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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
Foodspotting photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerMediterranean
Diner Reviews
  • "It was my birthday so we went for the chef's menu which was a great value at $49pp. The buratta ravioli with truffle and mushrooms was wonderfully rich . The veal ragout was delicious and had a nice finish with fresh parsley. The crudo fish was excellent both the tuna and hamachi tartare and the ceviche which had a nice kick of spice. Whole branzino in brown butter and veal chop with parsnip purée and trumpet mushrooms were the main event and were every bit as delicious as they sound. We were so full we could only manage a shared dessert which was fresh mini donuts and a white chocolate sauce. Just because they care, the chef sent us a delisious ramikin of almond custard and later some house made dark chocolates. So, all in all, excellent."
    Dined on 7/28/2014
  • "We really enjoyed the food at Vai.considering how many restaurants are in the neighborhood, this one stood out. The food was perfectly cook. The chef/ owner is very attentive to everyone. My only comment would be that the appetizers were very tasty but too small. We would definitely come back!!"
    Dined on 7/25/2014
  • "We dined at this restaurant many times, in this and its prior location. The innovative and outstanding food have been the hallmark of this small but excellent restaurant. Very friendly service that really cares."
    Dined on 7/25/2014
  • "Everyone in this restaurant made us feel so welcome. The food was excellent and beautifully presented."
    Dined on 7/25/2014
  • "This was our second time to Vai, and food just keeps getting better! Thank you to the entire staff for making us feel special and thank you so much to Vince and the chef for amazing food. From the drinks to the desert, everything was perfect. So thankful we found this restaurant in our neighborhood, will be our "go to" from now on :)"
    Dined on 7/19/2014
  • "Once again, we arrived with friends who, unlike us, had not yet dined here and we all left in total agreement that this is some of the best food on the UWS. A true clean plate club!"
    Dined on 7/19/2014
  • "wonderful food, good service and nice atmosphere but can get too noisy and make for difficult conversation"
    Dined on 7/19/2014
  • "excellent small restaurant interesting flavors reasonable price look forward to returning soon"
    Dined on 7/18/2014
  • "I've visited Vai in the past with great results. This time not so much. While the Sea Bass and the filet Mignon was good. The short rib that came with the filet was mostly fat, the whole Benzino was prepared with a lot of butter and the Oyster Mushroom appetizer had too much going on. We waited a too long after ordering 2nd round of drinks (10 minutes) then my friend's diet coke was flat and the replacement had too much carbonation and no syrup. We then had to remind them to take the drink off the bill. While they were very friendly and took it off right away, I remembered the service and the food much better in the past. I'll try again to see if this was just a bad night, it was very disappointing for me and my out of town friends."
    Dined on 7/17/2014
  • "Interesting menu with high quality ingredients and a warm host (the owner) makes vai a fanstic restaurant. It is a neighborhood gem, but the food is good enough to make it a destination restaurant. Basic side dishes like 'Brussels sprouts', have a little twist that make them memorable. My husband and I both recalled the tuna avocado appetizer the next morning with fondness. :) Don't miss the burrata ravioli. The only element that holds it back from being a destination restaurant is the decor; which is fine, just not sexy."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "There is no reason to look further than Vai for fresh inventive dishes. Chef/Owner Vincent is in the kitchen and oversees every detail of his restaurant. The food is excellent, the menu evolves and the staff is attentive and lovely, especially Julia. On our most recent visit, the heirloom tomato salad appetizer was superb as was the charred octopus. The seasonal entree striped bass was beautifully prepared as was the burata. Vai is compelling. Why dine elsewhere?"
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "Great pick in the neighborhood. Lovely fresh and inventive mediterranean food. Room is small and can be loud."
    Dined on 7/7/2014
  • "Had the veal pappardelle. Was pretty good, but the other three people at my table didn't find their choices to be special in any way - vegetarian ravioli, Branzino, etc. Waiter was great, but food was just OK. Don't understand why so many others rated it so highly."
