40 North Review – Eastern European Vibes in the North Side

Published by Angie. Last Updated on October 6, 2021.

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40 North is the newest restaurant concept in the Alphabet City space located in the North Side. With James Beard Award-nominee Bethany Zozula at the helm, the restaurant features local and seasonal cuisine that both comforts and inspires.

When we heard Zozula was going to lead 40 North we had high hopes for this space that has seen its share of restaurants come and go over the past few years. Zozula was most recently the chef at the now-closed Whitfield, a standout spot for steaks and weekend brunch.

While the menu at 40 North is decidedly new, fans of the Whitfield will likely find much to love here. Entrees include simple but well-executed preparations of steaks, fish, and chicken, while the sides and appetizers make use of seasonal produce with middle eastern and Eastern European flavors sprinkled in.

Eastern European Inspired Dishes at 40 North

The drink menu includes a great cocktail list with a mix of new creations and elevated classics like the Maggie's Manhattan with rum, wine syrup, amaro, and bitters, which was wine-forward balanced with a hint of sweetness. We also enjoyed a not-too-smoky mezcal and tequila-based drink that included a thyme-infused syrup before moving on to wine with our meals.

The wine list includes several options by the glass and a decently sized bottle list that spans from obligatory French bottles to offerings from Chile, the Finger Lakes, Austria, and Slovenia. Our server gave good recommendations for wines by the glass to pair with our entrees including a mineral forward Gruner Veltliner.

As for food, starting with the Khachapuri is an absolute must. This Georgian flatbread was stuffed with sheep's milk feta and grilled to gooey perfection. The exterior dough was thin, flaky, and supremely crispy, while the cheese on the inside was mixed with green herbs and oozed seductively out onto the plate as we cut into the bread.

It was chanterelle season on our first visit so we started with a big bowl of chanterelles sauteed in butter. The preparation was simple but delicious, and we absolutely appreciate the use of local, in-season ingredients!

Moving into entrees we chose the lamb selection of the day (shoulder) and the trout. The lamb shoulder was a small portion but it was cooked to tender perfection. The trout was pan fried but delicate and flaky, and it was served with the crispy skin on top – heaven! Both entrees had simple preparations but they were cooked with finesse, and the sauce game was on point, too. We opted to try both the pungent and herbaceous chimichurri along with the creamy, mustardy dijonnaise. Both provided excellent hits of flavor for the proteins.

The entrees were also served with a choice of two sides, which change depending on what's in season. On our visit between the two of us, we tried roasted cauliflower, roasted eggplant with harissa, and a zucchini pancake. The cauliflower was golden and crispy, and the eggplant was also nice but we could have used more harissa flavor.

But our favorite was the zucchini pancake, which was substantial in size and had the texture of a regular pancake but chock full of zucchini. A sweet-savory tomato jam and fresh basil topped it all off. We loved the zucchini pancake so much that we were inspired to try and make some at home, complete with our own tomato jam. (Spoiler alert, theirs was better!)

For dessert, we tried the Coeur a la Creme which was goat cheese and cream whipped together and formed into the shape of a heart, served with a luxurious blueberry compote and stunning edible flowers. From looking at it we expected it to be rich like a cheesecake, but it was the perfect balance of light and creamy. 

We are so excited to witness Zozula back in action and to see such a lovely restaurant concept in the Alphabet City space. The menu manages to strike a careful balance between familiar and unique flavors, along with nestling comfortably between casual and upscale. We look forward to returning to try some of the sandwich options, as well as Sunday brunch!

40 North is located at 40 W North Avenue in the North Side in the Alphabet City building.

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