Summer Restaurant Week means the usual drill: crowded restaurants serving B-menu items at fixed costs to diners they’ll probably never see again. And yet, even for the most seasoned Manhattan gastronome, Restaurant Week is a terrific opportunity to go places you would never hit otherwise. All the restaurants will take reservations on Thursday for the periods of July 21 to July 25 and July 28 to August 1.
1. Park Avenue Summer. Quietly, Park Avenue (blank) has turned into one of the city’s most accomplished restaurants. Since this is Summer Restaurant Week, we can hardly think of a more appropriate place to stop in.
2. Barbetta. Thanks to the sky-high prices and old-fashioned food, you’re unlikely to go here the rest of the year. But the garden in the back is one of the two or three most beautiful in the city, a transporting experience that you’ll remember in the cold winds of winter.
3. Esca. David Pasternack’s superlative local seafood — as amazing for the sourcing as for the cooking — makes Esca the jewel of the Batali empire. Be warned: It’s typically crowded and noisy and will no doubt be even more so during the tempest that is Restaurant Week.
4. L’Impero. It won’t be L’Impero for long — soon the place will close and reemerge as Convivio. Now is the chance to get Michael White’s Southern Italian menu at its most dressed-out, and in the posh surroundings that originally marked it as a tribute to empire.
5. Lure. Another expensive restaurant generally (and correctly) thought of as a refuge for trustafarians. But Josh Capon’s seafood is superb, and the sushi bar is underrated. It’ll be noisy, but it’s more than worth it for the food.
6. Petrossian. You may never go there again, but you have to go just once. We doubt you’re going to get much Osetra, but between the room and even the lesser grades of caviar, you can have a taste of luxury that even the well-heeled seldom indulge themselves in.
New York Restaurant Week Summer 2008 [Official site]