What To Expect From Rockefeller Center's Restaurant Overhaul

There are quite a few landmarks that most everyone knows in New York City like the imposing Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the expansive Central Park. One of the most accessible, though, is Rockefeller Center. It's not that one can wander aimlessly; They do have rules and certain areas are closed off to the public. But some of the most iconic TV shows are filmed there, confirms the website for the conglomeration of buildings and plazas of the center. You can duck inside — with a ticket, of course — to sit in the audience for a taping of "Saturday Night Live," "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon," or "Late Night with Seth Meyers," or hang around outside in the early morning hours to catch a glimpse of the "Today" show.

For many years — thanks in no small part to the highlight NBC shows, such as "SNL," put on the art deco, neon "NBC Studios" marquee outside — the biggest name in Rockefeller Center dining was the Rainbow Room, which opened in 1934, says their website. But time and a financial crunch did the Rainbow Room in as a traditional restaurant, though it is still available to rent for parties.

Recently, though, Rockefeller Center revamped their dining options by attracting some of the hottest restaurateurs in NYC, reports Grub Street. And while the roll-out of these ballyhooed eateries was less than smooth, people are still clamoring for a reservation.

Out with the old

The new eateries run the gamut, Grub Street notes, from high-end Korean at Naro to regional Italian at Jupiter to classic brasserie at 21 Greenpoint. Centered around the famed skating rink plaza, there was once a plan in place to stagger the opening of each such that they all got adequate press. But delays based on construction and other factors, plus the crush to open before the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, have meant the openings are happening in a much shorter window.

These three new eateries are just the latest in Rockefeller Center's dining redux, which has seen another Italian spot, Lodi, and French bistro Le Rock open this year. Lodi, says The Infatuation, is both a casual, if elevated grab-and-go spot and a nice place to have a seat and order seafood salad and creamy risotto. And over at Le Rock, the New York Times suggests throwing caution to the wind and ordering French classics, like blood sausage and fried tripe.

So why are there a slew of new restaurants opening in Rockefeller Center? To revitalize what was increasingly being seen as a stagnant, touristy area of midtown Manhattan, says Eater NY. The plan was set in motion in 2018 when building owners, real estate firm Tishman Speyer, parted ways with three restaurants that had been part of the Rockefeller Center landscape for 40 years.