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Elizabeth Yoshida’s Dining Guide to Gramercy Park and Flatiron, New York

Co-owner of New York City’s Novitá restaurant, Elizabeth Yoshida explains why Gramercy Park and Flatiron are two of her favorite places in the city to dine

Italian fine dining restaurant Novitá in Gramercy Park has been wowing diners with its modern, regional Italian favorites and market specials since 1994. Renowned for his skilled cooking and his perfect fresh pasta, chef and co-owner Marco Fregonese worked in Gualtiero Marchesi’s three-Michelin-starred kitchen in Milan before relocating to the United States. If anyone knows what makes a great local restaurant, it’s Fregonese and his co-owner and wife Elizabeth Yoshida. Here, Yoshida talks us through her favorite places to eat and drink.

Cacio e Pepe on the table at Marco Fregonese and Elizabeth Yoshida's restaurant Novitá in Gramercy Park, where the menu specializes in innovative pasta dishes.

Gourmet Gramercy Park

Gramercy Park has long been one of New York’s most exclusive neighborhoods. The Roosevelts called the place home for many years, enjoying early access to the two-acre residents-only park that gives the area its name. The attractive green space is bordered by tree-lined streets of townhouses, many of which date back to the 1840s. And while it’s just minutes away from the hubbub of the East Village and Union Square, Gramercy attracts residents in search of a calmer slice of the Big Apple.

Not that there aren’t great opportunities to have fun and to dine well here: Gramercy is home to Pete’s Tavern, the oldest in the city, which opened in 1851. Another tavern worth investigating, albeit a much more modern one, is Gramercy Tavern. It is, in the words of Yoshida and Fregonese, “Gramercy’s only Grande Dame… an impeccable ‘modern American’ experience with outstanding food, wine and service. Gramercy Tavern has been our go to ‘special occasion’ place for years.”

Rose Bar Gramercy Park Hotel
The Rose Bar at Gramercy Park Hotel is Elizabeth Yoshida’s favorite drinks-only lounge in New York. Photo: Lisa Kato Photography. Banner image: Alamy

The Rose Bar at Gramercy Park Hotel also comes in for high praise. “It’s my favorite drinks-only lounge in Manhattan,” says Yoshida. “Even though it’s a classic hotel bar, the Rose and Jade Bars both have the feel of a cozy neighborhood hangout, especially during the winter when the fireplaces are blazing.”

Related: Discover 6 of the Best Speakeasy Bars in Manhattan

If you’re after something more casual, and a good margarita, Yoshida recommends Chef Enrique Olvera’s Cosme. “It regularly tops The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, but it’s a very approachable, modern Mexican cantina,” says Yoshida. “And, they serve the most delicious margarita on the planet. The menu is fresh, inventive and delicious. It’s a great place for a large fun-loving group meal.”

Cosme is one of the stand-out restaurants in New York City’s Flatiron neighborhood, serving contemporary Mexican-inspired cuisine created by world-renowned chefs Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes. Photo: Kelt

New for 2019, and opening next door to Novitá in the spring, is the Swedish photography museum and art space Fotografiska New York. “Novitá’s outdoor cafe sit’s next to their brilliantly curated window installations, and I find myself getting my daily dose of inspiration and culture from seeing it there.

“We are also looking forward to the chef-driven Swedish restaurant designed by the amazing Roman and Williams Guild. We are so fortunate to be part of the new 22nd Street.”

Gramercy Park, New York, is one of only two private parks in the city, and is accessible only to residents living on the park. Image: Alamy

“The Gramercy Park neighborhood is an especially unique area as it’s home to one of only two private parks in New York,” says Erin Boisson Aries, Real Estate Broker for Christie’s International Real Estate in New York. “Residents who live on the park have access to a bucolic and tranquil sanctuary right in the heart of the city.  With a handful of private homes and a majority of pre-war co-operatives, Gramercy Park has a ‘classic New York’ feel about it, with all the convenience of the surrounding restaurants, food shops, and retail spaces.

“In recent years, there’s been some considerable new development and conversion projects in the neighborhood, from Ian Schrager’s Gramercy Park Hotel and its attached residences at 50 Gramercy Park North, to Robert A.M. Stern Architects’ 18 Gramercy Park, and Woods Bagot’s new Gramercy Square development. With so few units on the park, anytime a special property pops up on the market and is priced correctly, it will always sell quickly,” says Boisson Aries.

A perfect pied-à-terre located high above Gramercy Park, this stunning John Pawson-designed two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom apartment has a key to one of only two private parks in Manhattan. It was sold on August 22, 2018 by Christie's International Real Estate.

Foodie Flatiron

Nearby Flatiron is named after the world-famous landmark building, erected in 1902, and puts residents right in the heart of Midtown, with Union Square to the south and Chelsea to the west. Known at the beginning of the 21st century as ‘Silicon Alley’ thanks to the many tech startups that had moved in, Flatiron today is a buzzy urban hub.

Eleven Madison Park restaurant overlooks Madison Square Park in Flatiron, and is located in a historic Art Deco building on the corner of 24th Street and Madison Avenue. Image: Jake Chessum

Dining options here range from the original Shake Shack to the three Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park, where chef Daniel Humm serves upscale American tasting menus in a beautiful, high-ceilinged Art Deco space. When in Flatiron, Yoshida recommends heading to Cote on West 22nd Street. “It’s a lively modern Korean steak house that my carnivore friends and husband far prefer to the classic Midtown Korean barbecue spots,” she says. “I’m not a meat eater but had a very tasty evening sticking to the vegetarian options.”

Cote Flatiron
The dining room at Cote restaurant in Flatiron, New York, features Korean barbecues built in to the tables. Image: Gary He

ABCV by Jean-Georges Vongeritchten on East 19th Street is a definite Flatiron favorite, which according to Yoshida and Fregonese, offers an innovative organic, vegan, and vegetarian dining concept that is “the best of its kind,” according to Yoshida. “I’ve sampled the entire menu and can’t think of a dish that wasn’t a success,” she says. “There’s a great ‘by the glass’ wine list that pairs well with the dishes. I prefer to visit for lunch or weekend brunch but I like the sidewalk seating on a warm evening as well.”