SSPNY Dines at Pearl and Ash, a Real Beauty on Bowery, with Food That Lives Up to its Looks 

SSPNY Dines at the Lovely and Delicious Pearl and Ash in Nolita, For a Real Beauty on Bowery

SSPNY dines at the always packed, beautifully designed, superbly delicious and brand spanking new restaurant on Bowery, Pearl and Ash, located on the ground floor of the Bowery House in Nolita and replacing the short-lived Bowery Kitchen to bring a deftly executed menu and reasonable prices.

How many times have I walked in all excited to a good-looking new restaurant, the place packed with good-looking people, only to leave 90 minutes later feeling like a sucker, having dropped too much cash on some prettily-plated but drearily mediocre food? Too many times. Too. Many. Times. Much more rare is the thing that happened to me the other night at the spanking-new stunner on Bowery, Pearl and Ash. Here, on the ground floor of the Bowery House, replacing the short-lived Bowery Kitchen, is a fun, beautifully-designed space, with an interesting, appealing menu, deftly executed by a seriously talented crew. AND the reasonable prices at Pearl and Ash allow you to try a bunch of things without racking up an enormous bill.

SSPNY tries out multiple things on the menu from world renowned Executive Chef Richard Kuo, who previously worked at Corton, wd-50, and Williamsburg's Frej, and now serves unique and complex dishes such as this trio of dense Pork Meatballs with shitakes, a wine sauce, and bonito flakes to give it a hearty and satisfying taste to die for and a wine list to match.

The kitchen at Nolita's Pearl and Ash is run by Chef Richard Kuo, whose last gig was co-owning and cooking at the Williamsburg pop-up Frej, acclaimed for its inventive Scandavian fare. Also on Kuo's CV are stints at Corton and wd-50. Basically: the man can cook, and he's not likely to send out anything you've already seen a million times. The design of Pearl and Ash, by Brooklyn's Sway/Parts + Labor, is warm and lovely, with most of the restaurant's wall space given over to Joseph Cornell-ish wooden boxes, housing still lifes and oddities and what seems like a thousand flickering candles. There's a long bar to your right, an open kitchen window in the back, a couple of nice nooks and a homey communal table which, yes, is a bit of a cliche, but it really helps getting people quickly seated. The only misfire is the music, a mix of '70s radio rock and '50s doo-wop that would seem out of place pretty much anywhere (except a Bay Ridge slice joint?) but seems particularly discordant here.

SSPNY next tried out the Mackerel, with a slab of oily full-flavored fish paired with warm potato salad and  pickled Israeli cucumbers and then the star of the entire meal the Quail dish with boned ovals of tender, gamey meat with almonds, pomegranate, and chewy chicken skin, all of which can be offered in half sizes so you can double the amount of dishes you can try.

Anyway, if it's the pretty space the lures you in to Pearl and Ash, it's the food (and, I hear, the wine list) that will keep you coming back. Pretty much everything here sounds appealing, so I was happy that Chef Kuo offers all of his entrees in half sizes as well, so I could double up on my dishes. I started with a trio of dense Pork Meatballs, served with shitakes, a wine-y sauce, and an still-undulating topping of bonito flakes. These were hearty, complex, and satisfying. There are plenty of swimmers on the Pearl and Ash menu, including a terrific Mackerel, the slab of oily, full-flavored fish paired with a warm potato salad and chunks of pickled Israeli cucumbers. But the star of the night was my Quail dish, the boned ovals of tender, gamey meat complemented nicely by almonds, tart pomegranate, and some chewy chicken skin. Seems like Kuo and company have a certified winner on their hands.

Pearl and Ash is located on Bowery just between Prince and Spring Streets in Nolita, open for drinks and dinner Monday through Thursday from 5:30pm to 12 midnight, open Friday and Saturday until 2am, and closed on Sunday.

Pearl and Ash is located on Bowery between Prince and Spring Streets, and is open for drinks and dinner on Monday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 12:00 midnight, and on Friday and Saturday until 2:00 a.m. Closed Sunday. More info, and the complete Pearl and Ash menu, can be found here.

written on 04/10/2013

Posted in: Nolita

The Butcher's Daughter, That Pretty Vegetarian Cafe in Nolita That's Always Mobbed for Brunch, is Now Serving Dinner 

SSPNY Tries Out the New Dinner Menu at the Pretty & Always Mobbed Vegetarian Cafe in Nolita, The Butcher's Daughter

SSPNY checks out the always packed vegetarian and juice bar in Nolita, The Butcher's Daughter, after Manager Heather Tierney and Chef Joya Carlton of West Village's Buvette, introduced dinnertime to the menu in early February with the success of their fresh squeezed juice options and great lunchtime hang-out spot on Kenmare.

