Before you go to a restaurant, what do you want — or need — to know the most? In our series The Rundown, we’re sharing all the essentials about Resy restaurants — our newly opened, old, and soon-to-be-favorites spots.
In this edition, we’re taking a closer look at Ci Siamo, restaurateur Danny Meyer’s newest restaurant with former Vic’s executive chef Hillary Sterling at the helm. Located in a warm and welcoming bi-level space in West Manhattan, Ci Siamo is Sterling’s deeply personal love letter to Italian traditions, from aperitivi culture to its rustic and seasonal cooking techniques.
1. This is Danny Meyer’s first New York restaurant since the pandemic.
It’s been a while since New York has had a high-profile Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) launch like this one. More than three years after inaugurating FiDi’s sky-high Manhatta in 2018, Meyer is taking a more grounded approach — literally — for Ci Siamo, which is planted in Manhattan West, a newly developed area next to Hudson Yards. But if dreaded mall entrances and a maze of escalators come to mind, fear not: Ci Siamo is quite the opposite, boasting a particularly inviting storefront.
“You never just say, ‘ci siamo’ in a melancholy way,” says executive chef Hillary Sterling. “You say it with enthusiasm and excitement and passion — it really captures what we’re trying to do here by welcoming New York City back.”
2. Ci Siamo is a comeback in many ways, for different reasons.
Translating to “here we are” in Italian, Ci Siamo is a comeback for Meyer, an even bigger one for legendary pastry chef Claudia Fleming (more on that later), and a truly personal one for Sterling herself.
“My first apartment in New York City was on 43rd Street and 8th Ave. This is definitely a neighborhood I’ve wandered through a lot, many years ago,” she says of the restaurant’s location. “I’ve been a Downtown chef basically my whole career. Twenty years later, I’m back in this neighborhood and helping in the revitalization of it.”
Sterling stresses that Ci Siamo is for the Manhattan West community and was designed to be a haven in Midtown, an area that’s suffered a great deal during the pandemic and is still recovering.
“[Ci Siamo] means so much. It means we’re ready, it means, let’s go: We’re ready to have you, embrace you, and welcome you to our homes again,” she says.
3. Ci Siamo is a two-in-one restaurant.
And like all great restaurants seeking to be an extension of your living room, Ci Siamo offers multiple experiences for whichever way you want to dine.
First up is the bar and lounge (reserved for walk-ins only), dedicated to aperitivi and cocktails, where a wooden bar and a not-quite-a-pizza-oven preside. It’s Sterling’s ideal spot to “sit and have dinner with three of your friends.”
The aperitivi facet is on point: Think a wine list that’s heavy on Italian pours and some essential cocktails. Per Sterling, the Negroni and spritz are required drinking, but don’t miss the namesake martini, a luxurious affair made with a gin sourced from the north of Italy. There’s also the very best of finger foods — mortadella studded with pistachios, local prosciutto from Casella’s, fried pillows of gnocco fritto, and the only pizzas (just two) that you’ll see in the entire restaurant.
If you follow the sinuous path past the bar, you’ll find yourself in the larger dining room, anchored by an open kitchen where a wood-fired grill takes center stage. Every aspect of the space was meant to echo Ci Siamo’s live-fire concept; design firm Goodrich dove deep into incorporating elements forged by fire, from blown glass to ceramic and terra cotta details.
4. It’s got a tri-state twist on Italian.
Don’t expect a lesson in regional Italian cuisine here: Sterling’s going personal and veering for delicious simplicity, pulling from her experiences as a chef who’s cooked Italian cuisine for several years (she headed Vic’s kitchen for seven). That also means adopting Italy’s seasonal approach to putting ingredients first and, as a born-and-bred New Yorker, she’s drawing inspiration from the city itself. It also helps that she’s got full use of a wood-fired grill, too.
“We’re really capturing all those flavors that wood can bring — the smoke, that crispy charred exterior,” she says. “We’re using the fire to help us with the simplicity of the food, where you can taste all these things in the layers that it offers and brings.”
As such, expect of-the-season vegetables from Campo Rosso that are roasted to perfection; a beautiful 45-day aged bistecca Fiorentina; an insalata de mare showcasing scallops from local waters through a zesty and sunny Campanian lens; and, of course, a selection of pastas made in house. There’s Sterling’s favorite — a tagliolini sauced in a simple concoction of buffalo butter and tomatoes inspired by none other than the grand dame of Italian home cooking, Marcella Hazan (“Marcella’s right: What else do you need?”). There’s also a rigatoni alla gricia, using La Salumina’s guanciale that’s made upstate. “We can get guanciale from Italy, but if we can find it here, that’s amazing.”
“That’s kind of my soul,” says Sterling. “Anything I’m going to do is going to be Italian-inspired.”
5. Do save room for dessert.
About those comebacks … trust us, Ci Siamo’s dessert program is not one to miss. Sensational pastry chef Claudia Fleming, who helped Meyer open Gramercy Tavern nearly three decades ago, has finally returned to the USHG fold — now as the group’s executive pastry director, and she’s personally overseen the pastry program here at Ci Siamo.
Just like Sterling, Fleming is honing in on simple comforts: Lemon tortas, sugar-dusted bombolini, and a chocolate budino are rounded out by an assortment of sorbets and gelati — we’re especially eyeing the goat’s milk lemon and espresso stracciatella.
Simply put: Every meal at Ci Siamo should end on a sweet note.
Ci Siamo is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m.