Montenapo and Monkey Bar in MIdtown

Unless I have a doctor’s appointment, a business meeting or the occasional play on Broadway, I simply avoid going to Midtown. The rows of drab office skyscrapers separated by wide traffic-heavy roads and sidewalks cramped with crowds – come on… that’s just not inviting. That was until recently. Now I actually see two reasons to endure Midtown steel tower dullness: Monkey Bar and Montenapo.
There’s nothing bland about those two recently opened restaurants.

Monkey Bar
Monkey Bar is the second restaurant venture of Vanity Fair’s editor in chief Graydon Carter. Celebs and high rollers attract rows of paparazzi in front of Waverly Inn, his first restaurant, every single night. When I went to Monkey Bar last Tuesday I saw no one, literally, not a single person at the door. I even thought I was at the wrong address. Hard to believe it’s the hottest new restaurant in town. Easy to see why once you step inside. The interior feels like a charming brasserie. I really tried to get a good look at the all around vintage mural depicting happy monkeys doing human business so that I could describe that fascinating work a little better here, but you’ll have to forgive me. My eyes kept getting distracted looking at Tom Ford instead, his magnetic demeanor sitting in the booth right across from me. As if that wasn’t enough, in comes the chief himself, Mr. Carter and Co., two booths away, sitting across from Donny Deutsch. Once my appetite of celebrity spotting was satisfied I was able to focus on the surprisingly haut cuisine tasting meatloaf, and enjoy my yummy bellini cocktail. Ok, I confess, slightly ogling impeccable T.F., but no worries, without being creepy.

60 E. 54th St, near Park Ave.

For a genuine powerbroker lunch experience, even if you aren’t one, head to Montenapo, the brand new restaurant named after Via Montenapoleone, the chi-chiest Street in Milan, the Italian capital of fashion. Also italiano is architect Renzo Piano who designed the impressive The New York Times Building, which houses Montenapo. (Yes, some buildings, only a couple of them, manage to break the monotony of the area’s steel towers) The meraviglioso interiors match the delizioso food signed by chef German Lucarelly (Bice). Try the tradizionalissimo risotto milanese, or a branzino after snacking on the softest burrata.

Montenapo at The New York Times Building, 620 8th Ave. (entrance on West 41st Street between 7th & 8th Avenues), 212-764-7663,

Ah, the new found appeal of Midtown (ok, MoMa I’ll never forget you!)

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