Upper West Side Openings & Closings: The Ellington, Monaco

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Still trying to get back to a normal posting schedule and have a huge backlog of opening/closing news.

A new restaurant called The Ellington recently opened at 936 Amsterdam (corner of 106th).

While the space has a jazz theme and pays homage to the great Duke Ellington — West 106th Street is also known as Duke Ellington Boulevard — it’s not a jazz bar with live music.

DNAinfo, Zagat, and TimeOut all have recent write-up on the restaurant.

Per DNA:

While several jazz aficionados have come into The Ellington thinking it’s a new jazz bar, the restaurant aims to offer more of a “subtle tribute” to Ellington and does not intend to become a music club, manager Roger Clark said.

The homey gastropub with a gourmet menu marks established Greenwich Village restaurateur Glenda Sansone’s first foray into the Upper West Side dining scene after she decamped from the Village with her growing family three years ago.

Zagat adds the following:

The menu from chef Lester Almanzar (a former chef-de-partie at Dovetail) features a few different burgers and flatbreads, plus a wide salad selection.

Allen Katz of Brooklyn’s New York Distilling Company designed the cocktail menu, which pays homage to Ellington’s oeuvre with drinks like “A Slow Ride On The A Train” (Knob Creek Bourbon, Elderflower Liqueur, Fresh Fuji Apple Juice, Fresh Lime Juice); “A Sophisticated Lady” (Perry’s Tot – Navy Strength Gin, Fresh Lime Juice, Simple Syrup, Cinnamon Syrup); and “A Prelude To A Kiss” (Absolut Citron, Combier Cherry Liqueur, Cinzano Extra Dry Vermouth), served from 11 AM to 4 PM daily.

And from TimeOut:

The 60-seat den [has] a rustic feel with whitewashed barnwood walls, oxidized tin ceilings and large antique mirrors. Honey-stained plank tables are set with Cumberland sausage (a coil of peppery pork) and mash, dressed with onion gravy and braised red cabbage, and butternut squash risotto finished with pickled pears, arugula and queso fresco, dished out by former Dovetail toque Lester Almanzar.

You can find a copy of the menu to the right (click for full-size).

My sister, who has lived a few blocks away from the Ellington for 20 years, ate there last week and sent in this note:

I had dinner at  Ellington’s last week and was pleasantly surprised.  The décor is nice, the tables are comfortably spaced, the service was pleasant, the menu had options for multiple tastes (including both carnivores and vegetarians) and the food was fine.  One caution – although I liked the music, it might be a little loud for some diners hoping to have a quiet conversation.  On the other hand, since the music is loud, one does not hear the people at the next table.  In any event, the restaurant seems like a good addition to the neighborhood and, although it does not seem to have received a lot of press, it was full the night I was there.   I hope it succeeds where its geographic predecessors have failed.

Seems like a promising addition to the neighborhood. Some photos and additional details are available at theellingtonny.com.

936 Amsterdam was previously home to The Neighborhood, which closed last June.


Monaco, the Italian/Mediterranean restaurant that has been at 421 Amsterdam (corner of 80th) for what seems like forever, has been closed for more than a week while it undergoes “renovations.”

The windows are all papered up with the following sign posted: “To our loyal and valued customers, Monaco is closed temporarily, reopening soon! Sorry for any inconvenience.”

My experience with restaurants that close “temporarily” is that they usually never reopen. It doesn’t help that every time I walk past it (I live nearby) the restaurant is almost always empty.

To be clear, there IS construction taking place inside. The other day I asked a worker if he knew when they were reopening, but he clearly did not want to talk to me about it.

I do have some information from a reliable source who tells me that the building Monaco is located in is owned by the city and the restaurant pays rent that is only a fraction of what market rates are. He told me it’s somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000 per month, which seems way too low.

However, if he’s right about that, it’s possible Monaco could close for an extended period of time without taking too big of a financial hit.

I’m curious to see if they actually reopens.


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