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152 East 79th Street
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Il Riccio 1 Italian Upper East Side
Il Riccio 2 Italian Upper East Side
Il Riccio 3 Italian Upper East Side
Il Riccio 4 Italian Upper East Side
Il Riccio 5 Italian Upper East Side
Il Riccio 6 Italian Upper East Side

More Italian nearby

Lost Gem
Caffe Buon Gusto 1 Italian undefined

Caffe Buon Gusto

In Buon Gusto, I met Giovanni, who began working in this neighborhood Italian restaurant three years after it opened in 1989. He has witnessed the restaurant’s growth through the years towards a more upscale eatery with a loyal group of regular customers. “People enjoy the meal, love us, and keep coming back, ” Giovanni stated matter-of-factly, adding that many people probably come for the affordable prices, as well. He then mentioned that Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, wine is half off. Chef Nando Ghorchian, who started as a simple cook, did not always serve up traditional Italian dishes. Giovanni informed me that he “used to make eggs” and specialized in breakfast foods. “It just happened, ” he said of Nando opening Buon Gusto and making the shift to more upscale cuisine. Giovanni brought out a dish for the Manhattan Sideways team to try: a chicken marsala, served with broccoli and a basket of rosemary focaccia bread. As the team tucked in, Giovanni continued to chat with us. “The menu is a winner, ” Giovanni exclaimed. Diners can create their own pasta dish, if they so choose. “The main reason people come is for the pasta. ” He then told us that employees from other restaurants even come by Buon Gusto before their shifts just to have some spaghetti. He spoke about the generations of people who he has seen come through: customers who dined in Buon Gusto in 1989 and occasionally come with their grandchildren. “Twenty-five years in business means something. We’re doing something right. ”

Lost Gem
Sistina 1 Italian undefined


Giuseppe Bruno was enticed to leave his family farm on the Amalfi Coast and travel to the States by the siren song of “the best restaurant in the world”: Parioli Romanissimo. The name might be unfamiliar to the modern reader, but in the 1970s, this Roman establishment had the honor of being crowned the only four-star Italian restaurant in New York City. It is little wonder that a teenaged Giuseppe, who had just graduated from culinary school in Italy, followed the call to join such a renowned institution. He spent five years at Parioli before deciding to make his own lasting mark on Manhattan’s fine dining scene by opening Sistina. “Sistina has been a very famous restaurant all along. ” This is far from a boast and simply a statement of fact, as the restaurant has catered to Hollywood icons such as George Clooney, musical greats including Paul McCartney, and politcial titans like Michelle Obama. No shortage of critical accolades have been showered on Sistina, whose menu revolved around Giuseppe’s home region. “I cook food that I learned from my parents and evolved into restaurant dishes, ” explained Giuseppe, who had been the sole chef since the business’ inception. Influenced by his own rural upbringing, he serves meals that largely feature fresh seafood, home-made pasta, and delicately seasoned vegetables. “I never serve anyone what I wouldn’t eat myself. ” He opened his second stunning restaurant, Caravaggio, on East 74th Street in 2008. “To go to this restaurant is to have an experience, a romantic night out. ” Culinary triumphs aside, not many are privileged enough to know that his gourmand has a heart of gold. Giuseppe has raised millions of dollars to fund research into brain trauma, stress disorders, cancers, and other causes that are dear to him. “I’ve been very fortunate in my life, ” he said, and it compelled to give back to others.

