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PORSENA - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com


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Porchetta’s Sara Jenkins Debuts Rustic-Italian Cooking App


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Pork-2Credit: Douglas Singleton Porchetta

For the last year, when chef-owner of Porchetta, Porsena and Extra Bar Sara Jenkins wasn’t in the kitchen creating swine-centric plates and cozy pasta dishes for her East Village storefronts, she was working on a cooking app for iPad users.

“I want to encourage and enable people to pick up a zucchini or an eggplant at the farmer’s market on their way home from work and cook it,” said Ms. Jenkins, who launched the New Italian Pantry app this week.

As for encouraging home cooking, she’s not worried it will diminish her business. We’re not worried either — the roasted pork, slow cooked with spices, garlic, rosemary and wild fennel, still seems to run out regularly at Porchetta’s tiny Seventh Street storefront.

“I believe in home cooking. I don’t think I’m in any danger of going out of business if I encourage home cooking,” Ms. Jenkins said, laughing.

Ms. Jenkins partnered with Lazy Susan Media, a company created by Tasting Table’s founding editor Nick Fauchald and app-development company Mizaplas, to create the clever app advising home cooks which pastas and peppers to keep in the cabinet.

As the Italian chef sees it, it’s a “whole-new world” for cookbooks and recipe sharing. The app gave her the opportunity to show home cooks how to prepare delicious food step by step.

“There were some things we thought in particular would be really, really helpful like the shots of what does brown garlic look like and what does it look like when this happens,” Jenkins said.

recipeCredit: Lazy Susan Media Home-Style Porchetta recipe in app

The photo-heavy app is a guide to traditional Italian cooking. The experience entails filling your pantry with 16 staple ingredients — including dried pasta, extra virgin oil, wine vinegar, garlic, onions, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and salt-dried capers. All home cooks have to do is pick up some fresh produce, meat or fish when it comes time to prepare a meal.

There are 75 recipes available, a few of which will be recognizable to regulars to Jenkins’ sandwich and pasta shops. On the app, there’s a recipe for a “home-version” of porchetta, boned pork shoulder slathered with white wine and rubbed with herbs. On the tablet app, there are also recipes for Jenkins’ pastas and sauces.

Sara Jenkins’ New Italian Pantry app is $3.99 on iTunes.


Porsena’s Extra Bar Opens Tomorrow; Pylos and Porchetta.Hog Temporarily Closed


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IMG_0164Stephen Rex Brown Porsena’s bar back in July.

Porsena’s next-door bar will open tomorrow for lunch and dinner. The Local spotted chef-owner Sara Jenkins prepping Extra Bar this evening, and a Tumblr page lists the small plates (e.g. lemon potatoes with caviar and Surryano ham with spicy greens) that will comprise the “fleeting and changing menu, reflecting inspirations from the Mediterranean, random travels by Sara, and found ingredients.” Ms. Jenkins said the narrow space, which is made up mostly of a bar and boasts a map of Rome on one wall, won’t be ready for photos until Friday; in the meantime the chef has been posting images of dishes such as yellowfin tuna puttanesca, gulf shrimp and black spaghetti, and a salad of yellow zucchini, tomatoes, lemon vinaigrette, pecorino Romano, herbs. See Porsena’s Twitter feed for more.

When we last updated you on Porsena’s annex in July, Ms. Jenkins had a few words for Porchetta.Hog, the relative newcomer that she said was “so pathetically copying” her other joint on Seventh Street, Porchetta. Well, guess what? A sign on the door of that fine establishment indicates, without explanation, that the place is “temporarily closed.” A call to the restaurant went unanswered.

Further down Seventh Street, Greek favorite Pylos is also temporarily closed – “for renovation,” according to a sign on the door. Work was being done at the restaurant this evening and an outgoing phone message indicated it would reopen Sept. 8.

Update | 11:00 p.m. Porsena has sent over its lunch and dinner menus, below.

Opening Lunch Menu

Opening Evening Menu


Public Theater Ribon-Cutting Set for Oct. 4, Mayor May Show


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IMG_0060Melvin Felix
IMG_0001Stephen Rex Brown A peak inside Mr. Carmellini’s new restaurant
on Lafayette Street.

Does Mayor Bloomberg have an East Village trip penciled into his schedule?

A spokesperson for Joe’s Pub let slip that the mayor would be attending a ribbon-cutting at the Public Theater on Oct. 4. In a subsequent e-mail she said she couldn’t confirm Mr. Bloomberg’s attendance (mayoral plans are fickle, after all), but it’s clear the re-dedication ceremonies are going to have some star power. The theater broke ground on what was expected to be a $40 million renovation project in March. Earlier this month, ArtsBeat reported that the Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust, founded by the parents of Eliot Spitzer, gave $4 million to the theater.

It’s uncertain whether Andrew Carmellini’s hotly anticipated mezzanine lounge, The Library, will be in full swing for the celebrations, which come exactly a year after an upgraded Joe’s Pub reopened; the chef didn’t respond to an e-mail inquiry. This week, Eater reported The Library would open in the second week of October.

Just one block south on Lafayette Street, work continues on Mr. Carmellini’s somewhat mysterious French restaurant in the former Chinatown Brassiere space, as you can see in a photo we snapped earlier this week.


Porsena Expansion Underway, Lunch Service in the Works


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IMG_0164Stephen Rex Brown Work permits in the window of the new wing of Porsena.

Sara Jenkins’ restaurant on East Seventh Street is in for an upgrade “alla sinistra.”

The new wing in a storefront to the left of the dining room and bar will be dubbed Porsena Sinistra (which means, appropriately, “left” in Italian) and feature a lunch counter during the day and a wine bar at night. The space was previously occupied by Fragrance Shop New York, which reopened on East Fourth Street.

Ms. Jenkins said the lunch menu would include sandwiches, soups and salads. The bar will have a selection of Mediterranean wines, not just strictly Italian fare. She expected it would open around the end of August. (Check back later for some of the plates Ms. Jenkins has in mind for lunch). Update | 4:16 p.m. (Ms. Jenkins changed her mind and decided the menu items weren’t ready for public consumption.)
Read more…


Disgruntled Ex-Employee of Bar Veloce Not Letting Up


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photo(5)Daniel Maurer The flyer, spotted on Second Avenue.

Flyers lambasting the owner of Bar Veloce have once again appeared in the neighborhood on First and Second Avenues — and this time the disgruntled ex-employee behind them cites the restaurateur’s other businesses as well.

“Beware East Village: Porsena, Porchetta, and Ugly Kitchen Restaurants’ Owner is suspected of Unlawful Practices at Various Locations!” the flyer reads. The owner in question, of course, is Frederick Twomey, who was the subject of a flyer campaign in January that alleged that he underpaid workers at Bar Veloce on Second Avenue. That led Mr. Twomey to counter-sue the former employee, John Sawyer Preston, alleging that “customers have been driven away, potential investors lost, and employees unnecessarily upset and confused” because of the campaign. Read more…


Aromatherapy Shop Moving To Fourth Street; Porsena May Move In


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IMG_0708Stephen Rex Brown Owner Lalita Kumut, along with her friend Daphne Blake (left) and her cousin, Maka Inthraphuvasak, pack up the Aromatherapy store on East Seventh Street.

After 20 years, a fragrance shop on East Seventh Street is moving three blocks south, and the owner of Porsena is considering expanding into the vacated space.

Lalita Kumut, the owner of Aromatherapy Bath and Body Oils, said that her lease had expired in December, but that she’d been holding out for a new location. “My customers told me to wait until another lease came up — I’m a good tenant,” Ms. Kumut said. “Finally, I found something nice.” Read more…