Much has been written about the power of taking a break. But the hustle and bustle of our daily lives often makes escaping (literally or even figuratively) difficult. Xpress Therapy (67 West St.) has introduced a solution—a spa, nestled amongst startups and art studios, with the goal of providing serenity and sustenance (yes, there’s food). And it can be done swiftly, if that’s the only time you’ve got.
But as you’ll quickly discover, this spot, which opened in December, is more than a place to get a peaceful nosh. You’re supporting Nestor Cora, a man of many titles: former Olympic basketball player, musician, masseur, and businessman with the pure and simple goal of “wanting to cater to the people that have jobs here.”
Step in to Xpress and get a 15-minute chair massage ($10) along with a delicious and healthy, freshly cooked lunch box to go ($8). There are a handful of other massages of various length and styles on offer (e.g., foot massage, hot stone, sports massage). The meal is hand cooked by owner and sole employee Nestor and inspired by the famed Angelica Kitchen in the East Village, which closed last year. “I offer a lunch box every day… I saw there was no place to eat in the building and I figured I could offer something. It’s a vegan dish but you don’t have be vegan to eat it,” he says. Continue reading →
Brooklyn Whiskers Bakery(1008 Manhattan Ave) is a sweet little place chock full of delicious goods with a creative menu, located at the north end of Greenpoint. This cafe/bakery serves up pastries and delectable desserts but also has a good-sized menu with all-day breakfast, sandwiches, bagels, and bites. Plus everything is vegan, with lots of gluten-free options as well. Fear not, however, because you won’t be missing a thing — the food here is fantastic.
This is the second location to recently open with the first one being located in Bushwick. They are also a retail and wholesale bakery in addition to having these shops. The two very friendly owners, Preesa Adeline Bullington and Michael Minahan, are frequently around and easy to chat with. The Greenpoint cafe is small but quite charming with a couple of vintage-looking mismatched chairs, wooden tables, and holiday decor this time of year. It’s also eco-friendly with bamboo products and recycling well-marked. There’s a warm, homey, personalized feel in the cafe and also fun for cat lovers with a little bit of a cat theme in the mix. Continue reading →
Archestratus (160 Huron St) is definitely the spot in the neighborhood for picking up cookbooks (new and used), food magazines, cute stationary, and gourmet food stuffs. The store has been open for about a year-and-a-half now and has become one of the “the spots” in the neighborhood, most likely because the owner, Paige Lipari, hosts various community events every month. But Archestratus isn’t just good for kitchen things and crafts night, the back café is one of the best places to chill out with a book, or to stop by for lunch. Yes, lunch! Continue reading →
“With this finger, I tasted the world.” Massimiliano Nanni raises his right pointer finger while recounting his childhood in Rimini, Italy, where his mother, Lella Alimentari’s namesake, ran a popular restaurant. “I would sit at the counter of the kitchen and I taste the papaya, I taste the kiwi—nobody have a kiwi in Italy, I come from a place with the truffle—I eat the frog, I eat the eel, I eat the snake. We want to try everything. This was my childhood.”
Nanni, known to friends as Chicco, met his wife, Paola Cittero while working on an Italian aquatic TV show. He was a diving assistant, she was the production designer. This is a funny detail given the strong Life Aquatic vibe in the café they’ve created. Between Nanni’s normally red cap (today it is pink) and quirky demeanor, Cittero’s blue jumpsuit and the vintage toys and uneven hand stamped signage, I can practically hear Seau Jorge strumming Bowie tunes.
Nanni’s been in the restaurant biz since 1995 when he opened Piadina in the West Village. In the intervening years, he’s opened many other restaurants, including the popular wood-fired pizza superstar Saraghina in Bed-Stuy, which Cittero designed and which feels like a big brother to the more intimate Lella (325 Manhattan Avenue). Nanni left Saraghina in 2011 and opened a now-shuttered seafood restaurant before hopping over to Williamsburg. The location was intentional, just across the street from PS 132 where Nanni and Cittero’s children go to school. After school, the kids hang out among the locals, many of whom are on laptops. “We don’t like to say we are chefs,” says Cittero, “we just cook. We’re cooking. We are both food lovers. I’m a production designer, an artist, we consider this our cafeteria. We are making food we usually make at home, that we give out to our kids.”
Lella’s specialty is the piadina, a sort of Italian quesadilla that’s popular in Nanni’s hometown. Every day he makes the piadina bread, then stuffs it with ingredients like roasted seasonal veggies and stracchino, a luscious unripened Italian cheese. Nothing is fussy, just fresh ingredients prepared beautifully; a poached egg over cauliflower, bacon, and chickpeas. Potato leek soup with speck. Burrata with roasted beets and carrots. They also have homemade pastries, quiche, and salads, most often topped with a poached egg.
