BYOB Italian “Sunday Suppers” at The Leopard at des Artistes A Welcome Home for Wine Lovers

Monday, August 3, 2015
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The famed murals painted by Howard Chandler Christy that graced the walls  of Cafe des Artistes remain intact at The Leopard at des Artistes, providing a beautiful backdrop for enjoying BYOB “Sunday Suppers”

“‘BRING YOUR OWN BOTTLE’ ITALIAN SUNDAY SUPPER AT THE LEOPARD.  UNCOMPLICATED AND DELICIOUS. WE DO THE COOKING, YOU BRING THE WINE.
–The Leopard’s website

Other wine lovers in New York City have expressed the same frustration we’ve often felt trying to sort out restaurants’ policies regarding guests’ bringing their own wine (or BYOB).  Some restaurants (e.g., Babbo) forbid it, fairly pointing out their carefully curated wine lists and cellars by their expert sommeliers.  Others do what they can to discourage it, such as through corkage fees of $75 (e.g., Felidia) to $150 (e.g., Per Se) or more per bottle.

Others do allow it, and even waive the corkage fee on particular nights of the week that tend to be slower in order to drive business.  However, it’s so agonizing to try to determine which restaurants allow it — and when, and at what price, and with what caveats (e.g., number of bottles per table) — that we tend to over-rely on a small number of restaurants that allow it regularly with low if any corkage fees and few if any restrictions.

So last night, we were delighted to rediscover the joys of dining at One West 67th Street at a wonderful new — to us — place to BYOB free on Sunday nights:  The Leopard at des Artistes.

Located in the former home of Cafe des Artistes (which closed six years ago), the beautiful murals and romantic ambiance of the original remain — as does the warm service.

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Upper Left: The Leopard’s elegantly romantic ambiance; Upper Right: Standout eggplant appetizer (top) and gnudi (bottom); Center: BYOB — and your own wine-loving friends; Bottom Left: The awning at One West 67th Street; Bottom Right: Foregoing BYOB doesn’t mean going thirsty at The Leopard

While you’re lucky to get a few extra tumblers and a corkscrew tossed your way at some informal restaurants that allow BYOB, The Leopard at des Artistes offers excellent wine service along with no corkage on Sunday nights.

Our table brought a couple of bottles of Champagne (including a bottle of La Caravelle Rosé Champagne that was gifted to Karen on her birthday), which our servers kept well chilled throughout the night, pouring it incrementally in order to maintain its optimum temperature.  Our friends — Michael Gelb, author of the international bestseller How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci and the new Creativity on Demand, and his wife mezzo-soprano Deborah Domanski — brought an amazing 2010 Castello di Ama San Lorenzo Chianti Classico that was decanted for us and served in lovely glassware.

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Upper Left: Honeydew melon green salad; Upper Right: Can’t get enough of these murals; Center: La Caravelle Rose Champagne; Bottom Left: Pasta courses benefited from a side order of mushrooms to enhance their red wine-friendliness; Bottom Right: Wine lovers Andrew Dornenburg, Deborah Domanski, Michael Gelb, and Karen Page

While the BYOB policy, lovely ambiance, and excellent service would have been enough to bring us back on a Sunday night had the food been merely good, we were pleasantly surprised to find most of the dishes quite good to excellent. We understand there’s a new chef at the stoves — Michele Brogioni — who previously earned a Michelin star at Il Falconiere in Italy.

We’d heard advance raves about the gnudi — buffalo ricotta gnocchi, in butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano sauce, on organic sautéed spinach ($16) — which we really enjoyed.  But our hands-down favorite dish at The Leopard was another appetizer:  a timballo made with eggplant and smoked buffalo mozzarella with spicy tomato sauce ($14).

We enjoyed both of our generously-portioned pasta dishes — a farro penne made with grilled zucchini, roasted plum tomatoes, and organic basil ($22), along with a rigatoni “alla Norma” in tomato sauce with sautéed eggplant and aged ricotta cheese ($20).  Springing for the side dish of sautéed mixed wild mushrooms ($10) to top them with made them both an even better pairing with our wine.

The restaurant’s website had promised its “Sunday Supper” to be “uncomplicated and delicious.”  We’re thrilled for us — and for our fellow wine lovers — that The Leopard truly under-promised and over-delivered, providing us with a delicious new option for Sunday night BYOB dining.

NYC BYOB Restaurants

What are your favorite BYOB restaurants in and around Manhattan?  Let us know in the comments, or by shooting us a message.  We’ll be updating our list in a future blog post.

A few of our favorites, along with others recommended to us by our wine-loving friends:

Amali, Upper East Side — Free corkage for exceptional bottles of wine
AOC, East Village — Free corkage Monday through Thursday
Balvanera, SoHo — Free corkage on Monday night
Campagna at Bedford Post Inn, Bedford, NY — Free corkage on Wednesday night
Colicchio & Sons, Chelsea — Free corkage on Sunday night
Flinders Lane, East Village — Free corkage on Monday night
Home, West Village — Free corkage on Monday night
I Coppi de Matilda, East Village — Free corkage on Tuesday & Wednesday nights
Kellari Taverna, Midtown West — Free corkage on Sunday & Monday nights
La Palapa, East Village — Free corkage on Monday night
La Sirene, SoHo — $1 corkage on Monday & Tuesday nights
Le Village, East Village — Free corkage nightly (1 bottle per 2 guests)
Left Bank, West Village — Free corkage on Sunday & Monday nights
The Leopard at des Artistes, Upper West Side — Free corkage on Sunday night
NoHo Star, NoHo — $3 for 1st bottle, $10 per additional bottle
Patroon, Midtown East — Free corkage on Friday night (up to 3 bottles per table)
Pho Bang, Chinatown — Free corkage nightly
Riverpark, Murray Hill — Free corkage on Tuesday night
Tartine, Greenwich Village — Free corkage nightly
Tribeca Grill, Tribeca — Free corkage on Sunday & Monday nights (1 bottle per 2 guests)
Virginia’s, East Village — Free corkage on Monday night
Wo Hop, Chinatown — Free corkage nightly

Note:  As BYOB policies can change, it’s best to contact the restaurant to confirm its current policy and any restrictions.

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The Leopard at des Artistes is at One West 67th Street between Central Park West and Broadway.  212.787.8767. theleopardnyc.com

Categorized: New York City, Wine