Casa Lever is a feast for the senses. Tucked inside Gordon Bunshaft‘s eternally modern Lever House in midtown Manhattan, the restaurant features a beehive-gone-nautical interior dreamed up by Marc Newson, a fit-for-Fellini brand identity by Matteo Bologna and the gang at Mucca Design (don’t miss the wine list, studded with lovely and informative maps!), and, for dessert, a mind-blowing gianduia that suggests Nutella as reimagined by a band of pastry-loving cherubs. And then there are the Warhols.
Thanks to a lending arrangement with Lever House owner Aby Rosen and his Lever House Art Collection, Casa Lever patrons dine with a wall of Warhol portraits: a pair of Hitchcock profiles here, twin Jerry Halls there, the sassy Aretha that covered Ms. Franklin’s eponymous 1986 album–and proved to be Warhol’s last work–eyeing the exit. It’s always fun to play a round of “Which would you like to own?” while waiting for your ravioli di brasoto (or your third gianduia, as the case may be) to arrive, in which case one’s eyes are inevitably pulled to the rear of the restaurant, where the elevated private dining room–aglow with the best Warhols of the bunch–floats behind a Newsonian trapezoid of glass. Until recently, that’s where they kept the pair of pastel Dennis Hoppers from 1971, which stared down a couple of Giorgio Armani portraits in which the blue-eyed designer resembles a debonair Siberian husky.
As of today, there’s a new girl in town: Judy Garland. The recently acquired Judys (above), made by Warhol in 1978 and circa 1979, debuted today in the private dining room. They are best admired in the company of a newly created “Judy Garland” cocktail. Casa Lever “mixologist” Cristina Bini‘s commemorative blend of bourbon whisky, barolo chinato, mint essence, and absinthe is sure to take you somewhere over the rainbow in no time. “Edie [Sedgwick] and Judy had something in common–a way of getting everyone totally involved in their problems. When you were around them, you forgot you had problems of your own, you got so involved in theirs,” Warhol once said. “They had dramas going right around the clock, and everybody loved to help them through it all. Their problems made them even more attractive.”