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First Avenue Restaurant Activity: Efendi and One Twenty-Two

122Daniel MaurerOne Twenty-Two

More changes on the First Avenue restaurant strip. South Brooklyn Pizza, which filed for bankruptcy protection last August, is still slinging pies. It had once planned to expand into the former Rubens Empanada space next door. Instead, we have a new contender, One Twenty-Two First Avenue.

efendiDaniel MaurerEfendi

Meanwhile, the unusual taco-gyro-falafel haven, Mediterranean Grill and Tapas has morphed into Efendi. It looks like a reasonable bet that the space has resolved its identity crisis by plumping conclusively for the Middle East: “efendi,” of course, is Turkish for lord and master, and the eagle-eyed will notice that hookahs have entered the equation.

The Day | Suzy Snowflake Comes to Town

Never forgetScott Lynch

Good morning, East Village.

As David Schwimmer’s East Sixth Street mansion nears completion, residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy are getting a little more help this week. Listings geared to their needs are being posted in a special section at the no-fee rental site Urban Edge. Reports say landlords will strive to be flexible about length of lease and security deposits.

A less depressing way to get your life turned upside down will become available if plans for a flying trapeze center at Hamilton Fish Park come to fruition.

On the party side of the street, get your vintage frock out for a batch of 1950s cocktails and Christmas cartoons like “Suzy Snowflake” at the Merchant House Museum — and be sharp about it. Last Friday’s shindig sold out.

If you’re looking for sustenance, Mighty Quinn’s, which recently shed its plywood in the old Vandaag space, is strongly rumored to be unveiling its slow-smoked brisket today. But if you’re just looking to stay home and browse through pretty neighborhood pictures, consider Bowery Boogie’s selection of the year in Instagram.

The Day | Picking up the Pieces

The bestScott Lynch

Good morning, East Village.

It’s perhaps not the best of mornings, with thoughts of yesterday’s Sandy Hook memorial service fresh in our minds. Mayor Bloomberg spoke on national television yesterday about gun control. Also on the safety front, he was accused yesterday of developing a stealth plan to ban smoking in people’s homes, a claim the city staunchly denies.

As for SantaCon, we might have picked up the pieces, but we’re still tweeting about it.

And out with the old, in with the new: with bistro Lina Frey already a distant memory, the Lobster Joint finally opened on East Houston.

Ramen Joint Opening On Curry Row This Week

IMG_5750Joann Pan Opening on Friday, Zen 6 will serve New York-style ramen and succulent gyoza dumplings.

The owners of Noodle Cafe Zen on St. Marks Place and Sushi Lounge on Avenue A plan to open a ramen joint on Curry Row by the end of the week.

Hideyuki Okayama said Zen 6, in the former Chiyono space on East Sixth Street, will serve “New York City-style ramen,” meaning steaming bowls of house-made noodles set in a rich broth and topped with unconventional ingredients such as soft-shell crab, oysters and spicy fried calamari.

Traditionalists can order miso ramen with corn, meat, egg and vegetables; shio ramen with chicken broth, salt, meat and egg; or tsukemen ramen with tender meat and baby bamboo.

Next month, the eatery will give away an order of pan-fried gyoza (dumplings stuffed with beef, pork or vegetables) with any order of ramen.

Zen 6, 328 East Sixth Street (between First and Second Avenues); (917) 318-5298

Gas Shutoff Closes East Village Thai Until Further Notice

east village thaiJoann Pan

Locals craving East Village Thai’s finger rolls, peanut sauce-drenched chicken satae sticks and the pad thai dish that The Daily News recently declared one of the “best of New York” will have to go elsewhere for now.

The gates of the hole-in-the-wall takeout joint between Second and Third Avenues were down during lunchtime today: a note indicated that a gas shut-off had forced it to close until “the problem is resolved.”

We’ve reached out to Jakobson Properties, the landlord of 32 East Seventh Street, for more information.

Leah Cohen of ‘Top Chef’ Opens Pig & Khao With Fatty Crew

Interior shots: Alexa Mae Asperin. Food shots: Zandy Mangold.

“I’m sick of everyone doing pork belly,” says Leah Cohen, the former Centro Vinoteca chef best known as a contestant on “Top Chef.”

