City Icons Fedora, Astor Room & Buvette | New York City

Restaurant palimpsests let history shine through

New York is a town rich with culinary history, a fact you'd never know from looking at the city's restaurants. Here, when a new occupant moves into a storied space, its first move is often a gut renovation; beloved trattorias become shiny Bavarian bierhalls overnight. Luckily, three recent openings have preserved their iconic locales while writing a bit of history themselves:

Fedora This West Village restaurant may have imported a chef from Montreal's Au Pied de Cochon (think crispy pig's head and duck legs), but the team (which also owns nearby Jeffrey's Grocery and Joseph Leonard) made efforts to maintain a space that first opened in 1952. Much of the original mahogany bar remains, and caricatures that once lined the walls have been reproduced in a private dining room downstairs. And although the iconic neon sign has been replaced, the new one is an exact replica of what flickered during the days of Don Draper. 239 W. Fourth St. (between W. 10th and Charles sts.); 646-449-9336 or

The Astor Room This Queens supper club is located in a former commissary of the 91-year-old Kaufman Astoria Studios–a space in which Charlie Chaplin and W.C. Fields used to sup on beef Wellington. The 80-seat dining room retains much of the Deco touches of the era (note the tiled walls and original marble staircase), as does the menu, with such offerings as short rib beef Stroganoff ($24) and lobster thermidor ($38). 34-12 36th St. (at 35th Ave.), Astoria; 718-255-1947 or

Buvette In the space that once housed the lauded Pink Tea Cup, smothered pork chops and black-eyed peas have given way to orange-laced oxtail marmalade ($8) and an unforgettable chocolate mousse ($8). What remains from the former tenant is a 50-year-old wooden walk-in cold box, which new owner Jody Williams lovingly refurbished so it's back in working order. 42 Grove St. (near Bleecker St.); 212-255-3590 or