The iconic Public Theater gets "revitalized", and opens a new Andrew Carmellini restaurant, The Libary 

SSPNY Review: Iconic Public Theater on Lafayette Street Opens its Doors to Andrew Carmellini Restaurant: The Library in East Village

SSPNY reviews newly renovated landmark Public Theater on Lafayette also opens doors to The Library, a new Andrew Carmelli restaurant on it's 2nd floor

There were several pieces of reasonably exciting news last week from the landmark Public Theater over on Lafayette. You know The Public: founded by the legendary Joseph Papp some 58 years ago, the theater-loving institution offers New Yorkers a unique and excellently curated mix of the classical (particularly Shakespeare and, most famously, its beloved summertime NYC ritual, Shakespeare in the Park) with the contemporary (like next spring's David Byrne and Fatboy Slim Ismelda Marcos musical/performance piece, Here Lies Love, which I happened to see a few years ago on at Carnegie Hall, and definitely recommend). Anyway, the news...

SSPNY reviews The Public Theater's $40 million renovations paved way for sleek new snack and booze bar

The Public reopened its doors last week--and threw a big, fun block party to boot!--to show off the $40 million "revitalization" of the building itself, which includes a completely redone lobby with elegant, embedded typography serving as signage; a vibrantly contrasting box office with an explosive collage of past Public Theater posters (both of the above, by the way, courtesy of the hall-of-fame designer Paula Scher and her crack team at Pentagram); and a sleek new snack- and booze-bar in the center. Most cool about the lobby, though is Ben Rubin's "Shakespeare Machine", which functions both as a chandelier in the grand, open space and as a huge, ever-changing sculptural piece, with nearly a million of the Bard's words shuffled through the artist's complex algorithms (I actually don't know if it's complex, but it sounds like it must be) and then emblazoned in light for a moment or two onto each of the Machine's blades, according to which words came before. Better than a million monkeys typing any day!

SSPNY reviews The box office of the newly renovated Public Theater on Lafayette Street is filled with an explosive collage of past Public Theater posters

SSPNY reviews The Public Theater's new restaurant The Library by Andrew Carmellini offers Chicken-Fried Chicken Wings as one of their starters in East Village

Even better than all of that, however, for me, because it involves dinner: Andrew Carmellini's (he of Soho's The Dutch, and Tribeca's Locanda Verde) second-floor restaurant, The Library. Locanda Chef Michael Oliver will be running the kitchen day-to-day, the Public Theater's Library menu hangs heavily in comfort-food territory (usually with a twist), and though I was a bit surprised by the dark, old-New-York design of the place (especially after the energy of the lobby), I enjoyed my meal on the Library's opening night. My Mini Maine Crab Roll (basically a crab-salad slider, which you should get as your "snack" rather than the tempting-sounding but disappointing Pizza Popcorn), for example, was bright and lively, with a nice combo of textures of flavors.

SSPNY reviews The Public Theater's new restaurant The Library by Andrew Carmellini has starters such as the Chicken-Fried Chicken Wings, perfectly cooked in East Village

For my starter I went with Chicken-Fried Chicken Wings, which were perfectly cooked (crispy outside, juicy within) and heavily salted and seasoned, just the way I like them. The garlicky buttermilk dressing made for a nice dip, too, though shouldn't bars and restaurants serve their wing sauce in more of a trough type-deal, rather than small-mouthed ramekins, into which you can't really fit your bird? Just asking. Finally, for my Library menu main I wolfed the snappy Orecchiette, with roasted cauliflower and broccoli, a dusting of pecorino, and a handful of uncredited but welcome golden raisins. Even taking opening-night jitters into consideration--that staff was exceptionally kind and friendly, I must say--The Library at the Public seems like a definite winner, and nice addition to the neighborhood.

SSPNY reviews The Public Theater's new restaurant The Library by Andrew Carmellini has a dish for everyone, including the snappy Orechiette with roasted califlower and broccoli, which helps to make it a definite restaurant winner in East Village

The Public Theater is located on Lafayette Street, just south of Astor Place; the Library is open daily from 5:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. In addition to food, The Library also has an ambitious cocktail program, and the dimly-lit, loungey room seems eminently suited for an after-show drink or three. For lots more information about everything, click here.


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