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  • Vai Restaurant

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Vai Restaurant

Vai Restaurant Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.vairestaurant.com
  • Phone: (212) 362-4500
  • Hours of Operation: Dinner: Daily 5:00pm - 11:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean, Italian
  • Executive Chef: Vincent Chirico
  • Dress Code: Smart Casual
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Beer, Delivery, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Late Night, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wine, Wine Bar
  • Catering: We are accepting reservations for holiday parties. Please inquire with restaurant.

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Between 80 and 81 street
  • Parking: No
A word from Vai Restaurant
A great meal is not just about the food and wine. A great meal is not just one that fills you up. A great meal opens up your senses and introduces you to new tastes. What we choose to do at Vai is take the simple act of eating, an ordinary activity, and make it extraordinary. Our staff will make your visit an amazing experience. Vai, which means "go" in Italian, is a beautiful space, warm atmosphere, filled with people who care. We will treat you as a guest in our home. Sit, relax, breathe...let us take care of you. Let us create a memory.Continued
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Diner Reviews
  • "We had a fabulous dinner at Vai. The octopus appetizer was amazing, as were the brussel sprouts. My branzini was one of the best i have had. Service was perfect--not hovering, but attentive."
    Dined on 4/7/2014
  • "My husband and I eat at fine restaurants several times a week. That's a lot of restaurants. While the waitress was friendly and attentive, when we would ask for a few more minutes she would return too quickly, again, more than most restaurants. But the confirming step that we were being pushed out was when the owner (or maître d') asked if he could get our coats. We said "not yet, thank you," but he got them anyway and handed them to us. Since our friends like to eat early, we didn't protest, but felt that the pressure to leave was downright unpleasant. Too bad, as the food was delicious and the atmosphere homey. Would have liked to return but don't want that kind of negative experience again."
    Dined on 4/5/2014
  • "This was my second visit to Vai for dinner. We had 6pm reservations and were seated promptly as there were a few diners in the seats. The place filled up rather quickly and it is a small space. Kale salad and trumpet mushroom apps are our faves. Pastas are fresh and seafood dishes (cod, sea bass, hamachi app) were delicious. They can accomodate more than 10 in party if you call ahead. Lovely place and food."
    Dined on 4/5/2014
  • "A compact local place with a buzzing bar scene and modest number of tables. The menu, though not extensive, is more ambitious (and in general,successful) than first impressions might suggest."
    Dined on 4/4/2014
  • "we found via a few months ago and since then have been back four or five times..and will now think of it as our favorite in the hood restaurant..food delicious..wines delicious and service superb..and friendly!!"
    Dined on 3/28/2014
  • "Service is extremely cordial, which completely enhances experience. Owner, maitre d', waitress, and all support staff on two occasions, were very welcoming-- as much part of a dining experience as the food. They made us feel special and like one of the family all at the same time. Also, service was very efficient without seeming forced--a real skill. Food is marvelous. The ceviche is an absolute. The specials wonderful, as was the pasta. Wine and cocktails great. The sound does get pretty "energetic!" --like lots of restaurants, there's nothing to absorb sound. But on a weekend evening, it was a very jovial noise. That said, we ate outside, which was lovely, so we only experienced sound walking to the bathroom. Definite return."
    Dined on 3/28/2014
  • "I feel as if the place has slipped a little. They menu seems limited and what use to be a juicy pork chop is not a slimmer, drier pork tenderloin. And the noise level makes it difficult to have a conversation. Truth is I used to like this place better."
    Dined on 3/18/2014
  • "Really good food. Small menu but everything is yummy! Good, attentive service. Only downside is the place is intimate/ tight. One of two of my faves in the nabe."
    Dined on 3/15/2014
  • "This is the second time at Vai. The first time the food was great and the service was wonderful. This time, the pasta was under-cooked (not al dente), the portions were small, and the service was challengingly slow. I went home and ate a bowl of cereal. Now it is Oy Vai, not going back."
    Dined on 3/14/2014
  • "The food was good but the service was slow. Additionally the layout led to us getting constantly hit."
    Dined on 3/14/2014
  • "We had a marvelous dinner here. Very good service. Small and crowded with noise that could blow the top of your head off."
    Dined on 3/8/2014
  • "Our first visit to Vai was disappointing, but a friend insisted we try it again. We arrived early for dinner and the restaurant was empty. We asked for a seat away from the door and we're told that they were reserved. I mentioned that we also made reservations and that since the restaurant was empty... We were finally allowed to sit further from the door. We ordered a bottle of red wine which was undrinkable because it was too cold. "Just out of the cellar" was the waiter's explanation. Perhaps an offer of a wine that wasn't refrigerator temperature would have been nice. My salmon came cold and under cooked-I asked for it to be well-done. The waiter took it back to the kitchen and it came back cooked but still cold. No apology...shameful."
