The Bromberg brothers, Bruce and Eric, first captured the attention of New Yorkers when they opened their first restaurant, Blue Ribbon Brasserie, on Sullivan Street in 1992. Since then, their unique approach — fine-dining caliber food in a laid-back and casual space — has become the norm in the city, and their 14 restaurants, two bakeries, and food programs at three Brooklyn Bowl outposts have made them one of the most consistent and successful restaurant groups around. We had the opportunity to visit their new Upper West Side restaurant, The Ribbon, at the owners’ invitation, and can definitely understand how they’ve become so successful.
The restaurant is located on West 72nd Street inside the former Hotel Franconia (apartments today), which is famous for being the headquarters of notorious gangster Arnold Rothstein. The hotel’s former lobby has been transformed into a dim, industrial-chic space with a large bar room with high tables taking up the front half of the space and a spacious dining room with an open kitchen in the back; the only remnant of its former life is a section of a recovered mural in the rear left corner (the site of Rothstein’s speakeasy) and a plaque noting its historical importance.
The menu features some of the Bromberg brothers’ greatest hits such as steak tartare, beef marrow and oxtail marmalade, and their famous fried chicken, which is sadly only available on Sundays and Mondays. To start, warm potato chips were served with Cajun spice and a malt vinegar dip — an ideal way to start the meal; Buffalo-style cauliflower was delicious and quite possibly the most creative interpretation of the dish we’ve seen (a must-order, surprisingly); and if you’re a fan of deviled eggs, you’ll love the trio they’re serving: one topped with a fried oyster and pickled jalapeños, one with smoked salmon and trout roe, and a third with spicy pickled peppers and olive oil mayo.
The menu highlights their spit-roasted offerings, and we suggest you go along with it: The prime rib of beef (available in a 9- or 16-ounce serving was tender, juicy, and covered in rich pan-dripping jus; and the prime rib of pork, which is brined and slow-roasted before being sliced to order, was one of the juiciest and most flavorful pork chops I’ve encountered, perfectly complemented by apricot-chile jam. Other menu highlights include three housemade pâtés, barbecue ribs with cornbread pudding, half Amish chicken, lamb chops with eggplant tomato confit, French dip, and the open-faced ox burger topped with oxtail marmalade and poached egg.
Restaurants may be a dime a dozen on the Upper West Side, but ones that are legitimately exciting are tough to come by. Locals should consider themselves lucky that the Bromberg brothers decided to grace the neighborhood with their presence.