One of the things I love about New York is that are no shortage of wonderful little neighborhood restaurants everywhere you look. However, Hell’s Kitchen is one area that seems to be in short supply – the neighborhood, with a few exceptions, really doesn’t offer any decent restaurants.
Recently, in early March 2017, Diego Garcia, formerly a sous chef at the three-star Michelin fish restaurant, Le Bernadin (an undeniable pedigree), and his partner and GM Phil Johnson of Contra opened Gloria – a 40 seat restaurant on 401 West 53rd Street, in Manhattan. It is not a street you would normally travel on, but it is a destination restaurant and in close proximity to the theater district. And in only a short time the word is out – the place was packed when I dined there. The menu is a pescatarian’s dream, focusing on sustainable seafood, from the Eastern seaboard.
The restaurant is small and cozy, with large windows and blue leatherette banquets and booths. There’s a noisy but fun atmosphere. Upon entering there’s a little bar, with a few seats as well.
The menu is small, but each dish is creative, unique and has a variety of light but flavorful sauces.
We started with an excellent crispy crusted, savory corn bread, with jalapeños, and accompanied with a soft cultured butter.
The scallop dish is in a delicate sea bean, fennel and green juice sauce. Another dish, the tender octopus rounds, has a smoky flavor and is served on a bed of red cabbage and black rice. The squid is also cooked perfectly and comes with a pea mash and lemon butter. The skate wing is served with a tomatillo sauce. For vegetarians there are a few options. We tried the wild mushrooms in a dashi broth and the broccoli rabe with a coating of tomato chutney.
The menu also offers oysters, sea bass tartar, crab, shrimp and tile fish.
The portions are on the small side, but are good for sharing for two. If you don’t like sharing, you might consider a few dishes each. I thought each plate was perfectly prepared and an aromatic taste adventure. Even the two desserts offered were fabulous. The pannacotta has a wonderful flavor of lemons and lavender and a perfect consistency. The tres-leche cake is probably the best rendition I’ve had yet. The one weakness for me was the wine and cocktail selections. I tried something called, “The Ladies Who Lunch”, and it sounded good in theory. Vodka, lime, grand mariner and bubbles. But it wasn’t that good.
The wines didn’t grab me either. There is a large selection of beers and kombucha as well.
We were warmly welcomed and the service was friendly.
Gloria is open for dinner only Tuesday through Saturday. The plans are to open Sunday nights in the next few months. Starting in Fall 2017, they are considering opening for lunch as well.
I hope that people continue to support this little gem. They are doing it right.