Long-Awaited Italian Spot Sempre Oggi Opens Wednesday

sempre oggi

The Upper West Side’s newest Italian restaurant, Sempre Oggi, is opening Wednesday at 164 West 75th Street (between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues) – the space which was occupied by ‘Cesca until it closed in 2020 after 17 years.

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Sempre Oggi means “always today” in Italian, and co-owner Robert Guarino says it’s meant to reflect a menu that changes daily with market availability and features fresh seasonal ingredients. In fact, he said, new menus will be printed every day. He also hopes it will evoke a “live each day to the fullest” mindset and atmosphere. “We want to focus on slowing down and enjoying each day and making the most of each day,” he said.

“Sempre Oggi is all about embracing the very best of right now,” the restaurant website reads.

Mr. Guarino was in the restaurant Tuesday overseeing last-minute preparations for opening day as carpenters finished detail work on the decor and the smell of fresh sawed wood filled the air.

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The menu will highlight pasta made in-house, seasonal vegetables and herbs, and a specialty roasted chicken and roasted rolled pork loin, called porchetta, cooked in an enormous oven in the center of the dining room visible to guests.

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“We’re going to be a seasonal market-driven Italian restaurant,” Mr. Guarino said, noting many ingredients will come from area farms and farmers markets. “We’re going to be hyper seasonal and focus on ingredients at the height of their season.”

Sempre Oggi’s executive chef is Phillip Basone, most recently the executive chef at Barbuto restaurant in Greenwich Village.

Pastas will range in price from about $19-$35 and entrees will range from about $35-$50, Mr. Guarino said.

ALSO READ: Westville Opens at Former Artie’s

The interior decor was inspired by 20th century architect and designer Gio Ponti. “We’re modernizing the space, giving it a fresh, clean interpretation,” Mr. Guarino told ILTUWS. According to the restaurant’s website, the new bar “is an expression of (Ponti’s) later career.” The bar is decorated with custom handmade ceramic tiles and there is also a custom floating chandelier that nods to Ponti’s love of playing with geometric forms, color and light.

sempre oggi bar

sempre oggi interior

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The bar is up front near the street and it’s hoped it will be a centerpiece of the restaurant and a gathering spot for locals coming in for a drink and snack before dinner. Attempting to recreate traditional Italian aperitivii hours – late afternoon cocktail hour with friends – Sempre Oggi will have its own aperitivi hour from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day except Sunday and Monday, when the restaurant is closed (for now).

“Aperitivi hour is a big thing in Italy,” he said.

drink menu sempre oggi

Mr. Guarini owns the restaurant with Simon Oren and Chef Driven Hospitality, a business that also owns five other restaurants on the UWS: Playa Betty’s, French Roast, 5 Napkin Burger, Dagon and Nice Matin.

Sempre Oggi will be open for dinner Tuesday and Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Aperitivi hour will be every day 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. For the first few weeks, the restaurant will be closed Sunday and Monday. To learn more, visit semprenyc.com or follow @semprenyc on Instagram.


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