Food & Drink
Be Our Guest
Can the talented team behind new downtown restaurant Guest New York turn an ill-fated street corner location into a hotspot worthy of a Michelin star? We’re betting they can.
Residents of Noho jokingly talk about the restaurant “curse” of Bleecker and Broadway, where no boîte, however well intentioned, seems to last more than a few months. But now, that may be changing with Guest New York, a spot which is welcoming, serene—and ambitious.
The menu is described as “chaos” (an idea popularized on The Bear), which is the latest variation on what used to be called fusion cooking. However, at Guest, it could be better described as taking full advantage of the best ingredients possible, whether it’s corn from a New Jersey farm stand or eggs shipped in from Arkansas. Wait, Arkansas?
“They’re the best in bulk,” explains Dan Fishman, a co-owner. To discover which ingredient is truly the best, Chef Giorgio Ceciarelli (also an owner, along with his brother Michael) makes, for example, the same tomato sauce using seven differently sourced tomatoes, which are then given to every employee in a blind taste test to vote on which one should make it to the menu. This goes a long way in explaining why the waitstaff is so effusive when asked for recommendations.
The panino di brasato is described on the menu as ribeye, caramelized onions, and fonduta, which doesn’t come close to describing what it is, which is delicious: very tender, thinly sliced braised beef, aged cheese, and a touch of horseradish—all on a roll with everything bagel topping, accompanied by a small bowl of bone broth for dipping.
The ricotta tart has a house-made crust and is topped with green beans, corn, and herbs as a swan song to summer’s bounty: enjoy it now, before the season passes.
I asked the waitress about desserts, and she recommended the “energy-forward” parfait, which was a take on the classic granola with yogurt and fruit, but with coconut, pine nuts, sesame and spicy honey. Or the “starting-my-day-dessert,” the affogatto, a scoop of roasted corn ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over.
While Guest has amazing, interesting food, a big draw is the attention to every single detail in creating a very relaxed, adult hideaway at a fairly hectic intersection. There’s quiet music, lush plants (which are changed weekly), and the subtle scent of palo santo wood.
Books are stacked everywhere, there’s a wee chandelier in a bookcase, and a giant one in the center of the room. There are no QR codes, just leather-bound menus, lots of candlelight, and soft, generous napkins.
Another unique feature is that everything you see (from designer Dean Bruno), can be yours. Some diners liked the plants so much, they now have the same firm serving their apartment. Love the giant chandelier? Give three days notice, and one will be made and boxed up for you.
The same team responsible for Guest also has a highly praised New Jersey restaurant, La Lupa, located in Manalapan, with a similar philosophy and vibe. The three owners grew up in nearby Freehold, and Giorgio and Michael’s father—who was born in Rome—still has a restaurant there, Solo Trattoria, that they all worked in as pre-teens. Giorgio made several trips to Italy to explore the cuisines and flavors, and worked in NYC at Pasquale Jones before opening La Lupa in March of 2021.
At the moment, Guest is only open for breakfast and brunch while they’re waiting for their liquor license. Construction is ongoing for a downstairs cocktail lounge, a brick-lined grotto dating back to the 1800s, when it was a gay/bohemian hangout. (It was, in fact, a favorite haunt of Walt Whitman, and Abraham Lincoln was photographed here. It was also considered—if not exactly gay bar—the first in the country where it was definitely okay to be gay.) “One guy came in, and said, ‘This used to be a strip club in the 1980s!’” says Dan of the basement. “It has a separate entrance, which will be good for any celebrities wanting privacy.”
Hero photo: Guest director of hospitality, Dan Fishman, courtesy of Guest New York