Sambuca, the Italian restaurant on 72nd street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, will close just before the new year, owner Liza Wetanson told us. Wetanson still has a long-term lease on the space — more than 10 years — and plans to partner with a restaurant group to create an entirely new restaurant in Sambuca’s space. It should open next summer, she says.

The past year has been a rough one for local restaurants, with Big Nick’s, Popover Cafe, Indian Cafe and others closing (or announcing they will close, as in Popover’s case).

Sambuca is known for hearty family-style Italian food, and a plentiful gluten-free menu. “We want to thank everyone who has come to the restaurant over the past 28 years,” Wetanson told us.

She’s excited, however, about transforming the space, saying that the group she’s partnering with is “chef-driven” and will make the spot fresh again.

Sambuca tried to reinvent itself last year with a wine bar at the front of the restaurant. Earlier this year, Wetanson had put the restaurant up for sale.

The exact closing date is not clear yet. Wetanson says the restaurant will close before the new year, and she wants to see as many of her customers as possible before then. So drop by and have some meatballs and say goodbye — for now.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 10 comments | permalink
    1. Jeff says:

      Far be it from me to advise a longtime restaurateur, but a look at the Sambuca menu suggests it is both extremely boring (cheese ravioli, garlic bread, etc.) and wildly overpriced ($9 for a side of rice, $14 for a side of broccoli rabe, etc.). Those might be some issues to address next time around. (Best of luck.)

      • REENO says:

        Boring menu..not really.

        Overpriced? NAHHH…this is the Upper West Side of Manhattan for Pete’s sake.

        I had my wedding reception there. Everybody raved about the food and the atmosphere. It will be missed!

    2. Cindy Fanelli says:

      Hi, Will miss you. I have many fond memories of sharing meals with friends at Sambuca. Wishing you much success with your new partnering and look forward to visiting again soon. Happy holidays, Cindy Fanelli

    3. Steve says:

      There was nothing wrong with being the poor man’s Carmine’s as long as they kept up the quality and value. Unfortunately, they didn’t do that. I hope the next incarnation is better than the current one.

    4. Violet says:

      FYI, it’s actually not an expensive restaurant. It’s family style, the portions are meant to share, similar to Carmine’s. It’s sad to see so many places close.

    5. Paolo says:

      As an Italian longing for original Italian food in the UWS (Rosi has ridiculous prices) I was always disappointed by Sambuca because of the poor taste of its Italian-American cuisine (but I’ve not eating there in a while). Unfortunately, to me it was always a diner disguised as a restaurant. The location is stellar and I hope the owner might find and interesting format.

    6. james says:

      can we please get something good? there are so many restaurants in the neighborhood and so few are worth eating in.

    7. geoff says:

      remember Hisae’s, with the healthful food and the bus shelter ads with the ‘human’ head made from vegetables?.

      it came during the first wave of gentrification in the 70s or 80s, when i had my children. it was convenient, away from the legions of people who used to stroll columbus (boy it got crowded in those days and there were buskers everywhere!) and because of its spaciousness—elbow room—was great for families.

      it was certainly the same block; was it the same space?

    8. Foodie says:

      One suggestion for the new spot: GET RID OF THE SEATINGS. It’s nice to pass a restaurant after a walk through the park and just stop in.

      Unfortunately, if it wasn’t 6:30 or 8:00 PM, we couldn’t do it. Damned be us for popping in at 7:15.

    9. soapdish says:

      this sucks. it had best 1) carbonara (not the fake stuff with cream like some of others) 2) pasta with garlic and olive oil.