Borough Bouncers: 19 Restaurants That Have Crossed the East River



The Williamsburg pizzeria that expanded to the East Village in 2009 only to close its Brooklyn location last year is coming back to Williamsburg. According to The Times, Motorino will open at 139 Broadway, near Bedford Avenue, in January.

It’s not the first case of borough bouncing we’ve seen in recent days: last week DNAinfo reported that East Village taqueria Dos Toros plans to open in Williamsburg, and today an owner of Lobster Joint, a Greenpoint seafood shack, tells The Local that it will open its outpost at 201 East Houston Street in November or December.

Bobby Levitt said that on Monday, Community Board 3’s liquor licensing committee voted to support a liquor license at the location near Ludlow Street. The satellite will replicate the menu and look of the original, and Mr. Levitt expects it to attract a similar demographic: “We get hipsters and families with kids – all ages,” he said.

So why are restaurants that open in the East Village-Lower East Side increasingly eager to expand into the Williamsburg-Greenpoint-Bushwick area, and vice versa? Mathieu Palombino, the owner of Motorino, told The Local, “Williamsburg is to Brooklyn what the East Village is to Manhattan. What works there will work here. It’s a natural expansion from one direction or the other.” (Of course, it doesn’t always work out, hence yesterday’s story about Mama’s.)

In case you’ve lost track, here’s The Local’s rundown of restaurants with locations on either side of the bridge.

These East Village and Lower East Side longtimers waited years before picking up locations in the 11211.


Cafe Mogador
Opened 1983: East Village, 101 Saint Marks Place
Opened 2012: Williamsburg, 133 Wythe Avenue


San Loco
1987: East Village, 124 Second Avenue
2006: Williamsburg, 160 North Fourth Street

Screen shot 2012-09-12 at 4.31.40 PM

2000: East Village, 51 Avenue B
TBD: Williamsburg, South Second Street and Driggs Avenue


Crif Dogs
2001: East Village, 113 St. Marks Place
2011: Williamsburg, 555 Driggs Avenue

Screen shot 2012-09-07 at 4.18.18 PM

2003: Lower East Side, 7 Rivington Street
2010: Williamsburg, 64 Frost Street


2003: East Village, 93 East Seventh Street
2008: Williamsburg, 291 Grand Street


Vanessa’s Dumpling House
2006: East Village, 220 East 14th Street
2011: Williamsburg, 310 Bedford Avenue


These relative newbies grew up quick, and many were born in Brooklyn before making the jump to Manhattan.


June 2011: Williamsburg, 485 Lorimer Street
Oct. 2011: East Village, 334 Bowery


Momofuku Milk Bar
2008: East Village, 251 East 13th Street
2010: Williamsburg, 382 Metropolitan Avenue


Dos Toros
2009: East Village, 137 Fourth Avenue
Dec. 2012 or Jan. 2013: Williamsburg, 189 Bedford Avenue


The Meatball Shop
2010: Lower East Side, 84 Stanton Street
2011: Williamsburg, 170 Bedford Avenue


Lobster Joint
2011: Greenpoint, 1073 Manhattan Avenue
2012 or 2013: Lower East Side, 201 East Houston Street


B.A.D. Burger
2010: Williamsburg, 131 Grand Street
2011: East Village, 171 Avenue A

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Café Grumpy
2005: Greenpoint, 193 Meserole Avenue
2011: Lower East Side, 13 Essex Street

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2007: Lower East Side, 205 Allen Street
2012: Williamsburg, 178 Kent Avenue

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Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
2010: Greenpoint, 632 Manhattan Avenue
2011: East Village, 48 East Seventh Street


They crossed the river and now at least one of their locations is swimming with the fishes.

Screen shot 2012-09-07 at 4.19.05 PM

Life Cafe
1981 (closed Sept. 2011): East Village, 343 East 10th Street
2002 (closed Aug. 2012): Bushwick, 983 Flushing Avenue


Mama’s Food Shop
1997 (closed July 2012): East Village, 200 East Third Street
2011 (closed April 2012): Williamsburg, 310 South Fourth Street

Screen shot 2012-09-07 at 5.34.21 PM

2008 (closed 2011): Williamsburg, 319 Graham Avenue
2009 (still open): East Village, 349 East 12th Street
2013: Williamsburg, 139 Broadway

Additional reporting by Stephen Rex Brown