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80 Good

It’s all seafood and natural wine at this pescatarian restaurant from alums of Contra, Le Bernardin, and Aldo Sohm Wine Bar.

401 W. 53rd St., New York, NY, 10019


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The lowdown

Hell’s Kitchen has a veritable buffet of restaurants, but when it comes to quality, it has — for a while now — been lacking. A few standouts like Gazala Place are peppered among what are mostly takeout joints and pretheater haunts. And while there are higher-end spots like Danji, Esca, Ardesia, and Casellula, the scene isn’t exactly crowded. It’s exciting then that two alums of Contra, one of New York’s most of-the-moment restaurants, have opened Gloria in the neighborhood. Partner and general manager Phil Johnson first met chef-partner Diego Garcia while opening Aldo Sohm, the wine-bar spinoff of the seafood institution Le Bernardin. Garcia was then a sous-chef at Le Bernardin, where he had worked for four years, and Johnson was fresh off a serving gig on the opening team at Contra. Quick friends, they were soon plotting to open their own. After a turn as, respectively, the GM and sous-chef at Contra, the duo joined with Leland Meibeyer to open Gloria. Garcia has put his training (and childhood spent in coastal Durango, Mexico, and Napa) to good use, with a menu that’s exclusively pescatarian. While many of New York’s fishiest restaurants may pair their sea creatures with meat, Gloria won’t serve a round of chorizo. The team members are also focusing strictly on fish from the Eastern Seaboard, a restraint that’s resulted in uncommon dishes, like a strikingly pink tartare made of the invasive lionfish. Broadly, they take an Estela-esque approach by keeping the proteins while fiddling with the garnishes. Given that Contra and its sister restaurant, Wildair, are among the city’s premiere destinations for natural wine, it makes sense that Johnson, who will handle drinks, is a believer. His wine menu is au naturel and is similarly restrained in that it’s all French and Napa vintages. Beer isn’t neglected, either, serving Northeast breweries like Other Half and Oxbow, and emphasizing ones that go well with seafood. All that thinking had better be going into the prix fixe meals, which offer cornbread, two appetizers, and an entrée ($67) or the same with an added dessert ($75).

Chris Crowley

What you need to know

Insider Tips Corkage-free Mondays.

Recommended DishesLionfish tartare; milk-poached halibut.

DrinksBeer and Wine

Noise LevelCivilized