Leonti Debuts On Upper West Side…

The much anticipated opening of a renowned chef’s upscale upper west side restaurant went so wrong yet it was so right.

Our food was a disaster, but great service and a generous, compassionate manager saved the experience.

Courtny and I were anticipating a fabulous dinner at Leonti.

The Italian restaurant opened the day before we visited, taking over the former Dovetail space.

The dining establishment is helmed by Adam Leonti, former chef de cuisine at the popular Philadelphia Italian restaurant, Vetri.

David bowed out as he was under the weather.

It was a girl’s night out and we made it on time in the pouring rain.


Courtny and I were enthusiastically greeted and led to a lovely table in the middle of the dining room.

The white tablecloth tables are set up more cruise ship style.


The 70-seater carpeted room (unusual) was muted and the decor more retro than modern.

There’s also a 12-seat bar and a private dining room that fits up to 23 and will also host pasta and bread-making classes.

Bread will be made with wheat milled on the premises, reflecting Mr. Leonti’s experience running Brooklyn Bread Lab in Bushwick.

Leonti was filled with what appeared to be conservative, soft spoken types, not your usual casually boisterous upper west side crowd.

Chopin Martini

We ordered Chopin martinis extra cold and they arrived room temperature.

We requested ice which was a tough get, but eventually arrived and we concocted our own martini on the rocks.

Beef Broth

A tasty beef broth amuse bouche graced the table.

We started with Assaggini Abbondanti, an array of appetizers and not one was very appealing.

There was tripe, sardines, a sour yogurt, chicory, salmon crudo, black ham, eggplant and surprisingly served without the famed bread just a very hard to bite facsimile ($27/39).

Lobster Pasta

The chef’s choice lobster pasta was not on the menu. We decided to indulge ($40).

It arrived cold and bitter tasting. The chunks of lobster meat were abundant.

We sent it back and it arrived hot, but I am assuming the seafood broth gave the pasta a biting flavor.

Chicory Salad

The pleasant Chicory Salad was mixed with hazelnuts, citrus and Gorgonzola  dolce ($19).

Veal Chop

The house specialty is a Veal Chop with bagna cauda and truffles ($52).

The first bite was flavorful and tender, but the next proved to be seriously undercooked.

Again, it was swept away.

The manager surprised us with another entree.

Stuffed Rabbit

Stuffed Rabbit with caramelized cipollini and pistachio ($36).

We panicked.

Neither of us felt we could do bunny, but we were cornered.

It was like the scene in Seinfeld when Jerry’s date, Holly, serves him mutton and he freaks, spitting the morsels into Memma’s linen napkins.

The manager was so lovely that we both took a forkful and it was surprisingly good.

When the waiter came by we feigned being full.

Sommelier, David McGovern, was wonderful and brought over a Merlot blend that was divine.

The wine list offers over 2,000 choices.

We just said No to dessert, but we were presented with an array of petite sweet darlings.

We chatted at length with Gabriela Acero, the smart, savvy, gracious manager and eventually, after almost 3 hours, it was time to call it a night.

Our request for the check was denied.

They felt mistakes were made.

If we wanted to reciprocate and show our appreciation then we should return and give Leonti a second chance.

I cannot refuse after such cordial, accommodating and hospitable service.

Leonti 103 West 77th Street and Columbus Avenue. Open for dinner Monday-Thursday 5-10pm and Friday and Saturday 5-11pm. Reservations on Reserve or call Leonti at: 212.362.3800.

One Comment

  1. The price of alcohol is absolutely ridiculous. One shot of Basil Hayden bourbon on the rocks for $26!!!!!! You have got to be kidding. That works out to over $600 a liter for a bourbon that sells for about $40 a liter. That is an unacceptable mark- up . Other liquors are similarly outrageously priced . Why???!!! This gives the entire restaurant the feel of a rip-off palace.

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