Visit our social channels!
January 17, 2024
BROADWAY EATS with Richard C. Walter

The rising composer/lyricist picks his fave food spots in the Theatre District ahead of his showcase of self-penned work at Chelsea Table + Stage.

Though we understand their circumstances may have been a bit different, like Oliver and his clan of orphan boys, we’ve all fallen into a daze dreaming of “food, glorious food” at one point or another.

After all, it’s been said that food is the great equalizer, connecting us and bringing us together, either with family or friends, colleagues or companions, or any others from all walks of life, to dine often at a communal table or gathering space wherein we share stories and reveal the most authentic parts of ourselves.

In our continued effort, however, to find our way into others’ hearts (and stomachs!), sometimes it helps to venture beyond our tables and into the kitchens of others — especially in a city with such a diversified abundance of eateries as New York.

And of course, you can’t spell “theatre” without “eat.”

So, in this new series, we’ve polled some of the Great Bright Way’s best to “dish” (get it?) on where they love to eat, drink, and take in the vibes either pre- or post-show, while also answering why they love to sup there, sharing a favorite dish or two, and more.

Photo Credit: Rachael Worthington

Kicking off the new year with our series is burgeoning composer/lyricist Richard C. Walter, who – along with an impressive slew of powerhouse collaborators, will present self-penned selections and samplings from his personal catalogue of new musical theatre works at Chelsea Table + Stage on January 18.

Promising laughs, tears and lively, dynamic performances, the evening, titled “Pieces: New Musical Selections,” will feature the talents of stage stalwarts such as Joanna Carpenter, Kai An Chee, Jonathan Christopher, Victoria Frings, Kevin Massey, Tim Rogan, and Santina Umbach, to name a few, as well as fellow collaborators Nick Laughlin and Lisette Glodowski; Kenneth Gartman serves as music director & pianist.

A thriving up-and-comer, Walter has studied and produced work in a variety of musical genres including theater, a cappella, pop, jazz and choral music. Currently a volunteer composer with the 52nd Street Project in NYC, he has also composed at Columbia University, and was commissioned by NYU to pen a song, titled “Go Ahead,” for the 2020 Tisch School of the Arts graduation ceremony. He is a graduate of University of Chapel Hill, who received his MFA in Musical Theatre Writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts himself.

His growing body of work, all on display in this concert, includes Madame Clicquot: A Revolutionary Musical, samplings of which were recently released on a studio recording, his premier full-length musical Tambora: The Lost Kingdom, inspired by the 1815 eruption of active Indonesian volcano Mt. Tambora, This Is Hard to Say, a song cycle centered around “people in situations that lead to tough conversations,” and an in-the-works astrologically-inspired musical with Laughlin titled Retrograde.

But where does this incipient composer like to eat?



234 W. 44th Street

“Sit back and enjoy being at the center of Broadway!” Walter exclaims, of this established eatery’s prime proximity to the Theatre District. He’s not wrong. Nestled within the heart of Times Square, amongst a plethora of 44th Street theaters, Sardi’s has been a theatrical institution for over 100 years.

First opened in 1921 under the name The Little Restaurant, the famed venue moved to its current position in 1927, after its initial location was demolished to make way for what is today the St. James Theater. It’s remained there ever since, and theatre folk have flocked to the restaurant and adjoining bar pre-show, post-show, or “just because they’re nearby” to soak in the surroundings.

“It’s palpable,” says Walter. “You just can’t help but feel the excitement looking out over the lights of Broadway!” And, he notes, you never know who from behind those bright lights may stop on in, saying he spotted Audra McDonald two tables over on a night when he was in dining with friends.

Other famous faces who’ve graced the restaurant include Hollywood heavyweights like Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Douglas and Christian Slater, and Broadway royalty like Nathan Lane, Ben Platt, Heather Headley, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Of course, if you miss any in person, it’s equally exciting to peruse the renowned Wall of Caricatures, boasting iconic portraits of entertainment’s best and brightest. The idea for such a novelty came from founder Vincent Sardi, Sr. himself, who — in an effort to promote business — commissioned Russian refugee Alex Gard to draw caricatures of the celebrity clientele in exchange for free food.

