In my first dispatch since returning from my stint on The Times’s Live team, I shared a laundry list of exciting developments in the restaurant world, including that Regina’s Grocery & Deli, a beloved Lower East Side staple, had opened a third location on the Upper East Side. (Over Instagram messages, the owner, Roman Grandinetti, told me he chose the area over so many others because it felt like “a real neighborhood.”)
While the Upper East Side isn’t exactly hurting for restaurants, it rarely receives the breathless coverage the neighborhood enjoyed in the opulent era of, say, “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans” or the early years of Daniel. As a new and diverse generation of boundary-pushing chefs flocked to Lower Manhattan — and subsequently Brooklyn — our collective attention went with them. (As proof, restaurants below 59th Street utterly dominated the Manhattan portion of Pete Wells’s list of the city’s 100 best restaurants last year.)
If you’ve given up on the Upper East Side, I’m stepping in to say, don’t. There’s plenty to be excited about uptown.
Al Badawi brings its mezze to Manhattan
Manhattan is now lucky enough to have the second location of al Badawi, the phenomenal Brooklyn restaurant from the team behind the Palestinian restaurant chain Ayat, and the owners chose the Upper East Side. Open since November, al Badawi part deux offers delivery, but the warmth and hospitality of the staff doesn’t come with your meal, so I highly encourage you to dine in. The pistachio flatbread is still one of my favorite dishes of all time, a perfect appetizer (along with their vast array of mezze) before you dig into a plate of succulent lamb chops over a bed of rice.