It may sound like a match made in carnivore heaven, but don't expect to find any meat on the menu at Nolita's Butcher's Daughter. Despite (because of?) the meat-cleaving ways of her father, the eponymous offspring who runs the place, Heather Tierney (also and by the way the mixologist and co-owner of Apothéke and Pulqueria), is strictly vegetarian. And thus, so is her restaurant. Not that anyone seems to mind: the bright, homey spot has been packing them in for brunch since it first opened last November. Which is great and all, and I also appreciate that The Butcher's Daughter has a nice freshly-squeezed juice bar selection, because there's no question that this is a pleasant, comfortable place to hang out for a bit on a sunny afternoon. But the real test for The Butcher's Daughter--and an indication of whether it has any sticking power down there on Kenmare, which has become a bit of restaurant graveyard of late--is whether Tierney and Chef Joya Carlton (of the excellent West Village bistro Buvette) can deliver the goods at dinnertime, which they finally started serving in early February, and which I finally ate about a week ago.

SSPNY tries out the new dinner menu which offers a blend of fruits and veggies served raw or cooked up with some little preparations. Though The Butcher's Daughter is no huge contender in creative vegetarian cuisine in the city, if you are looking for a quiet and romantic neighborhood spot with good vegetarian food, this spot of heaven in Nolita is perfect for you. First, we tried the smashed avocado with mustard, curry, lemon, and toast.

The Butcher's Daughter dinner menu offers an appealing blend of fruits and veggies served raw and cooked, simply prepared or gussied up a little. But just a little: fans of Amanda Cohen's magical dishes at Dirt Candy--or even the prettily-plated vegan fare at Blossom Cafe--will not find a new contender to the creative vegetarian throne here at the Butcher's Daughter. Anyway, I went to the Butcher's Daughter on a fairly freezing night, ate in a mostly empty but nonetheless warm and cozy-feeling room, and left reasonably satisfied. This is not a destination restaurant by any means, but if you're looking for a neighborhood spot that's quiet, non-scene-y, and even a touch romantic, you can't do much better in Nolita than The Butcher's Daughter.

SSPNY next tried out the Cashew Ricotta with Fig Mostarda as our "charcuterie" which was slightly lackluster, but was paired alongside a much more delicious thick, sweet corn soup concoction with curry and served with a hunk of crusty bread.

My companion and I shared a few items from all over the Butcher's Daughter dinner menu, starting with a bright and lively bowl of smashed avocado, a mix of mustard, curry, and lemon forked in, some decent toast upon which to slather the stuff on the side. Not bad. Our "charcuterie" selection, while not in any way bad, was somewhat lackluster: billed as Cashew Ricotta with Fig Mostarda, it seemed to be little more than a scoop of the fluffy cheese, a spoonful of fig jelly, a few thin slices of apple, done. Better was the soup, a thick, sweet corn concoction redolent with curry and served with a hunk of crusty bread. Order this, add a salad, and you've got a dinner with which you can be proud. Or heck, go for broke a get the meatiest-seeming thing on the menu, the Bangers and Mash, which of course aren't made from anything animal, but instead are a rich, hearty pair of white-bean and fennel sausages, plopped atop a pile of "rustic" hash browns, smothered in fried onions, mushrooms, and spicy mustard, paired with spinach. This, I would get again.

SSPNY lastly tried out the heartiest, meatiest-seeming thing on the menu, the Bangers and Mash, which came without anything animal, but instead with a rich, hearty pair of white-bean and fennel sausages, atop a pile of hash browns and smothered in fried onions, mushrooms and spicy mustard that is absolutely delicious!

The Butcher's Daughter is located on the corner of Elizabeth and Kenmare Streets, and is open daily for breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner, starting at 8:00 a.m. and ending at 10:00 Sunday through Thursday, and at 11:00 on Friday and Saturday. The official restaurant website is still under construction, but you can find the complete Butcher's Daughter menu here.

The Butcher's Daughter is located at the corner of Elizabeth and Kenmare Streets in the heart of Nolita, now available for breakfast, lunch, brunch and DINNER, starting at 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

written on 04/10/2013

Posted in: Nolita

Checking in with Nolita Neighborhood Gem Bianca: Is this the Best Cheap Italian Spot in Town? 

