Everyone dreams of the ideal neighborhood spot—the unassuming place within five to 10 blocks of your apartment where you know the food will be good, the service friendly, and the atmosphere warm. Well, Upper West Siders (and those willing to travel), it’s time you head to Marlow Bistro, a modern Mediterranean bistro with food by Serbian chef Zivko Radojcic.
Sitting prettily on the corner of 110th Street and Amsterdam, a little bit more than a stone’s throw from Columbia University, Marlow Bistro and its distinctive brown-and-white striped awning have most likely caught your eye in the past. I live nearby in Harlem and would often walk by and notice the appealing facade and sidewalk patio and think to myself, I need to go in that cute place.
When I made good on that desire a few weekends ago, I had a really lovely experience. I had spent the earlier part of the day by myself at an industry event, pretty awkward and lingering over a sandwich in the corner. But when I entered Marlow Bistro and was greeted by the kind server, I immediately felt at ease and sat myself at the bar. Nearby, a student was working on a paper, and a couple was eating and chatting quietly. In the main dining room, a few families and couples dined together in the relaxed, sunny atmosphere with rustic décor.
I dine solo a lot, and it usually goes one of two ways: Either the restaurant treats me like a dirty napkin and basically shoves me in a corner, or it’s business as usual—sometimes even better than that. Better than business as usual was the case at Marlow Bistro that day.
After chatting with my friendly server about why I was there and getting some menu recommendations, I began my solo brunch with a Bloody Mary, which came with a pilsner on the side, a kind of complementary two-for-one deal that would put a smile on anyone’s face. Marlow Bistro’s Bloody Mary is a classic rendition, tasty and balanced with a hint of spice but veering more on the savory side.
I doubled up on my entrée selection—because why not?—and chose housemade goulash and Maine burrata on bread. Chef Radojcic keeps a tight grip on the goulash ingredients, but the wait staff apparently keeps trying to get the secret recipe from him because everyone is in love with the delicious dish.
His rendition of this classic Hungarian stew is a simple but elegant, savory bowl of diced pork, potatoes, sour cream, and warmth. These types of dishes taste best when eaten hot, so give this the concentration it deserves. The one downside is that the dish is on the smaller side, at least in terms of American portions.
On the flip side, the burrata dish was larger than I anticipated, but it would be perfect as a starter if you cut it up and divide it among friends. The creamy, salty cheese sits atop perfectly toasted bread spread with a charred eggplant purée that gives a really nice depth. Roasted peppers are the finishing touch and provide a hit of flavor to each bite. I took half of this home and ended up eating it a few hours after I left the restaurant. (I usually leave leftovers to atrophy in the fridge, so that’s saying something.)
Marlow Bistro was kind enough to send me out a dessert to finish off my meal, and even though I was stuffed, I couldn’t help but dig into the beautiful cake. I tend to stay away from fancy-looking and -sounding desserts. I like yellow cake from a box, apple pie, and not a lot else; but I was surprisingly pleased with this intricate combination of chocolate mousse, hibiscus cream, pistachio, and chocolate dust. I ate the whole thing—crispy cake bottom, tangy fruit gelée, and all.
There were so many more dishes on the menu that I wanted to try—especially the pizzas—and the cocktails on Marlow Bistro’s Instagram are beckoning me for an early evening aperitif. I’ll definitely be back soon.
The Bitches Say: A. We love Marlow Bistro for its warm, inviting atmosphere, tasty take on Mediterranean dishes, and neighborhood feel. This spot would be great for families at brunch, date night, or a solo evening at the bar. We can’t wait to come back for more.
Marlow Bistro serves brunch starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.