If you happen to be lucky enough to have ticket to “Hamilton” on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theater on West 46th Street — or, for that matter, if you are going to any Broadway show, West 46th Street offers a choice of restaurants for a pre-theater dinner, a pre-matinee lunch. or supper post performance.
A favorite with New Yorkers and tourists alike, is Orso at 322 W. 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue and just a block west of “Hamilton.” It’s a 30 year old n Italian restaurant, located a few steps below sidewalk level. The menu is more traditional than adventurous, but almost everything is good. The restaurant opens at noon (half an hour earlier on Wednesdays and weekends) and is open until 11:45 p.m., late enough for a post-theater snack.
Calves’ liver is a specialty, served in small pieces, cooked to order. The liver is topped with crispy fried onions and finished with balsamic vinegar. Duck breast, roast chicken, steak and scallops are other main courses. Appetizers range from pan fried baby artichokes to white asparagus with prosciutto.
Pastas are excellent, available both in appetizer or entree portions. Asparagus with mushrooms, burrata and tomato sauce, or ham, cream and peas are some of the options, as is risotto. Pizzas are also first rate and can serve as a first course for the table.
A couple of doors down the street from Orso at 326 W.46th Street, is Joe Allen, a restaurant that’s been in business since 1965 when hamburgers cost 75 cents and a ticket to a Broadway show cost $7.50. The walls are adorned with posters of plays and musicals that flopped: “Everyone remembers the hits, but we revel in the flops,” says the restaurant.
Joe Allen is a popular meeting place for a quiet lunch and a lively pre-theater dinner. The food is basically American, including hamburgers, cajun chicken sandwiches, lobster and crab rolls, meat loaf (on the dry side) and steak. There’s also a rich Thai vegetable stew. Before 3 and after 8 p.m., brisket sandwiches, smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, and tostadas with chorizo, kidney beans and cheese, topped with a fried egg, are served. The restaurant is open from noon (11:30 on Wednesdays and weekend) until 11:45, midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Frankie and Johnnie’s Steakhouse (320 W.46th Street) is a classic steakhouse. Unlike Joe Allen and Orso, it is not open all day with the same menu at the same prices, but is open for lunch Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30 to 2:30 and for dinner every day from 4:30 to 11:30, except on Sunday when the hours are 11:30 to 8:30. The lunch menu includes a sliced steak sandwich, sauteed chicken, calf’s liver, penne, and salads. Dinner include clams, oysters and shrimp, and a number of different steak options: sirloin, rib-eye, porterhouse and filet mignon. Lamb chops, veal and pork chops, scampi, sole, lobster tails, salmon and surf and turf round out the menu.
The restaurant’s name is not a tribute to the ballad. Rather, legend has it, that when the restaurant first opened in 1926, it was a speakeasy and clients would knock on the door and say the password “Frankie.” The reply would be “Johnnie,” and the customer was admitted. Hence the name of the restaurant now that its speakeasy days are well in the past.
And then there’s Sardi’s at 234 West 44th Street, an institution in the theater world. Open at that location since 1927, it has hosted famous and not-so-famous actors, producers, directors and writers. Its walls are adorned with 1300 caricatures of celebrities, and it once was the place where Tony award nominations were announced.
The menu at Sardi’s is a Continental one. Appetizers include smoked salmon, prosciutto and melon, crab cakes, onion soup and steak tartare, salads and sandwiches. Main courses include sirloin steak, pork chops, spaghetti and cannelloni, a Sardi’s special. There are daily specials at both lunch and dinner, and there are a children’s menu and a post-theater supper menu. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner, and Tuesday through Saturday for late supper.