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An Espresso Nook Brings Touch of Italy to St. Marks Place

Photos: Joann Pan

At the tiny coffee bar that opened on St. Marks Place yesterday, the beans aren’t the only thing that have been imported: the counter, front door, and other fixtures were designed and assembled in Lombardy, Italy by architect Beppe Riboli, and shipped over in boxes.

Giovanni Finotto and Caterina Musajo, the owners of I Am Coffee, wanted the 65-square-foot space that once held Another Wireless Shop to look and feel like an Italian terrazza. Beyond the sliding-glass front door, four people (and no more) can stand comfortably at a counter that resembles a balcony. There are toy birds by the handwritten menu, water pipes holding up shelves, exposed brick walls and Italian stone flooring — just the sort of touches you’d expect from the stylish proprietors of I Am Wine, an online artisanal wine shop.
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Cafe Has Personality Crisis in Controversial Shaoul Building

Cafe crisis at 514 East Sixth StreetSuzanne Rozdeba The sign from last week, alongside this week’s new name.

First it was Bea’s Cafe, now it’s La Betola. On Thursday The Local noted that Bea’s Cafe was coming to 514 East Sixth Street, a building with a controversial rooftop extension that is owned by Benjamin Shaoul. Now, a new sign in the window says that the cafe will be called La Betola. The concept hasn’t changed, apparently: the sign still advertises “an espresso bar and more.” Anyone have a clue to the story behind this cafe crisis that’s piqued our interest almost as much as the mysterious messages on East Seventh Street?

No Quarter at the Guggenheim Lab, Pt. 2: Rebuffed at Roberta’s

IMG_3239Kim DavisRoberta’s staff had time on their hands while patrons were locked out.

Yesterday, two downtown residents were surprised to be turned away at the BMW Guggenheim Lab, the self-described “part urban think tank, part community center and public gathering space.” Following the first story about a woman and her dog, here’s the second— about a man and his stomach.

Yesterday’s launch of the cafe at the BMW Guggenheim Lab was a wash-out, but not because of the rain.

The cafe is operated by Roberta’s, a Brooklyn-based restaurant with a dizzying buzz factor. Opened as a casual wood-fired pizza joint in a former garage in a bleak, industrial corner of Bushwick, Roberta’s has steadily built a reputation not only for more ambitious food (think tripe and sweetbreads) but for a locavore ethic including herbs grown on the roof, home-baked bread and a Heritage Radio studio in the backyard. A collaboration between Roberta’s and a project to promote “innovative ideas for urban life” must have seemed a no-brainer.

So why did Roberta’s fans find themselves locked out of the compound last night, peering through the railings in the driving rain? The answer given by a door-tender around 6pm was that the screening of “Blank City” in an adjacent tent was sold out. “But we don’t want to go to the screening,” people cried. “We want to eat at the cafe.” Read more…