April 30, 2019 LIFESTYLE

Traveling On Your Stomach In New York

Jeffrey Allen

They say an army travels on its stomach. While I don’t dispute that, I also recognize that: (1) food becomes an issue for all travelers; and (2) when you travel to New York, you can do better than army rations

As the SLD will travel to New York in May for its Spring Meeting, the editors have asked me to prepare a short list of restaurant recommendations. I will (with two exceptions) limit the recommendations to the Times Square area (walking distance from the Marriott Marquis).

Since my wife and I have travelled to New York annually for many years because of our interest in seeing Broadway shows, we have had many opportunities to sample the cuisine at restaurants in the area. The following represent some of our regulars in no particular order:

  1. Molyvos: An excellent Greek restaurant at 871 7th Avenue (between 56th and 57th Streets). You can see the complete menu on line at https://www.molyvos.com/menus/. We think Molyvos has pretty reasonable pricing (particularly for New York); and the food is quite good. We particularly like the lamb dishes (lamb shank Yuvetsi and moussaka). We also like the calamari and grilled octopus for appetizers. The restaurant stays open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. You should probably make reservations and can easily do so using Open Table (www.opentable.com or use the App).
  2. Bond 45: One of the many Italian restaurants in the area. Although the name sounds more like a perfume than a restaurant, the food is delightful. The restaurant used to reside on 45th Avenue (from which it got its name.) It recently completed a relocation to 221 W. 46th Street. You can use Open Table to reserve a table. You can check out the menu at https://www.bond45ny.com/menus/. Bond 45 cooks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We particularly like the pasta and the veal parmigiana; but they have an excellent antipasto bar, and we have, on occasion, made a meal out of an assortment of the antipasto dishes. We have not found an antipasto dish in their bar that we did not enjoy, but we particularly like the eggplant parmesan, the butternut squash lasagna, and the grilled red and yellow peppers.
  3. Brooklyn Diner: The same folks that own and operate Bond 45 also own and operate the Brooklyn Diner. You will find two Brooklyn Diners in the Times Square area, one at 155 W. 43rd Street and the other at 212 West 57th Street. We have found the food to be comparable at both restaurants, but prefer the smaller one on 57th Street as, due to its location, it is generally less crowded. The cuisine is American (what I would call comfort food) and the ambiance comes direct from a 1950’s style diner. The Brooklyn Diner serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Note that the menus differ between the two restaurants (although they do substantially overlap). You can check out the menus for both restaurants at https://www.brooklyndiner.com. You can make reservations directly online or using Open Table. The Brooklyn Diner is extremely reasonably priced. We have tried many of their sandwiches as well as a number of their other meals. We particularly liked the matzoh ball soup, the chicken pot pie (note that this is a specialty and they sometimes sell out later in the evening), the smoked salmon bagel tower, and if you go there for breakfast (and you can handle the carbs), the Tony Bennett famous thick-cut cinnamon-raison and pecan French toast.
  4. Victor’s Cafe: You will find Victor’s at 236 W. 52nd Street. You can check out its menu at https://victorscafe.com/menu/. Victor’s, our favorite Cuban-style restaurant in the area, opens for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Very reasonably priced, our favorites include the Sandwich Cubano and the Ceviche de Pargo. If you want something a bit smaller, try the Cuban Quesadilla.
  5. Playwright Tavern and Restaurant: You will find the Playwright at 202 W. 49th Street. You can check out the menu at https://playwrighttavern.com/new-york-midtown-times-square-playwright-tavern-and-restaurant-food-menu. Very reasonably priced and open until the wee hours of the morning, in case you want to go after the theater. You might want to try the Shepherd’s Pie, the Chicken Pot Pie, or the Irish Lamb Stew.
