390 Park Ave.
Casa Lever is on the ground floor of the stunning, 1952 landmark, green-glass Lever building, where you expect to run into the cast of TV’s Mad Men. In summer, Casa Lever Gardens occupies the unique courtyard with a main dining area, as well as a 50-foot bar and lounge for aperitivos. After business hours, Park Avenue is relatively quiet and the illuminated office towers create a romantic atmosphere.
Executive Chef Mario Danieli designs a sophisticated menu with appetizers like Vitello Tonnato, the summer classic of cold, thinly sliced, slow-roasted veal topped with a cloud of tuna-infused mayonnaise and caper sauce. Hamachi (yellow tail ceviche) is sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. Danieli is from Abruzzo, the region of Italy known for pasta, and there are many outstanding pasta dishes, such as the Linguine with King Crab, Santa Barbara sea urchin, and pepperoncino. Veal Milanese, the traditional breaded chop, is served with wild-arugula-and-tomato salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic, and Parmesan. The Casa Lever Salad of organic mixed greens, mozzarella, olives, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and radish is an ideal summer dish.
Popular aperitivos at the bar include the Lever Burgers: sliders of dry aged beef with homemade fries. A favorite brunch dish is the Frittata di Zucchine with scallions and goat cheese. Italians have always created great desserts, so don’t leave without trying the Gianduja, a sculpted work of art made of hazelnut cream layers, wafers, and chocolate mousse. Lunch, aperitivo, dinner, Monday through Saturday 11am to 11pm; brunch Saturday. -- Marian Betancourt
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