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A New Rooftop Restaurant on the Upper East Side

casa cruz exterior

The ivy-covered townhouse exterior, the doorman and concierge who greet you as you enter, and the elevator ride to the sixth floor may make you think you’re visiting a posh Upper East Side residence as you enter Casa Cruz, a restaurant comprising multiple dining rooms and bars at 36 East 61st Street (between Park and Madison avenues).

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Until last week, the 30-seat rooftop terrace overlooking 61st Street was simply an extension of Casa Cruz’s dining room on the fifth floor, just a floor below, featuring an eclectic menu of charcoal oven specialties, steaks, pastas, seafood, and vegetarian-friendly sides.

Last Monday, things changed up, and the sixth-floor rooftop is now an entirely separate restaurant called Frances, named for New York socialite Frances Walker.

frances casa cruz

The menus at both Casa Cruz and Frances are curated by Executive Chef Emmanuel Niess and Michelin-Star Chef John Fraser. The creation of the new restaurant was inspired by the stark difference in aesthetic and overall vibe between the dining room and the rooftop terrace, which the chefs felt called for a new concept. While the aesthetic at Casa Cruz is marked by green textiles, Brazilian cherry wood paneling and copper finishes, that of Frances is marked by rose and pastel pink hues, fairy lights and a wrought iron balcony.

casa cruz frances

frances rooftop restaurant

Frances’ seafood-leaning menu comes with raw clams ($13 for half a dozen and $25 for a dozen) and oysters ($18 for half a dozen and $25 for a dozen), octopus carpaccio ($19) and charcoal red shrimp ($21). You can also get a seafood tower, which includes clams, oysters, langoustines, scallops and octopus ($145).

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When we dined on Thursday night, we tried the fried artichokes served with a charred hazelnut romesco sauce and the battered calamari served with lemon aioli (both $14). Both were crispy on the outside and fresh and chewy on the inside. Our server recommended that next time we try the stuffed zucchini blossoms with ricotta and anchovy ($14), her personal favorite. Alongside our light fare we had a glass of Schramsberg Brut Rosé ($28, $100 for a bottle), a refreshing choice for a hot summer evening.

We had the whole place to ourselves by about 10:30 p.m. Our server, an extremely friendly and attentive woman dressed in a spotless white coat and pants, said we made the right move coming before the crowded weekend. (Reservations are highly recommended and can be made on Resy from 12pm to 10:45pm.) Summer weekdays should be relatively quiet since most of their clientele travels to the Hamptons, which must be nice. The rooftop has both ceiling fans and heaters so guests can be comfortable no matter the season.

Another important thing to note is Frances’ dress code, reflective of the elegant and elevated setting. Athletic wear, flip flops and sandals, tank tops, t-shirts, baseball caps and blue jeans are a no-go. Those who don’t comply may be shooed away.


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Latest Comments

  1. t-bo June 21, 2024

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