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

Chez Sardine, Gabe Stulman's "Very Inauthentic Japanese " is the West Village's Newest Must-Eat Spot 

SSPNY Gives Rave Reviews to Gabe Stulman's New Must-Eat Spot Chez Sardine in West Village!

SSPNY checks out restauranteur Gabe Stulman's new Japanese Isakaya, Chez Sardine in the West Village Located on West 10th Street and admits it's an absolute must

If restauranteur Gabe Stulman didn't exist, the West Village would have to invent him. Or at least, they would definitely want to, for neighborhood dining in this part of town would be a far less interesting affair if Stulman hadn't shown up here from Wisconsin in the early-aughts and proceed to launch a string of what have quickly become everyone's favorite local restaurants. Just look at Stulman's track record. Over the past seven or so years, beginning with Little Owl and Market Table and now with his Wisco Group spots, the uniformly excellent Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey's Grocery, Fedora, and Perla, Stulman and his exceptional team of chefs have consistently hit it out the park. All of these places are within a half mile of each other. All feed lively mobs of happy customers night after night after night. All are can't-miss ideas for any occasion involving friends, sweethearts, family, and fun.

SSPNY snags a sushi-counter seat at Chez Sardine to try out a few dishes of Stulman and Chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly's Japanese-ish menu options including the Pork and Unagi Hand Roll from the menu's "snack" section.

No surprise, then, that Stulman's latest effort, the spanking-new Chez Sardine on West 10th Street, is another total winner. Part of it has to do with Stulman and Co.'s trademark blend of casual, homey comfort with a dash or two of romance and surprise. But a bigger part may be Stulman's latest recruit, Chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly, late of Montreal's justifiably legendary Au Pied de Cochon, which by the way also spawned Chef Hugue Dufour of the superb M. Wells Dinette at MoMA PS1. Anyway, I was lucky enough to snag a sushi-counter seat early the other evening and try a few items from Brunet-Benkritly's Japanese-ish Chez Sardine menu. The bottom line: I loved everything I ate, and can't wait to go back for more.

Another outstanding order SSPNY made on Chez Sardine's menu was the Beef Tartare, a generous "Small Plate" with rich, raw, coarsely-ground meat against the piles of fresh horseradish, dabs of biting " lime cream", bitter greens and hunks of buttered bread

There's a number of individual sushi offerings on the Chez Sardine menu, usually with a twist (Hamachi with Chicharron, Sea Urchin with Chopped Beef), and they all sound and look terrific. I went with the Pork and Unagi Hand Roll from the menu's "snack" section and was rewarded with a luscious, four-bite treat, the melty, sweet eel pairing beautifully with the melty, sweet swine, both complemented by the chewy rice and briny nori wrap. Also outstanding was the Beef Tartare, a generous "Small Plate", the rich, raw, coarsely-ground meat holding its own nicely against the piles of fresh horseradish, dabs of biting " lime cream", bitter greens and craggy hunks of buttered bread. But the highlight of the evening was Chez Sardine's menu centerpiece, the Miso-Maple Salmon Head, which is exactly that: half a head, stuffed with garlic, sticky with sweet (but not too-sweet) sauce, grilled to caramelization. It takes some work, this dish, and a willingness to get messy (and, not incidentally, to dig through the inside of a fish head), but there's enough intensely-flavored meat--if you're sharing, make sure you grab the cheek--and fatty skin to make it worth the effort. So thanks again, Mr. Stulman, and welcome to neighborhood, Chef Brunet-Benkritly.

SSPNY lastly orders Chez Sardine's menu centerpiece, the Miso-Maple Salmon Head, which is a half a head, stuffed with garlic, sticky with sweet sauce, grilled to caramelization and perfection.

Chez Sardine is located on West 10th Street just west of Seventh Avenue South, and is open Sunday and Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and on Wednesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 1:00 a.m. Closed Monday. Lots more info, including a look at the complete Chez Sardine menu, here.

Chez Sardine is located on West 10th Street just west of Seventh Avenue South, and is open Sunday and Tuesday from 5:30 to 11pm and on Wednesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 1am brand new to the West Village

LI Families Displaced by Sandy Put Up in Luxury Apartments on Upper East Side for Free 

Hurricane Sandy moved them out — kind-hearted New Yorkers moved them on up.

Three Long Island families displaced by October’s hurricane have been put up in posh Upper East Side rentals ever since — for free.

The luxury 1-bedroom digs, which typically rent for $2,500 per month, have been a godsend to the families — whose lives were derailed by flood damage.

Surge waters flooded the first floor Long Beach home of Jerry Springer Show producer Lacy Edwards and her police officer husband, Brian.

When they heard through a friend that they could stay in a luxury rental for free, they were floored.

“It was unbelievable. We couldn’t pass it up and moved in right away... it really helped us a lot,” said Lacy. “There are really no words to describe how it made us feel. It’s overwhelming.”

They’re planning to rent a home in Long Beach next month so Lacy, who is expecting her third child in February, can be closer to her doctors.

“The stuff we lost were material things,” she said. “At the end of the day, it can all be replaced.”

Another two families stayed in the apartments only until recently, allowing them to get back on their feet.

That includes Erin Joyce, an accountant, who moved with her husband and 1-year-old son into a new Long Beach home one day before the storm — and were forced to evacuate from it the next day.

“We bought a house that didn’t need any work but within a couple of days it became a fixer-upper,” Joyce said.

And Antoinette Diamond and Anthony Borello lost all their possessions from their Long Beach basement rental in Sandy’s storm surge — including everything they were gathering for their upcoming wedding.

“It felt so good to take a hot shower and go to sleep in a bed,” Diamond said.

The pair recently moved in with Borello’s grandmother.

The apartments belong to the real estate investment firm Stone Street Properties, which was founded last year by Rob Morgenstern and Jeff Kaye.

“We talked about donating – money or clothes, but what we have are bricks, heat and water,” said Morgenstern. “All of a sudden that became a commodity.”

Kaye’s parents live in a Long Beach neighborhood that was ravaged by the flooding — which brought the plight of displaced families closer to home.

“It’s like a war zone out there. People’s homes were ripped to their foundations,” he said. 