    Dined on 3/7/2014
  • "My sister came from out of town and this setting was just right for catching up and celebrating. We shared appetizers, a kale salad and roasted Brussel sprouts, and agreed they were wonderful. I had the striped bass entree, she ate the Scottish salmon, and again we were delighted. Our server was fine, a little underwhelming, but we had a lovely evening that was definitely enhanced by this experience with Vai."
    Dined on 3/5/2014
  • "Good, reliable food, some things excellent. Noise can get unbearable."
    Dined on 3/4/2014
  • "Very tasty food, good presentation, great service."
    Dined on 10/10/2013
  • "It seems that all of the tables for 2 are really crammed together. It's not until you have a party of 4 that you can get a "good table". We were crammed in a corner by a cold window, which was a bummer since we were there for my birthday, but I didn't even see a better alternative. All of the spacious tables were for 4. They were also out of sparkling water, which is very strange considering there are 5 grocery stores and bodegas a block away that they could have purchased an emergency supply until they received more. Bizarre for a fancy restaurant to not be able to serve sparkling water. The food was delicious though."
    Dined on 2/24/2014
  • "I took my boyfriend here for Valentine's day, and after seating us they handed me a lovely scarf in a gift bag, a present from the chef (every couple received one). Throughout the meal, the waiters were extremely attentive. We ordered the octopus appetizer, which was nothing extraordinary, but nevertheless delightful, with just the right amount of lemon. He had the burrata ravioli (a dream), and I had the veal pappardelle. The ground veal was pretty good, noodles solidly good. For dessert, he had the mini donuts with white chocolate (well done but not inspiring), and I had the chocolate mousse (much more impressive) I would give the food a 3.5, though if you really like pasta, then add a star, because the pasta here is definitely special."
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "Food was tasty and service was great. Portions are very small and the beef due did not come with any accompaniments. The restaurant was extremely cramped and noisy."
    Dined on 1/24/2014
  • "It seems like i come here a lot... keep coming back because the food NEVER disappoints. I tried the 45 dollar tasting menu... started with a crudo (delicious tuna and yellow tail with avocado and tomato), then a pasta dish... burrata ravioli (incredibly creamy and delicious). I then had the Branzino, which I keep ordering and keep loving. Firiday night scene was hopping (okay, a little--its UWS); many friendly and happy patrons to smile at."
    Dined on 1/24/2014
  • "I have eaten at Vai twice before in the past 6 months, and the food was good, so I decided to go back with friends. My reservation was at 815p and our party of 4 was on time. There was no table available, and we were told it would be 10 minutes. Ten minutes turned into 45 minutes. I would never choose to dine out at 9pm on a workday weeknight. We were brought two complimentary appetizers in an attempt to make amends. The food was good, but we didn't need or really want extra food. The service was otherwise inattentive, and the noise level deafening. The owner was well aware of what was going on, did nothing to fix the situation. They ruined what otherwise could have been a nice evening. I will never go back to Vai or recommend it."
    Dined on 1/23/2014
  • "Excellent food. Unique preparations. Excellent summer street dining. Interior can get loud when the place fills up. Such is life in a popular NYC restaurant."
    Dined on 1/22/2014
  • "All the dishes (and I sampled not only what I ordered but everything at the table /) were well prepared, nicely seasoned and cooked the correct degree of doneness. It would be nice if something could be done to reduce the noise level, but given the quality of the cooking, I can deal with it and so can others. There can be some debate whether the delicious past dish with a tasty sauce is appropriately named tagliatelle rather than pappardelle, but in this case I don't think size matters."
    Dined on 1/18/2014
  • "The quality of the food at Vai and the presentation were good. But I think for the prices it wasn't special enough. Also, the selection is so small that it's not the kind of restaurant you could dine at very frequently unless they routinely change up the menu. For me it will be a once-a-year sort of place."
    Dined on 1/11/2014
  • "We have been going to Vai for quite a while and the food consistently delicious! Chef Vincent makes the flavorful, artistic food that is seasonally based and delicious! They have a lovely bar area and the place is warm and inviting. We have even been there for their Jazz Brunch on Sundays! Superb!"
    Dined on 12/15/2013
  • "The drinks were excellent as was the service. There was no problem accomodating one of us with food allergies and our meals were carefully composed and prepared. We would not hesitate to return."
