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Comings & Goings: French, Italian, bibimbap and Triple Berry Slab Pie ice cream

BY CAROLINE BENVENISTE | Finally the weather has warmed up, and it seems like everyone is sitting outside eating, drinking and people-watching. It looks like a couple of French restaurants will be opening, and one long-standing Italian restaurant has closed, while another Italian restaurant with a former West Village chef has opened.

Top Openings:

Pizza Fun House — 63 W. Eighth Street at Sixth Avenue)

A new concept from the Serafina team has opened at the former location of short-lived Serafina To Go. According to their press release, “Pizza Fun House is a love letter to American and Italian pizza culture, where guests can gather to enjoy elevated classics in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.” Redditors immediately bashed the design (“good lord that sign is hideous”) and early Yelp reviews didn’t think much of the food. I tried a grandma slice and thought the crust was pretty good, thin, crispy, but with some plushness; however the cheese was disappointing, tasting more like packaged yellow cheese than fresh mozzarella, and the tomato sauce was scant and undistinguished.

A tasty bowl at Little Banchan Shop. (Photo by Caroline Benveniste)

Little Banchan Shop — Market 57, 25 11th Ave., at 15th Street

A new Korean stand replaced cookie purveyor The Good Batch in the James Beard-curated food hall on Pier 57. The first Little Banchan Shop opened in Queens in 2022 and offers small and large dishes that are either “ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat.” The new location has a build-your-own Bibimbap Bar where customers choose their bibimbap ingredients. Each bowl gets rice, four vegetables, a protein (such as bulgogi beef and tofu), gochujang sauce on the side and a fried egg on top. The bowl was large and delicious, and I appreciated the ability to customize it. There is also a display case filled with many varieties of actual banchan (little dishes that come with the meal at Korean restaurants).

Il Totano —154 W. 13th St., near Seventh Avenue

Chef Harold Dieterle, a former Top Chef, has returned to the West Village. In the 2010’s he had two restaurants here, Kin Shop, a contemporary Thai restaurant located where E.A.K. Ramen now stands, and Perilla, on Jones Street. The new restaurant is located in the old Flex Mussels space. The menu skews Southern Italian and pescatarian.

Also Open:

Chez Omar (394 West Street, at W. 10th St) serves French food with a Jamaican influence. Chef Omar Walters hails from Jamaica and opened two restaurants in the East Village (Chez Omar and Rum Bar) in 2019 before expanding across town. On the menu of the new spot you can find traditional French dishes like escargots and soupe á l’oignon gratiné, as well as more Caribbean options such as jerk poulet and croquettes aux conques. Food hall Wonder has continued on an expansion tear with six locations across the city. Their newest location in the East Village (10 Stuyvesant Street, near Ninth Street and Third Avenue) has 20 “restaurants” to choose from. My favorite is Streetbird from Marcus Samuelsson, which offers spicy chicken breast sandwiches that are delicious. Wonder acquired meal-kit maker Blue Apron last year and is selling the meal kits at its food halls for those who prefer to do some cooking. The Walker’s Espresso has opened at 37 Seventh Avenue (between 12th and 13th Streets) where Blank Street used to be. As we noted in an earlier column, we used to only see Blank Street openings, but now we’ve seen some locations closing. Greenwich Hardware has opened at 494 Sixth Ave. (between 12th and 13th Streets). It will provide Village stalwart Barney’s with some competition; but while it is larger and better laid out, I will, for now, continue to patronize Barney’s because the staff there are extremely helpful and will immediately come help you find what you need as soon as you step in the door.

Extra Virgin restaurant closed. (Photo by Caroline Benveniste)


