When I heard that gallerist Larry Gagosian and chef Masa Takayama had teamed up to open an Upper East Side outpost of Masa’s legendary Columbus Circle restaurant, I had to go. Tucked in the basement of Gagosian’s Madison Avenue flagship, the food is 100 percent ingredient driven, with a seasonal menu that includes traditional Japanese dishes such as hibachi and sushi plus decadent rice and noodle plates. Beyond the a la carte menu, there’s an Omakase offering (a tasting menu of the chef’s choosing), and I’ve heard that bento boxes will soon grace the lunch menu.
Food aside, the space is decorated simply but stylishly. Yellow leather banquets pop against rich wooden walls that are accented with volcanic stone native to Japan. There’s a light-filled staircase that keeps it from feeling subterranean and a few pieces of art dotted around, including paintings and prints by Cy Twombly. The staff uniforms are designed by fashion designer and art collector, Lisa Perry— the look is contemporary in navy with yellow accents to complement the interiors; everything works together beautifully.
Kappo Masa, 976 Madison Avenue; 212-906-7141