New Restaurant Expected to Fill Former Isabella’s Space By Spring; ‘We’re Reaching the Finish Line’

By Carol Tannenhauser

A new Mediterranean restaurant is coming soon to the space occupied by the iconic Isabella’s for nearly 30 years. 8th Hill will open by the end of March, owner Semi Feyzioglu promised.

It’s been almost two years since Isabella’s closed, seemingly overnight, leaving the neighborhood shocked, and the southeast corner of Columbus Avenue and 77th Street empty, a sad reminder of the neighborhood’s purported decline. Isabella’s and its outdoor cafe had brought life to the block right across from the Museum of Natural History for decades.

Last May, we announced the forthcoming arrival of 8th Hill, but the opening was “delayed nine months by DOB and Landmarks,” Feyzioglu, 29, explained. “We’re reaching the finish line.” The 5,800 square-foot space has been completely renovated and made accessible. It is stunning to behold.

“When I first saw this place, I fell in love,” Feyzioglu said, standing recently in the midst of the construction, which is in the painting stage. “To open a place like this in New York City was my dream. I put everything I had into it and worked really hard to get it, because the landlord was looking for a very specific kind of tenant. He came to our restaurant in New Jersey to taste the food and chose us. I know how special this spot is, and that everybody has been waiting for eight months for us to open. It’s going to be worth the wait,” he said. “I don’t want to be humble, because I trust my chefs. I know them from Turkey.”

Feyzioglu comes from a restaurant family in Istanbul. He came to the United States to study at NYU, then decided to stay, “because you feel freer here,” he said, adding, “but I love my country and Istanbul is one of the biggest and most beautiful cities in the world. It consists of seven hills, so this is the 8th hill of Istanbul.”

“Of course, we’ll have a lot of Turkish food,” he continued, “but, also, the best of everything Mediterranean — the best of Greek, the best of Lebanese, Middle Eastern, whatever you can imagine, and really nice appetizers to go with the bar. (The menu will be available on March 4th.) Service is also important. I used to be a waiter at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. People are going to be taken care of really well. If you have really nice service, and really nice food, and a space like this, what else is there?”

Will it be quiet?

“Not quiet,” Feyzioglu said. “How could it be when it seats 150 people? But it won’t be noisy, because we put a soundproofing system behind the ceiling and under the tables. It was the landlord’s idea, to be fair to the building residents and customers. We’re going to take care of people really well,” he emphasized. “No one’s going to rush them. When they come here it will feel like home.”

“I think it’s so great that this space is reopening,” said Nina Teicholz, a 20-year resident of the neighborhood. “It’s such a beautiful, vital space in an important location on the Upper West Side — and it’s been closed for so long!”

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 23 comments | permalink
    1. Suzy says:

      Welcome to the neighborhood… looking forward!

    2. LuluT says:

      I’m looking forward to this! It IS such a beautiful space and I wish them all the best. Ill be there!

    3. Ish Kabibble says:

      Looking forward!

    4. D. Javitch says:

      Please inform us when you open this spring.

      DJ

    5. Amy says:

      I’m excited to try it, but I’m very wary of the menu and the noise level.

    6. susan says:

      Finally!
      Welcome to the neighborhood

    7. E Barbara Hariton says:

      Quiet is a word that excites me. When I go out to eat with friends I like to be able to hear what they are saying. I avoid places with loud music, high ceilings and resounding flooring.
      Sadly, there are few such places.The theory that noisy places excite people and make them feel more festive has encouraged me to eat at home. I hope this place is truly quiet.

      • Dena says:

        Agreed. We eat at home now, too, except in the summer when we can sit outside, which, ironically is usually quieter.
        Wouldn’t it be nice if someone opened a restaurant called “Quiet.”

    8. Wendy says:

      They’ll need more than soundproofing to keep the noise level down there inside the restaurant. More like carpeting, curtains, or noise baffles. I’ll pass.

    9. MG says:

      Thank you west side rag for the update! My husband and I are excited to hear about 8th hill. We’ve been in the neighborhood for 33 years and welcome an establishment that maintains what character is left on the UWS.

    10. Ed Kurtzman says:

      Wonderful to see that wonderful space being given new life.
      Best wishes that your dream is fulfilled.

    11. ann bluestein says:

      why did Isabella’s leave. I loved going there?

    12. Lisa says:

      This is very exciting! Welcome to the neighborhood, Semi!

    13. kcares says:

      Dear Ms. Teicholz–Nice to see that you commented. If you know the owners, can you help them to develop and offer keto-friendly dishes on their menu?

    14. marcia talmage schneider and fred schneider says:

      can’t wait Marcia and Fred
      p.s. we had our first date at Isabella’s and love love love Mediterranean food.

    15. Marc says:

      So, why did Isabella’s close? What’s the secret? What
      happened?

    16. James Cassidy says:

      Hooray

    17. Rose Lynn Sherr says:

      Are they going to be open for
      Lunch???! Isabella was the go-to
      Place for lunch.

    18. Dale Brown says:

      Looking forward to this new restaurant with the soundproofing. I was a customer of Isabella’s for the 30 years and was shocked when they closed. Welcome to the neighborhood and I’m looking forward to your opening!

    19. SHG says:

      Looking forward to this.

    20. Bonnie Kassel says:

      I know it’s wrong on many levels to be prejudiced, but after many visits to Turkey(once even rented a house there for 7 months!), I LOVE everything and everyone Turkish. This can’t be better news for our neighborhood on the upper west side. Welcome Semi!

    21. Tom Nicholson says:

      Congratulations to a proactive landlord with a plan and a vision for his property and for the neighborhood.

    22. Josephb says:

      Welcome to our community. As a long time Isabella’s customer… since it opened…I know that I have to move on and I am actually looking forward to this new neighbor. To say that we miss Isabella’s is an understatement beyond words. However, good Mediterranean cuisine is very welcomed, and 8 hope that locals are an important priority to this venture. Good luck and see you in March. All the best.