Early Look at Angelina Cafe’s New Location, Opening Soon

Photos: Nicole Guzzardi

Angelina Café will open across the street from its former location as soon as it gets a visit from the gas man.

Rafik Bouzgarrou, the owner of the Mediterranean bistro, said he moved out of his modest digs at 36B Avenue A last month because his landlord wanted to raise his rent of $7,500 per month. He’s now paying a similar amount for a space that’s three times the size.

At 37 Avenue A, Mr. Bouzgarrou has installed a proper wine bar, where Mediterranean and Basque wines are displayed on a rack. One wall is decorated by a map of the Mediterranean, painted by Angelina customer John Bean. The build-out was also the work of friends and customers, said Mr. Bouzgarrou. “They all knew I didn’t really have money to move here,” he said.

Still, the Tunisian native said he had no choice but to find a new space when his landlord declined to lower his rent and instead asked for some 20 to 25 percent more per month. “I didn’t even want to hear the number,” said Mr. Bouzgarrou, “but he said, ‘Avenue A is hot.’ I said, ‘No, it’s not Second Avenue,’ and he said, ‘It’s better than Second Avenue.’ I said, ‘Whatever.’”

The big problem, though, wasn’t the rent – it was the escalating real estate taxes that he said he got socked with in recent years. Now that the New York City Housing Authority is his landlord, he said, he doesn’t have to worry about that.

The new Angelina will offer the same Italian, French, Greek, and North African dishes, but Mr. Bouzgarrou may add a $10 “working person’s breakfast” of toast, eggs, meat, juice, and coffee. There may also be a seafood night inspired by Tunisian restaurants: one night out of the week, customers would order a drink and then get the chef’s pick of six or seven fish dishes, ranging from a soup to a whole baked salmon.

We’ll have the menu for you when it’s available.