SSPNY Eats at the Best Cheap Italian Spot in Town: Nolita Neighborhood's Bianca

SSPNY checks out the always packed Bianca in Nolita which opened up in 2005 by Chef Giancarlo Quadalti and Roberta Riccioli after success of Upper West Side sister, Celeste, and located on Bleecker right around the corner from Bowery and first-rate restaurants such as DBGB, The Wren, Peels and Hecho en Dumbo.

From the outside, Bianca looks like any one of a thousand mediocre New York City restaurants, with its semi-dingy curtains, peeling paint, silly typography. And once you poke your head in the door? More of the same. Scratched up wooden floors, generic, crammed-together tables and chairs, grandmotherly collection of plates providing the only decor. But you think: wait, why is this place so crowded? And then you realize that Bianca's pretty much ALWAYS packed, even with the lure of all of those hip-and-happening (and, often, legitimately first-rate) restaurants right around the corner on Bowery, like DBGB and The Wren, Peels and Hecho en Dumbo. So what gives?

 SSPNY looks over the whole Bianca menu filled with appealing and generously portioned choices, including the Fegatini con Aceto Balsamico. This time, we started off with the Carciofi Fritti, or salty crunch baby artichokes served with crispy fried parsley. Besides delicious food, most appetizers and pastas will also only ring you up in single-digit territory, with most fish and meat dishes only hitting the mid-teen price point.

I've been to Bianca many times over the years--the place opened in 2005--and have also enjoyed several great meals courtesy of its Upper West Side sister, Celeste. The prices, of course, are one reason Bianca is so popular, with most appetizers and pastas solidly in single-digit territory, and even the meat and fish dishes hitting only the mid-teens. How Chef Giancarlo Quadalti and his partner Roberta Riccioli pull this off, especially considering the generous portions at Bianca, and the many interesting dishes from Northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, is anyone's guess... but night after night, over the course of eight years, pull it off they do. I'm always vaguely concerned when first sitting down at one of their rickety tables (was this really as good as I'm remembering?), and every time, Bianca delivers. You could eat here once a week and not be disappointed.

 SSPNY next tried out one of the pasta options, with the plump Ravioli di Ricotta, served in a lake of butter sauce and topped with sage, chewy strands of Gramigna, a tomatoey sauce with crumbled sausage and bell peppers. If you had all three of these meals together, the bill would still only run you at about $43 after tip!

Anyway, the Bianca menu is filled with appealing choices, but I tend to get the same things again and again. The Fegatini con Aceto Balsamico, or balsamic-glazed chicken livers on toast, are unbelievably tender, a wonderful balance of earthy and sweet, with an acid bite to finish things off. Also always at my table is the Carciofi Fritti, salty, crunchy baby artichokes, served with a mound of crispy, hopelessly addictive fried parsley. Next up at Bianca is pasta, and there are plenty of good options. The plump Ravioli di Ricotta are served in a lake of butter sauce, topped with enough sage leaves to make a difference. And the thick, chewy strands of Gramigna are always well served by their tomatoey sauce of crumbled sausage and bell peppers. And if you ordered all of the above, which is a hefty dinner for two? You're looking at a check of about $43. With tip. Remarkable.

 Bianca is easily one of the most delicious and inexpensive Italian meals you'll have anywhere in the city. Technically located in NoHo, Bianca can be found on Bleecker Street between Bowery and Elizabeth Street, and is open every day at 5pm for dinner, with kitchen open until 11pm on Monday through Thursday, until midnight on Friday and Saturday, and until 10:30pm on Sunday.

Bianca is located on Bleecker Street between Bowery and Elizabeth, which I realize is technically NoHo, but is also close enough to Nolita not to make a difference. Bianca is open every day at 5:00 p.m. for dinner, with the kitchen open until 11:00 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, until 12:00 midnight on Friday and Saturday, and until 10:30 on Sunday. More info and the complete Bianca menu can be found here.

written on 04/10/2013

Posted in: Nolita

NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star, at the New Museum on Bowery 

SSPNY Heads Over to Nolita's New Museum on Bowery for NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star

SSPNY checks out the New Museum right now as they hold a giant time-capsule of a show called NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star. The proper exhibition is on display in every available space inside the New Museum gallery from the lobby to a soaring room on third floor, where rude skateboard decks, stickers, and Daniel Joseph Martinez's Museum Tags hang. Here an Untitled work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres features a string of light bulbs, and deep orange carpeting, a billboard of a lone bird flying through a grey sky with a haunting soundtrack playing in the background.

