South America meets the Iberian Peninsula at Bohemia Restaurant, where meals of tapas and wine fuse Latin and European influences. Vivid yellow and red walls surround guests as they dine on ceviche flavored with a Peruvian red-pepper sauce, empanadas, or skirt steak with chimichurri sauce. Bartenders concoct sangria, mojitos, and caipirinhas, only adding to diners' confusion that they might actually be on the coast of Spain. Bohemia also offers wine by the glass or the bottle, with the list featuring different varietals such as garnacha, rioja, and cava.
In 2011, the Michelin Guide recommended Vareli for its upscale and creative Mediterranean fare, crafted by chef and Gramercy Tavern veteran Amitzur Mor. Chef Mor uses sustainable and organic ingredients whenever possible to inform Vareli’s ever-shifting local menu, which has featured such rich meats as Hudson-Valley duck and Pennsylvania lamb. Resident sommelier Richard Bill draws from his experience at Beacon and Ouest to complement each succulent entree with a wine list of 20 wines by the glass and 100 wines by the bottle. From Thursday to Saturday, Vareli’s kitchens remain open until 2 a.m., so patrons can sip vino and draft beer or rouse sleepwalking roommates with wafts from cheese and charcuterie boards late into the night.
On the ground floor of Vareli, a polished copper bar runs for 20 feet below a rustic arched ceiling, as wide stools belly up to the bar and to barrel-shaped plates. In the upstairs dining room, wide windows look out on treetops and burnished walls support velvety banquettes and lantern sconces. During the summer, couples close in on an intimate outdoor patio for fresh air from nearby Central Park, while colder days invite diners to gather around a cracking fireplace that the New York Times lauds for creating a cozy atmosphere.
Reeling in boatloads of fresh seafood, the culinary captains at Questan’s quench appetites with organic ingredient-infused dishes and outstanding service. The lunch menu bears the precious midday cargo of a succulent grand marner jumbo shrimp appetizer ($15) and the lobster-salad sandwich served with homemade fries, beefsteak tomatoes, and avocado ($19). Dinner portions transform tumultuous seas of hunger into languid Lake Placids with a half-dozen oysters ($9) and organic beet salads featuring toasted pistachios, goat cheese, and poorly table mannered wild arugula ($9). Dunk a ladle deep into the hearty seafood chowder ($7) before stabbing your fork wildly into one of Questan’s entrees, including crab-stuffed jumbo shrimp scampi in sweet garlic and butter sauces ($28). The fisherman’s platter boasts a bounty of broiled, grilled, or fried fish, shrimp, lobster tails, scallops, and calamari served inside a pair of topsiders ($36).
Chef and owner Maurice Gallo brings more than 30 years of experience to Carnevale Ristorante, where dishes flourish with classic flavors culled from the gustatory traditions of both northern and southern Italy. Glass art and décor inspired by the colorful Carnival of Venice surround white tablecloths that cover the tables under which hide the best hide-and-go-seek players from Florence. Local New Jersey wines join customer-toted libations in the BYOB eatery, where live music sprinkles freshly harvested, mellifluous notes onto forks every weekend. Gourmet dishes, such as veal in cognac sauce and truffle-oil-drizzled mushrooms and brie, team up with gluten-free and whole-wheat pasta options to please even persnickety palates.
Founded more than 25 years ago, The Original SoupMan has earned a reputation for hearty deli offerings and delicious gourmet soups cooked in small batches with fresh ingredients. Though soups change daily, slurpers are guaranteed a seafood, vegetarian, spicy chili, and clear-broth variety to lubricate squeaky windpipes. Sample a tasty vessel filled with 100% North Atlantic lobster bisque ($5.99 cup, $7.99 bowl), or properly attire tongues for seasonal flavors such as Italian sausage, chicken chili, and Cuban black bean. The Original SoupMan also proffers toasted sandwiches, such as the Penn Station, extra lean corned beef, pastrami and melted Swiss cheese topped with coleslaw and Russian dressing ($6.99). A selection of salads comes in signature ($6.99) or side portions ($2.99), and the create-your-own-salad option provides a three-topping palette to artistic types ($5.99). Larger soup keepsakes are available in quarts for at-home consumption or bathtub goulash fights ($24). For those soupsters who follow his strict rules, The Original SoupMan supplies a reward of bread, a piece of chocolate, and a sudden desire to watch Murphy Brown.
Though still a young man, William Degel can trace his life story all the way back to Prohibition. In the early 1930s, his godfather owned Jack's, a Manhattan steakhouse and speakeasy frequented by movie stars and politicos. Stories of the restaurant's notoriety inspired William's own career path: he leveraged an early job as a bartender into the purchase of a rundown Queens saloon, which eventually gave him the opportunity to open Uncle Jack's Steakhouse. This fine-dining establishment was styled after the original Jack's, with Victorian touches such as pressed-copper ceilings, a hand-carved mahogany bar, and faeries only visible to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Now expanded to three New York locations, Uncle Jack's has proved so popular that William was selected to host Restaurant Stakeout, a Food Network program on which he helps struggling restaurateurs save their businesses. William often credits his success to a focus on quality, a trait noticeable after one glance at the menu. He handpicks all of the beef from cattle that are grown to the steakhouse's exact specifications on Nebraska ranches. The USDA Prime cuts are aged onsite up to 35 days, then cooked in 1800-degree infrared boilers that seal the meat's juices inside a perfectly charred exterior.
As with his godfather's place, William's restaurants cater to the city's elite. Athletes, actors, and local celebrities are often seen seated around Uncle Jack's tables, which isn't surprising considering the richly appointed dining rooms, paparazzi-repelling forcefields, and extravagant perks programs the restaurant provides. Birthday and anniversary reservations are rewarded with a bottle of Taittinger on the house, and the Lifestyle Rewards program lets members cash in their points for Rolex watches, Vegas vacations, and even a Porsche 911.