MANHATTAN – A new upscale Italian restaurant is coming to Lenox Hill, filling a void left when longtime-tenant Fig & Olive’s vacated their original Upper East Side restaurant location, which closed at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and never reopened. More than two years later, the signs are up and all signs point to Il Gradino Ristorante opening soon.
“It’s a fine dining establishment. White tablecloth, quiet background music only, just a small bar in the back,” said Phil Dorn, a representative for the Il Gradino Ristorante, describing the upcoming Italian restaurant, located on Lexington Avenue between East 62nd and 63rd Streets, while seeking an alcohol permit recommendation at a community board committee meeting last fall.
Il Gradino’s owner, Terrence Lowenberg, is also co-owner of Icon Realty Management, which lists the Chelsea Pines Inn hotel among its properties, along with the building at 808 Lexington Avenue, where the new upscale Italian restaurant is located.
“Terrance and his team have experienced they own and operate a hotel in Chelsea, and they’re looking to simply parlay that experience with opening this restaurant,” Dorn added.
Vacant for more than two years, the space had been home to the original Fig & Olive restaurant for fifteen years before closing at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Fig & Olive’s parent company would declare bankruptcy in the summer of 2021, forming a restructuring plan that would keep just five of their restaurants in operation— and did not include the original Upper East Side location which never reopened according to court documents.
Fresh new awnings bearing the Il Gradino name– which translates to ‘the step’– have been hung outside the restaurant, though with the windows completely obscured, it’s not clear what kind of transformation the interior may have undergone since it’s Fig & Olive days.
Upper East Site has reached out to Icon Realty Management for more information on the upcoming restaurant, but have not heard back.
Once it finally opens, Il Gradino hours will be noon to midnight seven days a week.