Casa Lever

390 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10022

(212) 888-2700

This was my first dinner at Casa Lever, the new Italian-inspired reincarnation of the former Lever House. The long, narrow dining space is nicely done, with Andy Warhol paintings that add a dash of color and brightness. The only negative is that the tables are tightly spaced and the room can get noisy.

Casa Lever’s menu mostly features classics from the northern Italian kitchen presented in modern, updated interpretations that stay faithful to the originals. My veal courses were beautifully prepared. The vitello tonnato was delicious, while the breaded veal cutlet Milanese was a tasty rendition of this classic Italian comfort dish.

The wine list is excellent and a significant, welcome upgrade from the rather pedestrian selection offered at Casa Lever’s sister Sant’Ambroeus restaurants. Readers will find plenty of the familiar names in Italian wine – and their accompanying high prices – but there are also plenty of gems available from Italy’s lesser known regions that can be had for reasonable amounts considering the neighborhood. I am sure I will be back to explore some of the other choices on the menu and check in on a several bottles I don’t often see on New York City wine lists.

Marion’s 2004 Valpolicella Superiore, from an important vintage in Veneto, was flat-out great. It showed superb intensity, endless layers of perfumed, seductive fruit and fabulous overall balance, well surpassing the level of virtually all other Valpolicellas in 2004. This bottle far exceeded expectations and my original 89 point score in The Wine Advocate. It reminded me I need to drink proprietor Stefano Campatelli’s wines more often!

The 2005 Barbaresco Albesani from Cantina del Pino was even more impressive. It fully lived up to its pedigree and the lofty rating I bestowed upon it last year. The south-facing Albesani vineyard did particularly well in 2005, as evidenced by this big, muscular Barbaresco. The Albesani needed quite a bit of time to open up in the glass, but was ultimately a better match for our food than the Marion. It was truly spectacular, though years away from peak. 


Vitello Tonnato; thinly sliced slow roasted veal, tuna & caper sauce

Milanese; traditional breaded veal Milanes 


2004   Marion Valpolicella Superiore         93

2005   Cantina del Pino Barbaresco Albesani       95

[Picture and credit: Casa Lever, New York]

--Antonio Galloni