Utopia's Havana Pork

Utopia Good Food and Fine Art tantalizes all five senses.

From its world-class cuisine to stimulating musical and visual arts performances, as well as an aromatic patio garden, the restaurant in the heart of the city’s East Village is sensory overload at its best.

Celebrating its 18th year at the corner of First Street and Linden Avenue, Utopia was a forerunner for a positive change in the East Village, and it’s now at the epicenter of one of the city’s hippest culinary and artistic scenes — surrounded by an eclectic mix of urban shops and eateries.

Co-owners Amir Zolghar and Kamaran Assadi, who started out in 1999 with just a few tables in a small space that served only breakfast, quickly expanded the restaurant into other storefronts as Utopia evolved into a lunch and dinner destination. An outdoor front patio also was added, and it boasts an incredible flower garden and festoon lighting fit for any romantic evening out.

The food is Californian, with a variety of worldly influences.

“If you want different flavors, we have the variety,” Zolghar says, noting that everything is made fresh on-site daily. The restaurant also caters to customers looking for vegetarian or gluten-free items.

Whether you’re feasting on a small vegetarian Kale Salad ($9) — featuring tender kale marinated in lemon pepper olive oil with sun-dried cranberries, walnuts, beets and creamy goat cheese, or whether you’re devouring my personal favorite Havana Pork ($25) — grilled pork tenderloin generously drizzled with a mushroom Dijon brandy cream sauce and served atop vegetables and mashed potatoes, at Utopia, there’s something for every palate to enjoy.

And besides that, there’s the atmosphere.

Utopia is fit for classy or casual attire as both a sophisticated and low-key place to dine, day or night. It’s as much the right choice for an intimate date as it is for a business lunch or an after-theater nightcap.

Local artwork, available for purchase, is loaded on the walls, and live piano music emanates from the restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights.

“You’ve got to be numb not to pay attention to that sound,” Assadi says.

Plus, the service is second to none, with more than a dozen longtime serving staffers well-trained to smile when they’re sharing their suggestions about the best possible food and drink combinations.

They’ll be sure to tell you, by the way, not to skip dessert. The menu boasts a selection of handcrafted, baked-daily goodies, including the rich and dense Ultimate Chocolate Cake ($9) that can cure any chocoholic’s craving.

Specials

The restaurant sells gift certificates and specially priced dinner packages online, offering customers the opportunity to prepay for meals at a discount of up to 20% off.

For example, the Chef’s Special Dinner & Wine Package is normally $89, or $72 if purchased in advance online.

There’s also a popular happy hour service from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, offering customers 20% off a carefully curated and extensive selection of wine and beer, plus appetizers.

Important To Know

Utopia Good Food Fine Art is at 445 E. First St., at the corner of Linden Avenue and First Street, where lunch and dinner are served from noon to 9:30 p.m. weekdays and dinner from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday. The restaurant is closed Sunday.

Call (562) 432-6888 to make reservations or visit UtopiaRestaurant.net.

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