For culture lovers who enjoy a little edge in their art, downtown New York City is definitely the place to be. Take the pretty, intimate neighborhood of Nolita, for example, where Stone Street Properties has recently added a lovely, historic building right on Elizabeth. True, that part of town is probably better known for its great boutique shopping and casual, happening restaurants, but in the past decade or so Nolita has been the site of an art-scene explosion, with a dozen terrific new little galleries, all anchored by the world-class contemporary art exhibition and event space, the great New Museum. Although the New Museum, the institution, has been around since 1977, the current site (on Bowery across from Prince) and striking building (designed by Tokyo-based Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA) only opened about five years ago, in December of 2007, and has quickly become a cultural hub for the community. And, as it happens, right now at the New Museum there's an amazing, giant-time-capsule of a show, NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star.

SSPNY checks out all five floors of the New Museum's gallery, named after a Sonic Youth album, and even spills over into the annex next door Studio 231, which now holds an installation by Nari's Ward called Amazing Grace that consists of dozens of discarded and filthy baby strollers strapped together fire hoses and assembled into the shape of a ship with Mahalla Jackson's version of Amazing Grace playing in the background.

Named after the influential Sonic Youth album recorded that year (though released in May of 1994), NYC 1993 fills all five floors-worth of the New Museum's galleries, and even spills over into the annex next door, Studio 231. In fact, the installation that takes over Studio 231 may be my favorite piece in the whole exhibition, Nari Ward's jaw-dropping Amazing Grace, which consists of dozens of discarded, often-filthy baby strollers, strapped together by old lengths of fire hose and assembled into the shape of ship, Mahalia Jackson's rendition of the classic spiritual of the same name playing softly in the background. It's an extraordinary work, designed to be discomfiting, and succeeded brilliantly.

SSPNY even checks out Jessica Diamond's massive Tributes to Kusama: Infinity billboard, as well as other disturbing works of art such as Pepon Osario's crime scene installation, Nayland Blake's amusingly titled Equipment for a Shameful Epic, and more.

Inside the New Museum proper the NYC 1993 exhibition takes over every available gallery, from the lobby space (love the rude skateboard decks, there, and the stickers, and Daniel Joseph Martinez's Museum Tags); to the soaring room on three, which houses my OTHER favorite piece in the show, an as-usual Untitled work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres featuring a string of light bulbs, deep orange carpeting, "billboards" of a lone bird flying through a grim sky, and a haunting, repetitive soundtrack; to the small nook off the stairwell between floors three and two. There are lots of big names here at NYC 1993, and plenty of familiar, iconic pieces, including Charles Ray (his creepy Family Romance), Lorna Simpson, Paul McCarthy (his even more creepy Cultural Gothic), David Hammons, John Currin (a pair from his Girl in Bed series, below) and Matthew Barney. There are also lots of things that I had never seen before, such as Pepon Osario's elaborate and disturbing crime scene installation, Nayland Blake's amusingly titled Equipment for a Shameful Epic, and Jessica Diamond's massive Tributes to Kusama: Infinity (above).

SSPNY also checks out the iconic works of John Currin from his Girl in Bed series, and other creepy Cultural Gothic works from acclaimed artists such as Charles Ray, Lorna Simpson, and Paul McCarthy. The New Museum is located on Bowery between Rivington and Stanton Streets open from Wednesday through Sunday and free on Thursdays!

NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star will be at the New Museum May 26. The New Museum is located on Bowery between Rivington and Stanton Streets, and is open from Wednesday through Sunday at 11:00 a.m., and until 6:00 p.m. each of those days except Thursday, when it's open until 9:00 p.m. The New Museum is free on Thursdays from 7:00 until 9:00. Lots more info about the New Museum and the NYC 1993 show, here.

SSPNY has recently added a new building in Nolita right on Elizabeth Street, near great boutique shopping and restaurants, and what has become over the last decade an art-scene explosion with a dozen terrific new little galleries all anchored by the contemporary art exhibition and event space, the great New Museum. Here, Stone Street explores the New Museum, an institution since 1977, whose new location opened in December 2007 on Bowery across from Prince Street, in a striking building designed by Tokyo-based Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, which has quickly been named a cultural hub for the community.


written on 04/10/2013

Posted in: Nolita

Nolita Neighborhood History: Home to Tenements, Def Jam, and a Kid Named Marty Scorsese 

SSPNY Looks Back at the Historic Nolita Neighborhood: Home to Tenements, Def Jam and Martin Scorsese!

