Christina Tosi’s East Village

Christina TosiPhoto courtesy Christina Tosi

We wouldn’t expect anything short of an inspired list from the woman who has introduced “crack pie” and “cereal milk” to a passionate fan base in the East Village and beyond, and happily Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar does not disappoint. The pastry chef with a Willy Wonka imagination has worked in the East Village for over five years, and appreciates what she describes as the neighborhood’s “open mind and ‘don’t take yourself so seriously’ approach to things.” It’s a perfect philosophy for Tosi’s unexpected approach to desserts, which will soon be revealed in her first cookbook, “Momofuku Milk Bar,” out in October.

“I hope ours are recipes that carry people through bake sales, sleepovers and celebrations for years,” explains Tosi via email on a typically busy day in the kitchen. We certainly wouldn’t mind seeing a salty pretzel-studded Compost Cookie at the local potluck. In the meantime, on to Tosi’s favorites!

Favorite place to satisfy a savory craving.
At dinner time I’m usually starved, so I tend towards a casual, quick, feed-me-now type dinner. I’m partial to the corn dog and waffle cheese fries doused in ketchup at Crif Dogs. Also Sunny & Annie’s for a Ting and a Chicago sandwich, Luke’s Lobster for the crab roll, Caracas for a de pabellon arepa and Momofuku Noodle Bar—I just can’t leave the wings, the rice cakes and a bowl of ramen behind.

Best coffee.
Abraço—coffee and black olive shortbread or olive oil pound cake. I don’t care how long the line is. It’s worth it every time.

Late-night hang that inspires great conversation.
St. Dymphna’s. It’s a great stop-in on St Marks that’s been a passed on from friend to friend as a place to grab a drink and talk. It always seems to have a cozy, calming, deeper force on people, which is always a lovely thing, especially in this city.

Favorite local boutique.
I love the Cure Thrift Shop on East 12th St and Restoration Antiques right next door. Roaming through both is the perfect way to happily kill five minutes or an hour. I always end up leaving with a skirt or vase or book.

Ideal place for people-watching.
Tompkins Square Park. Camp out on a bench, or hang on the fence at the dog park if you want some real crazies (of which I am one).

Before letting Tosi get back to satisfying the city’s sweet tooths, we ask our eternal question: Did you choose the East Village, or did the East Village choose 

“The East Village chose me. When I first moved to the city, I wanted to live in the West Village or SoHo. I settled for no-man’s land between NoLita and Chinatown. I always thought of the East Village as rather rough and armpitty. Little did I know, I’m a little rough and armpitty around the edges myself. I was never going to love the West Village or SoHo the way I love the East Village and its people.”

Angela Cravens is the editorial director of the pop culture “channelzine” Arcade 44