Harry’s Table Makes the Upper West Side a Destination
If there’s one neighborhood in NYC that is renowned for its mediocre restaurants, it’s the Upper West Side. We mean, come on: when was the last time you said “I can’t wait to eat above 59th Street?” Ninety nine percent never. Until now. So get in an Uber; Cipriani Upper West Side officially makes this neighborhood the place to be.
The long-awaited Harry’s Table arrived on the Upper West Side. For a while there it seemed like it was urban legend that a Cipriani Upper West Side would open. After all, why would a good restaurant come to this neck of the woods? With all due respect, mediocre restaurants thrive on the Upper West Side. As a 21-year resident of the neighborhood, I have the prerogative and experience to make this assessment.
However, with the buildout of Riverside Boulevard and the new Waterline Square, good food finally comes to the neighborhood. First, there is Alex Stupak’s outpost of Empellon, which brings downtown quality level Mexican. Now, Cipriani presents Harry’s Table, which is like an upscale Eataly.
Even for a food hall concept, the atmosphere is elegant. Waitstaff is chicly dressed and your food is brought out on the signature Cipriani silver trays. Currently, it’s comfortably full but not overly busy, with most of the residents probably summering in the Hamptons. Word is not quite out yet on Cipriani Upper West Side, but yet it’s already bustling.
Cipriani is known most for its atmosphere and beautiful people, all in elegant Milanese settings. If there’s a Cipriani, you know 99 times out of a hundred that the scene is going to be good. We didn’t know how this would translate to the typical Upper West Side, but it’s safe to say we’ve never had people this attractive in the hood. Harry’s Table is casual with no pretense, so you’ll find a lot of families eating on the earlier side until this part of Cipriani closes at around 8:30pm. As a casual concept, this is a PG scene, unlike the other restaurants in the Cipriani portfolio.
Harry’s Table has over 10 speciality counters that include a café, pizza station, caviar bar, and a cheese counter for charcuterie plates. The seafood counter, with oysters and lobster, and the meat counter, which has Florentine steak, bridge the food hall to Bellini. Bellini is the more formal yet neighborhood-feel sit-down restaurant. It deserves its own review, but it’s a gathering place with a crowd not normally seen on the Upper West Side. Where Harry’s Table is PG, Bellini is more PG-13.
The food can be summarized in one word; quality. Actually, two words: highest quality. Secondly, for how fancy this food hall and specialty market is, the prices are reasonable. Without doing damage to your wallet, you could shop here for high-quality groceries and eat at the counters on a regular basis. The cafe has sandwiches like tuna and tomato and egg salad that look and taste like you’re at Sant Ambroeus. The quiches are light with just a wisp of crust, so you don’t feel like you just ate a stick of butter. This is another reason why Cipriani Upper West Side works: it’s all relatively healthy.
What to Eat
There’s a grab-and-go salad bar, paired with a juice bar that does custom requests. The pizzas are authentic Italian; super thin crust in the middle and with just the right amount of bubbled char. You can also pick from a large selection of prepared foods, from simple grilled salmon and arancini to whipped cod. Either order at the counters or off the menus, and enjoy the caviar crêpes, cheese and charcuterie platters, and pastas. They may not win a Michelin star, but this is food you can eat every day.
Cipriani’s famed meringues are on display in the dessert and gelato bar, with a large selection of other sweets like Italian cheese cake, lemon tart, and strawberry confections. There are also grocery items that continue to expand in variety, along with one of the best meat and seafood counters in the city.
It’s no secret that there’s an industry-wide shortage of people to work at restaurants. Even the top hotels and restaurants have a labor issue, and sometimes an attitude issue. Add Cipriani’s somewhat elitist attitude at their other locations, and you may be skeptical about this new Cipriani on the Upper West Side. Well, no worries. There must be a labor shortage in restaurants because good waitstaff is all working here. Not everyone knows what they’re doing and there are certainly some growing pains. However, hearts are all in the right place.
Unlike some of the other Ciprianis, the staff at the Upper West Side location are democratically nice to everyone, not just the supermodels and celebrities. And in the specialty departments like cheese, meat and seafood, people really know what they’re talking about. So not only is the food the best of the Cipriani outlets, the service is too.
We’re hard graders, as you can see from our reviews. Perhaps if this opened up in the Meatpacking or Downtown we would rank it at 8. However, there’s something to be said about a restaurant that single-handedly creates a neighborhood with Waterline Square. Plus, food and service-wise, this is the best Cipriani in the portfolio. That deserves a top mark.