SSPNY first looks back at the once, less than safe, streets of Nolita down by Elizabeth Street, just a block away from the Bowery, which used to be one of the notorious skid rows housing only tenements for more than a century, and now home to some of the most beautiful old restored tenements anywhere in NYC.

There's no shortage of juicy history here in Manhattan, especially downtown, where almost every block has seen its share of heydeys, hard times, revitalizations, repeat. This is not news, by the way. In fact, New York City's defining characteristic has ALWAYS been constant change (and commerce, though the two tend to travel through time together), even as far back as the days when the Dutch were running things. That said, some neighborhoods, and some blocks, are a tad bit more interesting than most. For example: the stretch of Nolita's Elizabeth Street from Bleecker down to Prince, which happens to be the home of the newest addition to the Stone Street Properties family, The Leo, which runs from 260 to 268.

SSPNY even checks out what some called "Crack Alley" until the 1980s, referring to the part of Elizabeth Street between Bleecker and Houston that is said to have inspired Public Enemy's song, Night of the Living Baseheads, under Def Jam's label.

It's hard to imagine Elizabeth Street, which today boasts more trendy, spendy boutiques per square inch than just about anywhere in town, as being anything but wonderfully safe and stroll-worthy, but that's a surprisingly recent development in this part of town. Being a block away from the Bowery, once one of the world's most notorious skid rows, didn't help prettify things, and all of these beautiful old restored tenements in Nolita, which give this coveted neighborhood so much of its character, spent much of their century-plus history as, well... just tenements. Also of note: as recently as the 1980s Elizabeth between Bleecker and Houston was not-so-affectionately known as "Crack Alley", and was said to have been the inspiration for Public Enemy's seminal song, Night of the Living Baseheads. Public Enemy's label at the time, Def Jam, was headquartered on the block back then, so the rumor makes sense.

SSPNY next visits the most colorful era in the 40s and '50s, when Elizabeth Street was still home of Little Italy in a lively and slightly dangerous neighborhood where Martin Scorsese settled in 1950, where both of this parents grew up and where much of his early works were inspired, including his 1973 masterpiece Mean Streets.

But perhaps the block's most colorful era came in the 1940s and '50s, when Elizabeth Street was still solidly Little Italy all up and down its length, alive with stoop-sitters, street kids and wise guys. It was this lively, slightly-dangerous (if you weren't a local) setting into which moved one Martin Scorsese in 1950. Both of Scorsese's parents grew up on the block--his mom in 232 Elizabeth, which was filled with families from the Sicilian town of Cirmina; his dad across the street in 241, which is where everyone from the nearby town of Pulizi had settled in--and, after a stint in Corona, Queens, they moved back with wide-eyed, eight-year-old Marty. For 15 years Scorsese lived at 253 Elizabeth, the family of four squeezed into three-and-a-half rooms, sometimes sleeping on the fire escape in the pre-AC summer. The scene that played out before him as he roamed the neighborhood and watched the drama of Little Italy life unfold before him from his third-story bedroom window informed much of Scorsese's early works, including his 1973 masterpiece Mean Streets, some of which he filmed right on the block.

SSPNY lastly visits one of the most interesting blocks in NYC's downtown Manhattan as they check out the historic stretch of Nolita's Elizabeth Street from Bleecker down to Prince famous for commerce and constant change even when the Dutch ran things. The stretch of Elizabeth Street from Bleecker down to Prince, is now the newest addition to the Stone Street Properties family, The Leo, which runs from 260 to 268.

written on 04/10/2013

Posted in: Nolita

Nolita Neighborhood Guide: An Abundance of Art 

SSPNY Checks Out All the Best Art Scenes Around Nolita

SSPNY Heads to Nolita for One of the Best & Most Coveted Locales in Downtown Manhattan for an Enviable Number of Large Innovative Art Venues to Check out the Art Scene Anchored by the New Museum on Bowery Which Opened up in December of 2007.

Nolita is one of New York City's most coveted residential communities, both for its central location within downtown Manhattan (immediate neighbors include all of the hotspots of the Lower East Side, Chinatown, SoHo, NoHo, and the East Village), as well as its many more immediate pleasures. The last five years or so have seen an enviable influx of great neighborhood restaurants and cafes, plenty of high-end boutiques (especially along Elizabeth Street), and, not incidentally, a large number of innovative art venues. The Nolita art scene is anchored by the New Museum on Bowery, which opened in December of 2007, but also includes a number of fun, influential galleries as well as several internationally-recognized destinations for graffiti artists and street art fans. Here, then, is a quick look at some of my personal favorite art spots in the Nolita area...

