The Avenues of the Upper East Side are dotted with restaurants and diners, serving the affluent populace within walking distance on the East and West sides of Park Avenue. On any given Sunday afternoon, you’ll be overwhelmed with choices for brunch. Felice 83 (Italian, pronounced Fe-Li-Che) on the surface appear like one of the nondescript eateries, but upon further inspection reveals a whole lot more.
There are now three Felice’s in New York, the other two are on 64th Street and 15 Gold Street in the Financial District. These three restaurants, along with Casa Lever on Park Avenue, are the brainchilds of Jacopo Giustiniani, a wine maker from Italy. The restaurants showcase the wines and cuisine of his estate the Fattoria Sardi Giustiniani.
Once inside, the first thing you’ll notice are the leather cushions. The intricate leather details resembled the supple seats of Italian coachwork sports cars.
For brunch, we started with Crostone Nutella, toasted pieces of Tuscan bread with nutella and caramelized banana. Topped with a little bit of frisee, these little bites were a great way to start any meal. Such a simple idea, executed beautifully. (FYI, while it looks deceptively simple, it’s not that easy to replicate at home. Believe me I tried.)
I paired the meal with a delicious glass of Felice, which was a mild, refreshing drink served in an unpretentious stemless wine glass.
For the main course, the Panini Classica, filled with prosciutto, mozzarella, fresh tomato purèe and basil was an amazing bargain at $11. I raved about the Panini at Via Quadronno, this is right up there with it.
Uova Al Tegamino was a very simple presentation of two organic eggs sunny side up with crispy pancetta, served with mixed greens. My thoughts on this simple, rustic breakfast was that if it was served al fresco on the Giustiniani estate, it’d be absolutely stunning. On 1st Ave., it was a solid brunch entree yet failed to inspire.
On Sundays, Felice offers you a little taste of Italy. At the end of the meal, hop one avenue west to Little Red Hen for a cupcake, and Shaffer and Weber for some German Bacon and Salumi. One of my favorite ways to spend a weekend morning.
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1593 1st Ave
New York, NY 10028