By Lese Dunton
When walking on West 71st Street recently, strolling past what was once Big Nick’s and heading east towards Central Park, I noticed some words repeated on a wall: “Friend of a Farmer. Est. 1986,” they said over and over.
“What a great name,” I thought. “Who is this friend of a farmer?” I looked online and discovered it’s a restaurant coming to the Upper West Side this fall. [WSR wrote about it here.] Eager to learn more, I reached out to talk with one of the owners, Rose Morabito.
“It’s comfort, cozy-type food,” says Rose. “The restaurant feels like you’re in the countryside. Lots of natural wood with flowery tapestry. There’s a big fireplace in the center of the main dining room that you can see wherever you sit. It has great skylights, too, so it’s very bright in the day.”
Rose and her two older brothers, Taylor and Weston, are the owners. Their mother, Carrie, and father, Terry, started Friend of a Farmer as a Gramercy Park breakfast place 36 years ago. In addition to helping pioneer the farm-to-table local fresh food movement in the city, Carrie and Terry have always loved the designing and building process that’s involved.
“My mother helped with the interior design,” explains Rose. “She has an eye for that. Dad is a builder, so a lot of the tables and furniture he’ll actually build. It’s a good mix of restaurant and construction.”
The Morabitos are looking forward to nourishing new people and working with nearby Tucker Square local farmers, too. “We’re excited to be on the Upper West Side and to be opening another space. It’s very family-oriented, like a home away from home,” says Rose.
Friend of a Famer is targeted to open in November 2022, before the holidays, and will serve the same fresh, hearty meals in the same sort of setting as their popular Irving Place location. They will offer 15 different kinds of omelets, served on skillets and featuring local eggs, cheese, spinach, tomatoes, you name it. “Most people order the ‘Farmer’s Market Omelet,’” says Rose. Other choices includes their much-loved pancakes or waffles.
If you like your brunch with a Bloody Mary they make their own mix which includes a special hot sauce. Other homemade drinks for brunch and dinner include the “Agronomist,” which is fresh pressed cucumber, ginger, lime, and vodka. Also, “Carrie’s Campari,” with grapefruit juice, vodka, muddled jalapeno (shaken into drink), Campari, and some orange. All of their drink creations are equally popular without alcohol.
Dinner favorites include Chicken Pot Pie, Vegan Pot Pie, Shepherd’s Pie, salmon and other fish, roast chicken, short ribs — something for everyone.
You never know what you’re going to see just by walking around the neighborhood. There are always signs of new things. I will now imagine warming up next to the fireplace and eating a big plate of cozy comfort food as the sparkling holidays kick off in our restaurant-thriving neighborhood.
Friend of a Farmer. 70 West 71st, between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.