Setting the tone for the ultimate dining experience, The Darby offers a mix of innovative culinary offerings and interactive live performances created by visionary restaurateurs Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva along with partner Ronnie Madra. The restaurant restores the glamour, charm and exuberance of a bygone era to 244 West 14th Street, located in the legendary Nell’s space.
“When speaking about The Darby it’s impossible to ignore the history of Nell’s, the great supper club that occupied the space starting in 1986,” explains owner Scott Sartiano, “It was in this legendary space that jazz and blues bands entertained Manhattan’s elite, serving as a swanky, cool cultural staple.”
The design, envisioned by Steve Lewis and Marc Dizon of Lewis-Dizon Design, pays homage to the original incarnation of 244 West 14th Street, from the antique moldings and stage footlights to the nickel-plated “Dia-grid cage” which hovers off the ceilings and walls of the 100-seat restaurant.
“The ‘cage’, with its sleek and sharp modernism, leaves the brilliant past just out of reach but not forgotten,” explains designer Steve Lewis.
The deep cranberry mohair banquets lining the back wall of the space compliment the antique cerused oak wood windsor spindle back spine chairs. The molding details reference early colonial estate paneling normally found in drawing rooms and great halls of yesteryear. The color scheme of deep garnets, rich cranberry and nickel is based on a Tom Ford and YSL collection of Chinois-French, offering a contemporary take on a classic palate.
There are few American chefs, much less female chefs that can boast staying power in Michelin-starred restaurants. Executive Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli of Butter Restaurant and The Darby can boast indeed— she embarked on a culinary journey in France, and ended up working in some of the country’s top restaurants including esteemed chef Guy Savoy’s eponymous three-star kitchen.
In 2003, Guarnaschelli was given the opportunity to expand her repertoire and become the executive chef at Butter Restaurant, where she would create her own American and green market-inspired menu. In addition to her restaurant work, Guarnaschelli is a member of The Southern Foodways Alliance and The James Beard Foundation. Guarnaschelli also a Dame D’Escoffier and part of the 15-member Chef’s Advisory Council at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education, where she was an instructor for a number of years.
Guarnaschelli has many national television appearances including Iron Chef America as both a contestant and a judge, Food Network Challenge as both a contestant and judge, The Today Show and The Rachael Ray Show. She has been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Elle, New York and Time Out New York.
Guarnaschelli is currently the host of “Alex’s Day Off” on Food Network. “Alex’s Day Off” airs on Food Network.
In Fall 2012, Guarnaschelli competed in season 5 of The Next Iron Chef:Redemption and won in the final Kitchen Stadium Showdown earning her the title of Iron Chef. Guarnaschelli will appear on the Iron Chef program as a member of the regular cast of chefs beginning at the end of December 2012.
The Darbys performances, on the large stage, are situated amongst diners every night. Sartiano and Akiva along with musical influencers, have pieced together The Darbys house band, incorporating elements so versatile that they encompass everything from Broadway to Jazz, modern-day Pop Soul and old school classics.