Roosevelt Island, where fewer than 1 percent of the city’s population resides, isn’t exactly a destination for food. There are only a handful of restaurants on this narrow strip of land, which sits in the East River between Manhattan and Queens and is best known for close-up views of the skyline and its aerial tram. Starting tomorrow, however, two hospitality veterans from Los Angeles are opening Anything At All — serving up three meals a day at the most notable restaurant to open on this island.
Located within the new Graduate Hotel on Cornell Tech’s cutting-edge campus, at 22 North Loop Road, Anything At All is spearheaded by restaurateurs Marc Rose and Med Abrous of LA-based hospitality group Call Mom and helmed by chef Ja’Toria Harper. The opening signals a homecoming for Rose and Abrous, two New York natives who are known for LA restaurants Winsome and Genghis Cohen. They also oversee the food and beverage at the Graduate Hotels in Seattle and Nashville. “When we got the call about Roosevelt Island, we didn’t feel that it was the perfect fit at first,” Rose says, acknowledging the fact that most New Yorkers have never even visited the island. It was this notion of unfamiliar territory, though, that got them excited about the opportunity to provide locals with a chance to discover something new. The name refers to a line in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby: “Anything can happen now that we’ve slid across this bridge… Anything at all.”
The restaurant boasts 140 seats, including outdoor tables, and is anchored by an 18-seat wraparound bar. Other decor features include vintage-inspired rugs, mid-century light fixtures, lush greenery from design studios Verru Design and WYLD, and of course, views. “You have this perspective of the city that most people haven’t even seen, but there’s no hiding the fact that you’re in New York,” says Rose of the vantage point marked by the Queensboro Bridge. Also coming soon is an 168-seat rooftop bar and lounge called the Panorama Room, which is being designed by the James Beard Award-winning firm Parts and Labor Design and will feature unobstructed city views.
Anything At All is also Harper’s New York debut. She comes from a hotel restaurant background, having risen the ranks at Marriott International starting at California’s Desert Springs Resort & Spa and most recently as executive sous chef at the MINA Group’s Arcadia restaurant in the San Jose Marriott. Her menu is influenced by the idea that Roosevelt Island is a “port town,” and leans heavily on fish and seafood. There’s a bouillabaisse called Shells on Shells with local littleneck clams and mussels and a “coastal” toast with sardines, crisp sourdough, fried capers, and red onion. An umami-forward vegetarian dish stars roasted cabbage and seaweed butter paired with crisp chickpeas, yogurt, and a five-spice garlic oil blend. And the burger, which Harper says she toiled over until it felt exactly right, is comprised of Wonder Meat wagyu, grilled onions, house-pickled green tomatoes, American cheese, and a mayo-mustard-ketchup condiment laden with chopped pickled jalapeños. During brunch, which Rose and Abrous expect to be a big draw — especially because of the waterfront views — Harper offers “plays on New York classics” like an open-faced Reuben sandwich with a poached egg and kimchi in place of sauerkraut.
In the kitchen, Harper is also joined by Lindsey Verardo (Benno, Gramercy Tavern), the executive pastry chef who is responsible for desserts in addition to pastries like cheddar-jalapeño-bacon scones and blueberry muffins for the hotel’s solar and battery-powered coffee bicycle cart. On beverage duty is Estelle Bossy, who hails from Union Square Hospitality Group and Del Posto. Her cocktail program currently features seasonal drinks like a Rhubarb Spritz with gin, clarified rhubarb, strawberry-infused vermouth, rosé, and pink peppercorn and the frozen Kool Thing made with mezcal, pineapple brandy, lemon, white bitters, and cacao. Given the hotel’s connection to the future-thinking Cornell Tech campus, sustainability is a driving force in the back of house. For example, Harper passes lemon rinds that would’ve been otherwise discarded onto Bossy, who dehydrates them to create a lemon-dust rim for her Paloma milk punch.
Anything At All’s unique location means it’s able to offer delivery to three boroughs within a three-mile radius — Long Island City, Greenpoint, and the east side of Midtown Manhattan. The restaurant is partnering with DeliverZero, an eco-friendly food packaging company that supplies restaurants with reusable, recyclable containers that guests are encouraged to return to a courier the next time they order or drop off at any participating restaurant.
Beginning on Wednesday, June 23, Anything At All is open daily from 7 to 11 a.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch, and 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner. Drinks and bar bites will be available between 3 and 5 p.m.