Upper East Side Brunch: Spigolo and The Gilroy

Upper East Side Brunch: Spigolo and The Gilroy

Waffles at The Gilroy.

Recently, I visited two brunch spots along Second Avenue. A staple of the Upper East Side dining scene for 10 years, Spigolo recently moved a few blocks south to a larger location. Owner and executive chef Joey D’Angelo didn’t want to give up his old space, so he partnered with Josh Mazza—a frequent customer at Spigolo and “a great mixologist” according to D’Angelo—to open The Gilroy: a cocktail bar with a late-night menu.

The Gilroy opened earlier this year, predominantly as a cocktail bar with a kitchen that’s open until 4 a.m. Mazza felt the neighborhood was missing a late-night spot for “a glass of wine, a bite to eat and a quality bartender.” Then last month, the bar began serving weekend brunch.

A unique feature on The Gilroy’s brunch menu is their selection of Juisi juices. Mazza explained, “everyone in this city eats brunch” and most brunch menus focus on all-you-can-drink cocktails. “We wanted to introduce a different option for people, [who don’t want to drink alcohol that early in the day],” he said.

I tried the Pineapple Jamu juice, which is also Mazza’s favorite: “It makes me feel like I’m on vacation,” he said. The addition of tumeric, ginger and tamarind helps tone down the sweetness of the pineapple and make up the Jamu recipe—an ancient Indonesian Elixir, according to the label. My boyfriend tried one of their vegan milk options, raw coconut vanilla milk.

After drinks, we sampled a few brunch menu items, starting with a refreshing salad speckled with strawberries, fava beans and corn kernels. Next we enjoyed some waffle slices topped with a berry compote and mascarpone cheese, Eggs Benedict and a lobster frittata. Mazza’s favorite is the Benedict, which he explained is a lighter version of the typical dish using thin-sliced prosciutto and hollandaise with fresh lemon juice.

Cherry tomatoes with burrata cheese and pesto at Spigolo.

A week after my meal at The Gilroy, I stopped by Spigolo to talk to D’Angelo and try a few of their Italian-inspired dishes. D’Angelo, who has been working in the restaurant industry since he was 13-years-old, has a wealth of culinary experience and opened Spigolo in 2005. During brunch, it was apparent that D’Angelo cares for his family, friends and staff: his cousin was also having brunch that afternoon and his friend’s sister was having a bridal shower. D’Angelo darted between conversations and ducked into the kitchen to check on his staff, but never seemed stressed.

My meal began with a large glass of sangria and a small plate of heirloom cherry tomatoes, topped with pesto and burrata cheese. The cheese, which D’Angelo explained is locally made, was creamier than I’ve had elsewhere. Next up was French toast with berry compote. The homemade bread was soft, but sturdy—not soggy like many French toast breads.

The main course was a wild ramp omelet and a side of fries. The ramps are picked upstate by a forager and brought to Spigolo every Tuesday. They’re one of D’Angelo’s favorite ingredients right now, but they won’t be available much longer, as the menu changes seasonally. For dessert, I enjoyed a creamy vanilla bean panna cotta, topped with berry compote and chocolate chip biscotti.

Both brunches are available Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. For more information on Spigolo and The Gilroy, visit their websites at spigolonyc.com and thegilroynyc.com.

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