(“The stipulation was that Vincent didn’t have the right to criticize the art, and [Alex] didn’t have the right to criticize [Sardi’s] food,” laughs Sardi’s owner and managing partner Max Klimavicius).

While several artists took up the pen following Gard’s passing in 1948, today’s caricaturist, Richard Baratz has been with the restaurant since 1975. And while his initial rendering was more in the satirical style of a true caricature, resulting in its subject becoming truly peeved, the subsequent designs — as they’re known today — more closely resemble portraiture.

After all, the subjects must like their likeness enough to sign it… because — fun fact: if it doesn’t get signed, it doesn’t go up, and if it doesn’t go up, Baratz doesn’t get paid.

Photo courtesy of Sardi’s

And then there’s the matter of the meal, which can be supplemented with a beverage if you so choose. “You just don’t get more ‘Broadway’ than a Manhattan at Sardi’s before a show!” Walter exclaims, of his go-to Sardi’s libation.  Served in a stemless martini glass, the traditional drink is made with rye whiskey and sweet vermouth — but, per restaurant policy, if you want bitters, you’ll have to ask for them. Other offerings on the extensive wine list include a sparkling Prosecco, a classic Bordeaux, supple Pinot Noir, or full-bodied Sauvignon, depending on your meal.

The food can’t be beat, either. Off the a la carte menu, try the specialty Cannelloni au Gratin: a succulent combination of beef, veal and pork rolled with porcini mushrooms in a French crepe and topped with their special sauce (vegetarians like Walter can substitute the beef mixture with a spinach and ricotta filling).

Finally, true theatre buffs can’t forget it’s the birthplace of the coveted Tony Award — it was when dining here that theatrical luminary (and Antoinette Perry’s longtime partner) Brock Pemberton was sparked with the notion to honor his late wife with a theatrical trophy that bore her name.

We could say, from there, the industry was never the same… but after this history lesson, it’s clear that honor belongs to Sardi’s — the legendary institution whose installation changed the theatrical landscape forever.

Sardi’s is open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch, dinner and late supper from 12pm-11pm. 

Fresco by Scotto

34 E. 52nd Street

For more than three decades, Fresco by Scotto has been a stalwart Manhattan staple for locals and tourists alike, offering the best in regional Italian cuisine within an exuberant Tuscan environment. “You really feel like you’ve stepped into Tuscany!” Walter says, of the ambience, which aims to emphasize family and frivolity. “Plus, the food is out of the world and everyone in the restaurant makes you feel so welcome.” Indeed, on any given night, members of the Scotto Family — owners/operators who include sisters Rosanna and Jenna, along with mother Marion — can be spotted strolling through the dining room, enhancing one’s experience by engaging in conversation, offering recommendations, initiating celebrations, or simply just saying a friendly “hello.”

Photos courtesy of Fresco by Scotto

Meanwhile, the kitchen, led by Executive Chef Benjamin Kacmarcik, is firing on all cylinders. “You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu!” Walter insists, “though the gorgonzola potato & zucchini chips hold a special place in my heart.” Other delectable specialties range from grilled Margherita pizza and tagliolini — made with jumbo lump crabmeat and a spicy tomato shellfish sauce — to prime rib Steak Caesar, Chicken Scarpariello, and a seasonal “to-die-for” lasagna. And who could forget Mama’s Meatball Alla Toscana — prepared with provolone, whipped ricotta and a spicy tomato basil sauce — touted across the airwaves on various televised Scotto Family cooking segments?!

But again, at its heart, it’s evident, in the fullest sense of the word, they’re all about family — a sentiment that further supports why Walter considers it to be such a singular place. “When I was a kid and we would come into the city, either to see a show or for a special occasion, we would always make sure to stop here for dinner,” he explains. “So, it’s a very nostalgic place for me, and very special. It truly means a lot.”

Fresco by Scotto is open Tuesday to Friday 12pm-3:30pm & 5-10pm and Saturday from 5pm-10pm. Sundays and Mondays are closed; restaurant week menus are available M-F through Feb. 4th. 

We’ll continue to present a new performer with a new restaurant and a new menu, so keep checking back to see who we poll and what’s on their mind at mealtime! Until next time, as always, bon appétit!

Share this post to Social Media

Other Interesting Posts


Or instantly Log In with Facebook