Renowned chef and humanitarian José Andrés’s eastern Mediterranean restaurant Zaytinya was a sensation when it opened in DC in 2002. Two decades later, the highly anticipated New York follow-up is ready for its debut inside the just-opened Ritz-Carlton in Nomad. On July 26, Andrés, along with co-founder Rob Wilder and Zaytinya chef and partner Michael Costa, will open the doors to Manhattan’s Zaytinya inside the luxury hotel at 1185 Broadway, near West 28th Street.
In DC, Zaytinya is a celebrated mainstay in the city’s downtown Penn Quarter neighborhood that occupies an immense, high-ceilinged space with over 400 seats. In New York, the Zaytinya offshoot is apartment-sized in comparison: There are 140 seats in the ground-floor hotel restaurant, spread out across a light and airy dining room outfitted with white oak tables, a blue-toned bar, and linen- shaded pendant lights hanging from the ceiling. The Rockwell Group, a powerhouse architecture and design firm behind many high-profile restaurant and hotel openings across the country, designed the space.
As one of the longest-running restaurants in Andrés’ vast culinary empire, Zaytinya marked Andrés’ first foray into a wider Mediterranean menu after the success of his Spanish tapas spot Jaleo. “The eastern Mediterranean is one of the richest parts of the culinary world,” Andrés said in an email. “Age-old olive and pomegranate trees continuing to bear fruit to generations of farming families in Greece; Turkish spice markets that supply baskets of saffron, pepper, and oregano of a quality rarely seen beyond its borders; and Lebanon, where centuries as an economic and cultural center for the region still have influence in unmistakable ways, through meat dishes and the country’s booming pastry culture.”
Zaytinya’s critically acclaimed menu, which winds through Greece, Turkey, and Lebanon, has long attracted a devoted fan base for its regional dishes based on some traditional recipes with a few modern elements sprinkled in. The restaurant sells several variations of pide, the Turkish flatbread, with an egg cracked over top. At Zaytinya, the egg has been cooked in its shell to 63 degrees Celsius for a preferable texture, according to Costa (expect cooked white and runny yolk). The mezze lineup includes heaps of crispy Brussels sprouts — tossed with barberries, coriander seeds, and garlicky yogurt — that practically have their own following.
On the restaurant’s exclusive-to-NYC breakfast menu, the cilbir, a Turkish dish of poached eggs in yogurt, is made with yogurt puffed up with nitrous oxide to achieve a lighter, fluffier texture. It’s then finished with a harissa chili crisp made with crispy garlic, shallots, and the Turkish pepper kirmizi biber. Abegail Naguit, the executive pastry chef for Andrés’s restaurant group in Nomad, and Andres Lara, the research and development pastry chef for Andrés’s restaurant group, are playing around with different pastries for the NYC menu, including a chocolate islak kek, or Turkish wet cake , soaked in a syrup made with more chocolate. Chef Jose Ayala leads the Nomad kitchen with David Robeano as the general manager.
Because of Zaytinya’s reputation in DC Costa is juggling expectations from both newcomers and the already initiated who will have a sharp eye out for crowd favorites like those Brussels sprouts. “The main challenge in this was to give our fans this kind of hits that they expect,” Costa says. “But we wanted to have some new things as well.”
This launch marks the second NYC expansion for Andrés following the ambitious Spanish food hall Mercado Little Spain in Hudson Yards. It’s also the second time that Andrés has attempted to transplant Zaytinya outside of DC The restaurant underwent a stint in Dallas that was well-reviewed, Costa says, but it was a short-lived expansion. The outpost shut down in 2019, after just under two years.
Following Zaytinya’s debut, two subsequent extensions of the José Andrés empire are set to open at the Ritz-Carlton later this year: Rooftop cocktail bar Nubeluz, and the first NYC location of Andrés’s high-end restaurant Bazaar.
In New York City’s ever-evolving Mediterranean restaurant scene, Zaytinya joins an increasingly crowded field of heavy hitters, including rambunctious Chelsea spot Shukette, Palestinian favorite Ayat, and Philly chef Michael Solomonov’s recently opened Laser Wolf — and Andrés and his team are happy to join the fray. “I can’t overstate how excited I am to be in one of, if not the best, restaurant city in the world,” Costa says. “I’m just really excited to be putting our flag down and seeing what we can do.”
Zaytinya is open for breakfast from 6:30 to 10:30 am Monday through Friday, and 7 to 11 am on Saturday and Sunday. Brunch, lunch and dinner are available 11 am to 10:30 pm Monday through Wednesday; 11 am to 11 pm Thursday and Friday; 11 am to 11 pm on Saturday; and 11 am to 10:30 pm on Sunday. Reservations are available on Zaytinya’s website.