Pennsylvania 6 Brings Old New York to Life with Classic American Dining
Pennsylvania 6, the vision of owner Chris Coco, is a new restaurant that is changing the landscape of the Herald Square neighborhood. Bringing with it the feeling of Old New York and a new taste of classic American dining, Pennsylvania 6 is a 21st Century cross between the Oak Room and the Oyster Bar. (The name is a tribute to Pennsylvania 6-5000, the phone number of the nearby Pennsylvania Hotel, made famous in the song of the same name performed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra.) Born of casual American roots with a sophisticated culinary twist, boasting a raw bar stocked with the finest oysters and shellfish, and an artisanal cocktail bar, a craft beer list, and an eclectic wine list, there could be no better time for its introduction, as the neighborhood continues to evolve and the bordering NoMad neighborhood becomes a burgeoning dining destination with The Breslin, John Dory, the Ace Hotel, and NoMad.
To bring this project to life, Chris Coco, a twenty-year hospitality business veteran—who began his involvement with the restaurant world in the late 90s, with the extraordinary culinary venture 13 Barrow—enlisted experts, culinary director Brian Cooke (formerly of the Fountain Restaurant, Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia) and chef Scott Swiderski (Le Madri, Union Square Café, Cote Basque, Russian Tea Room, Buddakan) to oversee the creation of the menu, and design consultant John Sherman.
Working with his design team, Coco has created an expansive 5,500 square ft. space with 24-ft ceilings, oak panel walls and majestic oak columns, vintage art deco lighting fixtures, and sconces. The 38-ft. long marble cocktail bar makes a statement with plenty of seating on true red leather bar stools on black and white mosaic tile floors. In the dining room, there are marble tabletops,red leather banquettes, and dark ceramic tile floors. Upstairs, there’s a loft space for private dining, equipped with its own private bar. There’s magic in the details—from glassware (traditional coupes and champagne flutes) to the saltshakers and pepper mills.
Add to all this a breathtaking super screen and sound package, including a 16’ x 9’ media wall and numerous HDTV screens, and Penn6 becomes the place where discerning diners can keep an eye on the game and enjoy a leisurely repast rather than making a mad dash for the train. There are also plans to post updated LIRR and Amtrak train schedules, so guests will know if they have time for one more cocktail or dessert.
The carefully crafted cocktail program, overseen by master mixologist Craig Hutson (Trix and apprenticed under Dushan Zaric of Employees Only) is dedicated to the resurgence of classic American cocktails, both Prohibition and pre-Prohibition style drinking. This means rediscovering original recipes and taking the time to do things right with all the attendant paraphernalia, pomp, and performance. For example, The 31st Street Manhattan (no cherry here!) is stirred over ice and swirled to the count of 30, resulting in a perfectly layered and complex cocktail, blended from Rittenhouse Rye, Dolin Rouge Sweet Vermouth, Grand Marnier, and exactly three dashes of angostura bitters. For the Orange Blossom, Hutson infuses Stoli with fresh orange and rosemary, avoiding the unnatural flavor of corn syrup. The Treaty of Paris created from St. Germaine liqueur and Prosecco is mixed with fresh melon puree (honeydew and cantaloupe) and garnished with a house-dried prosciutto chip. The bar also features daily cocktail specials, many of which incorporate seasonal fresh fruit juices and garnishes.
Jetting out from the open kitchen, there is a traditional raw bar, piled high with fresh seafood, whole lobsters, clams on the half shell, beyond jumbo (gigantic) shrimp, East and West coast oysters served with house cocktail sauce and mignonette, complemented by fresh horseradish grated tableside.
Executive chef Humberto Leon, who will be overseeing daily operations in the kitchen, was formerly executive chef at STK Downtown, and also worked under Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill and Bolo, and with Rich Robson at Rue 57. Leon and his team bring surprising pop to the American-driven menu. Line caught Steelhead Salmon with royal trumpet mushrooms and arugula or the Organic Roasted Chicken with parsnip puree and root vegetables are sure to be instant house favorites. Monkfish “Osso Buco” is pan roasted, served over a flavorful medley of maitake mushrooms, butternut squash and asparagus, pooled in a truffled cider broth. Classic salads like Duck Lyonnaise with savory duck confit, fingerling potatoes, and poached egg along with one of the best Caesar salads in the city are crafted with ease. Starting at 5 p.m. the menu also features Daily Suppers Monday through Saturday. For example, Monday’s feature is Linguine & Clams with chorizo, Wednesdays it’s whole Maine lobster, and Thursdays are Penn6 Steak night; the specific cut is butcher-selected that day and can range from dry aged porterhouse for two to bone-in ribeye, depending on what’s best at the moment. Steaks are served with classic steakhouse sides—creamed spinach, winter greens, and other selections like sweet corn pudding.
For lighter fare the kitchen also focuses on fun creations such as The Knickerbockers, two 2 oz. wagyu burgers topped with young gouda cheese, truffle aioli, and three-hour onions, slowly caramelized until almost melted, on a Balthazar Bakery brioche bun with house pickles and hand cut fries. Fresh Ipswich clams delivered daily and fried to order paired with lemon-tarragon aioli, and spicy beef buns, braised short ribs, with black pepper sauce and pickled shallots on Chinese steamed buns, which burst with flavor and exciting spice. Additional examples include the oozing fresh burrata cheese complemented by oven-dried tomato jam and the roasted bone marrow with gremolata and parsley salad.
The brick oven pizzas go well beyond the expected varieties with pies such as the tartufo, a crispy baked crust topped with taleggio cheese, mushroom, shaved black truffle, a sunnyside up egg, and grana padano cheese. For pork lovers, there’s the three little pigs flatbread topped with chorizo, fennel sausage, guanciale, broccoli rabe, and fontina. At lunchtime, you’ll also find additional sandwiches and salads.
Another ingredient for success is the collaboration with producers, butchers, fishmongers, and farmers. The Penn6 burger is ground in-house from a custom Pat LaFrieda blend of dry aged short rib, chuck, and sirloin.
A long time collaborator with Leon, pastry chef Ashley Palma (STK, The Collective) is the creative mind behind the desserts. Signature desserts include the cleverly named drunkin’ donuts, cinnamon sugared mini donuts, stuffed with rum flavored dulce de leche to be dunked in chocolate stout cream and blackberry sauce and her version of a candy bar, layers of feuilletine crunch and soft peanut nougat, drizzled with chocolate.
The California-focused wine list also includes options from around the world including France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, and Argentina, sparkling wines and half bottles. There are also 20 beers on draught, including craft beers such as Defiant Brewing Little Thumper, Empire Brewing White Afro and on nitro, Left Hand Sawtooth and Sly Fox O’Reilly’s Stout, plus more than 20 beers by the bottle.
Pennsylvania 6 is located at 132 W 31st Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues, and is open for lunch daily from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., for dinner, Monday-Thursday from 5 p.m.-11 p.m. (with a late night menu until midnight) and Friday-Saturday 5 p.m.-midnight, Sunday 5 p.m.-10 p.m.