Bill Clinton Helps Launch the First Zagat Guide to Harlem

"The Zagats hope to print more guidebooks in emerging neighborhoods such as Oakland, Chicago, and Newark."


Though Zagat guides haven't been doing so hot in this era of blogging, yelping, and everyman reviewing, you can count on Bill Clinton to fix that. And in Harlem at least, he has. With the help of the Clinton Foundation's Economic Opportunity Initiative, Zagat is unleashing its first-ever guide to the Harlem area, highlighting 323 restaurants and other small businesses, including iconic soul food stapes like Sylvia's, Miss Maude's Spoonbread Too, and Kitchenette.


"It's the same home cooking that inspired poets like Langston Hughes," Clinton said this morning at the Studio Museum in Harlem where he led a press event honoring the new pocket-sized book. "From street vendors to the world-class restaurants, small businesses have always been the life and blood of the Harlem economy," he said while holding back coughs, apologizing for his scratchy voice. "It has something to do with the very long flight I took recently."

Clinton has been grubbing in the neighborhood ever since 2001 when the Clinton Foundation moved to 125th Street. As a cheerleader for entrepreneurs in the urban marketplace, Clinton stressed the importance of Harlem's second renaissance, and selling more cornbread wedges at Sylvia's can't hurt.


Bill Clinton holding up the new Harlem guide with Nina and Tim Zagat.

Tim and Nina Zagat were proud to announce their new little guidebook bundle of joy, especially with Clinton in the room. "We were a couple years ahead of the Clintons at Yale Law School," Tim Zagat said. "That was the last time we were ahead of the Clintons."

The book is slim—way slimmer than other big city versions. At about 50 pages, it covers the neighborhood by restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and entertaining. The three highest-scoring restaurants, factoring in the typical Zagatian formula for food, service, decor, and price are: Pisticci ("practically part of the Columbia curriculum"), Covo ("terrific pizzas straight from a show-piece brick oven"), and Rao's ("to score a table before 3001, you gotta know the right people").

The Zagats hope to print more guidebooks in emerging neighborhoods such as Oakland, Chicago, and Newark. The Harlem edition will eventually be available online and in many of the spotlighted businesses. To get one now, email your full name and mailing address (street, city, state, and zip code) to [email protected]


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