From Manhattan to the Middle East, the Top New Restaurants Are Truly Massive

Is bigger better when it comes to glamorous restaurants in New York City?

Given the several large-scale eateries that have recently opened around town, some restauranteurs definitely say yes. Forget the uninspired spots turning over table after table at a brisk pace and serving mass-produced food: We’re talking about buzzy places where the meal is an event, reservations are a hot ticket, and the design is a major talking point.

Take Ci Siamo, Danny Meyer’s and chef Hillary Sterling’s new Italian spot at Manhattan West. The bi-level spot spans close to 8,000 square feet and has an open kitchen, lounge, main dining room with a wood-burning oven, an outdoor dining terrace, and a private dining room with views of the Empire State Building. Just try booking a table, even at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and lucky you, if you get in.

The New York interior design firm Goodrich is behind the aesthetic, which is meant to be modern yet warm, according to the company’s founder, Matthew Goodrich. “It’s a big setting, but we wanted it to feel intimate,” he says.

To amplify the wood-fired menu, Goodrich turned to elements formed by fire: terra-cotta, ceramic, metals, and blown glass. The main dining room features a terra-cotta mural, for example, and has ceramic red-tile columns. Also, the light fixtures incorporate metals and blown glass. Vintage furniture sourced from markets in Europe and the United States is throughout the space—the burlwood cabinet behind the host stand that’s filled with Italian vases from the 1940s and 1950s is especially worth calling out.

Avra Midtown in New York City.
Avra Midtown in New York City. Photo: Rockwell Group

Looking to upcoming openings, Avra Rockefeller is debuting in the spring at Rockefeller Center and measures in at 17,000 square feet spread over three levels. It will be able to accommodate 340 diners, according to cofounder Nick Tsoulos, who adds that he and his partners love the energy of big venues. “They’re vibrant and feel like destinations,” he says.

The renowned Rockwell Group designed the Avra on Madison Avenue and in Beverly Hills and is also in charge of design at Rockefeller. It features an open kitchen, a market-style seafood display, and a chic white aesthetic that’s reminiscent of the Greek islands. Elements include white oak, stone, oil-rubbed bronze, and greenery.

Le Grande Boucherie in New York
Le Grande Boucherie in New York Photo: Melissa Hom

The 11,500-square-foot French eatery La Grande Boucherie, located in an arcade in Midtown is another example, meant to capture the joie de vivre of the Belle Epoque era of Paris through an elaborate Art Nouveau revival. The restaurant was co-designed by its founder, Emil Stefkov, and designer Julien Legeard.

Its floor has mosaic Carrara marble tiles, and the lighting includes oversized brass chandeliers that evoke early 20th-century Paris. The interior has a vaulted ceiling and two dining areas—one casual and the other more formal—that were typical during that same time.

The interior of HaSalon in Midtown West.
The interior of HaSalon in Midtown West. Photo: HaSalon 

Other voluminous restaurants include HaSalon, in Midtown West, which serves Israeli cuisine and seats 182 people. In a style like the other HaSalon’s in Tel Aviv and Miami, art director Jacob Turjeman designed the space to look like a movie set. It has mismatched furniture and decorative pieces sourced from vintage markets and stores and clever touches such as shelves crafted from old hangars.

Then there’s the steakhouse Hawksmoor, which features a massive dining room where the bar alone seats 50. It’s situated in the landmarked United Charities Building in Gramercy Park and has a 30-foot vaulted ceiling, stained glass, mosaic flooring, and tables made from reclaimed timber; the building’s Assembly Hall serves as the main dining room.

The grand dining area at Hawksmoor.
The grand dining area at Hawksmoor. Photo: Francesco Sapienza

The number of sprawling eateries to debut in the city in the last few years isn’t surprising, according to Jonathan Miller, the president and CEO of the real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. “There are vacant spaces everywhere, which has crushed rents, and restaurateurs are taking advantage of the lower costs by scaling up,” he says. “You can have a larger footprint for less money today than you could prepandemic.”

While New York may be home to a fair share of mega, design-centric eateries, it’s a trend that’s also evident worldwide.

The beautiful dining area at Mimosa.
The beautiful dining area at Mimosa. Photo: Alexandre Tabaste

Mimosa, at the Hotel de la Marine in Paris and from the renowned chef Jean-François Piège, is one example and has a setting in a spacious room with double-height ceilings. Architect Dorothée Delahaye plays up the volume with elements such as chandeliers made from oversized boat paddles and a large tree in the middle of the dining room.

In Tel Aviv, there’s A, a Japonesque restaurant from the acclaimed chef Yuval Ben-Neriah and measuring in at nearly 6,000 square feet. Baranowitz & Goldberg Architects created a minimalist design for the swanky boîte that features a curving wall, light warm gray, and aquamarine green hues, aluminum-coated tables, and earthy wood chairs. A also has a sake library made from brushed aluminum.

The interiors of A in Tel Aviv.
The interiors of A in Tel Aviv. Photo: Amit Geron

Also, Tao Group Hospitality, known for its big, club-like restaurants, has recently opened several such places. The close to 13,000-square-foot Ling Ling in Mexico City is one example and serves Cantonese food in a vegetation-rich space that’s meant to evoke an oasis in the midst of a desert.

These new spots are likely to be a hit with diners or already are, says Bao Ong, the editor of the restaurant and food site Eater. “People have been living through this pandemic for almost two years, and, when they go out, they want it to be an event,” he says. “Big restaurants give you that feeling. They’re special.”

The first floor at Ling Ling.
The first floor at Ling Ling. Photo: Courtesy of Tao Group Hospitality

via Architectural Digest

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