New York is renowned for its world-class museums, and the restaurants that inhabit these cultural landmarks are equally stunning. One such spot is Veronika at Fotografiska, the chic photography museum in Flatiron, which made a comeback after a 2021 closure this June.
Named after the patron saint of photography, the restaurant’s 2020 debut gained much buzz for being backed by ace restaurateur Stephen Starr. It returns without the famed hospitality magnate, steered instead by CultureWorks and the owners of the private work and social space, NeueHouse. Unlike its previous avatar, which showcased Eastern European dishes, Veronika’s rebooted menu features classics from continental Europe.
Led by chef Dominick Pepe, formerly of Olio e Più, Veronika’s new menu prioritizes sustainability. “Ingredients are most important, that’s our ethos,” Pepe says. “Conscious consumption is the most important thing on the menu.” What he means: animal products are pasture raised, not factory farmed; seafood is line caught and produce is in season and sourced as close to the kitchen as possible. “We’re very aware of our carbon footprint, and we don’t sacrifice that integrity,” he says.
Rather than constantly revamping Veronika’s offerings, Pepe switches sources. For example, one of the menu’s most popular appetizers, tuna tartare, has shifted in origin over the summer, but the ingredients remain the same. Tuna, initially sourced from Maine, is now from Spain as fish migrate eastwards; soon, the tuna on Veronika’s menu will come from the Pacific Ocean. In addition to following migration patterns, Pepe leans into the tuna’s strengths—the cut used in the dish changes and depending on the source, what’s served may be the belly or the loin. The uni on top is sourced from Santa Barbara or Maine or even Hokkaido, also depending on peak season. “The integrity stays, but ingredients don’t,” Pepe says.
The menu, split between cold and warm appetizers, schnitzels, omelets, larger proteins, steaks, and sides, relies on simplicity to let ingredients shine. Plenty of plant-based options are also available, such as tender salt-baked baby beets with hazelnut “cheese” and cauliflower blanketed with coconut-based mozzarella.
“I want people to leave with a sense of fulfillment, not overly stuffed,” Pepe says. Of course, part of feeling good means saving room for dessert. At Veronika, that includes soft-serve gelato (vegan flavors are available) and strawberries and cream encased in a meringue tower to smash down with a spoon. “We do spectacular, whimsical, playful desserts,” Pepe says.
Of sparkles and spectacles
An elegant and cleverly structured cocktail menu comes from beverage director Eric Alperin. A signature reserve martini tray can be ordered dry, dusted, or wet. Made from premium Polish vodka, the drink comes with luxe accoutrements such as miniature baked potato topped with Polish Osetra caviar, plus a dwarf peach. Signature drinks include pisco-centric cocktails like a vegan pisco sour, plus three types of espresso martinis, including monkey mind (espresso, dark rum, banana liqueur, and banana chip) and the chatterbox (espresso, vodka, aquavit, fernet, and mint).
The wine program was designed by Rosemary Walker and focuses on high-end but accessible wines, from Champagne by the glass to magnums. Sit at the bar for drinks and a selection of bites like crispy pierogies, a Scotch egg, and the only-slightly-sacrilegious challah lobster roll.
Veronika’s interiors are just as spectacular as its menus, beginning with a grand entrance. A new entry from East 22nd Street brings you up a dramatic stairwell and into the striking space. The first stop is the aforementioned Bar Veronika, adorned with luxurious slipper chairs, intimate lounge sofas, and barstools. 20-foot drapery hanging from the main archway separates the bar and dining room, where each table is topped with flickering column candles and muted yellow tablecloths. Curated photographs from experimental fine art and fashion photographer, Elizaveta Porodina—this is the Fotografiska, after all—accentuate the opulent insides. Visit after a tour of the museum, for a romantic, late-night dinner or a luxurious nightcap against an unforgettable, gold-tinged backdrop.
Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner is a writer based in Brooklyn, where she lives with her wife and rescue dog. You can follow her on Instagram @melissabethk and Twitter @melissabethk