Lella’s vibe is laid back cool and playful. It is European-feeling and whimsical without a hint of pretension. Toy trucks huddle near a vase of yellow tulips. A battered metal crock overflows with potatoes. The tin ceilings are whitewashed, walls are lined with Italian goods, books, an old scale. Art magazines and vintage action figures are scattered about. Lella is warm and chummy, just four sun-drenched booths and a communal table.
One of my favorite design elements is the handy takeaway window. “We sell the coffee by the window and we get all the people with dogs,” says Cittero. “Bike. Stroller. For me, it was like decoration, but we get the dog community.”
Nanni is already dreaming of his next venture: to host a program training former convicts as pizzaiolos. He’s eyeing a location in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. “The Pizzaiolo was teaching to the penitentiary in my town. These men, what they went through, most of the time it’s really traumatic. They need to be working, working, working. They will learn fast. It will help them.”
“Art, food and a lot of love,” Cittero says as she glances at Nanni who is in the kitchen dancing to The Human League. “We keep busy.” She smiles and looks out the window. “And just look at this beautiful light.”
As 2016 came to an end, Michelin-starred Luksus shut its doors in the back room of Tørst (615 Manhattan Ave), adding to the pile of restaurant closings in our area. For a moment it seemed that Tørst would revert entirely to a Nordic beer bar with a few bites. But all hope is not lost, Chef Jesus “Chuy” Cervantes, who worked at Cosme before spending two years under Chef Burns at Luksus, was ready to over the food program at Tørst and bring it to the next level. A recent lunch—yes, Tørst is open for lunch—showed there are still many Nordic influences on the expanded menu along with some quite delectable bread, but now they also have excellent takes on regular bar food.Continue reading →
Sundays normally bring brunch to mind for any New Yorker. Sunday in Brooklyn (348 Wythe Ave.) is much more than that. Open daily for brunch, lunch and dinner this tri-level restaurant is like a fashion house of food. At “Sunday” there is creative use of fresh ingredients—even the scraps are utilized in new dishes, drinks and marketplace items. The restaurant opened for dinner in November, rolled out brunch shortly after and opened the marketplace in December. So yes, something good did happen in 2016. The marketplace features a takeout menu and pantry items to make any home chef take their game up a notch. Chef Jaime Young is passionate about sustainability at Sunday: “The marketplace gives us the opportunity to utilize everything that we’re buying…it kind goes with our whole ethos of trying to utilize as much as we can in this restaurant.”
Meyers Bageri’s (667 Driggs Avenue) first stateside bakery began as a Saturday pop-up, in the space they now occupy full-time—the former home of Margo Patisserie. Back in February, word began to spread of Saturday’s pop-up and the lines quickly followed. In late July, Meyers Bageri took over the space completely and has subsequently been introducing North Brooklyn to Claus Meyer’s brand of New Nordic Cuisine. Continue reading →
Samantha Hew and Anthony Piliaskas believe in evolving spaces and snacks. From Bembe to 3 Roots, both have successfully sustained businesses while layering the neighborhood with innovative adaptations. Their newest collaboration, Vittles Cafe (94 Franklin St), is a vibrant testament to 9 years of friendship and belief that food should be positive and rooted in love and community.
Nestled at Oak and Franklin, the treats – vittles – deliver scrumptious aromas and flavor. Vegans, omnivores, health nuts, and meat-ers will want to indulge in the mouthwatering menu and caffeine addicts will be delighted by the drinks list. Highlights include Toby’s Estate espresso, egg & cheese on a biscuit, Australian hot milo, cornmeal rolls, Thai vegan banh mi, Barista’s specialty, kaya butter toast and potato curry puffs. Continue reading →
Maman’s original SoHo cafe opened in early Fall 2014 without much fanfare. That is, until people tasted their Nutty Chocolate Chunk Cookie and that cookie alone should make you want to stop at their newest location at 80 Kent Street (between Franklin and West). Luckily, the southern-France-chic bakery has plenty of attention-worthy treats beyond the cookie to make it a welcome addition to our neighborhood! Continue reading →
‘Tis the season for new restaurant openings, and last week Greenpoint had three*. One of the tastiest additions to our burgeoning dining scene is a delightful French Catalonian eatery called Cassette, whose name roughly translates as ‘little box’. Don’t let the name mislead you though, as the space is anything but small. Positioned on the corner of Kent and Franklin streets, the front of the restaurant takes up at least a quarter of the block, which it comfortably shares with Ramona, Kennaland and the former Lulu’s.
Cassette is adjacent to the Kickstarter HQ on Kent, which is somewhat convenient since one of the partners is Kickstarter founder Perry Chen. In creating the new restaurant, Perry teamed up with Henry Rich, owner of Boerum Hill’s popular neighborhood Italian Rucola. Also hailing from Rucola is head chef Joe Pasqualetto whose passion for good, simple food means that Cassette’s veg-focused menu is primed for success from the word go. Continue reading →