SSPNY Also Checks Out a Number of Fun, Influential Art Galleries & Several Internationally-Recognized Destinations for Graffiti Artists and Street Art Fans Including The Hole Just North of Houston on Bowery Which is the Most Successful New Art Gallery to Open in Years Since Former Director at Deitch Projects, Kathy Grayson, Started Running it

The Hole
The Hole, located just north of Houston on Bowery, is possibly the most successful new art gallery to open anywhere in this town in years, both in terms of awesome exhibitions and talked-about events and opening parties. Kind of no surprise: The Hole is run by Kathy Grayson, former director at Deitch Projects (RIP), which was also known for its great parties, crazy events (the much-missed SoHo Art Parade among them), and excellent shows. Bonus: no matter how edgy and cool it is, the Hole's staffers are never anything but friendly and helpful. Go there often, get on their mailing list, this is why you live in New York City. Lots more Hole info here.

SSPNY Next Checks Out What Two Recent Additions Just Came to the Bowery-below-Houston Art Scene Including Sperone Westwater, Which has Three Levels of Gallery Space in a Super-Contemporary Foster + Partners Building That Opened in 2010.


SSPNY Even Peaks in Salon 94 Bowery Right Near the New Museum—The One with the Video Screen Facing Bowery. Also checking out Salon 94 Freemans Halfway Down the Alley and Made Famous by Taavo Somer’s Restaurant.

Sperone Westwater and Salon 94
These two recent additions to the Bowery-below-Houston art scene seem almost Chelsea-ish, with their gleaming interiors and frequent marquee names, but that's no reason to get all downtown reverse-snobby on them. Sperone Westwater has three levels of gallery space in the super-contemporary Foster + Partners building, and when it first opened in 2010 much was made of the giant elevator that was supposedly part of the art (or something?), but really, there's nothing really to see or feel when you're inside, and I now always take the stairs. Which I do often, because Sperone almost always has something good. More Sperone info here. It's also never a bad idea to pop into Salon 94 Bowery, right near the New Museum--it's the one with the video screen facing Bowery--and see what they've got going on in the basement. Usually the answer is: something cool. See also Salon 94 Freemans, about halfway down the alley made famous by Taavo Somer's namesake restaurant. The full Salon 94 scoop is here.

SSPNY Pops Up at Gallery Nine5 on Spring Street to See Things Specializing in Stuff from Street Art to Other Cartoonish Works.



SSPNY Checks Out Dodge Gallery on Rivington for a Variety of Odd Sculptural Pieces from “Early Career” Artists, Making Good Use of its Duplex Layout by Putting Pieces in it Such as This Steamroller-Slash-Music Box Downtairs.

Dodge Gallery, Gallery Nine5, Jen Bekman
These three have also been in my regular rotation for a few years now. Dodge on Rivington usually has a variety of wonderfully odd sculptural pieces from "early career" artists, and makes good use of its duplex layout, like when they stuck a huge, playable, steamroller-slash-music box downstairs, the better to view it from all angles. Dodge Gallery information can found here. Gallery Nine5 on Spring Street seems to specialize in stuff with a street art or cartoonish sort of sensibility, which generally hits my aesthetic sweet spot. See more about Gallery Nine5 here. And Jen Bekman, though best known for her excellent affordable-art 20x200 project, also has a tiny space on Spring, mostly given over to photographers. The Jen Bekman gallery info is here, but make sure to check out her 20x200 site too.

SSPNY Lastly Heads to Jen Bekman, Best Known for Her Excellent Affordable-Art 20x200 Project that is Located on a Tiny Space on Spring Street.



SSPNY Pops Up at Gallery Nine5 on Spring Street to See Things Specializing in Stuff from Street Art or Cartoonish Works. SSPNY Lastly Heads to Jen Bekman, Best Known for Her Excellent Affordable-Art 20x200 Project that is Located on a Tiny Space on Spring Street.

The Bowery Wall and the Bank Building
Finally, the Nolita nabe is home to two of Manhattan's most consistently vital street-art spots. Once the site of a legendary Keith Haring piece, the now professionally- curated Bowery wall (which is actually facing Houston) has for a couple of years been handed over to a series of the world's best streets artists, including Aiko, Shepard Fairy, JR, Faille, Retna, Kenny Scharf, and, currently, How and Nosm. I've managed to catch several of these artists in the process of putting up their pieces, and it's a treat to watch them work. Here's a nice slideshow of all the recent pieces. And the Bank Building on Spring and Bowery has a long history of being a must-tag (or wheatpaste) spot for every street artist who comes to town. Historical footnote: the building on the corner of Spring and Elizabeth used to be the same way, until it was gut renovated and made into condos. BUT, before they cleaned it up, the developers invited an all-star roster of artists to put up whatever they wanted all over the facade and throughout the interior. The subsequent three-day public exhibition drew hours-long lines and was one of the best art shows I've ever seen. Here's a post with pics on that event.

