Reinventing a Manhattan Classic: The Leopard at Des Artistes


The Leopard at Des Artistes' cannoli.

Four years ago, restaurateur Gianfranco Sorrentino and his wife Paula Bolla Sorrentino opened The Leopard at des Artistes in the historically landmarked Hotel des Artistes. Their team spent months completely renovating the existing space and restoring the original Howard Chandler Christy murals that adorn the walls of the dining room to their former vibrant glory, the paintings having been covered by decades of tobacco tar. The hard work resulted in a breathtaking venue in which guests can enjoy world-class Italian fare and an unparalleled Italian wine list.

Earlier this year, The Leopard at des Artistes welcomed Michele Brogioni as executive chef. Brogioni’s twenty-year career began in his father’s restaurant at age eleven and has brought him all over the world, including a stint as head chef at the Michelin-starred Relais Il Falconiere in Cortona, Italy. After growing up outside Perugia, Italy and attending culinary school at the Istituto Istruzione Superiore Pellegrino Artusi in Chianciano Terme, Brogioni was hired as the global head chef for the Formula One team.

In 2002, he joined the high-profile Russian restaurant and catering group, Maison Dellos Group, where he held various titles including head chef for the Imperial Class of Transaero Airlines and head chef of Maison Dellos Catering, where he had the opportunity to cook for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as various other international heads of state and dignitaries. The next time you’re stressed in the kitchen, just think of chef Michele working over a hot stove as bodyguards armed with Kalashnikovs look on.

Chef Brogioni’s polished and sophisticated interpretations of classic Italian dishes find a beautiful and befitting venue at The Leopard at des Artistes. The tasting menu the restaurant offers is a great way to sample some of the best dishes on their menu while not breaking the bank. For $50, guests can choose an appetizer, entrée, and dessert from the tasting menu with the option to add wine pairing for an additional $30 — general manager and sommelier Alessandro Giardiello is a master of his craft and his pairings will not disappoint. Dessert here is a must as well, as there are over a dozen tempting classically Italian desserts to chose from, like ricotta cannoli with crushed pistachios.

Though retaining many of the menu favorites, the new chef has made a variety of seasonal additions, and has also begun serving an Italian-inspired "Brunch at des Artistes" on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. while still offering the full a la carte menu. Highlights from the brunch include eggs Benedict with San Daniele prosciutto and herb roasted potatoes and uova all Amatriciana, a dish of poached eggs served in a skillet with Italian bacon and an onion and cherry tomato sauce.


Another welcome addition to des Artistes introduced by chef Brogioni is a "BYOB Italian Sunday Supper" series, where there are no corkage fees and guests can ask the knowledgeable staff to make recommendations about what dish would best go with the bottle they brought. The new suppers allow the chef to flex his creative culinary muscle by serving specials inspired by his traditional family Sunday suppers with an inventive and contemporary twist.