Read the Article Here!

The West Village Gets Another World-Class Bakery with the Opening of Brooklyn-Transplant Bien Cuit  

SSPNY Tries Out the Newest World-Class Bakery to Pop-up in the West Village: Brooklyn Transplant Bien Cuit

SSPNY tries out one of Brooklyn's most popular bakeries, Zachary Golper and Kate Wheatcroft's Bien Cuit, a world-class bakery which first opened on Smith Street in Boerum Hill two years ago and now brand new to the West Village on Christopher Street

I know I just was raving about the amazing Mille-feuille Bakery on LaGuardia Place, that they make what are probably the best croissants in NYC, and how the macarons and the chocolate caramel fondant are pretty incredible. Also: everything else they sell there. But that doesn't mean I wasn't super-excited about the arrival of the spanking-new Bien Cuit on Christopher Street, as one Brooklyn's most popular bakeries gives it a go in the West Village. Because, really, is it possible to have too many world-class baked goodies in one community? The correct answer is: no. No it is not.

SSPNY tries out multiple sweets at this rare destination bakery on Smith Street, which has quickly earned them the love of the Borough of Kings, turning their Christopher Street locale into a rustic cafe with each savory delight, a loaf of their signature Miche bread, and here, a taste of Financier, topped with a pool of licorce-y Sambuca and crunchy chocolate "craquantes"

Zachary Golper and Kate Wheatcroft opened the original Bien Cuit on Smith Street in Boerum Hill about a year and a half ago, and it quickly earned the love of the Borough of Kings, becoming one of those rare destination bakeries that has folks from all over South Brooklyn traveling to try the sweet treats, savory delights, and the couple's signature loaves of Miche bread, a blend of rye and wheat flours fermented for 68 hours until juuuuuust right. Buoyed by their success, Golper and Wheatcroft have taken their magic across the river, transforming the former Corrado space on Christopher into a rustic cafe, with a counter area overflowing with deliciousness and seating for about a baker's dozen. The Bien Cuit crew couldn't be more friendly and excited by their new digs, and their enthusiasm is contagious. Good food and good vibes abound.

SSPNY also tries out the Blue Cheese Quiche which was absolutely first-rate, with mountain gorgonzola and mashed celeriac rich and creamy within a perfectly crisp, buttery shell, and then a Chicken Pot Pie to follow which can only be ordered at the West Village Bien Cuit

I stopped into Golper and Wheatcroft's new space right when it opened and ordered (and devoured) as many different items from the Bien Cuit menu as I could get away with without seeming like a total pig. Bottom line: two savories, two sweets, four big-time winners. The Blue Cheese Quiche was particularly first-rate, the mountain gorgonzola and mashed celeriac rich and creamy within a perfectly crisp, buttery shell. An excellent light lunch or afternoon snack. The Chicken Pot Pie, available only at the West Village Bien Cuit, needed a bit more filling, but the crust was so good, especially the lattice-work "lid", that it'll be a pleasure to try this again and see if they get the balance right. The dense, chunky was superb, and thewas even better. Stop in during your neighborhood rounds this winter, grab a cup of coffee and just about anything from the counter, and you're guaranteed a warming, satisfying experience.

SSPNY lastly tries out the Maple Yam Danish, which we swear was absolutely delicious paired alongside another baked good-- or just a cup of coffee

The West Village Bien Cuit is located on Christopher Street near Waverly Place (next door to Jeffrey's Grocery), and open Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and on Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00. More info and the complete Bien Cuit West Village menu here.

The West Village's Bien Cuit is located on Christopher Street right near Waverly Place, and next door to Jeffrey's Grocery, open Monday through Saturday from 7am to 9pm and on Sundays from 8am to 9pm.


Mille-Feuille Bakery Cafe: NYC's Best Croissants--Plus Plenty of Other Delights--Are Right Here in the West Village 

SSPNY Heads to the West Village for Great Treats and NYC's Best Croissants: Mille-Feuille Bakery Cafe

SSPNY checks out the small Mille-Feuille Bakery Cafe by Parisian owner and baker Olivier Dessynon on LaGuardia Place for hands-down the best croissants in town

Mille-feuille Bakery Cafe, located on an unassuming stretch of LaGuardia Place, is tiny, with limited indoor seating, and a design more utilitarian than cute. It's basically an open kitchen and a big display case, with a four-stool counter to your right. When it's not raining there are several generic tables set up outside, which have mostly lost their appeal now that December's kicking in. In other words, there are no real outward indications that Mille-feuille, and its Parisian transplant/owner/baker Olivier Dessyn, are right now making what are hands-down the best croissants in town. Really: if you're out and about and hungry for a snack or a treat, this is where you need to be.

SSPNY first checks out the Almond Croissant at Mille-Feuille for a perfect blend of chewy, sweet, and nutty, while others swear by there Pistachio Croissant and Dessyn's Pain au Chocolat paired with a cup of coffee, for the best refuel in the city

I've never not been able to NOT get the Almond Croissant at Mille-feuille, because it's so knee-bucklingly good--buttery, flaky, chewy, sweet, and nutty in perfect proportions--but others swear by the Mille-feuille Pistachio Croissant, or Dessyn's Pain au Chocolat, which, like all of his creations, doesn't skimp at all on the filling. Any one of these beauties, plus a cup of coffee, et voila, you have the best re-fuel in the city. And through some sort of baking wizardry, Dessyn's Mille-feuille croissants, though of course best right out of the oven, are almost as heavenly the next morning!

Mille-Feuille Bakery Cafe also offers first-rate sandwiches and a no-brainer Ham and Cheese Croissant, as well as a huge selection of Macarons including Salty Caramel, Pistachio, Raspberry, Rose, Espresso, Lemon, Coconut and more, along with desserts, cookies, and other wonderful pastries.

