Manhattan Avenue

Greenpoint Winter Survival Guide: Get Your Lit On This Winter

Steffanie Ostrowski, Floor Manager of Word Brooklyn.

What types of books are your fellow Greenpointers curling up with this winter? More winter survival tips are coming your way this week, this time we get some solid literary recommendations from Word Bookstore’s Brooklyn floor manager Steffanie Ostrowski.

Check out our previous interviews here, here, here, here and here.

BOOKS: WORD BROOKLYN | 126 Franklin Street
Steffanie Ostrowski, Floor Manager

Greenpointers: What types of books are currently the most popular at the Greenpoint store?

Steffanie Ostrowski: I think that in general, everyone is looking for a lot of social science books so that they can learn about things that are going on today. Also, there’s the escapism of fiction so that they don’t have to deal with the world, so people are getting the new fiction that’s coming out. When Pete Souza’s Obama book came out, that was our big ticket item. Now it’s out of stock everywhere because everyone just wanted to remember. Continue reading

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The Greenpoint Nacho Throwdown 2018

© The Drift/Instagram

With the Super Bowl right around the corner, now’s the perfect time to seek out Greenpoint’s finest platters of cheesy, crisp, fully-loaded chips. Whether you’re looking for a dine-in Super Bowl experience complete with big screens or nachos that can be easily transported to your house party of choice, we’ve found five neighborhood plates that you won’t want to miss.

Cadillac Nachos at The Drift | 579 Meeker Ave
At their cozy, quasi-nautical drinking hole on Meeker Avenue, the team at The Drift offers up a dish that made their sister bars (The Commodore and El Cortez) famous: the decadent, lowbrow-in-the-best-way Cadillac Nachos ($12). The yellow corn tortilla chips provide the base for a deluge of jalapeno-spiked queso that would do a Texan proud, earthy pinto beans, three salsas with varying levels of heat, a drizzle of sour cream, plus cilantro sprigs and thinly-sliced radish for crunch. If you’re in a more-is-more mood, you can also opt for an addition of chopped chicken or ribs ($4 extra). This enormous stack of nacho goodness pairs perfectly with The Drift’s tiki-inspired cocktails. Continue reading

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Meet Sam and Sami, The New Owners of Eastern District

Seven years ago, Beth Lewand and Chris Gray turned a former Polish deli into Eastern District, a specialty shop focusing on craft beer and artisanal cheeses. Nowadays, the shop is part of the fabric on the northernmost stretch of Manhattan Avenue. It’s a place to grab a quick sandwich, drop off your flyers, and a CSA pick-up spot for those who don’t want to trek through Greenpoint with 30 pounds of produce in the heat of summer. But over the past year, Eastern District quietly changed hands. Beth and Chris were moving to Vermont (she’s now at Cricket Creek Farm) and didn’t want to close Eastern District outright, so they sold it lock, stock, and barrel to Sam and Sami Shah.

Longtime fans of Eastern District don’t need to be worried about missing out on the best cheeses and beers! Ever since he first tried yak cheese as a child, Sam has been intrigued by “the science and nature of cheese,” he says. And how did he get his hands on yak cheese? Well, both Sam and Sami are from Nepal, though they met and fell in love while living in Dallas, Texas. According to him, “faith and destiny” brought them to the East Coast. Continue reading

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Brooklyn Whiskers, Manhattan Ave’s New Vegan Cafe/Bakery

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

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All the Produce of Manhattan Avenue

One of the under-appreciated hallmarks of New York life is your local vegetable stand. A step below the bounty found at our farmers markets, our vegetable stands come in handy on your walk home from the subway or when you’re on a budget and need a little bit more fresh produce in your daily diet. In Greenpoint, the majority of our 24-hour vegetable stands can be found along Manhattan Avenue with the most popular two right off of Greenpoint Avenue. There, we have a veritable vegetable war where every man needs to pick a side.

Mom & Pop’s Organic Market aka Poland Farm | 889 Manhattan Ave
The OG Korean greengrocer of Manhattan Avenue, Mom & Pop’s, the former Poland Farm, is the place consistently giving you deals on produce. Most of the good stuff is found outside where you have to hold your ground against pedestrians, people waiting for the bus, and old ladies who will really want their plums! Keep in mind that the “better” deals are for produce that needs to be eaten today or possibly tomorrow. Continue reading

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Greenpoint is Grieving Over The Habitat’s Closing

Our sanctuary in the storm, our pretend ski lodge, our light in the dark is being snuffed out  image: Habitat/Instagram

The news came in June and some of us are still reeling from it. After nine-and-a-half years at 988 Manhattan Avenue, The Habitat will be closing its doors forever on Saturday, September 16th. The owners tried to negotiate a new lease with reasonable market rates, but they couldn’t come to an agreement with the landlords. Ever since I first stepped foot inside during an epic 2008 pub crawl, Habitat has always held a special place in my heart. The trivia night involving real buzzers and graphics, art shows including one involving my first true love (ice cream), afternoon happy hour, their always fantastic tap list, and of course, the food. Delicious, unpretentious, and affordable, as good bar food should be. To me, Habitat and Mark Bar (RIP) balanced each other out on what was the quieter side of Manhattan Avenue. Alas, all good things must come to an end. Continue reading

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Gourmet A’Fare Market is Open on Manhattan + Box

We’ve got a new grocery store up Manhattan Ave.

One of the longtime givens of life north of Greenpoint Avenue has been that the closest real grocery store was C-Town at 935 Manhattan Avenue. Seeing as this area is about to have a population explosion, that C-Town was not going to be enough. But, thankfully, a new grocery store, Gourmet A’Fare, opened up last week in the new luxury building at 1133 Manhattan and has brought some much-needed foodstuffs to the neighborhood.
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60 Years In and Peter Pan’s Still Got It

Image: Author’s Personal Peter Pan Donuts Collection

Almost every visitor to Greenpoint has one specific stop: Peter Pan Donuts. The Manhattan Avenue shop is literally one of our claims to fame even without Tina Fey’s affections. There have been documentaries and shorts made about it. Their doughnuts have appeared on lists from here to Japan. Their summer ice cream sandwiches are things of beauty. And best of all, the price has still remained $1.10 for one doughnut, with a filling breakfast or lunch for under $10. As someone who lived around the corner for seven years, I frequently stopped by for a hangover breakfast or mid-afternoon pick-me-up (yes, doughnuts are snacks in my world). I’d noticed over the past couple of years, new flavors began appearing on their hallowed shelves, and they were definitely worth noting. Continue reading

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The Piadine Reigns Supreme at Williamsburg’s Lella Alimentari

Photo © Kevin Irby
Photo © Kevin Irby

“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.”

Massimiliano Nanni © Kevin Irby

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.

owners of Lella Alimentari
“We are old friends. Sometimes your best friend becomes your husband.” Photo © Kevin Irby

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.”

artwork made by Lella's owners' son.
“We dream about writing a book one day with all the drawings from my little boy, we like the name ‘The Cook, the Wife, and the Red Hat.’” Photo © Kevin Irby

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.

Eggs are poached or soft boiled, never fried. Photo © Kevin Irby

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.

Photo © Kevin Irby

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.”

Photo © Kevin Irby

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.”

Photo © Kevin Irby

“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.”

A patron on her laptop in one of four sunny booths. Photo © Kevin Irby

Lella Alimentari | 325 Manhattan Avenue
718-599-1986
Open 8am to 7pm every day

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The New Menu at Tørst is a Perfect Mix of Nordic & American

A new spread at Tørst  Image courtesy of Tørst

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

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