    Dined on 7/5/2014
  • "The food here was wondrous. I had veal fillet mignon over parsnip purée with shaved truffles. It was expensive, but look at what I ordered. Overall, nothing to complain about."
    Dined on 6/29/2014
  • "I eat here frequently with friends, and we have always loved it. Took my whole family, including adult children, and was not disappointed. Both generations raved about food and service. It's a small restaurant, and the inside can be acoustically a bit "challenging," meaning loud. Eating outside also can be a bit loud sometimes, with traffic. But those minor inconveniences are more than made up by both food and service, both of which are impeccable. We had four different appetizers, four different entrees, and two deserts--All fabulous. Their little complimentary sweet treats at the end just complete an impeccable meal. Great dining."
    Dined on 6/29/2014
  • "I looked forward to the dinner at Vai but unfortunately the restaurant did not live up to expectations. The food was okay - the pasta dish was very rich with too much cream sauce and too much speck. The salad dressing was very acidic and burned my taste buds. The setting is lovely and the patrons were enjoying a nice evening at outdoor tables. The restaurant is very accommodating of strollers."
    Dined on 6/27/2014
  • "Excellent food and excellent service! One of my favorite spots in NYC. Would highly recommend ordering several dishes for the table for everyone to share."
    Dined on 6/23/2014
  • "Great menu items but everything we had was oversalted. Service was great however with very attentive and friendly waitstaff."
    Dined on 6/22/2014
  • "As always we had a great meal at Vai. Vincent, the chef and proprietor is always attentive and friendly as is his staff. I highly recommend Vai to anyone looking for an excellent meal, good service, no drama!"
    Dined on 6/19/2014
  • "We love coming to Vai. Unlike most of the restaurants on Amsterdam in the 70s and 80s, it focuses on food, not the bar scene, so it's a great place for those of us outside the bar-hopping demo -- or who want a place to do something other than drink. The food is delicious and reasonably priced, the service is caring and thoughtful. We live about 12 blocks away, but it's well worth the walk!"
    Dined on 6/15/2014
  • "While Vai might be known for their fresh fare, we were given such wonderful personal attention last Saturday night, we'll be coming back for more special events, and the occasional night out in the neighborhood. My family was visiting, and they sat all 6 of us at the chef's table, talked us through the menu, made wine suggestions, and were attentive when they needed to be, but let us catch up as well. The night was capped off by a birthday surprise - the chef sent a present to our table (for me!), and we all split a delicious french lemon tart with a candle in it. A birthday dinner to remember!"
    Dined on 6/14/2014
  • "Very accommodating re our request to try outdoors after rain. Dried our table/chairs. Enjoyed the quieter outside."
    Dined on 6/13/2014
  • "Love the food, great chef and atmosphere. Whenever in NY it is one of my go to places."
    Dined on 6/11/2014
  • "I believe Vai is fairly new and in a great location on UWS so I wanted to try it. Scheduled a lunch with a colleague and it was fantastic. It wasn't a ladies lunch so we couldn't linger, and I appreciated the waitstaff checking with us at the beginning whether this would be the standard 1 hour lunch or longer so they could properly time the service. The food and menu make me think this must be an amazing place for dinner, but for lunch the portions were perfectly small and they have a three course prix fixe for $29. The hamachi tartare with avocado was a great start. The grilled octopus was tasty and was supposed to be spicy but had a tad too many red pepper flakes. The salmon main course made me want to try all the fish on the menu!"
    Dined on 6/11/2014
  • "I had a great time there last weekend so I’ll be there again this weekend!"
    Dined on 6/8/2014
  • "I enjoyed it. Excellent food. Nice to have a place where you can go late after events"
    Dined on 6/7/2014
  • "Great dinner with friend. The service was perfect. Good choices of wine. Great fish and crudo!"
