Gotham Restaurant: Quintessential New York Dining Is Back

Food & Drink

This month, Gotham Restaurant (formerly Gotham Bar and Grill) began welcoming guests for Saturday lunch and Sunday brunch for the first time since reopening in November 2021.

This elegant dining spot, a perennial New York City favorite, closed its doors during the throes of the pandemic in March 2020, with its future uncertain at best.

But the iconic dining room—a foodie mecca in the West Village for some 36 years—has triumphantly rebounded with a change of name, new ownership, updated menu, and reimagined space.

“New Gotham” cuisine

Executive Chef Ron Paprocki (the former pastry chef at Gotham Bar and Grill) now helms the kitchen.

“Everything on the menu at Gotham Restaurant is original other than Ron’s Apple Tarte Tatin, which we feature every fall and winter,” says Bret Csencsitz (co-owner of the new restaurant, along with environmentalist Kevin Conrad) in an interview.

Notably, both Csencsitz and Paprocki are part of the original Gotham DNA. Csencsitz had been a member of the original team since 2007 and a managing partner. He previously worked with Chef Daniel Boulud at both Restaurant Daniel and Cafe Boulud.

The new menu emphasizes fresh, high-quality, sustainable ingredients that vary with the season. Dishes are not only flavorful but also artistically plated.

“We concentrate on vegetables and seafood in spring and move into heartier dishes, like steak or lamb, in the fall and winter,” says Csencsitz.

“A few of our specials are reminiscent of old favorites,” he adds. “For example, we have had a long-standing relationship with Niman Ranch and often feature their dry-aged steaks. And Chef Paprocki’s ever-popular flourless chocolate cake also makes an appearance from time to time as a dessert option.”

One guest favorite on the summer menu is the classic Panzanella Salad prepared with heirloom tomatoes from Heermance Farms in upstate New York, a medley of fresh flavors and textures.

Refreshed decor at Gotham Restaurant

With high ceilings and abundant light, the multi-level dining room and bar at 12 W. 12th Street has always felt intimate yet spacious.

Over the years, however, the space began to look a bit tired and dated. So the new owners embarked on contemporizing the room to make it feel fresh and more relaxed.

James Biber of Biber Architects, the same architect who worked on the original Gotham design, was called in to oversee the redesign.

In a delightful ode posted online, entitled Hello Gotham (goodbye ‘Bar & Grill’), Biber writes:

“If someone was going to (…) uck up Gotham it really should be me.

I could ‘preserve and protect’ the essential design and invent some new interpretations in keeping with the original intent.

…it had to feel as good as people’s memory of the Gotham, and it had to look as though it had been merely re-tailored, cut a bit differently of the same cloth.

Biber has achieved that goal without mucking it up. Gotham Restaurant looks new but feels familiar and conveys the same mix of sophistication and New York moxie as its predecessor.

One of the most obvious changes: The very memorable, billowy, fabric-covered chandeliers (dubbed “light clouds”) that lowered the ceiling have been replaced with more modern, oversized (20-foot-long) swaths of fabric “sails” created by David Weeks of David Weeks Studio lighting.

Upon entering the restaurant, guests step into a new lounge area. Bibliophiles will enjoy sitting in the welcoming corner nook with shelves lined with books. The long staid banquette seating has been replaced with more inviting custom sofas. Freshly painted walls are lined with a vibrant modern art collection.

The bar—sporting a new stone top—is still a favorite spot for casual dining for many regulars and first-timers. It may be the creativity of the craft cocktails, like the Black Forest Martini (made with Great Jones Bourbon from the city’s newest distillery) or the Flipside (made with Casa del Sol tequila and Chareau Aloe Liqueur, or the engaging personality of the bartender/mixologist, Billy Steele, that keeps them glued to the bar seats.

“Teeming” with hospitality

Csencsitz has poured his heart and soul into Gotham Restaurant, breathing a second life into this revered institution. His wife Cassandra has been at his side, helping with decision-making, marketing, and anything else that needs to be done.

Many New York City restaurants experienced massive staff turnover as a result of the pandemic, and with its closure so did Gotham. But Csencsitz’s vision, and management and people skills have enabled him to rebuild and train a committed team that maintains the same flawless standards that diners have come to expect.

Summer at Gotham Restaurant

Through Labor Day, Gotham Restaurant will be offering its new weekend menus.

“By launching weekend lunch and brunch our goal is to honor New Yorkers who stay in the city on weekends as well as tourists returning to NYC,” Csencsitz wrote in a press release announcing the new menus.

In addition, Gotham Restaurant will be participating in the extended NYC Restaurant Week, which takes place this year from July 24 to August 20th, 2023. Week. The restaurant will be offering three-course lunches at $45 and three-course dinners at $60.

See menus on the Gotham Restaurant website and make reservations on OpenTable.

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