When Oprah is involved, the event will always have two qualities: heart-warming and memorable — as was the case for Oprah’s debut appearance at the Waverly Inn. Oprah and her entourage dined and fawned over chef John DeLucie’s twist on America’s favorite comfort food, mac-and-cheese with truffles. But the real high point of the evening was when Oprah got wind of Mo’Nique’s Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in Precious. As an executive producer to the film, Oprah’s heart welled even more than usual over the good news, resulting in her hugging her waiter and waving bon voyage to the Waverly’s other diners. But, not before she purchased a Waverly burger for her security guard and driver. Oprah (sigh), always classy.
Hoping for your very own Oprah sighting? While we can’t guarantee that the mother of all things charity-related will make an appearance, here are 12 contenders who are most likely to feed and entertain celebrities in the coming year.
1. The Breslin at The Ace Hotel, 16 West 29th Street
Located in one of the celebrity preferred lodgings, The Ace Hotel, The Breslin has all the makings of a celebrity hot spot. The first and most obvious reason is the fact that many celebrities reside in the rooms above the eatery, allowing easy access for the wafting aromas coming from the Breslin kitchen to lure them down. The second reason comes in the form of none other than chef April Bloomfield who also founded The Spotted Pig. Good food without having to leave the comfort of the hotel plus the latest outpost of hot-to-trot boutique Opening Ceremony, The Breslin has everything you and your celebrity-stalking eyes are looking for.
2. Marea at 240 Central Park South
As one of the latest dining favorites for celebrity power couple Jay-Z and Beyonce, Marea promises to boast Michelin star quality food and celebrities to boot. Famous for their Italian seafood, acclaimed Chef Michael White produces some seriously good eats that are deemed excellent by all, including The New York Times, who rewarded the cooking efforts with a 3-star review.
3. Maialino, at Gramercy Park Hotel 2 Lexington Avenue
Located in the already celeb-heavy Gramercy Park Hotel and mere steps away from the glitterati watering-hole, The Rose Bar, it seems inevitable that this raved-about Italian eatery will attract celebrity clientele. Maialino is the latest culinary brainchild of acclaimed Shake Shack founder, chef Danny Meyer, and is described as a Roman-style trattoria. The menu also features fresh ingredients from local green markets and farmers, sure to attract the more eco-friendly celebs.
4. Minetta Tavern, at 113 MacDougal Street
Restauranteur Keith McNally is responsible for popular celebrity-ridden establishments, Balthazar and Pastis as well as his latest — Minetta Tavern. With a knack for attracting Hollywood’s finest with past restaurants, it is only inevitable that Minetta Tavern will do the same. Minetta Tavern is an old school joint from the Greenwich Village of the 1930s and was once the scene for the more low-key members of society. McNally has changed all that and is attracting the likes of ultimate New Yorker Sarah Jessica Parker, seekers of great food, old New York relics, and of course, celebrities galore.
5. Sorella, at 95 Allen Street
Serving all walks of life, including Claire Danes, this Lower East Side Italian dining facility has earned the reputation of a wine bar with small plates. But there is so much more to be discovered in this 50-seater restaurant. Decorated in understated elegance, chef Emma Hearst (yes — as in media giant fame) and managing partner Sarah Krathen stay true to their original conceptions. Conceptualized on a trip to Italy, Emma and Sarah try to cater to customers’ requests as tastefully as possible, meaning that if the request dangers the tastiness of a dish, they will refuse to accommodate and instead recommend a different selection. Tough love, but thoughtful — just what a celebrity needs.
6. SHO Shaun Hergatt, at 40 Broad Street
The word ‘discreet’ seems to hang in the air when describing SHO Shaun Hergatt; no wonder diners are likely to spot celebrity clientele. The dining experience at SHO Shaun Hergatt is a journey, to say the least. Trying to locate it? Make sure you have a previous diner with you. Located in a condominium tower and obscured by wooden scaffolding, the best description for this spot is that it lies one block away from the New York Stock Exchange. Critics have described the cuisine as French with Asian accents. Intrigued? It gets better. With a Michelin Star and celebrity chef Shaun Hergatt backing this culinary haven, SHO Shaun Hergatt is an unforgettable experience, with or without a celebrity sighting.
7. A Voce Columbus, at 10 Columbus Circle
The off-shoot of A Voce Madison, A Voce Columbus has all the delicious edibles and more provided by Chef Missy Robbins. Robbins is the acclaimed executive chef of Chicago restaurant and Obama family favorite, Spiaggia. If the First Family loves it, Hollywood will too. But besides potential celeb sightings, the food is something to see, literally. While Robbins is known for her expertise in rustic Italian cuisine, she is also known for taking these old school recipes and plating them in a modern structural way. Disguising traditional treats as modern dishes, A Voce Columbus satisfies our need for intriguing dishes and comfort food all at the same time.
8. Vinegar Hill House, at 72 Hudson Ave., Brooklyn
Vinegar Hill House has all the makings of a celebrity hangout. Bohemian decor, a low-key but trendy location in Brooklyn, and the previous chef to aforementioned celeb favorites Pastis and Balthazar, Jean Adamson. While accommodations seem to be modest and basic, the food is not. Succulent treats take the form of cast iron cooked chicken, and an extensive variety of delicious-tasting tarts. If you cook it, celebrities will come.
9. Aldea, at 31 West 17th Street
With New York’s breakout chef of the year George Mendes manning the burners, Aldea is sure to be a runaway hit amongst the glitteratti. Trained by the culinary elite, George is bringing previously underrated Portuguese cuisine to the masses. Critics have described his food as capable of changing one’s everyday cravings. Daring, but true — we have never had such a craving for the remains on a used pan until we read the description for Arroz de Pato: a concoction similar to paella with duck cracklings, duck confit, chorizo, olives, rare duck breast, and topped off with socarrat, also known as pan scrapings.
10. Civetta, (with rumored addition of The Beatrice Inn) at 98 Kenmare St.
Italian eatery, Civetta, closed its doors abruptly in December 2009, giving the excuse of renovations and that a “new concept” was to come shortly. Rumor has it that the restaurant will be reopening its doors, and that this “new concept” will come in the form of an additional celebrity draw — a lower floor housing a newly revamped and relocated Beatrice Inn (which closed in April 2009). Rumors also state that the new Beatrice Inn will be handled by none other than Rose Bar‘s Nur Kahn and the infamous Paul Sevigny, who conceptualized the original establishment. While all this chatter is still hearsay, we can only hope that the rumors are on target — after all, adding the legendary The Beatrice Inn to Civetta’s dining experience would make for an unstoppable celebrity draw.
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