Yes, this city has monuments, museums, parks and sculptures all rich in American, European and World history. But the Big Apple, with some 18,000 restaurants, also boasts eateries that have a particular New York City historical resonance.
Some are in buildings that go back to the early 1800s, some are saloons that were frequented by such NYC notables as “Diamond” Jim Brady and John D. Rockefeller, and others have a connection with the famous 19th-century mansions of the Hudson Valley in upstate New York. Here's just a sampling.
Housed in the renovated New-York Historical Society which is a perfect place to learn about the history of this great city, Caffè Storico is yellow, white and airy; 15-foot-high, floor-to-ceiling shelves display 19th-century China plates while your plates feature hearty Italian fare from Chef Edward Crochet. “Braised lamb and gnocchi are perfect when the weather begins to cool,” he says, singling out dishes like lamb shoulder, harissa and cranberry beans or gnocchi, guinea hen and black truffle. 170 Central Park West, 212.873.3400
When in town, Jay Gould, John D. Rockefeller and Washington Irving frequented the elegant mahogany-and-cream-colored rooms of Delmonico’s, America’s first fine-dining restaurant. Order items from the original menu, as popular today as they were in 1837: lobster Newburg, with juicy lumps of lobster swaddled in brandy cream sauce and sprinkled with caviar; eggs Benedict, invented at the restaurant; or the Delmonico steak, a perfectly charred bloody cut of rib eye topped with a single thick-cut onion ring. 56 Beaver St., 212.509.1154
Rock Center Café
Breakfast at Rock Center Café, nestled in the Art Deco cultural center that John D. Rockefeller “Junior” commissioned is a great experience, both for a real slice of NYC history and for a great meal to start off your day. There’s a stunning view of Rockefeller Center Plaza, with its 200 United Nations flags flapping in the breeze. Inside, original Andy Warhol prints foreshadow Nelson Rockefeller’s Kykuit collection, from the famous family estate in the Hudson Valley. Fuel up before your day with E.A.T., a popular sandwich of poached organic eggs, avocado and tomato on olive-oil-grilled peasant bread. 20 W. 50th St., 212.332.7620
Enjoy time traveling at cocktail oasis Dear Irving, which boasts four period rooms pegged to specific dates. Sip a classic Gibson on a brocade wingback chair in the 1857 room where Washington Irving would be comfy spinning stories. For a fun touch, diners use call buttons to summon waiters to deliver their Whiskey Business cocktail—rye, ancho chile liqueur, cinnamon, lemon, angostura bitters—or inventive bar bites like New York State rabbit rillettes or Bloody Mary jumbo lump crab. 55 Irving Place
Housed in a landmark “speakeasy,” Blue Hill is farm-to-table sister to Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, the Center for Food and Agriculture established by David A. Rockefeller.
Executive Chef Dan Barber wrings intense flavors from ingredients—from the raw hakurei turnip to caramelized meat from a Stone Barns goat. The six-course “Farmer’s Feast” in October offers the last of the summer vegetables, first of the fall. 75 Washington Place, 212.539.1776
Tavern on the Green
The iconic Tavern on the Green has been restored to its original 1871 Victorian Gothic glory, with dark wooden beams and plentiful views of horse-drawn carriages at the entrance. With a spacious courtyard and new beer garden, the Tavern melds with Central Park, a romantic landscaping ideal. Offerings here include shrimp scampi atop classic cacio e pepe spaghetti; service is cheerily attentive. 67 Central Park West, 212.877.8684