By Laura Weiss

Just-opened Upper West Side food specialty shop Gastronomie 491 owner Nicole Ahronee says, “People are tired of going to Zabar’s,” and that they’re eager for an alternative to the 70-plus-year old food emporium. Gastronomie 491, an upscale eat-in and take-out place, is just a few short blocks away from Zabar’s, which is on Broadway at 80th Street.

“They’re so grateful…having this in the neighborhood,” the auburn-haired owner said on opening day of locals’ reactions to the food, cheese and desserts market that opened March 21 on Columbus between 83rd and 84th Street.

When asked to respond to Ahronee’s contention that people are tiring of Zabar’s, the owners, Stanley and Saul Zabar, said through a spokesman, that people should “see our Facebook page, and our blog, which reveal that Zabar’s is, and continues to be, greatly appreciated by our customers.”

On the night that Gastronomie 491 opened its doors to customers, a steady stream of curious locals trekked in and out. A few were buying. Most were food tourists eying the artfully displayed fresh vegetables and prepared foods like cauliflower au gratin with olives.

“I know the neighborhood,” Ahronee (right) said as she stood in the front of the shop greeting neighbors and friends offering good wishes and gifts of potted plants. “I can feel the energy.”

Check out more of our coverage on Zabar’s and Gastronomie 491.

Laura Weiss, a West Side Rag columnist, is a food writer and journalist. She’s the author of Ice Cream: A Global History (Reaktion Books). You can also find Laura on twitter at, or at

COLUMNS, FOOD, NEWS | 7 comments | permalink
    1. jerry says:

      Just checked out G491 – what a disappointment. Selection? I didn’t see much for the serious food lover. Zabar’s doesn’t have a thing to worry about. Arhonee would be better off taking the high road and focus on growing her own business.

    2. BD says:

      I dropped in on Sunday and one thing I quickly noticed were the extraordinarily high cheese prices. I pointed to one cheese that was selling for $27/lb and said to the counterman “that cheese is $21/lb at Zabar’s.” And he replied “We can’t be expected to compete with Zabar’s.” So whereas Ms. Ahronee appears to be arrogant and delusional, her cheese guy seems to know what’s what.

    3. Cliff says:

      I suppose some one-percenters from CPW who won’t go all the way to that dreadfully seedy Broadway to mix with the masses at Zabar’s and Fairway will shop here. But I doubt this place is in any danger of getting too crowded.

    4. Dawn says:

      Stopped by, it’s an OK market, bought a cookie. Will probably have a loyal customer base and fills a void of sorts, but not a big enough selection to steer me away from Zabar’s. Seriously, is this owner delusional? She should have stayed away from the Zabar’s comparison, apples and oranges!

    5. ar says:

      bought bagels and croissant. more expensive than zabars (and that’s something) and the worst bagel i’ve ever eaten. ever.

    6. mary says:

      Like several others who commented, I stopped in and was very disappointed. Very limited selection and high prices. I won’t be going back, and this is right in my neighborhood. a challenge to Zabar’s? Please!

    7. CJ Berk says:

      We need a replacement for Fairway- a chaotic eyesore! Like stepping into the Third World. Zabars is wonderful. Fairway is dirty noisy and jiuist an all around miserable eXperience. What can we do??