June was a busy month; with so many shops opening and closing, it was hard to keep up. The cuisines of the new restaurants spanned the globe: French; Italian; Moroccan; Mediterranean; Spanish; Chinese; American. The arrival (finally) of warmer weather made it a good time to grab an ice cream sandwich at Sherry B Dessert Studio.
Bistro Pierre Lapin (99 Bank Street at Hudson Street): Bistro Pierre Lapin is one of the openings I’ve been most excited about this year. The space previously housed Paris Commune, The Marrow, and finally, 99 Bank Street (a gluten-free restaurant which opened in January, 2017 after two years of construction and was closed by November of that year). Bistro Pierre Lapin has a completely different look—the cold white interior has been replaced with red velvet banquettes, French music, and a painting of a rabbit that gave the restaurant its name. Harold Moore, the chef and co-owner, is known to many West Villagers who enjoyed his modern American food at Commerce for seven years until it closed in 2015. (Recently, Moore opened Harold’s Meat + Three in the Arlo Hotel in the Hudson Square area. The eatery serves delicious Southern-inspired food and biscuits I dream about). Moore’s training was in classical French food, and earlier in his career he worked with Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, among others, during the heyday of French food in the 1990s and early 2000s. Later, French food fell from favor because of the manner in which French restaurants were portrayed and their staffs behaved. But over in Paris young chefs were leaving Michelin-starred restaurants and opening exciting places of their own, and that got Harold Moore thinking that maybe the time was right to open a Parisian style French bistro in New York. He explained that he was yearning to have a restaurant that “has a tradition that you don’t have to write.” It took a while to convince the co-op board at 99 Bank Street to rent him the space but in January he signed a lease and spent some of the intervening time in Paris with Julia Grossman, his business partner, buying items for the restaurant. They purchased all the flatware (which weighed about 100 pounds) and had it shipped back, and they found the sconces at a famous Marché aux Puces (flea market) in Paris. They commissioned the wallpaper from Zuber, where each piece is printed to order using traditional 18th century techniques and original woodblocks. But what about the food? It’s delicious, and there is something for everyone. There are sandwiches (burgers, croque madames, and ham sandwiches with butter), traditional dishes like blanquette de veau (a white veal stew), saumon mi-cuit (salmon cooked to a moist translucent pink), and large format meals like leg of lamb and roast chicken. The addictive baguettes are baked throughout the day by Tony (who was previously at Harold’s Meat + Three), so they are always fresh. For now, the restaurant is only open for dinner; but if all goes well, in the fall it may become an all-day dining destination.
Kish Kash (455 Hudson Street between Barrow and Morton Streets): Einat Admony, owner of Taïm and Bar Bolonat, has been perfecting her handmade couscous skills. The couscous itself is unrecognizable: it is ethereally light, with grains the size of sand (but weightless). There are four toppings available, of which the short rib with swiss chard and white beans was my favorite. Starters include hummus served in the Israeli style with a slick of oil with chermoula mixed in. The decision to serve it with a slice of challah rather than pita, however, is unfortunate.
Simò Pizza (90-92 Gansevoort Street, west of Washington Street): Rossopomodoro runs the pizza restaurants in Eataly and also has a stand-alone restaurant on Greenwich Avenue at West 13th Street. Now, the owner, Simone Falco (Simò is his nickname), has opened an airy casual spot across the street from the Whitney. The pizzas cook in 90 seconds in a large electric pizza oven that has been certified by the Naples-based Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. (A sign on the wall promises “Simò—90 Seconds to Napoli”.) The menu is smaller than at Rossopomodoro (3 salads and 6 pizzas) and the prices top out at around $10 for an individual pie, but the ingredients are very high quality (the cheese on the pizzas is mozzarella di bufala) and the pizzas, with their pillowy crusts, are every bit as good as the more expensive Rossopomodoro pies.
Harwood On Hudson (430 Hudson Street at Morton Street): has opened where Michelin-starred Piora used to be. The chefs/owners have restaurants in Shelter Island and East Hampton and the menu at this upscale spot has many seafood offerings such as oysters po’boy and potato-crusted sea bass.
