On 83rd Street and Columbus Avenue in Manhattan, you can find two kosher restaurants in one location. By day, enjoy the brunch menu at Modern Bread and Bagel; by night, that open, airy, and welcoming brunch café will transform into an elegant, candlelit Mediterranean restaurant called Arba. Two restaurants, two menus, two aesthetics, two executive chefs, and the same owners: Orly Gottesman and her husband, Josh Borenstein.
Why did the owners opt to have two restaurants share one space? “When we decided to open a restaurant in Manhattan, with its tremendously expensive rent, we had a lot of ideas on how to utilize the space most efficiently. On a trip to Israel, we met Chef Nir Zook, and we connected immediately. We decided to try the concept of one type restaurant during the day, with a menu that my husband and I developed, and a different style of the restaurant at night.”
Beyond the creativity of Gottesman and Borenstein maximizing traffic in one space by offering two different food experiences each day, there are other unifying principles at work: In addition to both restaurants being kosher, both are gluten-free, too. You wouldn’t know it, however, from the signage or the menu. You don’t see the words “gluten-free” anywhere in the restaurant. The owners want everyone — those who keep kosher and those who don’t, those who eat gluten and those who may not — to enjoy the fresh, local, inventive menus in each establishment. “Our customers,” said Gottesman, “come from all walks of life.”
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Modern Bread and Bagel opens each day at 7:00 a.m. and closes by 4:00 p.m. You will find the café’s signature dishes of red and green shakshuka and (gluten-free) cinnamon babka French toast cooked in butter during those hours. At 5:30, the menu changes, the lights go down, the tablecloths come out, as do the candles, flowers, and music. Guests of the evening restaurant, Arba, can enjoy a Mediterranean menu that changes weekly, depending on market availability. Look for herb crusted salmon with confit potatoes and garlic, halibut over yellow tomato sauce, or roasted red snapper atop a garlic cream sprouted lentil casserole.
While the menu for each eatery is different, there is some overlap. According to Chef Zook, the chef at Arba, the smoked salmon and pickled vegetables, prepared in the restaurant kitchen, are on both menus, as are some of the salads. Some of the gluten-free breads, developed by the owner, will be served as part of both menus. Expect to see Gottesman’s gluten-free rustic bread in the morning, served with the Israeli breakfast or shakshuka. At night, it is offered with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Modern Bread and Bagel has been packed since it opened six weeks ago. Patrons enjoy the standard brunch fare, as well as freshly squeezed juices, quality Australian coffee, and homemade iced teas like hibiscus cherry, lavender, or a blend of peach, ginger, and verbena. Arba, which will feature some of the best kosher wines from Israel, South America, France, and New Zealand, selected by an experienced sommelier, plans to open soon.