Annie Block | September 01, 2011
One short stretch of Park Avenue South is home not only to Starbucks, Subway, McDonald's, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and California Pizza Kitchen but also to more upscale outposts of Hillstone and Dos Caminos. "It's chain-y," iCrave founder Lionel Ohayon says of the Midtown location. So for Ristorante Asellina, at the Gansevoort Park Avenue NYC hotel, he went for sui generis authenticity.
As he describes it, "The honesty of the materials coincides with the simple ingredients." His materials palette is indeed pared-down—predominantly wood, concrete, metal, and glass. Yet there's a complexity to the design, thanks to his layering technique.
With various partitions, rather than solid walls, he loosely divided the 8,000-square-foot space into four zones: a bar, a lounge, a front dining area, and a sunken rear dining area. "The partitions provide intimacy and connectivity in a large room," he says. "When you stand in the back garden, you can see all the way through to the street."
In addition to the garden, there's a sidewalk café. It was important, he says, to create a destination that's "part of the street and the city." Being part of a hotel was an equally crucial consideration, he continues: "With hotel guests coming here for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all three, it has to be a go-to place whatever the time of day."
The restaurant's name refers to a go-to place in ancient Pompeii—a tavern with three guest rooms above it, all run by a woman called Asellina. Manhattan's Asellina has 249 rooms and suites upstairs, plus a roof deck with a swimming pool.