Mille-feuille Bakery Cafe has plenty more going for it as well, from a small, first-rate selection of sandwiches (on just-baked bread, naturally) and the no-brainer Ham and Cheese Croissant, to some excellent Macarons in all of the usual, mostly appealing varieties: Salty Caramel, Pistachio, Raspberry, Rose (um, gross), Espresso, Lemon, Coconut, etc. The desserts, cookies, and pastries are also wonderful here, including the namesake Mille-feuille (with not-quite-a-thousand layers of flaky crust sandwiching a cloud of sweet vanilla cream) and, most especially, the incredible Chocolate Caramel Fondant, with its gooey interior and blob of salted caramel on top. Amazing. All of it.

SSPNY lastly checks out Mille-Feuille Bakery Cafe's especially incredible Chocolate Caramel Fondant, which has a gooey interior and glob of salted caramel on top.

Mille-feuille Bakery Cafe is located on LaGuardia Place just south of West 3rd Street, about a block away from Washington Square Park. Mille-feuille is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and on weekends from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00. Lots more information, plus a look at the Mille-feuille menu, here. And if you're looking for a extra-special holiday gift, every Saturday Dessyn teaches Macaron-making, a three-hour lesson in which you will bake (and take home) 30 macarons!

Mille-Feuille Bakery Cafe is located on LaGuardia Place just south of West 3rd Street and a block away from Washington Square Park, and every Saturday Dessyn himself teaches a Macaron-making class for a three-hour lesson where you can make and bring home 30 macarons!


Fall in Love this Winter with The Fat Radish 

SSPNY Falls in Love with The Fat Radish this Winter, and You Will Too!

SSPNY falls in love with The Fat Raddish, which opened 2 years ago by partners Phil Winser and Chef Ben Towill in the ever-hip six-block stretch of Orchard Street, making their presence known with an oyster bar Leadbelly across the street and a Thai place, Two Good Traders coming soon.

The Fat Radish is a restaurant with which to fall in love. A rustic, airy, ridiculously pretty room, usually filled with equally attractive people, The Fat Radish sits at the foot of the ever-more hip and lively six-block stretch of Orchard Street which, by the way, with its art galleries, coffee shops (go to surfer-hang Lost Weekend for a Blue Bottle pour-over), fabulous boutiques, skater shops, and old-school craziness (check out the window display of Orchard Express Tailor Shop), has become one of my favorites destinations/walks in the city. And The Fat Radish menu? Veggie-centric but by no means vegetarian, totally appealing from start to finish, and I've never had an even remotely disappointing dish. HUGE crush.

SSPNY insists everything on The Fat Radish's menu is great, including the complimentary plate of fat radishes they bring to your table at the beginning of the meal and ordering an entree of four plump Montauk Diver Scallops

The Fat Radish has been successfully seducing downtown diners for about two years now, and partners Phil Winser and Chef Ben Towill have recently been upping their already-considerable presence on Orchard with the oyster bar Leadbelly across the street, and plans for a pricey Thai street food joint just up the block, Two Good Traders, coming soon. Anyway, I stopped into the mothership over Thanksgiving weekend for an early supper, to see if all of the planning and expansions have the kitchen distracted, and though it had been a few months since my last Fat Radish feast, I'm happy to say that they can still really bring it back there. The love (lust?) affair continues.

SSPNY also tries the Grilled Cheese plate as a bar snack

Everything on The Fat Radish dinner menu is good--and the complimentary plate of, um, fat radishes they bring you to start, in lieu of bread, is always a treat--but on this night my meal seemed particularly cheering, three course of big, well-balanced flavors, everything prepared with skill and care. Take my entree, four plump Montauk Diver Scallops, seared and appropriately rare, topped with capers and sitting on a pile of mashed golden beets and sweet potatoes, mustard greens adding a touch of chewy bitterness. Outstanding. My "bar snack" was equally good, a Grilled Cheese plate, the bread just on the right side of greasy, the biting cheese perfectly paired with grainy mustard, the plate completed by the sweet, acidic pickles. And my side of Roasted Brussels Sprouts was a simple, completely satisfying version of this ubiquitous dish. Basically: SWOON. I miss you already, Fat Radish.

SSPNY lastly orders the Roasted Brussels Sprouts which were completely delicious

The Fat Radish is located on Orchard Street just north of Canal, and serves weekday lunch from 12:00 noon to 3:30; weekend brunch (I've never tried, but it's always packed) from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30; and dinner nightly from 5:30 to 12:00 midnight, except for Sunday, when it closes at 10:00. More info and the complete Fat Radish menu, here.

The Fat Radish is located on Orchard Street just north of Canal Street and serves lunch weekly from noon to 3:30 and on the weekend from 11am to 3:30, with nightly dinners being served from 5:30 to midnight

Stone Street Job Opportunity 

Stone Street Properties LLC is one of the fastest growing Owner / Landlord / Development firms in Manhattan.  Stone Street is looking to add an intern for a 3 month position which may grow into Permanent Paid Analyst / Associate role. 


Stone Street Properties owns and operates over 700 multifamily units in Manhattan’s best neighborhoods and are continuing to grow rapidly.  This role will span the scope of the multifamily development process.  It will include but not be limited to:


•  Working directly with Property Managers to oversee current portfolio and ongoing unit renovations.

•  Communicating with existing tenants

•  Assisting with underwriting of new deals

•  Sourcing New Transactions

•  Assist in the maintenance of the rent regulated segment of the portfolio

•  Touring existing properties and learning how to create / find value in each unit

•  Assist in social networking, marketing, and other aspects of brand development

•  Assisting with marketing of free market apartments


We are growing very quickly and need a candidate with talent, a professional demeanor, and an attitude to take on anything thrown at you.  This is an amazing opportunity to join our firm as we continue our rapid growth.


Our office is located in Midtown in a class A office building.


Send resume and cover letter to

Stone Street Closes on NOLITA Portfolio.  

SSPNY Closes on NOLITA PortfolioJeffrey Kaye and Robert Morgenstern of Stone Street Properties and 260-268 Elizabeth Street

Hot on the heels of a recent $73 million acquisition, real estate investment firm Stone Street Properties has closed on another five-building portfolio for $33.5 million, the company’s founders Robert Morgenstern and Jeffrey Kaye told The Real Deal today.

The portfolio of buildings is located at 260-268 Elizabeth Street; it is composed of 48 residential units as well as five ground-floor retail spaces. Tenants include Billy’s Bakery and Area ID, a design and interiors boutique.

