls and gleaming  blond wooden panels, 'simple' refined  cloth linen, shiny  china,-both white and solid cutlery-plus the professional caring, well-paced service equivalent to the interior plush environment.
For many - natives and visitors to New York, the landmark Hotel Des Artistes ground floor restaurant-Café Des Artistes-was THE pre Lincoln Center destination... for a meal with the grown-ups-and later on, a cocktail with friends.
And that was pretty much it -as far as late 20th century visits go.

What took us so long to re-experience- this iconic space- now the Leopard at des Artistes with a revived decor-post a painstaking nine month renovation-and its tasteful menu of classic and modern southern Italian culinary staples -overseen by restaurant veterans (Paula Bolla-Sorrentino and Gianfranco Sorrentino and acclaimed Executive Chef Vito Gnazzo)- well, we have no idea.

But we can positively check-off a 21st century YES- for the five star experience-this accessibly luxurious restaurant and glamorous bar  - delivers now, for all five senses.

Culinary highlights from the seasonal à la carte menu- abound-not surprisingly-given the carefully sourced,  high quality ingredients -allowed to command center stage-   a balance of the 'gourmet'  and 'simple' rusticity of southern Italian (Kingdom of the Two Sicilies) cuisine.
A welcome flute of crisp Prosecco

Amuse-bouché fried Sicilian rice balls aka best bar food staple- to start all meals inspired by..learning how to cook from our grandmothers preparing the family meals...

Antipasti (appetizer) selections include this Leopard specialty-a generous serving- of succulent grilled octopus with heart of escarole, celery, Castelvetrano olives, and pickled onions in a light olive oil-lemon dressing-with a twist of fresh pepper. $19

Healthy options abound-appetizers included-pictured-oven roasted beets, and tomato- with fresh robiola cheese and baby kale-extra virgin olive oil and lemon dressing-finely orchestrated balance of tart, crisp and creamy soft ripened richness. $17
We could eat this daily-if only-smoked tuna carpaccio over tender fennel and  frisée salad with tangy citrus accents $20
Even carb phobes should embrace pasta or risotto (Primi)  done well courtesy of the premium basics of authentic Italian wheat/grains. A popular option-the Sicilian specialty Strozzapreti of toasted ancient grains with white ragout of octopus and Gaeta olives $24 or delicious chewy Busiate Trapanesi with shellfish ragout and cherry tomatoes $26 (pictured). A meal in and of itself-our portion ended up being split and taken home for 2 lunches- the next day.
Secondi main courses include the hearty (Veal Chop alla Milanese + organic arugula salad, dried cherry tomatoes and pearl onions $54), a glam version of an American  staple -all natural beef burger topped with smoked mozzarella on artisanal bread and rosemary french fries ( $27) and more healthy heart fare of perfectly cooked fresh fresh FRESH seafood. Transporting- the delicious- professionally prepared table service...of the special Branzino fish ( Mediterranean seabass)...served with sautéed escarole and juicy lemon.


and plated

Lightly breaded grilled swordfish-tender-with southern Italian staple-a fragrant salmoriglio sauce-chopped fresh garlic, lemon, chopped oregano and parsley, salt/pepper--paired with sautéed broccoli rabe. 
a bread basket-crisp buttery breadsticks-and chewy breads for sauce sopping up

A fabulous wine by the glass opportunity(!!!) -sparkling, red or white- allows for varied options from small Italian producers personally known by the Leopard at Des Artistes proprietors. Wine pairings-are available with the prix fixe 3 course menu-or be smart and defer to suggestions by the well trained staff. We experienced a balance of whites-from  acrisp  full mineral-fruity surprise-a rather sophisticated Pinot Grigio 2016 Merol ($14)-to buttery-oaky chardonnay style of the Pecorino 2015 Ciavolich ($16) Full and half bottles, fancy and classic cocktails, post meal spirits-and Italian beers-all available on a  complete drinks menu.
Our fav-a worthy by the glass option-spicy-somewhat dry smokey Trebbiano d'Abruzzo "Altare" 2013 Marramiero $19 WOW.

A finale-of Chef Temptations...include several mouth-watering choices...from an indulgent Italian style beignet - Bigné with sweet hazelnut creme in a wild berry sauce...and  a 'less guilty' assortment of fresh seasonal berries. $15
Artisanal homemade gelato-these words do not do justice to how creamy rich delicious this dessert is- the authentic flavors of hazelnut, deep chocolate and fresh vanilla shine through. AND rivals its equivalent from Rome.  Added plus-after dinner coffee that was so good-trust us -we are beyond picky-no needed cream or sugar, necessary.
Feel free to dress-up or wear jeans to partake of a meal well-served...appreciative fellow diners ranged from casually attired regulars, after work professionals, hand holding 20 something couples (romantic date alert), and pre-theater groups.

Special brunch menus, a BYOB Sunday night supper 5-10 pm, private events and off-premise services available.
1 West 67th Street/NYC 10023