It’s no secret that New York is home to the some of the most notable galleries and museums in the world. Only the truly plugged-in, however, know that a handful of the city’s restaurants, with their head turning collections, are also art destinations in their own right. These dining establishments include both special occasion spots and casual venues that see the same patrons day after day. Their cuisine is notable too, but, food and wine lists aside, the art displayed on their walls is worth a trip alone. Herein, our list:
Casa Lever, Midtown Manhattan
A staple among media denizens and hedge fund titans for power lunches and post-work drinks, this chic Milanese spot in the iconic Lever House building celebrated its 10th anniversary last year by introducing a collection of works by Damien Hirst to its ambiance. The six sizable pieces by the notorious British artist include Since the Majority of Me Rejects the Majority of You (2006)—an image of butterflies in gloss paint on canvas that hangs in the restaurant’s private dining room. His famed 2-MERCAPTOPURINE is showcased in the main dining area, as is another butterfly painting, Fun Lovin, from 2008.
Bar at Baccarat
Don’t let the name mislead you: the bar at this glitzy hotel is also the place to dine, whether for lobster salad at lunch or hand-rolled ravioli with white truffles come dinner. And it’s here where renowned French curators, as well as husband-and-wife Stéphanie and Frédéric Chambre, have brought together a one-of-a-kind art collection that spans various aesthetic movements since 1764—the year of Baccarat’s founding. Patrons can take in museum-quality pieces over their meal, by such lauded artists as Slims Aaron, Robert Longo, Ellen von Unsworth, Joaquin Ferrer, Jean-Philippe Aubanel, Segui, Nan Goldin and Eduardo Arroyo.
Owner and chef Francesco Antonucci doesn’t let the intimate size of his Italian restaurant get in the way of showing off more than 150 works from his personal collection, which canvas every inch of the walls, from the dining room and bar to the bathrooms. Style wise, his pieces are diverse; the artist Christo, for example, once a customer and acquaintance, gifted Antonucci with a trio of black plates—each is affixed with the chef’s famous ravioli. A painting of two dogs resembling aliens is courtesy of the American painter and street artist Kenny Sharf, while photographer Bert Stern is behind the images of Marilyn Monroe. Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat and Italian architect and artist Gaetano Pesce are also present among Antonucci’s myriad of works.
The two Michelin-starred temple of Nordic cuisine pays homage to women artists working with photography. Owner Hakan Swahn consulted with Skarstedt Gallery to pick each piece. Laurie Simmons is behind the photograph of dolls in the kitchen, as well as the image of the iconic Aquavit bottle which is displayed in the bar area. Works by Louise Lawler hang in one of the private dining rooms while a black and white painting by Sue Williams decorates the other. Swahn also worked with PACE Gallery to select works by New York artist Josh Smith, including a colorful, abstract painting displayed opposite the bar.
See-and-be-seen New American Upper East Side steak house T Bar is loyal to Roberto Dutesco, a Canadian-born Romanian artist with a distinct love for wild horses who has dedicated his career to capturing their beauty and bringing awareness to the need for their conservation. T Bar’s foray into the art world happened in 2019, when owner Tony Fortunato met Dutesco through a friend and instantly fell in love with his work. In addition to several images of horses roaming freely in the wild, T Bar has several photographs of Dutesco’s giant California poppies and Birds of Paradise, which are expressed as solar flares. Powerful indeed.
At Peak, the new modern American restaurant on the 101st floor of 30 Hudson Yards, diners may have a hard time picking what they pay more attention to; is it the impressive views of the city, or is it the art? The establishment’s nine-piece collection includes a wall structure by New York-based artist Malcom Hill, and wall art from Margaret Boozer and Petr Weigl to name a few. There’s also a blue, mixed media on aluminum piece by British artist Jason Martin and a canvas by American artist Anthony Pearson.