    Dined on 6/7/2014
  • "my fourth time here and consistenly received great service the food was amazing and delicious cocktails are pricey"
    Dined on 6/6/2014
  • "Vai continues to be the best restaurant on the Upper West Side, and among the finest in the city. I have eaten at Vai countless times and find the quality of the food excellent. The menu is creative and seasonally evolving. I most recently had the swordfish with market to table vegetables. The cut was thick, generous and cooked to temperature. A mushroom appetizer was awesome, as were some "permanent" superb dishes; hamachi duo (appetizer) and beef duo (main.) The staff, taking the lead from owner/chef Vincent is attentive yet unobtrusive. The overall generosity extends throughout as witnessed by the full pours of individual glasses of wine."
    Dined on 6/3/2014
  • "We went as a group of 7. It was my first time there. Great mock-tails, loved the concise menu and presentation of food program. Ordered several apps: both crisp were excellent; the kale salad was really well executed, the Bibb salad was underdressed with what I hoped to be a delicious Gorgonzola dolce dessing; Burrata was yummy of course. For entrees the beef duo was fantastic as was the pasta with veal ragu... The remainder of our party ordered fish which they enjoyed--branzino and striped bass. Definitely going back to try the octopus and more of the weekly specials. A step up from the neighborhood competition--and maybe even preferred to Celeste's???"
    Dined on 6/3/2014
  • "Think I had been in this space years ago when it was something else... But, Vai was a lovdely surprise. Small, brick walls, cozy, smart service and a creative green marked-based menu. What is seasonal is what they play with and everything (in our case spring ramps in a wonderful lemony spagettini and ramps again on swordfish) was delicious. Worthwhile!!"
    Dined on 6/3/2014
  • "Vai was an excellent choice for our lunch. We were celebrating a graduation, and we wanted a different menu choice, with a local establishment. We nailed it with Vai, a low key restaurant with very good food, service, etc. The menu for lunch was limited, which I prefer: it makes you think, and it was shared and greatly enjoyed by our party. I highly recommend this restaurant."
    Dined on 5/21/2014
  • "The levels of flavor were truly outstanding. We loved our dinner so much we made sure the chef knew it and he was kind enough to come out and thank us for our personally. The ambiance is a bit basic. Not sure if it's rustic or just a bit overly simple but it was of little concern because the food was truly the star. Recommending it to all our friends."
    Dined on 5/18/2014
  • "This was my first time at Vai and it was fantastic. Our waitress was super friendly and helpful. I had the arugula and pear salad as my app and it exceeded my expectations. Had a risotto special for my main and it was amazing!! Others at the table raved about the octopus appetizer. We all truly loved our food. Definitely would return to this UWS gem."
    Dined on 5/17/2014
  • "plan on making a reservation even to stand in line for quite a while. It is popular and they always over sell. However, if you don't mind having a drink squished in the bar they are very accomodating on making sure that you get extra value once seated!"
    Dined on 5/16/2014
  • "great experience as usual here inventive fresh and beautiful food always enjoy our evening at vai "
    Dined on 5/13/2014
  • "We went to Vai for our 21st anniversary and what a great choice it was. Great food, terrific staff, nice ambience, just a great all round experience. "
    Dined on 5/9/2014
  • "Our entire party of 4 agreed that it could have been the best dinner we have eaten in our year on the UWS. My son, who owns a restaurant with friends in SOHO, as well as the rest of us, were so impressed by the food, the atmosphere, the service and the overall vibe of this restaurant. Our waitress was very knowledgeable about the wine menu. The chef, who personally served us many of our dishes, was very friendly and very creative. Every meal came out of the kitchen with it's own distinctive look. You must save some room for their incredible desserts!"
    Dined on 5/9/2014
  • "I love Vai, but this time the noise level was intolerable. We got tired of screaming at each other, ate quickly and left. I normally don't like to eat outside on Amsterdam because the traffic is so loud, but I would have welcomed the opportunity to get away from the din inside if the terrace had been open."
    Dined on 5/8/2014
  • "No one but us in the restaurant but they kept rushing us taking away the menu when we were not ready then needing to bring it back. Hovering and asking if we were finished when there was still food on the plates. "
    Dined on 5/7/2014