BY CAROLINE BENVENISTE | It was another busy month, with two large chains opening markets. Christopher Street is suddenly hot, and while there were not too many closings, one of them left us quite sad.
L’Industrie Pizzeria West Village – 10 Christopher St., between Bleecker and Bedford Streets
This top-rated Williamsburg pizzeria opened a second location on Oct. 25 in the West Village. When I asked Massimo Laveglia, a Pistoia native and owner of L’Industrie, and Adam Saper, a partner (along with his brother Alex) in the new West Village location and also the managing director and C.F.O. of Eataly, why they chose the West Village, they said it was because it was one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods. Saper said that when they started searching for a space about a year ago, they were interested in something that didn’t look new. And this space, formerly a Rag & Bone location, does not, with its exposed brick, tin ceiling and hardwood floor. In addition, they liked the vibe of Christopher Street better than Bleecker Street. I was lucky enough to taste a Margherita pizza which I watched Levaglia make. It had a thin crust (rather than a puffy, Neapolitan-style one) and once it was out of the oven, he topped it with fresh chopped basil. It was quite delightful, and I look forward to trying some of the other highly praised varieties, such as burrata and pepperoni. Pizza is available by the slice or whole pie, and wine and beer are for sale, as well.
Wegmans – 770 Broadway, between Eighth Street and Wanamaker Place
After great anticipation lasting years, Wegmans has finally opened near Astor Place in the old Kmart space. On opening day a line formed on Broadway. A TV reporter from “Good Day New York” stood outside interviewing customers, and employees tried to get everyone to cheer. About 10 minutes before the opening, members of the press were allowed inside to hear the employees participate in the “Wegmans cheer.” Finally, the doors opened and people flooded in. After such a buildup, it was a little hard not to feel a bit let down. The ground floor is prepared food of all types: Asian hot food, Mediterranean, sushi, poke and more. The groceries are downstairs, along with a large fish department, with fish imported from Japan, and a butcher counter with different-quality meats (choice, prime, Wagyu, etc.) The cheese counter has some good options, with certain cheeses aged in Wegmans cheese caves in Rochester, NY, and the deli counter was well-stocked with lots of imported salumi (“We don’t carry Boar’s Head,” one of the employees told me). Given the meager supermarket choices in the neighborhood, Wegmans is a very welcome addition, but it will not replace my trips to Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Westside Market.
Roscioli – 43 MacDougal St. , at King Street
Roscioli, a Roman institution, first opened their underground tasting menu space in its Village location, but now the upstairs Alimentari à La Carte is open, as well. A small number of reservations are available, with preference given to wine club members, and the rest of the tables are for walk-ins. The salumi and cheese plates, pastas and other dishes, like meatballs on soft polenta, are all authentic and delicious, and pair beautifully with the well-curated Italian wine list. You can also shop for high-quality Italian staples.
Target opened their Union Square store (10 Union Square East, at 14th Street) on Tues., Oct. 17, with a ribbon-cutting by Mayor Adams. The store replaces The Food Emporium, which closed in May 2021. It is a great place to buy cleaning products, toiletries and greeting cards. Little Ruby’s Cafe (225 W. Fourth Street, at Seventh Avenue South) finally opened in the old Riviera Café location. The renovated multi-level space is large and lovely and the crowds arrived immediately. Talea Beer Co. West Village (102 Christopher St.) is a taproom for the brand, with 20 taps. Four of the beers are collaborations with local businesses (Magnolia, Dante, The LGTBQ+ Center and Don Angie (lasagna beer)). Kebab Express Halal Grill (235 Bleecker St., at Carmine Street) opened where Wolfnights used to be. In early October, Eater NY critic Robert Sietsema wrote about it, saying, “Eastern Mediterranean, Afghan and Indian influences…makes for some exceedingly pleasing flavor combinations.” Unregular Bakery (124 Fourth Ave., between 12th and 13th Streets) is a new project from the folks at Unregular Pizza. Located a couple of blocks south, where pizza spot Pie by the Pound used to be, the pastries are exuberant and tempting. One of the more unusual offerings is the K Bueno, a tube-shaped croissant with homemade “Kinder Bueno” cream. My favorite Chinatown dim sum spot has opened a location in the East Village: Dim Sum Go Go East Village (221 First Ave., at 13th Street) is smaller than the original, which has been around for over 20 years, but just as delicious. The owners said that many of their customers live in the Village and this encouraged them to open the new spot. The ingredients are high quality, and the homemade ginger-scallion sauce should be used liberally.
Balkan StrEAT — 353 Sixth Ave., between Washington Place and W. Fourth Street
Suddenly, on Oct. 16, with no warning, the always excellent Balkan StrEAT shuttered. The restaurant, which opened in January, was praised by pretty much everyone (including Eater and The New Yorker, which featured a rave review this past April). I was a huge fan and went there often for the homemade baked goods, such as boureks, strudels, jelly donuts and more. The boureks, in particular, were outstanding, made with hand-stretched phyllo dough. Owner William Djuric had brought over Milan Milijančević, a baker from Belgrade, to lead the pastry program, and he was able to make 50 boureks a day, a truly stunning feat. But, unfortunately, after returning from a trip to Serbia this summer, the baker was denied entry to the U.S., although he had a valid three-year visa. The restaurant hired a lawyer but, ultimately, they were not able to get the bourek maestro back. Milijančević had trained someone to make the phyllo, but the apprentice was not as fast. This, according to Djuric, combined with the labor-intensive menu, meant that in the end the model was just not viable. However, there is some potentially good news: The Balkan StrEAT team has not given up the space and they plan to open soon with a new concept and may be doing some pop-ups, as well.
Cones, the ice cream store at Bleecker Street, which had the best Belgian chocolate ice cream, has closed after 25 years. Mexican restaurant La Loteria, which opened on Seventh Avenue South in 2006, is also gone. Some neighbors on Nextdoor reported that 45 Grove Street Laundromat, one of the last self-service laundromats, had closed. Shu Han Ju (Chinese) on Sixth Avenue and Galanga (Thai) on W. Fourth Street also appear shuttered.
Sappe will open in the cursed space at 240 W. 14th St. (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues). The location has housed a large number of restaurants in the last year, most of them Italian, with the last one being Lisabetta. There is reason to hope that Sappe will do well, though, as it is the sophomore restaurant from the owners of Soothr, the popular Thai spot that opened in the East Village in May 2020. Sappe means “to joyfully consume or partake in the objects or the experience.” The latest entrant to the hand-roll craze will be Sushiro The Handrolls Bar (168 Seventh Avenue South, near Perry Street). According to their liquor license application: “Eating one of our just-made hand rolls, with its crispy nori, warm rice and delectable ingredients, will refine what you think about sushi.” Jin Ramen Sushi will open at 49 E. Eighth St., at Greene Street. This restaurant is a chainlet with locations in Queens and Long Island. Ramen and sushi are on the menu. Another location of Insomnia Cookies is opening at 283 Bleecker St., at Jones Street, where Bantam Bagels used to be. With Insomnia’s arrival, it will be impossible to walk in that part of the West Village without encountering a cookie shop at every block (Chip City, Crumbl, Janie’s Life Changing Baked Goods).
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