(Photo: Molly Tavoletti)

Intimate French-inspired dining hidden in the West Village

By Erik Mathes

Every New Yorker experiences nights when they’re in dire need of an amazing meal, but would do anything to avoid cooking and crowds. When these moments arise, it pays to have a restaurant like Wallflower on your radar.

Opened in 2013 on a quiet side street just off Greenwich Avenue, Wallflower has found success in the most competitive city in the world for dining, thriving in a spot that you might mistake for just another West Village residence if you didn’t know better. In a cozy room with seating for just about 35, it’s the kind of place that feels straight out of a classic film depicting the magical energy of NYC.

With its gold-painted tin tile ceiling, floral wallpaper accents, and sharply dressed bartender behind the four-seat, marble bar, this is no ordinary establishment. Head bartender James Lombardino has curated an impressive collection of spirits, American and European wines, and local beers, plus a cocktail menu full of international inspiration. Consider the spicy, sweet, and sour Shush, a combination of pineapple and chipotle–infused vodka, strawberry, lime, and Angostura bitters, and the frothy Curtain Up, a concoction of chamomile-infused gin, the French aperitif Pineau de Charentes, lemon oil, lemon, and egg white.

Chef Carlo James (C.J.) Barroso’s devotion to the art of food began as a youngster growing up in the Phillipines, and he sharpened his skills in top NYC kitchens like Saxon and Parole, The Finch, and Aquavit. His cooking at Wallflower borrows regional French influences and infuses his own culinary background and creativity into every dish using seasonal ingredients from the Union Square green market. Think Hudson Valley duck with farro, garlic scapes, and broccoli rabe, briny East coast oysters with rhubarb mignonette, and a baller-style burger with raclette cheese, maple bacon, and sun-dried tomato aioli.
If anything here is a must-have to start, it’s the house-baked dinner rolls served with two different butters—both made in house. You get three piping hot spheres of freshly baked deliciousness, with a crunchy, glazed exterior from a light brush of egg wash, and a steaming, pillowy-soft interior that perfectly sops up the golden-colored cultured butter and the taupe-hued smoked bone marrow butter. After that, try a cold appetizer like the tuna tartare (pictured below), mixed with pickled ginger and yuzu-shishito aioli and served with toasted sourdough slices for a perfect contrast in textures, or the burratini with a rainbow of heirloom carrots, gingered yogurt, and kalamata olives.

For mains, vegetarians can bliss out with the tagliatelle with smoked tomatoes, snap peas, and Pecorino, while carnivores can’t go wrong with the lamb loin, sliced thick and served with asparagus, morels, stinging nettles, and rosti, a round fritter made mostly with potatoes.

Next time you’re having one of those nights, when drab delivery somehow starts to seem like the only answer, you know what to do: Turn it around and enjoy an intimate meal at this gourmet hideaway.


Sun 5:30 PM–10 PM; Mon–Wed 5:30 PM–10:30 PM; Thu–Sat 5:30 PM–11 PM

price range

$24 (burger) to $40 (lamb loin)