Written by Hulda Lawrence
with M.J. Boyer

Past Reviews

Murals on 54A charming restaurant newly ensconced at the Warwick Hotel on West 54th Street is aptly named Murals on 54. Way back in 1936 artist Dean Cornwell, "Dean of American Illustrators," was commissioned by William Randolph Hearst to paint murals for The Raleigh Room within his Warwick Hotel. The murals depicted Sir Walter Raleigh receiving his charter from Queen Elizabeth in 1584 with Raleigh landing at Roanoke Island. There is a lengthy story about the disagreement between Hearst and the artist on compensation. The artist was revengeful and painted something considered obscene at the time, thought most was later painted out, while for 40 years the walls were kept covered. The murals still keep one of the obscenities.

However, it must be stated that the food is excellent, from an enticing menu under the direction of Executive Chef Pablo Trobo and Executive Sous Chef Moises Alvarez who have worked together at a number of fine restaurants. It is no easy task to prepare food from early morning to late at night, but it is a hotel restaurant.

When we lunched the other day, we began with two fine appetizers. Lobster Roll filled with lobster, avocado, ginger and Asian noodles rolled in rice paper with a delicious sauce was one. Our second appetizer was Ecuadorian Ceviche: fresh lemon juice-marinated shrimp with cilantro, fresh tomatoes and red onions with a spicy sauce. It was outstanding. Other appetizers include Lobster Bisque; Mixed Green Salad; Thai Ceviche of shrimp and mahi mahi; and Steamed Mussels. Appetizers are $8 to $12.

For our main course we shared Thai Beef Salad of frisee, spicy beef (not overcooked) with Thai chili sauce and soy sesame dressing and a daily special of Roasted Sea Bass on eggplant with a mix of sautéed asparagus, string beans, carrots and whole peas in the pod. Both wre superb. Other entrees include Asparagus and Shrimp Risotto, Angel Hair Pasta, Caesar Salad, Nicoise Salad, Seared Sea Scallops, Grilled Chicken Breast, Cod Casserole, Veal Milanese, Classic Steak Frites and Steak au Poivre. Main courses are $12 for plain Caesar Salad to $21 for the steak. There is a prix fixe lunch of any appetizer and main course for $20.04.

For our wines, at the suggestion of manager Lonnie Barnett, we had Macon Village Bourdon, a white Burgundy for my companion, and a wonderful Syrah, Big Moose red from California for me. Wines by the glass are $7 to $17 for Late Harvest Moscato, EOS Estate, Paso Robles, a dessert wine. Of course, there is a long list of wines in full or half bottles.

When dessert time came our very efficient and friendly waiter, Matthew from Philadelphia, suggested Crispy Chocolate Filo Wafers layered with pastry cream and fresh assorted berries; and Dulce de Leche Mousse Cake that was delicious and not too sweet. Other desserts include Warm Chocolate Tart, Mille Crepe with custard and strawberries, Creme Brulee, Fresh Fruit Tarte and Profiteroles with a hot chocolate sauce as well as sorbets and ice cream. Desserts are $8, the Warm Chocolate Tart is $10.

The dinner menu presents other specialties such as Grilled Skirt Steak, Argentinean style; Roast Leg of Lamb a la Provencal; Sole Meuniere and Lobster Salad with Lemon-tarragon Aioli. Dinner entrees are $22 to $32. There is a prix fixe dinner of any appetizer, main course and a daily dessert for $39 and a Murals on 54 Wine Dinner for the prix Fixe with wines by the glass for $54.

Saturdays and Sundays there is a weekend Brunch Buffet at $25 for adults and $12.50 for children. Served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. there are made-to-order omelets, scrambled eggs and bacon rashers, sausages, home fried potatoes, breakfast breads and pastries, assorted cereals, yogurt, fresh fruit, smoked salmon and waffles with coffee, tea and juice. Unlimited Bloody Marys and Mimosas are available.

A la carte brunch dishes include Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine, French Toast, Shrimp Scampi Salad, Grilled Salmon Nicoise Salad, Classic Steak Frites, Grilled Hamburger with Cheese, Lobster Fettuccini and Fettuccini Primavera. Brunch entrees are $15 to $25 for the steak, Cocktails are $8.50 and include Mimosa, Bellini, Bloody Mary and Bloody Caesar clamato juice instead of tomato juice and Marmalade Breakfast Martini.

This is an outstanding restaurant with a wonderfully, unique decor. Tables are placed in such a way that privacy is created and it is quiet! The designer, Pierre Court, has done a masterful job of allowing light to enter through the street level windows and then the main part of the restaurant is a few steps below the table looking out on the passing parade. In addition to the magnificent murals, there are huge, luminous shades suspended from the ceiling diffusing the light. The food has touches of exotic cuisines, but the touches do not detract from the essential flavors. There are 70 seats and one can go directly into the hotel, but the main entrance is from 54th Street. For reservations (212) 314-7700. Murals on 54, 63 West 54th Street at Avenue of the Americas.

