Certain restaurants, much like people, possess the gift of never being out of fashion. Sant Ambroeus is among these. Since the original opened in 1936 in Milan, then made its way to Madison Avenue in 1982, the restaurants have enjoyed a constant flow of fashionable customers – Europeans, fashion types, with-it neighborhood regulars – popping in for lunch, coffee, dinner, or anything in between. Sant Ambroeus now serves customers in the West Village and Southampton, and their newest location, on the border of Soho and Nolita, already feels like a classic.
Though only a few weeks old, the place is already buzzing. Romance languages might be heard at the curving bar up front – where caffe and pastries (made uptown at the Madison location) are available to stay or to go. You’ll want to stay, the better to scope out the fashionable crowd and eye the elegant interiors. Over there, two stylists can be seen having a tete-a-tete while a waiter in a skinny tie proffers a bottle of Pellegrino. Across the way, in the curved corner nook of an orange leather banquette, a group of men in slim suits and well-groomed stubble discuss what look like important matters.
Robert McKinley, known for designing hotspots like Ruschmeyer’s and The Surf Lodge in Montauk, lent his deft touch to the former Caffe Falai, outfitting the space with 60s and 70s Milano flare. Those orange banquettes, with a sleek Midcentury Modern profile, line the main dining room, along with dark wood tables that match slatted wall paneling. There’s chartreuse velvet on the standalone chairs, and a large piece of art depicting a Cubist city scene.
Chef de Cuisine Marco Barbisotti, a native of Milan, is turning out a menu that will look familiar to devotees of the other locations. Tuck into signatures pastas like spaghetti neri alla carbonara, with leeks, pancetta, and a poached egg, or trofie (a short, twisted pasta) with lamb ragu. There are also classic Milanese mains including a veal chop, and a number of meal-size salads as a lighter option. Or just pop in for morning coffee and a ham-and-cheese croissant, or maybe an early evening aperitivo drink. Just as it never goes out of fashion, Sant Ambroeus feels right any time of day.
Sant Ambroeus Soho
265 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10012
– Jenny Miller