Bridging Mediterranean and NYC sensibilities in the West Village

By Erik Mathes

If you’re a New Yorker who’s ever been to Europe, then you realize that modern Mediterranean restaurants in NYC are little like their counterparts across the ocean, in terms of hospitality. On the other hand, when traveling, you’ve probably wondered at least once whether the locals ever get bored of their own food, as most restaurants over there don’t stray far from the regional cuisine, even the newer ones.

That’s what’s so appealing about Gardenia in the West Village—it has the feel of a contemporary restaurant in the Mediterranean, with a diverse menu that expertly fuses ingredients and cooking styles from around the world. Think burrata with blood orange, beets, and frisée, crawfish tostadas with avocado cream, cucumber, white beans, sliced fennel, and extra-virgin olive oil, and drink experiments like mezcal with yellow pepper juice, chile liqueur, and fresh sage, and you’ll start to get an idea of what’s happening down on 64 Downing Street.

Co-owner Antonio Pezzella hails from Abruzzo, Italy, and, along with his Portuguese partner, Vitor Proenca, believes that food should be experimental and ever-evolving. That’s why regulars at Gardenia are so hooked: The kitchen and bar keep outdoing themselves, yet the newer offerings are complemented by cornerstone plates from Gardenia’s earlier days that keep diners coming back for more.
His classics include the signature guac, a non-negotiable for nearly every table that comes studded with pomegranate seeds, spiked with fresh chiles, and served with toasted pita. There’s also the Catalan paella, a seafood celebration that’s so good you’ll be fighting to scrape up all the bits of browned rice stuck to the bottom of the cast-iron pan it comes served in.

Those looking for lighter fare can opt for the chilled green gazpacho, served with julienned scallion and cucumber and crumbles of rich, creamy feta. This summer delight is perfectly paired by the equally refreshing Botanical Garden cocktail, featuring mezcal, lime, a unique infusion of Dolin Blanc with celery, cucumber, rosemary, jalapeno, pink peppercorns and thyme, sherry egg white, and celery bitters. The combination is a perfect example of what Gardenia has to offer—unique culinary creations that are craveable enough to get you out of your house during one of our classic NYC heatwaves, for an experience that makes you forget about the grind of the city for a while, complete with European hospitality.


Mon–Thu 11:30 AM–10:30 PM; Fri 11:30 AM–11 PM; Sat 11 AM–11 PM; Sun 11 AM–10 PM

price range

$24 (porcini mushroom risotto) to $32 (Catalan paella)