Two new restaurants have taken over the gigantic former Spa Belles location (301 and 303 Sixth Avenue near Carmine Street) that had been empty for years: Kut is a kebab shop where diners have the option of having their sandwiches on fresh-baked oriental bread, or on a flatbread. Various sauces are available, as well as hummus, and the prices are very reasonable. Next door, Jean Le Gourmand features sweet and savory crepes and pancakes. The sugar crepes are only $2, and an even better deal is the package of six plain crepes for $8. Nutella crepes and pancakes are a more decadent option. Wolfnights, which also has a shop on the Lower East Side, has opened at 235 Bleecker Street between Carmine and Leroy Streets. As soon as you enter you see a display case filled with dough balls of different flavors and colors. Once you choose the one you want it is flattened in a sort-of tortilla press and then cooked on the IronWolf™ (which looks like an upside-down wok positioned over a fire). The sandwiches have lupine names such as Dire Wolf, Teen Wolf, and The Beast, and are mostly suited to carnivores. Hong Kong Tailors has taken over the space where Hong Kong Tailor Jack used to be at 136 Waverly Place, west of Sixth Avenue. The new owner knew Jack for a few years, before he died, and has other tailor shops in North and South Carolina. A deli called Fresh 2Go Market has opened at 500 Hudson Street (at Christopher Street) where Brooklyn Industries used to be. A second pizzeria has opened in the Village this month. This one is at the site of the very short-lived Chubby Slim’s, and before that the somewhat short-lived Fatbird. BLKSQ Pizzeria and Bar (44 9th Avenue at 14th St) is named after the black pizza crust made with squid ink in one of its pies, but the day I went there I didn’t see it on the menu. The restaurant has round Neapolitan-style pies that are made to order and square Detroit grandma-style pies that are in a display case and can be ordered whole or by the slice. Brompton Junction (287 Bleecker Street between Barrow and Jones Streets) sells British folding bicycles designed for city dwellers. Their logo is “Made for Cities, Made for You, Made in London.” There are 55 bicycles artfully displayed around the store, and shoppers can work with sales associates to design their ideal bicycle. The store plans to host group rides in the future. The Spanish restaurant and tapas bar, La Nacional, located in the Spanish Benevolent Society at 239 West 14th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, closed about two years ago. Since then, a sign outside the building promised that the Society would take over the restaurant and reopen after renovations. The renovations have been completed and, in the brighter space, cooking will be done by visiting chefs from Spain brought in by the Society. The first group has come from the Southern Coastal town of Valencia and as a result the current menu is seafood-heavy. Prices are very reasonable, with tapas going for $7 a serving. Lumos Kitchen opened in April in the East Village and, now, a West Village branch is in soft open mode at 38 Carmine Street, east of Varick Street. The restaurant features cocktails made with baijiu, an alcohol made of sorghum (and often with rice as well), which is consumed in much of the world but mostly unknown to Americans. The food is billed as French-Chinese: the East Village location features many French ingredients on the menu, but the menu at this branch is more traditionally Chinese. According to the staff, this will change after the soft opening.
It was quite a surprise to see that Maison Kayser (326 Bleecker Street at Christopher) had closed even though the French bakery chain continues to open branches throughout the city. Unfortunately, the happy story of the owners of the Risotteria reopening in their old space had a sad ending: Bleecker Street Luncheonette (270 Bleecker Street at Morton Street) closed after only a few months. Mas (farmhouse) at 39 Downing Street (near Bedford Street) also closed less than a year after reopening following a fire. The SPORT Gallery (23 Eighth Avenue near Jane Street), which sold limited edition sports prints, has closed. Caffè Vivaldi (32 Jones Street near Bleecker Street) closed its doors, after 35 years, at the end of June—a sign on the door blames “legal and financial difficulties” with their landlord. (For more on this story see “Caffè Vivaldi Closes” in this issue.) Before there was Dizengoff there was The Hummus Place (71 7th Avenue South between Bleecker and Barrow Streets). They were the first in New York City to make fresh hummus throughout the day. In their heyday the chain had three locations, but the original East Village location closed years ago and, now, the West Village location has closed (a location on the Upper West Side is still in business). The Quarter is gone, and a marshal’s notice is displayed in the window. Following our mention of The Quarter in a previous month’s In & Out, the landlord contacted the paper to say that the tenants were behind on their rent. Meatball Obsession, the tiny stand on Sixth Avenue that sold meatballs and pasta, has a sign in the window explaining that they had outgrown their location. Pasta Flyer lost no time in posting their own sign exhorting folks to fulfill their meatball cravings next-door. The West Village branch of Black Tap (248 West 14th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues), the burger chain that gained Instagram fame and drew long lines of customers with their crazy milkshakes, has closed following a lawsuit over who invented the milkshakes. The other locations remain open. While the milkshakes were over the top, the burgers were lovely and will be missed. Roasting Plant (75 Greenwich Avenue between West 11th and Bank Streets) closed its doors on June 25th. It had been in that location for 10 years but, according to the owner, they were forced out by increasing rent. They hope to return to the neighborhood sometime in 2019 and, in the meantime, encourage customers to visit the Orchard Street location.
West Village Comics will open on June 30th at 304 West 11th Street (between Hudson and Greenwich Streets) in a former Chinese laundry. The diminutive space next to Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery (28 Greenwich Avenue, between West 10th and Charles Streets) which used to house oyster bar, Virgola, will soon be home to Oak Tuscan Truffle Lounge, a restaurant specializing in Italian dishes with truffles. An application has been made to the State Liquor Authority for a liquor license in the long-empty Spasso space (551 Hudson Street at Perry Street). There is also a liquor license application in the works for the triangular space that was formerly the Riviera Cafe (225 West 4th Street at Seventh Avenue South). Signs are up in the window of the now-shuttered Pet’s Kitchen (116 Christopher Street between Bleecker and Bedford Streets) announcing an Italian restaurant, Fiaschetteria Pistoia, which will be the second location of a well-regarded Tuscan restaurant of the same name in the East Village. The location where Mew Ramen and, later, Mew Men (7 Cornelia Street near Sixth Avenue) used to be will continue as a ramen spot—this time Menkoi Sato—a ramen restaurant from Japan.
La Maison de Makoto is dark, the phone connects to voicemail, and a sign in the window states that “Le (sic) Maison de Makoto is closed for Training! Reservations will be available soon on Open Table.”
Photos by Darielle Smolian