Chef Adam Leonti will finally cook in a New York kitchen, joining as a partner at acclaimed Upper West Side fine dining restaurant Dovetail for a reboot of the space.
Under his tutelage, 103 West 77th St. between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues will become an upscale, mainly Italian restaurant, likely to be called Leonti. It’s the cuisine Leonti became known for as chef de cuisine at hit Italian restaurant Vetri in Philadelphia.
Expect dishes such as ribollita, porcini pasta with snail and chianti ragu, turbot with sweet 100 tomatoes and milk-braised lamb, and a cold tripe salad. Pasta will hover around $25, with entrees creeping up to around $40. Leonti will make the bread himself, bringing in a deck oven and a mill to make fresh flour. Pastry chef Corie Greenberg (Agern, Blue Hill at Stone Barns) will do the desserts.
Though he’s become known for Italian fare, Leonti may end up expanding beyond that at the new restaurant. “If I want to make a kebab, I can make a kebab,” he says.
The chef also wants to make that space less of a special occasion spot and more in a diner’s regular rotation. It’s been a transition for him to come to the UWS, and he wants to fit into the traditionally more staid neighborhood.
“If something does take off there, it usually stays for a long time. Downtown spaces can feel like movie premieres,” he says. “You get excited when the move comes out, and then two to three years later, you don’t always re-watch the film and it kind of just goes away.”
Dovetail has embedded itself into the neighborhood, becoming Michelin-starred under former chef John Fraser. But Fraser left in May, and owner Lewis Pell closed the restaurant to reopen it as a new concept following a revamp. That revamp will be Milanese in style, with 70 seats, fine china and silverware, and servers in suits.
Leonti has had quite the journey since he left Philly for NYC in 2015. As a rising star (and former Eater Young Gun), he came here to work as chef of Harvey at the Williamsburg Hotel. But all hell broke loose: He left in 2017 when the restaurant still wasn’t open after a two-year wait, going instead to work with John McDonald at Sessanta in the Sixty Soho hotel. The owners of Harvey then sued Leonti because he had signed a non-compete, and in a controversial decision, the court upheld the contract. Leonti left to work in Germany for months until his non-compete ran out.
With all the drama, the hyped-up chef has yet to actually spend much time running a local restaurant kitchen. Stay tuned for a fall debut.