Photo of Jay StraussBy Claudie Benjamin

Serving up 20+ fresh, delicious vegetables daily is a challenge that makes Jay Strauss proud. A recent menu, for example, offered a choice of market vegetables that included artichoke hearts with parmesan; asparagus with parmesan; beets with goat cheese and/or walnuts; broccoli with garlic; Brussels sprouts with honey Dijon, cauliflower with tahini, crispy yuca fries, french fries, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans with soy glaze, green peas with bacon & caramelized onion roasted rainbow carrots w/ fresh herbs, and roasted sweet potatoes with sour cream & scallions. Founder of Westville (six in Manhattan and two in Brooklyn–Dumbo and Williamsburg), Jay explained the name Westville connects with its first location that opened in 2004 in the West Village on Bleecker and 10th Streets. The latest Westville, only weeks old, is at 2290 Broadway on the Upper West Side.

Asked about the decision to open an Upper West Side location, Jay said the focus on simplicity, health, and outstanding flavor resonates with the culinary preferences of today’s Upper West Siders. “The right Westville customers who eat the food we serve.”

There is no pretension here. “We’re just a bunch of guys committed to offering the kind of food we like to eat in a casual space,” Jay said. Clearly, there’s more to supporting a business that has thrived in NYC for 20 years and plans to expand to Long Island City and Washington DC, soon. 

Clues to success may be a Westville theme “something for everyone.” Open 10 am-10 pm, the menu is varied and encourages pairing drinks with multiple tasty plates. Tempting alternatives are straightforward, health-minded entrees, like Jay’s favorite grilled chicken with a side of pesto mashed potatoes or a crispy fish sandwich. Though some people may enjoy eating at the bar, others prefer high-top or table sitting, and there’s always the delivery option, which Jay describes as “huge” at Westville restaurants.

Being part of a neighborhood is a very conscious priority for Westville. Your first look at the website highlights each location with a whimsical colored line drawing of an iconic local spot. For the UWS, it’s a view of Emery Roth’s San Remo Towers and a couple in a rowboat on the lake in Central Park.

Graphic for Westville UWSEarly on, Jay was a photographer, and he has a continued interest in photography and design. This shows up in the work of artist Mark Turgeon, whose paintings of animals and vegetables are hung in the restaurant. He’s also painted the restaurant’s distinctive signage. As you are enjoying a snack of the Westville carrot cake, another of Jay’s favorites, paring it, perhaps, with an Espresso Martini or Burnt Orange Manhattan, you might take a look at two notable photos by Richard Corman. One is a very early shot of Madonna with a couple of kids on a rooftop and another great photo, Jay said, is one taken in 2023 at the back of Harlem’s Apollo Theater with about 150 people in the image.  And, on the vegetable theme, are blowups of hand-drawn illustrations from Turn of the Century French vegetable seed packages.

Jay is originally from Oyster Bay, NY. He moved to the East Village after college and stayed. Initially, he worked in the West Village restaurant kitchen, learning its ins and outs. Today, with the business thriving, he loves focusing on the parts he likes best. “I like dealing with the food and menu selection and working on the design and look of the Westville restaurants.”

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