From the moment you enter The Leopard at des Artistes at 1 West 67th Street off Central Park West, you are struck with it’s beauty and charm. Howard Chandler Christy’s (creator of the Gibson Girl) murals surround the room and you feel as if you are sitting in a chic art gallery. The feeling is of exquisite elegance. Nestled in the back is a wooden bar and cozy tables giving the whole atmosphere a romantic feel. There is a graceful comfortableness to The Leopard.
With an impressive wine selection, my guest and I started off with a chilled glass of regional wine as Panenelle, amuse bouche’s of tasty little fritters of chick peas and rosemary and Arancini, Buffalo mozzarella rice balls came as a complimentary starter.
A special of burrata cheese and cherry tomato’s ($18) was so fresh that it melted in your mouth. Franco savored the gnudi di ricotta ($18). This dish consists of Buffalo ricotta gnocchi in Parmigiana Reggiano sauce with sage and wild mushroom ragout, which was splendidly plated and had a fragrant aroma. This dish is not to be missed, nor is any of the pasta’s as they are all homemade. I started with thinly sliced baby artichokes, marinated with olive oil and lemon, over frisée salad, finished with shaved parmigiano. Light and refreshing, the artichoke salad is part of 3 course tasting menu ($50) that you can add to a wine pairing ($30). Each month The Leopard features a different region. For April, visit Campania, with some mouth watering choices such as Mussels in a white wine sauce, Mozzarella “in carozza,” and Octopus “ala Luciana.”
I could not wait to try the Artisanal agnolotti filled with ricotta and Italian pumpkin, in a walnut and butter sauce ($26). This was the perfect comfort dish for a rainy evening and I loved the morsels of walnut crunch.
For entree’s; fresh Dover sole ($45) deboned with precision in front of us, served with a healthy serving of broccoli rabe and a succulent Pan-seared duck breast ($45) “porchetta” with fennel pollen, cipollini with aged balsamic vinegar, pickled raisins and vegetable caponata. The duck was tender, cooked to perfection and had a tanginess, that was perfectly in balance with the dish.
For dessert, not to be missed is the Zabaglione ($18), prepared tableside. Expect a full shot of Marsala, as the warm mixture is poured over fresh berries. We also enjoyed the Chestnut and ricotta semifreddo with chocolate sauce ($14). This perfect mound of goodness, was a refreshing surprise. Feeling decadent, I order a cappuccino, which had a heart drawn in the foam. A small plate of homemade cookies also comes complementary. It is these small kind of touches that make The Leopard at des Artistes a uniquely special dinning experience.
The owners Paula and Gianfranco Sorrentinos, Chef Vito Gnazzo and Maître D, Henry Nekrasov know how to please. Everything is beautifully presented. You will leave feeling special and well taken care of by a staff that anticipates your every need, but doesn’t hover. The best part of perfectly prepared food is you leave satisfied, but not stuffed.
On May 6th The Leopard at des Artistes will celebrate their 6th anniversary and on June 4th a special party will be held, as the building turns 100. If you are looking for that special Mother’s Day place (they have a private dinning room that seats up to 18) or that fabulous private party (holds 70-80 sitting and 120 standing), anniversary, engagement, romantic tryst or a wonderful dinner before Lincoln Center there is no better place than The Leopard at des Artistes.