WBLS NEWS with Ann Tripp


Harlem is a growing playground for celebrities like Denzel Washington, Katy Perry and Mariah Carey

Katy Perry loves the chicken wings there; Prince goes for a slice of cake.

Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon have enjoyed dinner at a swanky restaurant there.

And it’s where Denzel Washington sat at a world-famous counter and ordered a meal.

It’s not the Meatpacking District, nor Tribeca; it’s nowhere below 96th St.

It’s Harlem, dammit. And it’s the place to be.

Celebrities have been flocking to the uptown neighborhood to wine, dine and party like it’s 1999.

No kidding.

This should not be coming as news, says one Harlem expert, so get over it.

“It’s not new at all. Now, we just have more options. The playground has gotten bigger,” said Bevy Smith, a lifelong Harlem resident who is a highly pursued host for celebrity dinner parties.

“Harlem has always been attractive — it’s the culture that draws them in,” said Smith, also the host of Bravo’s “Fashion Queens.”

One celebrity favorite is Melba’s on W. 114th St. Katy Perry has dined there to celebrate a friend’s birthday, Michael Strahan is a regular and Prince once slipped in for a piece of red velvet cake.

“When they come to Harlem, they feel like they are at home,” said Melba Wilson, the owner, adding that Perry left a $1,000 tip. “There’s a feeling of comfortability when they come up to Harlem. It’s more laidback.”

In the last month, there have been a number of Harlem celebrity sightings, including music mogul Clive Davis at Red Rooster and Kobe Bryant at The Park 112.

Denzel Washington was also spotted dining at Red Rooster and The Park 112, and ordering up soul food from the counter at Sylvia’s.

It’s not just restaurants that are bringing the stars uptown. Hip lounges are also becoming popular hangouts.

Ashanti recently celebrated her album release at Cove Lounge on Lenox Ave., and “Love and Hip Hop New York” reality TV show star Tahiry Jose, a native Harlemite, is bringing a steady stream of rappers like Maino and French Montana to Suite 135, a club that she co-owns on W. 135th St.

Anahi Angelone, owner of Corner Social, has also seen a number of celebrities at her two-year-old neighborhood hangout.

She said Olympian gold medalist Carl Lewis was there for an Oscars party.

“We’re creating a village of amazing options,” said Angelone, whose place is just across Lenox from Sylvia’s and Red Rooster.

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