More places on 79th Street

Lost Gem
Sojourn 1 Brunch American undefined


Sojourn calls itself the Upper East Side’s “sexiest restaurant, ” and it is hard to argue: the color scheme, in coppers browns and reds, gives the restaurant a warm, intimate feeling. The name, which means “a temporary stay, ” hints at the fact that visitors can expect a full dining experience. Olivia, a member of the Manhattan Sideways team, was excited to return to Sojourn. She and her family had discovered the restaurant, tucked behind a residential-looking doorway, right before Thanksgiving and had visited two more times by the New Year. Along with the friendly staff, warm ambience, and delectable, seasonal food, what makes Sojourn stand out is its approach to courses: all menu items can be ordered as sharable tapas, with just the right number for the table. For example, when Olivia went with a group of seven family members and ordered the chorizo croquettes, the waiter said he would bring out two orders at three to a plate... plus one extra. Using this innovative way of ordering, each party can essentially create their own tasting menu. As for beverages, the cocktail menu is sophisticated and diverse. The restaurant not only has a large selection of wine, but also keeps some of their grapes in barrels rather than bottles, a more environmentally friendly method of storing and serving it. Among the many menu items that Olivia’s family tasted were the zesty arugula salad, crispy fish tacos, and Kobe beef sliders. Despite being thoroughly full, they made sure to have enough room for the warm, fluffy churros served with Mexican chocolate dipping sauce. We spoke to Johnny Musovic, who owns Sojourn with his father, Sami. They originally opened a Mexican restaurant called Santa Fe in the same location, but discovered that the neighborhood did not have a strong need for casual Mexican food. Instead, the father and son duo reopened with a higher-end concept which has been wholly embraced. Johnny proudly told me that his father is no newcomer to the restaurant world, having been the Head Maitre D’ at Sparks Steakhouse and Mr. Chow’s. He also has two other restaurants nearby. As for Johnny himself, he told me “In this industry, you can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, ” referencing his time spent as everything from dishwasher to delivery boy to co-owner. He is clearly very proud of Sojourn for a variety of reasons, beginning with the food. “Most chefs are into fresh, local ingredients, but these chefs really are. ” He is also happy to have cultivated a chic, relaxing space, which includes live music on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Though he proclaims that the Upper East Side is his favorite part of the city, Johnny’s dream is to open up a Sojourn in Midtown one day. Until then, his goal is to integrate his bar crowd and his dining crowd. One night, he held a two hour open bar as his way of “giving back” to the neighborhood. Along with drinks, he offered his customers a series of hors d’oeuvres. He was surprised by how many of his bar regulars approached him and said, “I didn’t realize you had such great food! ”

Lost Gem
Temple Shaaray Tefila 1 Synagogues undefined

Temple Shaaray Tefila

Shaaray Tefila has a very special place in my heart. For well over twenty years, beginning in the early 1970's, this was a home away from home for my grandparents. Reaching 79th Street and having the opportunity to write about this synagogue has brought tears to my eyes again and again. Rabbi Tattelbaum played an important role not only in my grandparent's lives, but in mine as well, when I was a young, impressionable teenager. It was Chip Schrager, the Communications Coordinator for the temple in 2015, who kindly guided the Manhattan Sideways team through the space, beginning with the main sanctuary. The room is expansive, seating 400 people downstairs and 200 in the balcony, and Chip was proud to say that it was filled to the rafters during the recent Hanukkah services. Something that I did not know was that the building used to be a movie theater until the temple took over in 1958. The old projector room is now used as an office for the parenting programs. Founded in 1845 as a strict Orthodox temple, Shaaray Tefila has shifted locations throughout the city, becoming Reform along the way. Stepping into the chapel, where smaller services are held, I saw bold stained glass ornaments on one side of the room with the names and symbols of characters from Jewish lore. In the meeting room nearby, well-polished Judaic pieces, along with artifacts dating back to the temple's founding were displayed. In addition, we took note of photographs of the old temple on West 82nd Street, the Seal of the Congregation, and even the trowel that the rabbi used to lay the cornerstone of the Temple. Leaving the room, Chip gestured to photographs of six men who were senior rabbis at Temple Shaaray Tefila. The temple has a strong children's program, including a nursery school, kindergarten, and religious school that extends through high school. We appreciated getting to observe the room used for art class. A giant paint pallet decorated the wall and colorful supplies lined the room. We then ventured up to the roof where the playground is located, surrounded by a fence that still allowed for a beautiful view of the winter sunset. It was here that Chip continued to speak of the various programs offered to every age group, including senior citizens. This is what my grandparents took advantage of so many years ago, and it warmed my heart to know that people are still participating in the various classes that Shaaray Tefila has to offer. As Chip beautifully stated, "Whatever your Jewish journey is, we want to be a part of it. "