‘This deal just made sense,” Kaye said. “This is a gem that we found in Nolita. Anytime we find these kinds of buildings in this type of A-plus location, we move very, very quickly.”

Investor and asset management firm Meadow Partners is Stone Street’s equity partner on the deal.

The seller was a conglomerate of investors managed by Marolda Properties, according to public records. A representative for Marolda was not immediately available for comment. Marolda had owned the property since 1998, records show.

Edmund Levy of Cornerstone Property Group represented the seller in the deal. Stone Street did not use a broker.

As previously reported, Stone Street closed on another big deal earlier this week, buying a 16-building Manhattan and Brooklyn portfolio from landlord Robert Koppelman. The company manages its portfolio in house and aims to add value to its holdings by renovating its buildings.

Five Good Reasons to Brave the Crowds (And the Crap) at the Union Square Holiday Market  

SSPNY Braves the Crowds at Union Square Holiday Market for Five Good ReasonsSSPNY stops by the most crowded and always consistent pop-up outdoor Holiday Markets, the Union Square Holiday Market this 2012 giving us all 5 good reasons to go

Pop-up outdoor markets are hardly rare these days here in New York City, what with the various Fleas, Fairs and Festivals all summer long and now, as the spirit of giving really kicks into high gear, with the proliferation of Holiday Markets, from admission-required, one-weekend-only shows like Unique NYC in Chelsea and the Bust Craftacular in Soho; to the the ten-year-old Young Designer's Market, now just "The Market NYC" and on Bleecker, not Mulberry. But the biggest, most consistently crowded shopping destinations--loved by tourists; love-hated by locals--are the big three Holiday Markets, in Columbus Circle, in Bryant Park, and the granddaddy of them all, in Union Square. Question is: is there any reason for someone like yourself--savvy, stylish, super New Yorkish--to even bother with the Union Square Holiday Market, 2012 edition? Well, that depends mostly on your gift list, I suppose, but when I wandered the many (many) aisles of the Union Square Holiday Market 2012 on opening day, I found at least five solid excuses to go check it out. For traditions' sake, if nothing else.

SSPNY checks out jewelry at the PeaceBomb booth in Union Square Holiday Market for things simple and elegant like coin wrap bracelets, bangles, and charms all made from actual bomb-scrap giving a portion of each sale back to community 

The jewelry at the PeaceBomb booth is simple and elegant: aluminum bangles, coin "warp bracelets", charm necklaces. (Also spoons, but whatever.) But the real appeal here is the back story: each piece is made from actual bomb-scrap from explosives dropped on Laos during America's undeclared "secret war" on that country from 1964-1973. PeaceBomb pays Laotian farmers four times the local market rate for their material, and gives a portion of each sale back to the community, in the form of micro-loans and cleanup funds. PeaceBomb bangles are inscribed with their provenance. Read more about it here; shop for it in Union Square.
 SSPNY also checks out Kristiana Parn's booth who is an Estonian artist working in Brooklyn for these great gift ideas for print, stationary, and cards

Kristiana Parn
These are lots of cute, pastel-y, gifty prints and stationary (mostly card sets) at the of Kristina Parn, an amiable Estonian artist who studied at SVA and is working these days in Brooklyn. Some of Parn's stuff reminded me of the Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara--an opinion seconded by a random other shopper--which is a good thing. You can see her work here.

SSPNY next checks out the Macaron Parlour booth for these French-style pastries to give as a gift or wrap up for yourself. And don't forget to check out their new storefront on St. Marks near Avenue A

Macaron Parlour
There are several tasty delights at the Union Square Holiday Market 2012 (Mayhem and Stout's meat sandwiches, Sonrisa's empanadas, whatever the Taste of Persia guy was cooking that smelled amazing), but I was most excited to see that the great Macaron Parlour is back again this year, peddling their insanely good French-style pastries in flavors traditional (Pistachio, Caramel, Strawberry) and most decidedly NOT (Red Velvet, Peanut Butter Cup, S'Mores, and, most fiendishly delicious, Candied Bacon with Maple Cream Cheese). Grab a couple to eat on the spot; wrap up a six-pack or two for all of your Secret Santa-ish needs. Oh, and definitely visit their spanking-new storefront on St. Marks near Avenue A, because in addition to these awesome macarons, they also offer some of the best cookies AND cinnamon buns in town. See the full menu here.

Also on SSPNY's list of things to check out is Gnome Enterprises, which are commonly at the flea in Williamsburg or Fort Greene and which are handprinted in Brooklyn and are manufactured by the always comfortable Threadless 

Gnome Enterprises
If you've been to the Flea in either Williamsburg or Fort Greene, you know the Gnome, those "handprinted in Brooklyn", cleverly, knowingly wacky t-shirts that would make great gifts for your uncle, your nieces and nephews, your dad, and anyone else who hasn't heard of Threadless, or would get a thrill from a "Brooklyn" branded article of clothing. Cute onesies too! This is your last-minute go-to booth for all the above. Check out some of the Gnome Enterprises designs here.

SSPNY lastly tries out one of the many booths making bags and wallets hosted by Viva Zapata who uses recycled bicycle-tire bags and color-block designs that are 100% vegan, using vinyl instead of leather 

Viva Zapata
There are several nice bag-and-wallet booths at the Union Square Holiday Market 2012--I liked the new recycled-bicycle-tire bags at Zip-It, for example, and United Leather has a wide selection of colorful wallets--but I'm going to give the nod to a long-time favorite of mine, Viva Zapata. I love the Argentinian company's signature color-block designs, and it's nice that their 100% vegan as well; instead of leather, Viva Zapata makes their
stuff out of the same vinyl that covers the seats of the buses of Buenos Aires, los colectivos. See their products here.

