By Caroline Benveniste
In his January 8th article in the Daily News, Michael Kaminer made the case that Greenwich Avenue between 6th and 7th avenues is the new restaurant row. Five restaurants are mentioned in the column, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. In all, there are 25 restaurants including three that have yet to open and three that have recently closed. Here is a breakdown:
The old-timers: One of the oldest restaurants, Elephant & Castle, has been there for over 20 years and is still a very popular brunch spot. The Original Sandwich Shoppe of New York is a small family-run business—it looks unexceptional but has the best roast turkey sandwich around. Two well-liked bars are the often-crowded Fiddlesticks, a classic neighborhood Irish pub with a pleasant patio in the warmer weather and Wogies, a convivial Philly-themed sports bar featuring (of course) cheese steaks and other bar food. Village Natural is an old-school health food restaurant of a type not seen much anymore that offers seafood in addition to vegetarian and vegan dishes.
The established: There are two diminutive wine bars, Gottino, specializing in Italian wine, cheese and salumi, with a garden in the back and Virgola, specializing in oysters, which recently opened a second and larger location on East 7th Street. When the Village Paper Party Store burned down in 2010 it was replaced by Rosemary’s. Serving well-prepared Italian food in a rustic setting, it has been thronged from day one. Some Asian options are Niu, a decent spot for dim sum if you don’t feel like trekking to Chinatown and Tue, a tiny inexpensive Thai restaurant favored for its lunch specials. For well-executed Neapolitan pizza cooked in a wood-burning oven, try Olio e Piú, particularly charming in the warmer weather when the outdoor tables are surrounded with flowering plants. Popular for brunch and the one-hour unlimited drink option is pan-Latin spot Yerba Buena Perry. Oaxaca Taqueria is part of a chain of Mexican fast food restaurants with about a dozen other branches in the city. Eater’s Robert Sietsema praised Le Baratin in his recent column “The Parisian Bistro Makes a Comeback at the Village’s Le Baratin.” He wrote that he loves this mid-priced eatery for its well-made and slightly updated versions of classic French bistro dishes. When The Meatball Shop opened its second location in 2011, lines spilled out the door. Now it is still crowded but not crazy, and each day a different “Daily Ball” special is on offer.
The New and Newish: Bluestone Lane is a lively Australian coffee shop which is impossible to penetrate on weekends. No wonder—the coffee is distinguished (try the flat white) and the breakfast and lighter fare such as the avocado smash (a.k.a. avocado toast) are enticing. The Bluestone’s labyrinthine interior space leads to an unexpected small outdoor garden. Lumpia Shack Snackbar got its start at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, and they still have a presence at the Brooklyn Flea weekend market. Besides the eponymous lumpia (a Filipino spring roll) you can experiment with rice and noodle bowls as well as ramen burgers. One of the more high-end options on the street is the izakaya Saikai, which offers a modern Japanese small plates menu to accompany its large sake selection.It is located in a spot that has housed Japanese restaurants for quite a while—first the long-standing Funayama and then the short-lived Jinya Ramen Bar. It is on the expensive side, but not unreasonably so given the offerings.
Quality Eats opened in the space that previously housed Whitehall (and before that the odd Sweetiepie). It is part of the Quality Meats “chain”, but it is a cozier and lower-priced sibling—a combination comfort food/steakhouse with more interesting preparations and cheaper prices than a typical steakhouse. The Long-Bone Short Rib steak is genius.
Coming Soon: I have sampled some of the pastries from Mah-Ze-Dahr and they are unusual and delicious. When it opens in February it will be a nice addition to a neighborhood dangerously short on bakeries. Greenwich Steakhouse has no information other than a sign on the door, and Tapestry, located next door, promises “Global Plates. Indian Spices.”
Closed: La Bota, a subterranean tapas bar, closed sometime in 2015. Nothing has been touched inside and the tables are still set as though dinner will be served. Michael Kaminer praised Chapter One when it opened in late 2014 and wondered why it was so empty. Given the quality of the food (which was indeed innovative and delicious) he theorized that it would not stay that way for long. Unfortunately, he was wrong. It never did gain traction and closed quietly within a year. Grano Trattoria had been around for 17 years but was a casualty of the ongoing construction on 10th Street. Scaffolding and unexpected water shutdowns hurt business, and it closed its doors in April 2015. The owners have opened a new restaurant, Taverna di Bacco, on the Lower East Side.
18 Greenwich Avenue
Photos by George Goss
New and Newish
24 Greenwich Avenue
New and Newish
55 Greenwich Avenue
New and Newish
19 Greenwich Avenue
28 Greenwich Avenue