Extra Virgin made the following announcement on their Web site: “FAREWELL. Dear Patrons With a bittersweet sentiment, we share the news that Extra Virgin Restaurant will be closing its doors at the end of May.” They had been at 259 W. Fourth St. (at Perry Street) for two decades. According to Eater, their lease was up and their landlord was raising the rent. David’s Shoe and Watch Repair (460 Hudson St., at Barrow Street) is closing after 42 years. A post on Nextdoor explains that they are being evicted at the end of June because they are six months behind on the rent. According to the Nextdoor poster, the problems started during the pandemic shutdown. A GoFundMe campaign has been started to try to save the business. Nusr-Et Steakhouse Meatpacking (412 W. 15th St., between Ninth Avenue and Washington Street) has abruptly shuttered. Salt Bae, the Instagram-famous Turkish chef behind these steakhouses, had three restaurants in New York at one time, but now is down to one in Midtown. Glosslab (1 Jane St., at Greenwich Avenue) opened one of its two first locations in the West Village. The founder, Rachel Glass, used to work in finance but decided to create nail salons that enhanced the experience while being more hygienic and sustainable. As late as this March, Forbes published a fulsome article on Glosslab called “How Glosslab’s Rachel Glass Is Disrupting The Nail Salon Industry.” The company had a number of high-profile investors, but soon things began to fall apart, and most of the locations, including the one in the West Village, have shuttered. The salon operated on a subscription-based model and the New York Post reported that some customers complained that they were having trouble canceling their subscriptions, or that they were not informed that their store had closed. In mid-May, Mayor Adams launched Operation Padlock to Protect, described on the Web site as “a sustained multi-agency enforcement action to shut down illegal smoke and cannabis shops across the five boroughs.” In the first week of enforcement, 75 locations were closed, including at least three on Sixth Avenue in the West Village. 6th Avenue Vape and Grocery (488 Sixth Ave., between 12th and 13th Streets) has a notice on the door that it was closed for “sale of cannabis products without a license” and remains closed, while two other stores were briefly closed but have reopened (albeit with signs in the door proclaiming “ILLICIT CANNABIS SEIZED”).

Coming Soon:

Starting in 2015, By Chloe served vegan food at 185 Bleecker St. (corner of MacDougal Street). By 2017, Chef Chloe Coscarelli split with her partners and, eventually, in 2021 the space was rebranded as Beatnic due to the ongoing legal battle. Two years later, Beatnic closed. But now, according to an application to Community Board 2’s State Liquor Authority Licensing Committee, it looks like Chef Coscarelli may be returning with another vegan restaurant named Supernatural. Since her split with By Chloe, she has been holding Supernatural pop-ups around the city and beyond. A new French restaurant may be coming to the old Quality Eats space (19 Greenwich Ave., near W. 10th Street). According to their application to the C.B. 2 S.L.A. Licensing Committee, they plan to “offer shareable dishes, and will feature a high-end wine program, inventove [sic] cocktails, with a focus on great hospitality.” Baby Brasa, the Peruvian spot at 173 Seventh Ave. South (at Perry Street), was like a big party during the pandemic, when it installed lots of outdoor seating that was filled with happy, loud patrons. More recently, most of the outdoor seating was removed, and it seems that a different restaurant may be coming to the space. The owners of Loulou Petit Bistro in Chelsea are applying for a liquor license there for a French bistro and cocktail bar called Le Petit Village.

“One of the best things I have ever eaten,” according to Comings & Goings’ Caroline Benveniste: the Triple Berry Slab Pie ice cream at Caffé Panna, held by its co-creator, the chef and food stylist Ellen Simone Scott of “America’s Test Kitchen.” (Photo by Caroline Benveniste)
The irresistibly delicious sundae was inspired by a recipe in Scott’s new “Food Gifts” book.  (Photo by Caroline Benveniste)


Elle Simone Scott from “America’s Test Kitchen” has just written a new cookbook called “Food Gifts: 150+ Irresistible Recipes for Crafting Personalized Presents.” To celebrate this, Caffé Panna, at 77 Irving Place, collaborated with the author to create a sundae inspired by the Triple Berry Slab Pie recipe in the book. I tried the sundae, which consisted of Triple Berry Slab Pie ice cream, vanilla ice cream, housemade berry compote, ginger streusel, candied pie crust and raspberry panna, and it was one of the best things I have ever eaten. The raspberry panna, in particular, was spectacular. I found out that it was made by dehydrating raspberries, grinding them up and mixing them into their eponymous panna (a sort of whipped cream that is somehow denser and creamier than usual, and made both Elle Scott and I think of aerated marshmallow fluff). I will certainly return to Caffé Panna to see what else they are scooping, and I also ran out and bought a copy of the book and will try making the pie. Libertine (684 Greenwich St., at Christopher Street) has been open about a year, and it is one of the best recent dining additions to the Village. The only problem? It’s so popular that it is hard to get a reservation. That’s why it’s such good news that they have added some outdoor seating, where diners can get wine, cocktails and a limited food menu. Best of all, the outside tables are reserved for walk-ins.

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