  6. Sardi’s: Specializing in Italian cuisine, Sardi’s at 234 W. 44th Street, has been a mainstay in the theater district for many years. Back in the day you often found a substantial number of actors who would stop by for an after the show meal. Not so much anymore, but you still get the occasional actor, some otherwise famous people, a lot of tourists, and some excellent food. We particularly like the jumbo lump crab cakes. You do not want to miss the cannelloni au gratin either with beef and pork (our favorite) or with spinach and ricotta filling. They serve the cannelloni in an appetizer portion or as a main course. If you want dessert, Sardi’s always have a good selection. Our first choice, the tiramisu cake with espresso vanilla sauce, is hard to beat, but we also like the bittersweet chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis and the warm chocolate cake with melted center, chocolate ice cream, crème Anglaise, and dots of chocolate sauce. You can check out the menu at http://sardis.com/htmldocs/cms/menu.htm. Sardis stays open fairly late, so you can go there for an after-theater desert and coffee (or another libation).
  7. Barbetta: Located at 321 W. 46th Street, Barbetta specializes in Northern Italian cuisine. Great old-style elegance provides a special ambiance. Barbetta celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2006. It is the oldest Italian restaurant in New York and the oldest restaurant that remains owned by the founding family. It is the only restaurant in the United States designated as an historic establishment by the Locali Sorici d’Italia. The décor reminds us of some of the older and nicer European restaurants in which we have dined. The food is quite good. We are partial to their seafood and their risotto, (particularly the risotto alla Piemontese with wild Porcini mushrooms and the risotto al Cambozolo. We also liked the several pastas we tried (gnocchetti ai formaggi Piemontesa, Linguine al Pesto (Genova style) and the tagliarini in tomato sauce). You can make reservations through Open Table.
  8. Bourbon Street Bar and Grill: Not a great restaurant, but a very decent one. Very informal. Reasonable prices and a taste of New Orleans in the heart of Manhattan. Located at 346 W. 46th Street. You can make reservations through Open Table. We particularly liked the red beans and rice, the chicken and andouille gumbo, and the Cajun jambalaya. You can check out the menu at https://menupages.com/bourbon-street-bar-grille/346-w-46th-st-frnt-1-new-york#about.
  9.  Katz’s Deli: All the traditional Jewish delis in the Times Square area have gone the way of the dinosaur. So, what’s a traveler to do when Jonesing for a hot pastrami sandwich and a Doc Brown’s soda in Manhattan? Never fear, we have an answer for you. Hop on a subway or take a cab (or an Uber) for a relatively short ride to the Lower East Side. Stop at 205 Houston Street for a no-frills ambiance, real Jewish deli experience. They have a pretty varied menu, but that has never phased us. We hold out for the hot pastrami every time we go there! It is as good as pastrami gets. A word of advice, bring a friend to share the sandwich unless you can consume gargantuan quantities of food. Don’t worry if you get hooked on their food; they deliver all over the country now thanks to the wonders of modern packing and shipping. You can see their entire menu at https://www.katzsdelicatessen.com/menu_and_local-delivery.
  10. Jean-Georges: Jean-George (named for its originator, Chef Jean-George Vongerichten) sits above Times Square at 1 Central Park West in Trump Hotel. The restaurant is not too far from Times Square, but it is a healthy walk from the Marriott. You might want to take a cab or an Uber if you go there. A word of warning: when we ate there last, the food was excellent; since we last ate there the Michelin people dropped the restaurant from three stars to only two, but two is still pretty good. The last time I looked, Forbes still had it at five stars. The restaurant specializes in top end French cuisine, often prepared with a touch of an Asian influence. You can reserve a table through Open Table. Jean George requires that men wear a jacket.  A meal at Jean-George does not come cheap--be prepared to spend in the range of $80-100 per person for lunch and upwards of $200 per person for dinner. The restaurant is generally considered one of the top French restaurants in the country. Lunch offers a better value, but the dinner experience was actually worth the cost for a special occasion. I have had several lunches there with friends and one dinner with my wife. All of the food we had was good, but I am partial to their duck. You can preview the menu at https://www.jean-georgesrestaurant.com/jean-georges/menus/dinner/.

That’s all for this column, folks, but certainly not for all of the good restaurants in New York. By the way, the area around Times Square has many food trucks on the streets. If you are in a hurry and want something quick to eat on the run, we have had some pretty tasty snacks from the food trucks, including hot dogs, soft pretzels, and falafel.


Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the Graves & Allen law firm in Oakland, California, where he has practiced since 1973. He is active in the ABA, the California State Bar Association, and the Alameda County Bar Association. He is a co-author of the ABA book Technology Tips for Seniors.