The Union Square Holiday Market 2012 is open from Monday to Friday from 11am to 8pm, Saturday from 1pm to 8pm and Sunday from 11am to 7pm, all closing down on December 24th at 4pm 

The Union Square Holiday Market 2012 is open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., on Saturday from 1);00 to 8:00, and on Sundays from 11:00 to 7:00. The Market closes on December 24 at 4:00 p.m. More general info here.

written on 04/10/2013

Posted in: Gramercy

SSPNY NEWS! Stone Street Properties Acquires 16 Buildings in $73 Million Dollar Deal in Murray Hill & Downtown Brooklyn 

Stone Street’s Jeffrey Kaye and Robert Morgenstern and 234 East 33rd Street

Stone Street Properties, a real estate investment firm founded last year by Jeffrey Kaye and Robert Morgenstern, has closed on a deal for a 16-building Manhattan and Brooklyn portfolio composed of 300 residential units, the founders told The Real Deal today.

The deal for the portfolio, made up of 14 Manhattan buildings and two properties in Brooklyn, closed yesterday for $73 million. Paul Smadbeck of Massey Knakal Realty Services brokered the deal on behalf of the seller. Stone Street did not use a broker.

HIG Realty Partners, a Florida-based investment firm, is Stone Street’s equity partner is the deal. Stone Street’s principals declined to comment on the structure of their partnership. The transaction is one of HIG’s first in New York.

“There was a tremendous amount of competition until we signed a hard contract deposit of $7.3 million,” Kaye said. “Massey Knakal was about to take it out to the market. We preempted the market by signing the check within days.”

Although the founders declined to comment on the identity of the seller, they said he was a “long-tem family owner and operator,” who was “retiring by selling this portfolio.” Public records reveal the seller as longtime Manhattan landlord Robert Koppelman. Koppelman has owned the majority of the portfolio’s buildings since the 1990s, records show.

With this acquisition, Stone Street has almost doubled its holdings. The firm now owns approximately 750 units across 28 buildings citywide, its founders said. Last year, Stone Street acquired a portfolio of five rental buildings in the East Village and on the Upper East Side from Icon Realty Management. That deal was valued at $90 million.

In Manhattan, the new 16-building deal includes properties located primarily in Murray Hill, on the Upper East Side and in the East Village. They are 101 MacDougal Street, 104 East 7th Street, 438-440 East 13th Street, 236-236 East 33rd Street, 410 East 64th Street, 319 East 78th Street, 233 East 82nd Street, 310 East 83rd Street, 325 East 83rd Street and 504 East 88th Street. The Brooklyn properties are located at 354-356 State Street in Downtown Brooklyn.

As previously reported, Stone Street manages its properties in-house, aiming to add value by reconfiguring and renovating apartments.

Soho's Venerable Drawing Center Finishes Massive Renovation; Reopens as a Museum  

SSPNY Checks Out Grand Re-opening of The Drawing Center Museum in Soho: After Major Multi-Million Dollar Renovations and Expansion, Center Doubles Gallery Space!

SSPNY checks out the pioneering downtown gallery The Drawing Center in Soho after grand re-opening and expansion doubles gallery space and enjoys full museum status on Wooster Street location

Hard to believe that The Drawing Center in Soho, a pioneering downtown gallery dedicated to, of course, drawing, recently celebrated 35 years at their lower Wooster Street location. 35 years! Needless to say, Soho's changed a lot (and I mean a LOT) since 1977, transmogrifying from a largely industrial area, peppered here and there with bars and eateries (Fanelli's Cafe!), underground event spaces and artist collectives, into the high-end, designer-heavy shopping mecca that is it today. And now, with their grand re-opening last week, The Drawing Center has also undergone a dramatic change, though one marked by far more elegance, and even restraint, than some of its neighbors.

SSPNY checks out all three distinct viewing areas on two floors after new design by Claire Weisz of New York WXY Architecture & Urban Design shows off Center with full museum status to become part of people's regular Soho-art-going rotation

Opening its (brand new) doors after a year-long, multi-million dollar expansion and renovation, The Drawing Center not only more than doubled the gallery space within its 19th-century, cast-iron-and-limestone building--there are now three distinct viewing areas on two floors--it also enjoys full museum status. And the new design by Claire Weisz of the New York-based WXY Architecture & Urban Design is terrific: sophisticated, clean, intelligently conceived and executed. I missed the Drawing Center's opening night party because of the snow (thanks for nothing, Nor'Easter Athena), but managed to get over there late last week and was totally impressed by the new digs. This will definitely become part of my regular Soho-art-going rotation.

SSPNY checks out three inaugural Drawing Center exhibitions including Guillermo Kuitca's Diarios: the largest of the trio, hung in front gallery on main floor and which includes 17 works from Argentine artist

As for the three inaugural Drawing Center exhibitions, I liked Guillermo Kuitca: Diarios, the largest of the trio and, thus, hung in the front gallery on the main floor, for which the Argentine artist stretched canvases of his "failed paintings" over a round table in his studio and, over the course of several months, added "intentional and accidental doodles, drawings, and recordings on their surfaces". There are 17 of these circular "diarios" in all, and, for most part, they're very cool. I also enjoyed spending time with Colombian artist José Antonio Suárez Londoño's The Notebooks, in the back gallery, which show excerpts from his years-long habit of creating a drawing a day based on whatever he's reading at the time.

SSPNY also checks out downstairs gallery at re-opened Center for an exhibit called "In Deed: Certicates of Authenticity in Art", showing various forms of legal documentation

Finally, in the downstairs gallery at the newly renovated and now reopened Drawing Center museum, there's a historically-minded exhibition called "In Deed: Certificates of Authenticity in Art” which shows, in various forms of legal documents, how artists have sought to control what happens to their work after its finished--including, in many cases, after it's been sold. It's interesting, if not exactly art. But, good to know: there are three brand-new bathrooms down here too, which are unlikelty to ever see Starbucks-sized lines. Just saying. The Drawing Center is located in Soho, on Wooster Street between Grand and Broome, and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m., and on Thursday until 8:00 p.m. All three of the current shows run through December 9. Lot more info here.

SSPNY suggests visiting The Drawing Center located in Soho on Wooster Street between Grand and Broome Street, open Wednesday through Sunday from noon until 6pm, and Thursday's until 8pm with all exhibits running through December 9th.

written on 04/10/2013

Posted in: Soho

Job Description - Seeking Administrative Assistant at Stone Street 

Administrative Assistant

Company Description:

Stone Street Properties is a full service real estate firm that owns, operates and manages multi-family properties in New York City.  Stone Street owns a diverse portfolio of properties in some of New York’s most desirable neighborhoods including Greenwich Village, West Village, East Village, Nolita, Murray Hill, Upper East Side, and Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill.  Our properties are located in vibrant neighborhoods, with close proximity to transportation, restaurants, shopping, entertainment venues, and cultural institutions. 