SSPNY Finally Heads to the Bank Building in the Nolita Nabe for One More of Manhattan’s Most Vital Street-Art Spots on Spring and Bowery Which Used to be a Sweet Spot for Street Artists all Over Town.

written on 04/10/2013

Posted in: Nolita

Little Cupcake Bakeshop: Some of NYC's Best Baked Goods, Right in the Heart of Nolita 

SSPNY Heads to the Heart of Nolita for Some of NYC's Best Baked Goods at the Little Cupcake Bakeshop!

SSPNY heads to their newest neighborhood in the Stone Street Properties family in Nolita to check out first-rate bakery the Little Cupcake Bakeshop on the corner of Prince and Mott, in an area great for living, eating, shopping, and being on the go!

Every great New York City neighborhood deserves a great bakery. It can be fancy and French, old-school Italian, older-school Kosher, artisanal and Brooklyn-y, vegan and hipster, bread-centric or pie-based... whatever. As long as you don't have to travel too far to get fresh-baked goodies, made with skill and love, for a sweet snack or dessert for a crowd, then you are golden, my friends. The newest neighborhood in the Stone Street Properties family is Nolita, which is no question an excellent place to live for many reasons (food, shopping, transportation, location, culture, prettiness, all of it), including, of course, the presence of a first-rate bakery, the Little Cupcake Bakeshop.

SSPNY heads to the Little Cupcake Bakeshop alongside crowds of tourists and teenagers, to check out a menu that features a variety of cupcakes at this local Nolita neighborhood treasure-- using all locally sourced ingredients and 100% wind power to practice super energy-efficient daily operations, and with it's original location in Bay Ridge Brooklyn being declared the worlds first carbon neutral bakery!

The Little Cupcake Bakeshop, right in the heart of Nolita on Prince and Mott, is cute (almost too cute?), the tables are always crowded with tourists and teenagers, and, of course, the menu features many varieties of that too-often-too-silly treat, the cupcake. Nolita locals, don't let any of that discourage you! The Little Cupcake Bakeshop is a true neighborhood treasure, serving outstanding cakes (both cup- and layer-) baked daily on-site, in small batches, using locally sourced ingredients. And even the shop itself was constructed with care, using salvaged, recycled, or sustainable materials and employs the most energy-efficient practices available (100% wind power!) in its daily operation. In fact, the first Little Cupcake Bakeshop, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, was declared to be the world's first carbon neutral bakery.

SSPNY claims that the menu at Little Cupcake's is among the top three or four cupcakes in town.. with cupcakes almost all available in layer cake format. The two cupcakes pictured are the chocolate bomb Brooklyn Blackout and the sticky Peanut Butter and Jelly. Aside from those are other favorites the Coconut Cloud, the Southern Red Velvet, and the meringue-y Black and White, all made with the same great moist consistency and to-die-for flavor.

All of which is fantastic for the city and the planet, and an inspiration for other small business owners, but unless the goodies are, in fact, GOOD, well... in this town you won't be around long enough to make a difference. Fortunately, the Little Cupcake Bakeshop is good. Better than good. In fact, these little beauties are easily among the top three or four cupcakes in town. I've had just about every flavor on the Little Cupcake menu--almost all of which are also available in layer cake format, which, if it were MY birthday, I would love, thanks for asking--and everything has always been wonderful. The chocolate bomb Brooklyn Blackout. The sticky Peanut Butter and Jelly. The Coconut Cloud, the Southern Red Velvet, the meringue-y Black and White: everything is always moist, the flavors honestly earned, the staffers friendly and fun, the coffee decent... it's always a pleasure, Little Cupcake. See you soon.

SSPNY even tries out the cheesecake at Little Cupcake Bakery in Nolita, as one of a handful of other options aside from cupcakes to enjoy such as pies, puddings, cookies, and rice-krispie treats

The Little Cupcake Bakeshop is located on the corner of Prince and Mott Streets, and opens during the week at 7:30 a.m., on the weekends at 8:00, and closes at 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and at 12:00 midnight Thursday through Saturday. They also sell pies, cheesecakes (see below), puddings, cookies and things like rice-krispie treats. Find lots more info about everything here.

