New York

Two years after opening, Rezdôra is still one of the most in-demand restaurants in the city. All photos courtesy of Rezdôra

The One Who Keeps the BookNew York

How to Get Into New York’s Rezdôra, and What to Order

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Scoring a table at Rezdôra, the Michelin-starred Italian restaurant in the Flatiron District has become one of the most prized golden tickets in town, perhaps the culinary equivalent of courtside tickets to the Knicks or winning the “Hamilton” lottery. And this is still happening two years after the restaurant first opened.

Within Rezdôra’s first year of opening in 2019, chef Stefano Secchi received rave reviews for the restaurant’s Emilia-Romagna-based pastas and desserts that’s translated into a perpetually packed restaurant diners have clamored to get into.

And that’s where we come in. Welcome back to The One Who Keeps The Book, a regular series that aims to answer all the most important of questions about how to get into a restaurant. The first answer is Resy, of course. But every restaurant manages its tables differently, and there are always tips, tricks, and shortcuts to be discovered. So here, we go straight to the source to get them for you.

At Rezdôra, general manager Christina Caruana walks us through her favorite dishes and gives us all the insider knowledge you need to snag a coveted table.

 

Resy: How many seats are there at Rezdôra?

Caruana: There are about 53 seats inside, including 11 bar seats and 16 seats in our upstairs mezzanine. Then there are 20 seats in our outdoor structure that was built [during] the pandemic. Indoors, they’re all small square tables that we can push together to accommodate parties of four. We don’t really accommodate any parties larger than five in our dining room.

One of our most highly requested tables is our one round table that is between our upstairs mezzanine and the main dining room. It’s a really desirable table because it’s cozy for two and nice for four. You can see the action happening because it looks down into the entrance of our kitchen.

The upstairs mezzanine is our elevated dining room that can be a semi-private space for events of up to 21 people. If it’s not booked for a private event, it’s reserved for a la carte dining.

When do reservations drop on Resy?

Twenty-one days out at midnight. So, if we wanted to release [tables] on the 24th of December, [the reservations drop] three weeks prior to that at midnight.

And how quickly do these tend to get booked out?

Prime-time spots like the 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. slots go quickly and are the first to go. So, within a week, I would say we’re nearly at 75% capacity.

Are any of the seats in the restaurant held for walk-ins?

Yes, our bar is for walk-ins for full dining experiences only. We don’t allow people to come in just for drinks. [Bar seats] are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and we start a waitlist on the night of.

 

What is the typical wait time for a walk-in?

It depends. Weather is a variant, and so are local foot traffic and things like that. Last night, we had a really great night. We had three to four parties on the waitlist continuously throughout the night, and we were able to accommodate all of them. The longest somebody waited was about 45 minutes. The pace of the night was moving more quickly. But it’s hard to give people an estimate, as far as the waitlist goes, because it’s also based on cancellations.

We don’t really get no-shows because we do require a credit card to book. People know that if they don’t show up, they’ll get charged [a no-show fee]. But things happen, and we do see a few cancellations. We do accommodate a handful of walk-ins every night. The running joke of Rezdôra is that we’re always busy. We never slow down, no matter what day of the week it is.

How long is your Notify list on average?

It’s always at least 200. When I checked last night, it was over 800. We’ve seen an uptick lately because of the holidays. It’s usually anywhere from 200 to 800 or 900.

Are there any other ways to snag a table?

We do have the reservation email where people do tend to have some luck. We try our best to accommodate, but that’s the only other way.

Out of all the options, which one has the best chance of scoring a table?

It depends on what kind of experience you want. If you want a table in the dining room for a special occasion or date night out, the best bet is to make a reservation 21 days out. If you have more flexibility to possibly join us at the bar, which can be really fun, then walking in is just as good.

In your opinion, what’s the best seat in the house?

We have two corner bar seats that give you the whole view of the dining room. If we do have a walk-in, and they tell us they are celebrating something, we’ll try to seat them at those two bar seats because they are the best bar seats, in our opinion.

Our table 27, the round table I described earlier, is, from a guest’s perception, probably the best table in the house because it’s the only round. It’s more secluded, and there are no tables on either side of you. It looks into the kitchen. That’s where the chef often steps out to scan the dining room and see how it’s going. You can get a glimpse of him. You really get to see the action of the kitchen.

Can people request specific tables?

