Two popular spots in Midtown are generating a lot of buzz in New York City’s food scene.
Harta and Bar Cima opened this past fall as first-class dining destinations by the award-winning NYC-based hospitality group Apicii. Both spots are nestled comfortably in the Grayson Hotel, located at 30 W 39th St, which also opened its doors just steps away from Bryant Park.
“We were looking at the property and trying to figure out, given that neighborhood, obviously you have a lot of tourists, you have a lot of tech that’s there and is just close to a lot of different things, right? You’re near Broadway but you’re a little bit further away from it and you’re near Bryant Park,” said Tom Dillon, Founder and CEO of Apicii. “We really were trying to do concepts that we felt could offer like different people different experiences at the property.”
On the ground floor of the Grayson Hotel, you’ll find Harta, sitting adjacent to the hotel lobby. The restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine that pulls inspiration from Italy, France, and Spain, while also utilizing flavor profiles from the Middle East.
The concept was mapped out by Dillon, Apicii’s Chief Culinary Officer Jonathan Benno, and Executive Chef Mark Zuckerman, who really made the menu into something that is truly one of a kind.
“What was sort of the original thoughts when it came to developing the menu for Harta were a couple of the key things. We really wanted to involve, especially in the menu, is one the idea of a good amount of offerings as far as small plates go, so things that can are easily shared, things that can be shared between two or three people,” said Zuckerman. “It was really the vision of the dining room table with two to four people sitting at it and the table is just full of all these different plates of food everyone’s sharing.”
The Harta menu taps into Zuckerman’s and Benno’s extensive experience and features a variety of shareables, including potato and chorizo croquettes, lamb ribs, burrata, falafel, mixed chicories and more, as well as spreads served with focaccia bread, such as charred eggplant, fava bean hummus, labneh, and romesco. The dinner menu is also packed with Mediterranean flavors in dishes such as the Braised Pekin Duck, Chicken Tagine, Black Bass, Black Angus Sirloin and more.
You can round out your meal at Harta with their dessert menu, which includes treats such as the basque cheesecake, quince crostata and the pistachio soft serve sundae. Harta also has breakfast and lunch options for New York City’s early diners.
“The Mediterranean gets a little broad in description, but [there is] a lot of influence from southern France, a bit from Italy and then a good amount from the Middle East as well, whether it’s turkey or Israel,” said Zuckerman. “The menu plays more to the style of a restaurant that has strong ties to those areas.”
Meanwhile, Bar Cima sits at the very top of the hotel’s 28th floor, offering views of the Hudson River and the Empire State building. Tapping into Dillon’s expertise in developing Mexican restaurants, bars, and lounges, the bar is very agave-forward in its offerings, with many of the specialty cocktails (as well as their play on classic cocktails) containing tequila or mezcal.
“I always love to be able to do those two parts of something like Mexican food and cuisine and drinks is fun, it can be widely enjoyed but at the same time there’s a lot behind it, there’s a lot of really interesting things behind it,” said Dillon.
Dillon says that customers have come to love the tequila or mezcal in classic cocktails, such as the Mezcal Negroni, the Oaxacan Old Fashioned, and the Paloma with tequila blanco, as well as the specialty cocktail menu that infused traditional Mexican flavors into the drinks, like the Elote Old Fashioned, the Nativo Fizz and the Cima Special.
“I think people have kind of appreciated both sides of that. Some people come in, they’re like, yeah, I really want to really spirit-forward Old Fashioned and that’s super interesting,” said Dillon. “Then the other side of it is a little more experimentation around something that’s more that expression of not just Mexican spirits, but also more of the interesting [ingredients] that we have in a few of the cocktails.”
Both Zuckerman and Dillon say that Harta and Bar Cima have been received really well by the public since the openings, which is particularly positive considering they are both attached to the hotel.
“I think the first few weeks it was definitely more of a draw on, you know, [guests] in the hotel, but now it’s getting much more mixed a lot more repeat guests,” Dillon said about Bar Cima.
“We opened with a menu that has a good amount of what I would call approachable safe options that are still very flavorful and delicious, and then a few options that are more on the front side for us, and the menu has been very well received,” Zuckerman said about Harta. “Unfortunately, a lot of restaurants that are inside of hotels kind of get that stigma around them. But I would really love to see [Harta] get its feet under it and become a reason that people are dining in the Grayson as opposed to a restaurant that people are dining in because they’re staying in the Grayson Hotel.”
In the months ahead, Harta and Bar Cima will be working on a new taco truck that will be parked on Bar Cima’s balcony, offering delicious food to munch on alongside Bar Cima’s cocktails. As for the future of Harta and Bar Cima, both Dillon and Zuckerman hope that the establishments become more popular once the weather gets warmer. That being said, they are also looking to help New Yorkers broaden their horizons with their offerings.
“I hope happens in the coming months, once we really get back into the spring, the summer comes around, it becomes a spot in this neighborhood where you can get some of that pre-theater, post-theater crowd. I think it’s a really, it’s a really beautiful dining room and the menu has a lot of great options that you could get through a meal pretty quickly if you needed to go see a show or you’re looking to grab something after a show other than that,” said Zuckerman. “To just become a staple in the area that gets a good amount of foot traffic from the offices around us and just becomes a great, reliable, consistent restaurant for the folks living in this area and also, you know, surprisingly refined and delicious restaurant that is in the lobby of the Grayson Hotel.”
“One of the things I always I was disheartened by a lot of times is people really didn’t take the time to understand a lot of Mexican cuisine or tequila like spirits,” said Dillon. “Everybody’s knowledge is, you know, kind of evolved. So to me, it’s like that seeing those two things come together where people are still like, this is a fun, approachable, convivial, like it’s a great experience to have, but also that there’s a lot behind this and you can really appreciate the uniqueness of the agave spirits and kind of how it’s presented.”
For more information about Harta and Bar Cima, visit hartanyc.com and barcimanyc.com.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.