Nymphs-Watching Again | Cafe des Artistes Reborn Italian Style

New York’s Cafe des Artistes restaurant will reopen in 2011.Updated: August 9, 2010: Anne here. On a day when I have learned that romantic passions don’t die easily, and love isn’t always over when we think the door has closed on our lives, I can broadcast wonderful news about one of my favorite New York restaurantsL Cafe des Artistes, a romantic hideaway returning to life as a southern Italian restaurant owned by restaurateur Gianfranco Sorrentino.

An Italian immigrant, Mr. Sorrentino has been in the restaurant business for more than 30 years, managing restaurants across the world. In New York he is known by some as “The Mayor of 54th Street,” as all three of his restaurants have been on 54th Street and in the same vicinity. His New York restaurants have included Bice Restaurant and Sette MoMA Restaurant in the Museum of Modern Art. via WSJ

The decor and charm of Cafe des Artistes will be left intact, and the restaurant will reopen as a nonunion restaurant. Now if New York can reinvent Tavern on the Green and the Rainbow Grill, romantic New Yorkers will be standing on firm ground again.

Howard Chandler Christy mural at Cafe des Artistes returning to life. To celebrate this wonderful news, we’re reproducing the glorious murals at Cafe des Artistes. This is the second brilliant pieces of news today. Could the loose ends of my life possibly be coming back together! If so, you will find me as a regular at the new and improved, better than ever ‘la dolce vita’ restaurant Cafe des Artistes. Bravo. Anne

Originally written September 1, 2009: Another part of me has died. Oh no! First Ted Kennedy: Farewell Three Sweet Princes: Who Will Guide Me Now, Ted? and now Cafe des Artistes.

Located on the West side of New York, near Lincoln Center, this gorgeous restaurant defined romantic dining in New York since the thirties.

Drew Nieporent, impresario of Nobu, Corton and Tribeca Grill, called Cafe des Artistes one of New York’s essential dining spots. It was nirvana for me. Talk about Smart Sensuality. Cafe des Artistes was so deliciously decadent in a refined way.

I loved the restaurant as a young woman in New York and as an older one. It was so romantic. How many engagements and weddings began there! How many divorce celebrations and business deals! How many after-the-opera dinners when the music continued to sway one’s heart, even though the sound had stopped an hours ago.

“I wooed my wife there over many a dinner and brunch,” Nieporent said in a phone interview from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. “I loved the Mitteleuropean sensibility George brought, that flair, that imagination, those pates. He has been a mentor to me and a very good friend.” via Bloomberg News

Cafe des Artistes naked nymph brought Smart Sensuality pleasure to diners for decadesBetween the economy and union obligations, the NYTimes reports that it could no longer survive.

“We think Mr. Lang is a great figure in the restaurant industry, a great person, and it’s a great restaurant. But it feels like time passed it by a while ago,” says Bill Granfield, president of Local 100 of Unite Here, the union representing the cafe’s 50-odd employees. via NYTimes

In retropect, I think this is the first restaurant where I was surrounded by naked women, and it all seemed so glorious.

The Café des Artistes sits in the lobby of Hotel des Artistes, a part Gothic, part Tudor revival co-op building designed by George Mort Pollard that opened as artists’ studios in 1916; the restaurant opened a year later. Howard Chandler Christy painted its walls in the ’30s, according to Mr. Lang’s memoir, “Nobody Knows the Truffles I’ve Seen,” creating 36 nymphs, including one man, speculated to have been modeled after Buster Crabbe.

It’s true that Café des Artistes continued to serve pot-au-feu and salmon four ways, considered classics by some and relics by others. via NYTimes

Café des Artistes is the ultimate “slow food” experience. Anything that I write about “slow living” moves to the top of the list, here at A of C. Let’s hope that something can be done to save this irreplaceable New York dining experience. We need ‘slow’ in our lives, and we need Café des Artistes. How distressing. Anne