3. The Leopard at des Artistes
The Leopard at des Artistes is a quintessential New York restaurant; the mood is sophisticated and the ambiance is suffused with history. But The Leopard at des Artistes also holds a rich history as the centerpiece of the artists’ district at West 67th between Columbus and Central Park West. The Hotel des Artistes was designed by George Mort in the Neo-Gothic and Medieval styles to specifically attract artists. Between 1901 and 1921, several other apartments were built in the area, thus turning it into a hub of creativity on the Upper West Side. Even though the highly developed area around Lincoln Center isn’t much of an artist’s colony now, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that the real estate market discovered the neighborhood.
Today, the area is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the “West 67th Street Artists’ Colony District.” Also, both the Hotel des Artistes and its famed restaurant space have won landmark designation. If the glowing murals of naked nymphs that line the walls of The Leopard at des Artistes could talk, they would describe the Italian dishes featured on the menu by executive chef, Vito Gnazzo, as homages to the small towns that dot the six regions of Southern Italy. Artists, dancers, musicians, and writers dined at 1 West 67th long before it became The Leopard at des Artistes. The restaurant was built to serve the tenants of the Hotel des Artistes — a residence above the restaurant whose apartments lacked kitchens. It was the go-to place for the creative and successful–the likes of Rudolf Nureyev and Itzhak Perelman dropped in between rehearsals and performances.