We’ll always try our best to accommodate table requests. Resy gives you a great option to leave a note for the restaurant. I would suggest putting it there, and we will do our best to accommodate that request.

When is Rezdôra least and most busy?

Lunches are a bit less busy than dinner. If people can’t get in for dinner, I often suggest trying to get a lunch reservation. But there is no day of the week that’s busier. Fridays are just as busy as Tuesdays for us. It really is always busy.

It’s Friday night at 7 p.m. Can you set the scene?

As soon as you walk into Rezdôra, people always comment about how good it smells. Because we are a smaller space, there are food aromas in the air plus a great playlist going. You have this moody music and lighting in an intimate setting and immediately feel like you’re in one of those cool New York City places where you can tell you’re in for something exciting.

Usually, all the seats are full, and there are people waiting outside. We’ve built a reception area in our outdoor structure. We want to give people a warm and comfortable place to wait and enjoy a cocktail or beverage. There are usually people outside the vestibule waiting to come in. So there’s definitely great energy. It’s loud but nothing obnoxious. You can walk in and be immersed in the Rezdôra culture.

How about midday on a weekday?

I would say lunch and brunch is more on the mellow side because there’s not as much volume. If you’re looking for a quieter experience, I would suggest coming in for lunch, brunch, or an early dinner. But again, we’re a small space. If we fill up for lunch, it looks really busy in here anyway.

What kind of music is played inside the restaurant?

Chef Stefano has curated a real badass playlist. There are two different playlists. One is for brunch and lunch, one for dinner. As somebody who likes music, it was one of the reasons that I wanted to work for them. I knew that I was in the right place. [The playlist] is classics mixed with some new artists. You have everyone from Frank Sinatra to The Roots, Biggie, Led Zeppelin, Louie Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Adele, and Bob Marley. It has a nice ebb and flow. The pace definitely gets faster as the night goes on. We constantly get compliments on our music. We’re very proud of it. The playlist is on Spotify.

Photo by Casey Giltner, courtesy of Rezdôra
Photo by Casey Giltner, courtesy of Rezdôra

What should someone order from the menu?

We offer a really nice, curated pasta tasting menu that reflects the different regions of pastas from Emilia-Romagna. It’s a six-course tasting menu of pastas in smaller portions, but you really get to try a little bit of everything. We have an optional wine pairing to go with it.

If you aren’t in the mood for six courses of small pasta dishes, I would suggest [starting with] our house gnocco frito. It’s a savory fried dough, served with coppa, mortadella, and prosciutto.

Then, of course, move into pastas. All of our pastas are handmade every day. In my opinion, the uovo raviolo is definitely something we do exceptionally well. It’s this beautiful singular raviolo, and you cut into it and this bright orange egg yolk, from organic pasture-raised eggs, comes running out. Depending on the season, we shave winter or white truffles on top tableside. That’s my personal favorite. There’s so much love and integrity that goes into the process.

We also have the “Grandma Walking Through the Forest in Emilia” dish, which is one of our more well-known pastas, given the gorgeous green shade of the pasta. It’s been on the menu since we opened, and it’s seen a lot of recognition on our social media pages.

We do a beautiful 60-day dry-aged rib eye. The steak is rubbed with this porcini mushroom powder, and I think it’s one of the best rib-eye steaks I’ve ever had in the city, or anywhere, really. I think if your appetite allows for it, doing a couple of appetizers and then moving into pasta course and staying for the costata di maiale is the way to go.

Of course, you can’t forget about dessert. The olive oil cake will probably never leave our menu. And our pastry chef Dominique Lombardo also makes some of the best gelati in the city. We have this amazing pistachio and stracciatella gelato that’s out of this world.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

New York City has a plethora of Italian restaurants. When we opened, we knew New York City didn’t need one more Italian restaurant. We’re not just an Italian American restaurant. Chef Stefano is very passionate about where he comes from and what he knows about Italia and the Emilia-Romagna region. We’re very specific to that. Our wine list speaks to it. [It’s in] the culture of the restaurant and everything we do. You’re not coming in for a bowl of pasta. You’re in for something authentic, original, and special. We’re just happy to be serving New York.

 

Rezdôra is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 5 to 10:30 p.m.; Wednesdays to Fridays from 12 noon to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 10:30 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m.

 

Annie Lin is a New York City-based writer specializing in food, lifestyle, and hospitality. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Follow @Resy, too.