DemosNews: Genaro, Yuki and Lisca Brighten Manhattan’s Upper West Side
Genaro, Yuki and Lisca Brighten Manhattan’s Upper West Side
By: Anita Spertus

For years, we on the Upper West Side have looked longingly downtown at the plethora of cafés, bistros, and tempting food options that delight residents there. Our area offers marvelous fresh ingredient vendors – Fairway, Zabar’s, Citarella’s, Oppenheimer Meats, Joon’s Fish Market—but few choices for a delicious neighborhood dinner. In that context, the unlikely stretch of Amsterdam Avenue between 92nd and 93rd Streets shines as a particular treasure, a triple whammy.

Genaro made the first foray here in the 90s, perhaps drawn by the low rent or obvious food desert. His distinctive Sicilian palette and inventive creations won an immediate and loyal following. Signature favorites remain steadies on the menu all these years. Frisée salad with pears, goat cheese, walnuts and champagne vinaigrette, or tortino of potatoes, mushrooms, beets and goat cheese, or mussels steeped with tomatoes, saffron and pernod, or braised lambshank in red wine (“Stinco”). My mouth waters just thinking of them. In addition, there is always a mind-numbing recitation of specials that requires extreme concentration to mentally taste and recall even for the few moments it takes to choose and order. The same knowledgeable waiters who have been present since day one are like family, and happily advise on Italian wines and tastes. The restaurant takes no reservations, and accepts only cash. It can be very noisy, and specials often jump markedly in price from the regulars on the menu. Nonetheless, ithe place is usually jammed, with a group or two or five waiting patiently on the benches outside. But early or late, or at unpredictable fluke times, one sails right in. And, to the neighborhood’s great delight, Genaro delivers or readies phoned in take-out (665-5348).

Yuki, across the avenue, prepares delicious sushi, sashimi, rolls, and cooked dishes. Here too one manager has greeted and politely attended his guests from the start, his wait staff remains constant, and the same master chef as always monitors with eagle eye as his associates slice and prepare behind the sushi bar. Among appetizers, the stand-outs are miso eggplant fanned into a lovely pinwheel and delicately flavored, and broiled yellowtail neck. Many dainty salads and tidbits, noodles, tempura, teriyaki, and broiled seafood (even some token chicken or beef for the sea squeamish) have tempted and pleased us greatly over the years. My daughter is a fan of the spiced tuna roll inside-out and the magnificent handrolls that arrive exuberant as cornucopias. But in the end it’s always the sushi that hovers in my mind’s eye, so fresh, clear in taste, and beautifully presented. For dessert, consider the sorbets served in hollowed out frozen fruits of the same flavor. Lift the cut lid of a peach, relax a few minutes while it softens a bit, scoop the pink interior to melt on your tongue, then nibble a bit of sweet flesh. Open for lunch and dinner, Yuki spoils us further by delivering (787-8200.)

Lisca, newest member of the triumvirate, has matured and deepened. A small inviting bar spans one side, the whole glass street front opens up to the breezes in warm weather. Hadi, the Persian owner, makes one warmly welcome. His Venetian chef works wonders not only with fish, but with pasta, meat and sweets. Grilled baby octopus or grilled squid marinated in pesto, so difficult to keep tender, are delicious. Broccoli rabe pairs beautifully with thin, wide slices of Sicilian sausage. Pappardelle with mushrooms and carmelized mushrooms balances lush flavor and perfect texture, as only pasta made fresh in house every afternoon can. Nice to split an order between two as an interim course. The snapper fillets cooked simply in white wine and lemon, melt in the mouth. A recent veal chop special must truly have been from a baby of its kind, small and utterly (udderly) tender. The most special desserts to my mind, remain the cheese cake with ricotta cheese and the fruit tart. (799-3987).

Nicest of all, full and content, some of us can walk home.

© 2024 Anita Spertus of DemosNews

April 21, 2007 at 2:42pm
DemosRating: 3.83
Hits: 2156

Genre: Food (Reviews)
Type: Critical
Tags: New, York, City, restaurant, review

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