Restaurant Review: Clay Harlem.

Sometime around the end of August, I was riding one of my E-Bikes and found myself passing by (quickly riding by) Manhattan Ave & 123rd Street in Harlem. Struck by the post modern rustic building structure (Think New Amsterdam late 1800’s/SoHo 1984), I hit the breaks and skidded to a stop and beheld an oasis out of time (and low key out of place) tucked neatly away in Harlem!

As I walked up to inspect the menu posted in the glass enclosure on the wall, I could not help but be reminded of one of my favorite restaurants near Murray Hill….Craft! (yes….that’s it!). While I was unfamiliar with the offerings on the menu, I was also intrigued by the combination of the  ingredients on quite a few of the dishes.


Gabriela Davogustto (one of the co-owners) approached me, and I commented on the my thoughts (and the menu) and simply had to do a review of this (low-key elegant) lovely restaurant. She graciously invited me back to do so with some hidden excitement, and off  I went on my e-bike to Lenox Ave. I returned a couple of day’s later and Andrea Needell Matteliano, the other co-owner (and bar director) and I had the pleasure to meet (and when she had a moment) as well as answer my questions regarding the establishment.

I chose the table on the cut (the corner of building itself) which made for a great aesthetic (and excellent position to people watch) angle which increased the sense of being in another place in time and space folded into these limited confines.

While they didn’t have my customary chardonnay, Andrea introduced me to a delicious white wine Guimaro/Ribeira Sacra 2018 (not chardonnay) that I really liked!

Not quite sure what to have, I enlisted the help of my waiter who pointed me in the right direction with the appetizer: Roasted Beets (“what their known for”) which at first I was a bit intimidated (I admit) being made with pickled jalapeno, shallot, orange, yogurt, and pistachio granola. Well it time to try something new! And he had me at yogurt.

When this dish was placed before me by the server (who seemed to appear out of nowhere) it seemed to be a mix of nuts, and beets with orange slices (a solid V-8). But when I put the first forkful into my mouth a cascade of flavor exploded on my palette, and I become a fan for life!

For the entrée, I had the Black Sea Bass: (since it was Friday, I was feeling classic) served with roasted root vegetables, celeriac puree, and charred radicchio. 

20200830_125055This dish was quite enjoyable and just by looking at it (and tasting it) you could tell that it was made with great care. This complex yet simple dish was elegance on a plate, you just could taste the “farm to table” freshness, and I was very pleased with the unique culinary craftsmanship of both my dishes which made for a very classy dinner indeed!


Clay is located at 553 Manhattan Avenue in Harlem, in that elegant angle of space and time folded on the corner of West 123rd Street! A quite romantic place to go for dinner with a date as well as alone, you might end up falling in love with the fact that you dined there!

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