By Narbeh Minassian
I have only been In New York City for three weeks, and one of the first things I was told was ‘this is New York City, you can get anything you want’, by a man with a very Tony Soprano New York accent. This has stayed with me. I have, I admit, tested this claim throughout my stay, particularly when it comes to the quality of restaurants, and my visit to Vai restaurant went some way to corroborating Mr. Soprano’s claims.
Found in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, on Amsterdam Avenue, Vai restaurant offers a pleasant retreat in one of New York’s busiest corners. Perhaps the most striking first impression is its unique atmosphere, which is immediately evident upon entrance. The restaurant is small but cozy, and its décor is with character; the use of brick wall gives a genuine feel, which, coupled with the candlelight, makes this a particular hotspot for romantics. This classiness is European in its aura.
European in essence, Vai of course offers European cuisine, specifically Italian and Mediterranean. Vai’s menu is ever-changing, with different ideas and meals available on a weekly basis, and this is what makes Vai such a unique restaurant. You must therefore forgive me for not drawing out a list of superlatives for the culinary capabilities of the Vai chefs.
The head chef is Vincent, a tall, dark and very Italian man, whose attention to detail and hospitality are admirable. It is rare for the chef of a restaurant to make himself known to the customers, but Vincent regularly ventures out of the kitchen to ensure the customers are happy and feel welcome, and this attitude is adopted by the waiters and waitresses, who are selected precisely for their friendliness and passion for food. Meticulous and thorough, the entire staff know the ingredients of the dishes; no mean feat given the many changing faces of the menu.
With the number of restaurants in Manhattan so high, every establishment seeks individuality, an identity, or a claim to uniqueness, which is exactly why ‘you can get anything you want’. And, if what you want is a great meal in a warm, welcoming and genuine atmosphere, then Vai will provide.
429 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10024
Tel: 212 362 4500