Job Description:

Stone Street Properties is looking for an Administrative Assistant.  The position will work closely with all staff members and will be responsible for administrative duties, scheduling appointments, tenant interaction, accounts payable and accounts receivable.  The position will work as part of a cross-functional team and will be exposed to the NYC commercial real estate industry.  The position has potential for strong opportunities for advancement within the firm.

This is a paid full-time position located in Midtown Manhattan.  Regular business hours are 9am-5pm Monday through Friday. 


  • College degree preferred
  • No experience in real estate necessary
  • Work experience in a similar position on a full- or part-time basis preferred
  • Proficient in Microsoft Outlook and Word
  • Strong interpersonal/communication skills
  • Must be well organized and detail-oriented
  • Salary – commensurate with experience


Stone Street Properties is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).

Stone Street Properties is committed to the principles of equal employment opportunity. Applications are considered for all positions without regard to race, sex, sexual orientation, color, religion, national origin, age, disability or any other status protected by applicable law. Stone Street Properties encourages all qualified applicants to apply.

El Toro Blanco: The Crack Team Behind Soho Favorites Lure and B&B Bring Mexican to the West Village 

SSPNY Tries El Toro Blanco: Elegant & Spanking-New Mexican Restaurant in West Village on Sixth Avenue Between Houston and Bleecker

SSPNY checks out this brand new Mexican restaurant El Toro Blanco by Chefs' John McDonald, Josh Capon, and Scott Linquistin West Village on the side of Sixth Avenue between Houston and Bleecker on the opposite side of Bar Pitti and Da Silvano

It's in kind of a tough location, the elegant, spanking-new West Village Mexican restaurant El Toro Blanco, on the side of Sixth Avenue between Houston and Bleecker that doesn't get a ton of foot traffic, the side opposite the always-packed Bar Pitti (which, by the way, is great), and Da Silvano (which, by the way, is overpriced, and deliberately so, to keep out the riffraff like me). Plus, the neighborhood competition for Mexican is strong, both low-end (the reliable Dos Toros, just up the block) and high (Alex Stupak's excellent Empellon Taqueria, on West 4th). But if anyone can pull it off, it's El Toro Blanco's all-star team of John McDonald and Chef Josh Capon (here with help from Chef Scott Linquist), whose Soho spots Lure Fishbar and Burger and Barrel (home of my personal favorite pre- or post-Angelika meal, the "Bash Style" burger with Tater Tots) are always lively, comfortable, and satisfying.

SSPNY declares El Toro Blanco to be spacious, with great decor and ambiance that gave it a slightly retro and romantically illuminated vibe and 2 small bars, one dedicated to watching the guacamole get made!

Fingers crossed McDonald and Capon can make El Toro Blanco work, because I liked what I saw--and tasted!--when I went the other night to sample the food and check out the scene. El Toro Blanco is a spacious, good-looking restaurant whose decor and ambiance will feel more than a little familiar for fans of Lure and B&B: slightly retro (or, "classic"), romantically illuminated, tastefully appointed (but with a sense of humor... see the bent-nose "stuffed" marlin by the door), with cozy banquets, several distinct seating areas to create intimacy, and two small bars, one of which is dedicated to watching the guacamole get made. There are many occasions for which El Toro Blanco would work: on a date, for a tequila-drenched dinner with some pals, grabbing a bite before a movie at the IFC or the Film Forum. Nice job, design crew!

SSPNY declares El Toro Blanco to be spacious, with great decor and ambiance that gave it a slightly retro and romantically illuminated vibe and 2 small bars, one dedicated to watching the guacamole get made!

As for the food, I tried a few dishes from all over the El Toro Blanco's menu (well, in its lower-priced precincts, anyway; many entrees approach $30 here), and was pleased each time. For my "table snack" I went with Green Chili Queso Fundido, with added Chorizo, of course--note to Capon and Linquist: how about some more more meat for those extra three dollars, please, next time?--which is basically a socially-acceptable excuse to eat a bowl of melty cheese. The heart of the El Toro Blanco menu is devoted to Tacos, with about nine different options, all appealing. I went with, and was rewarded with three fat little beasts overflowing with kicky, chipotle barbecued gulf shrimp, crunchy cumin slaw, roasted tomatoes, and cool avocado. My choice of side was maybe a little disappointing--, the corn nicely sweet and charred but obviously frozen--a more-than-forgivable offense considering our city's recent battle with Sandy. In these weeks and months ahead when all downtown restaurants need your support, El Toro Blanco is worth getting on your list.

SSPNY lastly reviews a slightly disappointing side dish of Elote de Calle, which was a charred and sweetened corn! Still we say it is definitely worth making it on to your list of must try eats in West Village

El Toro Blanco is located on Sixth Avenue between Houston and Bleecker Streets, and is open daily for dinner at 5:30. The full website is still a work in progress, apparently, but you can see the complete El Toro Blanco menu on the Eater post, here.

