Sometimes two really is better than one. And make no exception, these two restaurants fit that bill and then some. I recently had a fantastic stay at The Kimberly Hotel, located on East 50th between 3rd and Lexington. While I was there, I became aware of two great restaurants with very different cuisines at each. Bistango, located directly to the left of the hotel, is the best in Modern Italian cooking, whereas Ibis, to the right, dabbles and dazzles in Mediterranean. During my stay at The Kimberly I was delighted to experience both first hand, and they were top notch when it came to decor, quality, service and of course taste. Check out my review of both.
Upon entry to Bistango, you get a warm and inviting sense from its environment, in particular the way the decor is set up. The color of red is splashed throughout, and mixing that with the beautiful decor and wooden floors elevates this particular restaurant to an entirely different level. The staff was incredibly knowledgeable and accommodating to say the least, and for a restaurant that is very new to the NYC food scene, I would say they have a great shot of being a huge success going forward in 2015 and beyond.
As previously mentioned, they excel in all things Italian. While I dined there, I was able to try some exceptional meals from beginning to end, and I would recommend trying these out and then some. If you are at an Italian place, it is somewhat necessary to try out their Meatballs. The ones they have on their appetizer menu which is traditionally called their “Meatballs Al Forno” and it comes with a zesty tomato sauce and parmesan. Great way to start the meal off. Another starter that I would recommend is going into the Flatbread route as they have nine different & very unique selections, all different from each other. if I had to choose I would recommend the Agnello, sort of a Greek flatbread that comes with Braised Lamb, Feta, Lemon and Long Peppers. All flavors really burst in your mouth and is another shining example of why Bistango is so great.
For their entrees, I would stick with a traditional Italian dish and head towards the pasta route. The one I highly recommend is the Fettucine with Lobster, Octopus and a Marscarpone-Marinara. As someone who has never had Octopus before I thought it was quite scrumptious and was cooked properly as I never really got that rubbery taste that Octopus can bring. If you enjoy a good mix of meat with your pasta I would recommend the Rigatoni with Short Rib and Salsa Verde Rustico. Good combination of flavors and the short rib was cooked to perfection. After such a hearty meal, you can finish light or go quite the opposite by trying their delectable desserts like Olive Oil Ice Cream with a caramel gelee or their creamy and delicious Tiramisu. Overall, 10/10 in my book.
Ibis is a stark contrast compared to how Bistango looks. It is quite large in its space and has a theatrical vibe upon arrival, something that would’ve been popular back in the 50’s and 60’s. Upon further investigation i found out that Ibis actually used to be an opera house back in the 1920’s where legends like Lucille Ball would come and perform. Honestly, when you are in the same building as someone as legendary as that, you get the sense that this place is doing it right. This location has gone through its changes over the past century, however Ibis looks like its doing the overall scheme of things as a job well done with its food and atmosphere. I love how dark and beautifully colored the walls and decor is, and they also have a great upstairs portion where you can host a party or gathering with your friends and family. Quite grand indeed if I do say so myself.
The food itself was quite majestic as well, all with a Mediterranean theme. If we start in the appetizer category, try the Calamari as it is fresh with a great crunch. You can’t avoid Hummus when you are at a place like this, and they do not disappoint. The chickpea, sesame sauce, garlic and lemon juice really compliment each other and go well when you are dipping the fresh bread into the Hummus itself. Another two items worth dipping something into is the Smoked Eggplant pureed with garlic & olive oil and the Artichoke Heart with carrots, potatoes and green peas. Definitely a great way to start your meal off.
For the main courses, a Dry-Aged New York Steak is something one should never say no to. They cooked it to perfection and complimented it with some tasty mashed potatoes and flavorful Asparagus. My friend opted to go the fish route and try the Branzino served with an Arugala salad. Lighter, fresh and overall tasted great. Once again, another 10/10 experience.
For more information on Ibis, Bistango and The Kimberly Hotel, check out their official sites below. If you are ever in Midtown east I would highly recommend trying them out!
The Kimberly Hotel- 145 East 50th Street