The Little Cupcake Bakeshop is located on the corner of Prince and Mott Streets in Nolita, open during the week at 7:30am and on the weekends at 8am, closing at 11pm Sunday through Wednesday, and at midnight Thursday through Saturday!

written on 04/10/2013

Posted in: Nolita

Tacombi at Fonda Nolita: A Fun Beachy Vibe--Plus Excellent Tacos--In an Elizabeth Street Garage 

SSPNY Heads Over to Tacombi at Fonda Nolita for a Beachy Vibe and Excellent Tacos to Match in this Elizabeth Street Garage!

SSPNY Tries First-Rate MExican Tacos and Cinnamony Horchata at Fonda Nolita in a Yucatan Beach Vibe With Twinkly Christmas Lights and Their Signature Taco Truck Right in the Middle of Things on Elizabeth Street in Nolita

There's never a bad time to eat the first-rate tacos and sip some cinnamony horchata (or knock back a few cervezas) at the great Fonda Nolita, but I think I like coming here during the winter most of all, when the whole Yucatan beach vibe really makes you want to settle in and relax. You've got your twinkly outdoor lights strung from the ceiling, the faux-weathered hand-painted signage, the rickety tables and chairs, the non-cliche beach-party mix over the speakers (it's loud, but not TOO loud), and, of course, there's Fonda Nolita's signature "taco truck" smack in the middle of things, a fantastic vintage VW bus from which your Mexican goodies emerge.

SSPNY Has Been Boing to Tacombi at Fonda Nolita and Their Take-Out Counter for More Than Two Years to this Destination Taco Joint Right Next to Galleries and Boutique Shopping. With at Least a Dozen Taco Options, we First Chose the Al Pastor de Puerco With Sweet Chewy Meat, Spicy Sauce, and Sharp Pineapple.

Tacombi at Fonda Nolita (that's its full, official name) has been making the locals happy for more than two years now--the take-out counter does a justifiably brisk business--but the food and atmosphere here make it something of a destination taco joint as well. As a can't-miss date idea, for a quick snack during your area gallery-hopping or boutique-shopping rounds, for a raucous night out with the crew, Fonda Nolita works on a lot of different levels. And every time I've popped in for a taco or five over the past couple of years--and that's been a LOT of times--I've always walked away feeling happy and satisfied.

SSPNY Next tries out the Vegetarian Acelgas, a Heart Concoction Featuring Kales, Nopal Cactus, and Cauliflower, as well as the Crispy Fish Which Shows Off the Kitchen Skills Balance and Depth of Flavors, as Well as the Spicy Pork Quesadilla, La Gringa, For Warm Cheese. Though Nolita is already filled with Mexican Restaurants, Fonda Nolita is a clear stand-alone favorite.

It had been a few months since my last taco binge when I ate at Fonda last week and, if anything, their food is better than ever. There are usually a dozen or so different taco options on the Fonda Nolita menu, all of which range from solid to crave-worthy, but on this night I went with the Al Pastor de Puerco, which offers a terrific balance among sweet chewy meat, spicy sauce, and sharp hits of pineapple; the vegetarian Acelgas, a supremely hearty concoction featuring kale, nopal cactus, and big chunks of cauliflower; and, my personal all-time fave here, the generously-portioned Crispy Fish which, again, shows off the kitchen's skill with balance and depth of flavors. And because the night was especially cold, I tacked on a terrific spicy pork quesadilla--La Gringa, it's called--for a hefty shot of warm cheese. Even in a neighborhood not exactly hurting for good Latino food (Cafe Habana, Pinche Taqueria, La Esquina, are all within a few blocks, to name just three other options), Fonda Nolita remains a standout casual restaurant.

SSPNY also orders Take-out at the Counter for a Quick Snack During Gallery-Hopping and Boutique-Shopping Rounds in the Nolita area around Fonda Nolita on Elizabeth Street, where they also have food available for delivery.

Tacombi at Fonda Nolita is located on Elizabeth Street just south of Houston, and is open on Sunday through Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, and on Thursday through Saturday from 11:00 to 1:00 a.m. More info and a complete Fonda Nolita menu, here.

Tacombi at Fonda Nolita is located on Elizabeth Street Just South of Houston, and Is Open on Sunday through Wednesday from 11AM to 12AM Midnight and on Thursday through Saturday from 11am to 1am.

written on 04/10/2013

Posted in: Nolita


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