Just a stone’s throw from Carnegie Hall, chef Ari Bokovza is bringing all the same contagious lively energy of his restaurant Dagon to a new Levantine spot that’s all about family and feasting.
Acadia, the latest from restaurateur Simon Oren’s Chef Driven Hospitality, is where Bokovza is really leaning into the food he grew up eating. “All my family is from Israel, and I used to go there for the summers and cook with my grandmother,” Bokovza says. “Now, I can finally follow my passion, and my gut, and cook from the heart.”
That’s even more good news for the Midtown restaurant scene that’s just been getting hotter this past year with the openings of Persian spot Nasrin’s Kitchen, seafood destination Point Seven, and now Acadia. Read on for all the share plates to order, a hot new spin on the espresso martini (yes, really), and more.
What to eat
Acadia is French for “place of plenty,” and there’s no better way to describe the menu. Puffy flatbread fresh off a taboon (ceramic oven) and feta-stuffed, za’atar-topped kubaneh rolls will make you say, “more bread please” throughout your meal. Dunk them into dukkah-dusted labneh, harissa-spiked creamy feta, and velvety hummus topped with green olives.
Keep building on a showstopping shareable meal from there. One of the rotisserie-cooked vegetables, like the cauliflower with pine-nut aioli, is a must. The roasted chicken with a harissa glaze and a side of crispy potatoes is Bokovza’s signature dish. And there’s plenty on the menu you’re unlikely to have seen elsewhere in the city like the Syrian baked pasta dish calsonehs and the Middle Eastern pot pie-style lamb kofta terra cotta. Don’t be shy with the pot pie: Pull off the pillowy flatbread top, peel off the crusty bread mantle, and use it to mop up every last bit of the spicy tomato sauce.
Plus, fans of Wolf’s Delicatessen (which was previously at this location) will be thrilled to find nods to the legendary deli with Acadia’s mile-high-stacked pastrami sandwich and smoked salmon platter at lunch.
What to drink
Classic cocktails with Middle Eastern twists, wines from underrepresented regions, and one stellar gazoz (an Israeli soda drink) make up the drinks menu.
Just when you thought there wasn’t anything to add to the espresso martini conversation, Acadia is pulling out all stops with a Turkish coffee version that has cardamom-infused vodka and a side of Turkish delights.
Acadia also has a global wine list with 150 bottles, but it’s the by-the-glass options that really surprise—wild-fermented Assyrtiko from the Peloponnese in Greece and a rich and spicy Cabernet from the Upper Galilee in Israel are among the standouts. There’s also plenty of cold Goldstar beer, “the flavor of a vacation in Israel,” as beverage director Aviram Turgeman describes it.
For something with a little less alcohol, go for a gazos, a citrusy and fizzy cocktail with Peychaud’s aperitivo, preserved lemon, and sparkling water.
Where to sit
A big open kitchen framed by hanging plants and stocked with brightly colored produce anchor this bi-level restaurant with soaring windows and wood-paneled walls. Soak in Acadia’s breezy Mediterranean vibes at the long, comfortable bar, one of the oversized booths that can seat up to eight, or one of the cozy corner banquettes.
Hot tip: Angle for a seat upstairs for dinner, so you can catch the hustle and bustle of 57th Street from above. There are also three private rooms that seat 20 each, making this celebratory spot ideal for hosting large events.
When to go
Given its location next to Carnegie Hall, Acadia is the busiest pre-theater times, so plan your reservations accordingly. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday to Friday from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm, for dinner Monday to Thursday from 5 pm to 10 pm, and Friday and Saturday from 5 pm to 10:30 pm.
Known for her pioneering food blog, The Strong Buzz, Andrea Strong has been writing about restaurants, chefs, and life around the table for the past 25 years. She lives, eats, and loads and unloads the dishwasher in Brooklyn.