Aside from the great ambiance at El Toro Blanco, there are also 2 small bars to get drinks from-- one of which is designed mostly for you to watch the guacamole be made at this great little gem on Sixth Avenue between Houston and Bleecker


L'Apicio, a Terrific, Grown-up Italian Place Comes to the Bowery, Courtesy of the Much-loved Dell'anima Crew 

SSPNY Introduces Fine Italian Restaurant L'Apicio to the Bowery in East Village: Another Success to Follow the West Village's Dell'anima

SSPNY introduces Italian Restaurant L'Apicio to the East Village Located on First Street Between Bowery and Second Avenue on the Ground Floor of the Bowery Avalon Condominiums

The East Village is certainly no stranger to solid Italian restaurants, and in general that stretch of Bowery right around Houston Street has plenty of fun, quality places to eat, from Hecho en Dumbo to DBGB to The Wren to Mile End Sandwich to Peels to Pulino's. BUT we could always use one more, right?! Enter L'Apicio, open just a couple of weeks now on First Street between Bowery and Second Avenue (in the ground floor of that huge condo, the Bowery Avalon) thanks to the great Gabe Thompson and Joe Campanale of West Village Dell'anima, L'Artusi, and Anfora fame and acclaim. The L'Apicio menu is filled with appealing pastas, polentas, and "piattinos", the servers and staff here are all total pros, the room is dim and pretty, and the food, well... I went on L'Apicio's first Saturday night, sat at the bar, devoured four dishes, loved them all. Really and truly: loved. SSPNY Tries the Charred Octopus on the Small Plates Section of L'Apicio's Menu and Raves About the Perfect Cooking

Take the generously portioned Charred Octopus, from the small plates/starters section of the L'Apicio menu: from my first tender, briney bite I knew I was in good hands here, the cephalopod perfectly cooked, the plump fregola nicely seasoned, the pepperoni pieces adding some bite, the whole plate singing with salt and lemon. This is well-conceived food, prepared with skill and and care by a kitchen that know what it's doing. And my first L'Apicio pasta was even better: chewy Mezzalune pasta pockets stuffed with a sweet cauliflower puree, topped with pinenuts and crunchy, supercharged capers. One of the best dishes I've had this year.

 SSPNY Raves About the Perfectly Cooked Mezzalune Pasta Pockets Stuffed With Sweet Cauliflower, An Absolute Must to Order at East Village's Italian Eatery L'Apicio

And the hits just kept coming at L'Apicio! Every restaurant in town puts a Brussels Sprouts side on the menu this time of year (see also: butternut squash and/or pumpkin) but L'Apicio really does it right, peeling the sprouts down to their individual leaves, frying them up until they're caramelized and as crispy as chips, adding nice-sized strips of chewy speck, then--and this is where this dish REALLY gets elevated above the crowd--infusing it all with mustard. Delicious and hopelessly addictive. Finally, my second L'Apicio pasta was almost as amazing as my first, a pile of thick Agnolotti filled with sweetbreads and mascarpone, dressed with an intense reduction of some sort, the entire thing hearty and satisfying. Equally perfect for a date as well as a crew of fun-loving friends--the prices, while not crazy-low, are doable, and they have a great cocktail program--L'Apicio is a winner.

 SSPNY Orders a Side of the Season Brussel Sprouts on the Addictive Menu, and Offers a Great Date Spot in East Village Along with a Great Cocktail Program

L'Apicio is located on First Street between Bowery and Second Avenue and is open for dinner every day from 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and until 12:00 midnight on Thursday through Saturday. Brunch coming soon. You can find more info and the complete L'Apicio menu here.

Double-decker delights on West 8th Street: crafty arts and craft beer! 

SSPNY Fun on West 8th Street: Exploring the Textile Arts Center and Growler Station

SSPNY on West 8th Street in front of entrance for Sticky's Fingers Joint, Neta sushi, the Textile Arts Center and the Growler Station near Washington Square Park

It's a block that seems to have everything going for it, that stretch of 8th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, what with Washington Square Park right there, and all those NYU kids spilling from their dorms, and all that money living in those beautiful old apartments all around the area. And yet, somehow, instead of a friendly, trendy, nightlife/neighborhood zone, for more years than I can count it seemed like vacant storefronts and tired eateries and chains were the dominant "theme" of the strip. Fortunately, all of that seems to be changing, with the addition of such first-rate (albeit very different) restaurants like the quick-bite chicken finger spot Sticky's Finger Joint, the high-end sushi temple Neta, and this terrific double-decker storefront of coolness and fun, the Textile Arts Center up top, and the Growler Station below.

SSPNY inside the Textile Arts Center in West Village offering craft classes in block printing, sewing, looming and more...

The Textile Arts Center has been at this West Village location for more than a year now (their Gowanus flagship opened about a year and a half earlier than that), and if you're interested at all in using your hands and your mind to create something from scratch, this is a great place to check out. All of the crafts and classes at the Textile Arts Center are fiber-based (read: made from yarn or cloth or some variation thereof), and the comfortable, wonderfully sun-lit room is filled with state-of-the-art looms, dyers, and sewing equipment. There may be more classes at the Gowanus Textile Arts Center (it's just bigger), but this West Village spot does have plenty of appealing offerings, including Japanese Shibori with Indigo, Block Printing, Introduction to Hand Embroidery and, as part of their Youth After School program, Sewing and Fashion. There are also open studio times available for members. Lots more info on the West Village Textile Arts Center here.

SSPNY looks at state-of-the-art looms inside West Village's Textile Arts Center offering an open studio and Youth After School programs

Below the Textile Arts Center is the Growler Station where they offer a filling station to bring home your choice of over 20 well-curated craft beers on tap.

And after a hard day working the loom upstairs, grab a growler of craft brew to bring home, right below at the Growler Station. For anyone and everyone who likes beer, this place is awesome. At any given time they have 20 or more well-curated craft brews on tap, available to take home in growlers of varying sizes, depending upon your own personal adult-beverage consumption needs. If growlers aren't your thing (though they should be: they're fun, they're resusable, they give you that freshly-tapped taste without having to throw a kegger every night in your living room), there are also lots of rare and excellent bottled beer selections, as well as plenty of snacks and such. And get on the Growler Station email list so you can be invited to brewery parties, where free beer flows like... things that flow freely. More Growler Station facts, including the latest Growler beer menu, here.

SSPNY's Growler Station also offers a rare and excellent bottled beer selection and host free brewery parties on 8th Street.

And, PS, re: 8th Street getting great? That long-empty green-trimmed storefront next door to Textile Arts and Growler Station, right on the corner? That'll be a Stumptown Roasters cafe come early next year!

Next to the Textile Arts Center and Growler Station and going up early next year is Stumptown Roasters cafe on the corner of 8th Street and MacDougal Street

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.