    Dined on 1/6/2014
  • "Very good Upper Westside eatery. One of the few restaurants that actually gets the entire dining experience right. Food is straight forward, simple and quite delicious. Service is competent and attentive without being intrusive. Chef owner being on the floor and in charge of service makes the experience all the more enjoyable. Definitively a must for all foodies and for anyone looking for an excellent dining experience."
    Dined on 1/4/2014
  • "Food was overpriced and nothing special or exciting whatsoever. My $35 lobster risotto was practically two bites and had barely any lobster in it. Service was okay but I was irritated that on NYE they raised the prices due to their being a DJ, but when we sat down at 9:45 the DJ wasn't even set up and was pushing his DJ equipment through the crowded restaurant so that my husband had to get up and wait for him to pass through. Everything was overpriced. Best part was the frozen chocolate mousse but portions were so small we had to eat again after dinner."
    Dined on 12/31/2013
  • "We had a truly excellent dinner. Very small, well-chosen menu, beautifully cooked. We will be returning."
    Dined on 12/30/2013
  • "Just arrived from Portugal to find beautifully prepared Portuguese octopus. This was a good omen. The rest of the meal - burrata enhanced with Thai Basil, truffle oil infused ravioli, wickedly good artichoke hearts, etc etc was ridiculously good too. Leave room for dessert. The iced chocolate mousse was outstanding. Service was as good as anywhere in NY . In a neighborly way. I like it when the chef/ owner appears occasionally to serve up his own preparations. Noise level rose during the evening but with an experience as enjoyable as this, how can anyone complain about that. Can't wait to return."
    Dined on 12/28/2013
  • "We enjoyed very much the lunch at Vai (chef's menu for fixed price), especially the Hamachi tuna. The atmosphere was relaxed, and the service was very good."
    Dined on 12/21/2013
  • "The food, service, wine were outstanding. No pretentiousness."
    Dined on 12/21/2013
  • "Simply great food served with attention and panache. The off menu artichoke crisps were super and the beef duo sublime. Branzino was amazing. So great to have such a jewel in the neighborhood."
    Dined on 12/20/2013
  • "A lovely dinner spot. The owner really takes pride in his establishment and called several times to make sure everything would be to our liking. I will be back."
    Dined on 12/14/2013
  • "My first time at this rather small restaurant was over the summer when we sat outside. Inside, the restaurant is small and cozy. We ate early - so the restaurant was not full. It was quiet and the service was attentive. The seasonal menu was creative but not outlandish. We were 3 and we each had a different entree. We shared 2 appetizers. The appetizers were on the small side - but we were satisfied; they are appetizers, after all. The food was excellent. Definitely plan to return to Vai."
    Dined on 12/8/2013
  • "Terrific food and Vincent truly knows how to make you feel welcomed and appreciated."
    Dined on 12/7/2013
  • "3rd visit since my first in early summer. Have recommended it to several neighbors/friends who have all reported the same experience with the food....borderline awesome. The venue's small, with a clear & significant following. A prime time reservation is going to be met with a bit of chaos....goes with the sq foot territory. Get past all that, take your seat when available, and you will be rewarded for your patience. Chef is on his game with the kitchen. We were 7 and each was as happy as the next. So book a reservation, arrive no earlier than on-time, and keep your zen until you reach your table. After that.....awaken !"
    Dined on 12/7/2013
  • "We were a large group - a table of 10 rowdy, enthusiastic dinners but Michael was efficient, delightful and handled us so deftly. The food was delicious, enticingly presented and all arrived hot. Despite so many plates all needing to arrive at the same time. The bread was out of this world. It did turn out to be a little pricey, and the restaurant is pretty noisy but this wasn't a problem for our party."
    Dined on 12/7/2013
  • "I took a friend who happens to be a chef to dinner here for her birthday. It was clear that, as my friend said, "someone in the kitchens knows what he's doing." The food is very good. However, about mid - dinner the music was cranked up to a volume that forced everyone in this small restaurant to scream at their dining companions to have a conversation. It ruined the the dining experience."
    Dined on 12/5/2013
  • "Although at a larger space than before, it feels very cramped when dining. At a 2-top table, the waiter was trying to put two appetizers on large plates and it simply could not fit. Perhaps smaller plates?? The kale appetizer was delicious as was the snapper. Service was good although at times the waiter would suddenly appear by your side which was somewhat startling as yuo could not hear he was approaching (loud) nor see him (tight space). Overall, worth going. Owner not that friendly upon arrival."
    Dined on 11/30/2013
  • "This small restaurant is a little heaven for foodies. The food is very good and the spot is very romantic. The wine list is small but with a good price / value. The service is ok but it took a little long to get the 3 course menu. The tables are close to each other but it's cozy and with all the candles very romantic."
    Dined on 12/1/2013