Hours: 6:30 a.m. for breakfast until 10:30 a.m.
Lunch is noon to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Dinner Monday through Saturday 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Brunch Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Credit Cards: All major
Wheelchair accessibility: Yes
Dress: Casual
Price: $$$

Trattoria Dopo TeatroLocated in a most convenient spot for theatregoers is Trattoria Dopo Teatro at 125 West 44th Street, between Sixth Avenue and Broadway, (212) 860-2849. We lunched there recently and were not only happy with the food, but impressed with the décor and the charming party rooms below. Manager Enrico Scotto Rosato greeted us and introduced Roberto La Morte, the chef.

As we contemplated the extensive menu, we met our waiter Eri, known by his colleagues as "Al" because he is from Albania. He brought us some delicious bread and noted that both bread and pasta are homemade. Although there is an extensive antipasto, a selection of which Al brought us, we opted to begin our lunch with one of the restaurant's specialties, Open Raviolo: Raviolo con aragosta e funghi, a plate-sized pasta filled with lobster and mushrooms in a good sauce. It was delicious. The raviolo is $18. Other open raviolo are Primavera with eggplant, red pepper, zucchini and basil; Lasagnette aperte de fabbro, with pesto, sliced sauteed lamb and parmesan; and Raviolo Dopo Teatro, with asparagus, diced chicken breast, shaved parmesan in a pink sauce $16.50 to $17.50.

There is an extensive wine list with a number of choices available by the glass. With our very filling dish, we sipped glasses of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay at $7 each.

For our main course we shared Straccetti alla Romana, sautéed sliced steak with onions set on top of arugula salad. This was a chef's daily special and was $22.50. Our desserts were a great Tiramisu and a tasty Panecotta with fresh strawberries and kiwi sauce.

This restaurant has a menu that covers many kinds of Italian delicacies. There is, however, a nightly pre-theatre dinner at $20.04 that includes three courses.

The Antipasti Freddi has Insalat di Granchio, crabmeat salad with frisee, asparagus, walnuts and lemon dressing; La Caprese con bufalina di Mondragone, fresh buffalo mozzarella with tomato and basil; and a tasting of all $9.50 to $14.50.

Antipasti Caldi presents Calamari Fritti; Crespelle con funghi di sottobosco e salsa al formaggio, crepes stuffed with wild mushrooms, topped with melted cheese; Gamberetti e borlotti in padella, sautéed shrimps with Tuscan beans and radicchio; Polip alla Luciana, baby octopus braised with onion, tomato, red pepper and potato; and Portobello al Forno, Portobello mushrooms with melted mozzarella and parmesan. These antipasti are $7.50 to $14.50.

There are also carpacci, thin slices of raw beef fillet or swordfish or tuna with appropriate accompaniments. We sampled the beef and it was very good. Hearty soups and salads also can be ordered.

Eight pizze with such ingredients as tomato, various cheese, anchovies, ham, mushrooms, sausage, capers , olives and artichoke incorporated are $10.50 to $16.

Pasta comes in thirteen varieties, such as Tagliolini neri al salmone aspargi, black homemade thin spaghetti with diced salmon and asparagus; Rigatoni alla siciliana, rigatoni with eggplant, basil and fresh mozzarella; Spaghettini al granchio, thin spaghetti with crabmeat and cherry tomato in garlic oil. Pastas are $10.50 to $17.50. Risotto is available in such combinations as frutti di mare with squid, clams and baby shrimps; or assorted mushrooms or asparagus, arugula, parmesan and saffron. $17.50 to $18.50.

Entrees are such fish as grouper, red snapper, salmon, branzino and daily specials. Each is prepared grilled or broiled and comes with spinach or broccoli. Fish selections are prices from $21.50 to $24.50. Also available are Sauteed Chicken Breast with melted mozzarella, baked tomato and grilled asparagus in a balsamic vinegar sauce; Grilled Rack of Lamb; Chicken Cutlet Milanese; Scaloppine di Vitello, veal scaloppini with artichokes are other main course. $15.50 to $25.50.

The décor is worthy of note with a tiled floor in the main restaurant, and below there is a Secret Garden with a waterfall and mosaic floor. There is a cigar room and a Grappa library. Private events can accommodate 270 people for dinner and 400 for cocktails.

Have a Roman Holiday at Trattoria Dopo Teatro, with consulting chef and cookbook author Micol Negrin's six-course tasting menu featuring such delights as Cicero's Trio of Crostini: Spiced Chickpea Puree, Herbed Olive Spread and Mascarpone and Prosciutto; Grilled Shrimp with Aromatic Herb Rub; Homemade Pasta with Fava Beans, Pancetta and Pecorino; Red Snapper with Walnuts in Parchment Paper; Seared Duck with Pomegranate Glaze and Desserts of Milk and Honey Bread Pudding with Goat Cheese-Orange Mousse. All of the above are served with, if desired, appropriate wines. This menu will be available through the month of June and might have been presented to "Julius Caesar" by the play of the same name written by William Shakespeare which is being staged quite close by at the Belasco Theatre located a few steps away at 111 West 44th Street. The tasting menu with wine is $60, but is also available without wine at $40. For reservations call 212 869-2949.

Hours: Monday to Saturday, noon to midnight; Sundays 3 p.m. to midnight
Credit Cards: Al major
Dress Code: Casual
Wheelchair: main floor only
Price: $$

The Restaurant Revue Ratings

The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.

$ Inexpensive $25
$$ Moderate $50
$$$ Expensive $100
$$$$ Very Expensive $150

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