NYC rental apartment living: A love story 

SSPNY Presents: A love story about rental apartment living in NYC

With Manhattan apartment sale prices hitting record highs this year (overall, third quarter sales are up almost 10% since last year; the median price for a Manhattan apartment, if you include both condos and co-ops, is now at $868,000, with the average reaching more than $1.3 million), does going the rental route suddenly make more sense than ever?SSPNY Presents: A love story about rental apartment living in NYC at Stone Street Properties at The Cooper at Cornelia Street

Especially with mortgages still tricky to obtain, and co-op boards acting ever more picky and ruthless in their scouring of your financial data? Well, I certainly think so... but, full disclosure, I have ALWAYS rented here in New York City, in two boroughs, several different neighborhoods, more than several different apartments, and across more years and life-changes than I'm willing to admit here on the internet.

SSPNY rental apartment living: A love story about renting in NYC at Stone Street Properties at The Charlotte at Christopher Street

SSPNY rental apartment living: A love story about renting in NYC at Stone Street Properties at The Charlotte at 102 Christopher Street in West Village

So why is someone who loves this city so much (me) so reluctant to "settle down" by buying a place? The glib answer: freedom. I love having the option, every year or two (depending on the length of my lease) of moving someplace new, whether a few blocks away, or into a completely different part of town. Constant change is one of the core, defining characteristics of New York City (that, and commerce), since, really, the days when the Dutch ran things and the place was, like, twenty blocks big, and that continues to be true right up to today. And all signs point to, if anything, even more accelerated growth in the years to come, with blocks, and whole neighborhoods, changing their look and feel in ways that are often hard to predict, and which you may or may not like. I loved living on the Upper West Side when I did, ditto the East Village, and Park Slope in Brooklyn fit nicely for awhile, and who knows where I'll wind up next. But I'm glad I haven't had to to go through the lengthy, expensive buying/selling process every time I've wanted to go somewhere new. Moving's hard enough work as it is, thank you very much.

SSPNY rental living: A love story about Stone Street Properties apartments in NYC at  at The Seville at 11 Cornelia Street in the West Village

There's another aspect to the freedom thing too. In a rental apartment, if there's a problem with the plumbing, or the fixtures, or the lawn (yes, rentals sometimes do have outdoor space), or the roof, or any other part of my home's infrastructure, I don't have to worry about it, and find some contractor, and lay out a bunch of money to have it fixed. That's what the my trusty super's for! And no matter how much I may love (or, sometimes, just like) whatever apartment I'm in, my REAL home will always be New York City itself, in all of it's crazy, beautiful, diverse, enegizing glory. NYC's excellent public transportation--not to mention that this is such a great walking town--means that as long you live near a subway station, pretty much everywhere else you'd want to go is readily accessible. For example, all three of Stone Street's West Village properties, in addition to being located in one of the prettiest, most exciting neighborhoods in the city, are all within easy walking distance of the A, C, B, D, E, F, M, 1, 2, 3, L, R, N, Q, 4, 5, and 6 trains. Which, obviously, can take you to a lot of different places.

Cafe Blossom Brings Tasty Vegan (Really!) and a Chill Vibe to Carmine Street 

SSPNY West Village Restaurant Review: Cafe Blossom.  Organic Vegan Cuisine on Carmine and Bleecker

I'm not vegetarian, or vegan, or anything-ian. More of a foodivore, really, in that I'll eat anything once and, usually, many, many more times, too.Cafe Blossom Exterior on Carmine St. SSPNY, StoneStreetNY, Luxury NYC Apartments, Stone Street Properties, West Village Luxury Rentals


BUT. THAT SAID. Plenty of my pals are of the vegan persuasion, and I love them for it, and while they always assure me rather painfully "oh don't worry I'll find SOMETHING on the menu" whenever I come up with a plan, better not to tempt their inner martyrdom, yes? Same goes for my gluten-free friends. Enter the newish Cafe Blossom, the latest outpost of owner Ronen Seri's burgeoning (blossoming?) vegan empire, open since the spring in prime Carmine territory, and serving some seriously full-flavored food.

Cafe Blossom Tofu Dish SSPNY, StoneStreetNY, Luxury NYC Apartments, Stone Street Properties, West Village Luxury Rentals</h2>

I stopped into Cafe Blossom the other night, looking for an early dinner before seeing something at the nearby IFC Center, and was (mostly) totally won over by the big, balanced flavors here. This is some confident, creative cooking at Cafe Blossom West Village, that doesn't rely on mounds of garlic or burying everything under scallions and chives to get your attention, as I've experienced at other such vegan-y spots. The starters / bar snacks were the real stars of the night, which is a good thing, because with its open frontage and friendly atmosphere, Cafe Blossom would definitely work well as a low-key, drink-and-a-bite sort of place. The Chickpea Fritters, for example: dolloped with sweet, "housemade whisky" barbecue sauce and sitting in schmear of spicy mayo, a nice crispy/soft texture, small but satisfying, with enough depth to keep things interesting.

 Seitan and Mushroom Slider Cafe Blossom SSPNY, StoneStreetNY, Luxury NYC Apartments, Stone Street Properties, West Village Luxury Rentals</h2>

Also good was my Seitan and Mushroom Slider, which, again, impressed with its reliance on drawing out the flavors of its ingredients--caramelized onions, pesto mayo, housemade tomato sauce, and mozzarella were also involved--instead of dumping on something heavy and calling it a day. Slightly less successful was my Miso Mustard Risotto, tricked out with sautéed mushrooms, scallions, white cheese, and (too much?) cashew cream, and a bit one-note, but I can imagine appreciating it more once winter's chill sets in. And because there are two more of these Blossoms in town--the original Blossom in Chelsea, on Ninth Avenue near 21st, and the Upper West Side's Cafe Blossom, on Columbus near 83rd--I now know I can placate my veggie buddies while still enjoying myself in those neighborhoods as well.

Miso Mustard Risotto, Cafe Blossom SSPNY, StoneStreetNY, Luxury NYC Apartments, Stone Street Properties, West Village Luxury Rentals<

The West Village Cafe Blossom is located on Carmine Street between Bleecker and Bedford, and is open every day from 12:00 noon until 3:30 for lunch, and then again from 5:00 until 11:00 at night for dinner. Lots more info, plus the full Cafe Blossom menu, here.

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