That’s why, at her new Clinton Street restaurant, she’s staying away from it. “We eventually want to do pork brains, ears and just everything,” she said.

Pig and Khao, her project with the Fatty Crew Hospitality Partners (Fatty Crab, Fatty ‘Cue) opened for dinner tonight, with a Thai-Filipino menu (below) inspired by the year Ms. Cohen, whose mother is Filipino, spent in Asia.

“Most of the cuisine that I had when I was traveling in Asia, like in Thailand or in the Philippines, the main staples were pork and rice,” said Ms. Cohen. At Pig and Khao (“khao” means “rice” in Thai), she’ll be braising, air drying and frying pork cuts such as head, face, butt and leg – with Thai accents of cilantro, lemongrass, basil and mint. Read more…

Bikinis Brings Tapas, Sandwiches and Churros to Avenue C

Photos: Alexa Mae Asperin

After riding out a wave of opposition in March, Bikinis Eatery will open its doors this Saturday.

The tapas bar on Avenue C isn’t selling two-piece swimsuits; it specializes in the Spanish sandwiches of the same name. According to co-owner Karina Correa, good ones are hard to find in the city, so she’s aiming to “marry both Spanish and American flavors” via menu items like the classic jamon y queso (ham and cheese), a “Gordito” (pastrami, turkey, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mayo) and vegetarian options like a smoky portobello blend and a tomato baguette with sea salt and Spanish olive oil.

Ms. Correa, a former manager at Cafe Gitane in Nolita who spent four years in Spain, said she and her business partner, Petrit Pula, who has lived in Madrid, favored the simple tapas found at Spanish corner cafes over Manhattan restaurants that were “too sophisticated both in concept and price.” They envisioned a relaxed, casual place where one can eat three times a day, as is common in Spain. Read more…

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. Read more…

Mama’s Food Shop Owner Calls Revival ‘Bittersweet’

mama'sMelvin Felix

So what does the former owner of Mama’s Food Shop think about a new Mama coming to 200 East Third Street? Jeremiah Clancy, who bought the neighborhood institution in 2007 and closed it in July, said learning that the building’s landlord planned to take over the space was “bittersweet.”

Mr. Clancy does not own the Mama’s trademark, but wanted to distance himself from the new restaurant that his former landlord, Richard Freedman, plans to open with the possible name of Mama’s Eats and a similar menu of southern comfort food.

“This is a completely new business with a different owner,” said Mr. Clancy. “Even though he is serving similar foods, by no stretch of the imagination does that have anything to do with the Mama’s ethos, the Mama’s vibes and what was created over the past 15 years. This is something completely different.”

News that Mr. Freedman planned to give the space a significant upgrade including new bathrooms and an improved kitchen didn’t sit well with Mr. Clancy, who cited the burden of maintenance costs as a reason for the restaurant’s closing. “He’s making repairs on the space that I hemorrhaged the majority of my money on,” he said, later adding, “I loved that he sort of played a victim. He feels that property taxes are so high, but he still has the means to gut renovate a restaurant.”

Mr. Freedman, who also owns Mama’s Bar adjacent the restaurant space, said the new eatery would open in the next few months.

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

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

Meatball Factory Becomes Seafood Shack

baitDaniel Maurer

The new Starbucks isn’t the only one that got signage today. The Local spotted workers putting up new awnings at the former Meatball Factory, which, as expected, will become a seafood joint.

Robert McRae, a contractor, said he had returned the Meatball Factory space at 14th Street and Second Avenue “almost to normal” after its brief time as a psychedelic art café, restoring the bar to its original state and so on. Soon, he said, fishing nets and perhaps a “pirate’s wheel” will decorate the place, which is set to open Sept. 7.

Inside Exchange Alley: New Orleans Flair from an Employees Only Owner

Back in June, Paul Gerard, the chef who took over the short-lived Zi’Pep space on Ninth Street, told us he would open Exchange Alley with Billy Gilroy, a partner in West Village hotspot Employees Only. So what does “New York with a New Orleans flair” look like? Watch our video of yesterday’s opening night festivities to find out.

Yesterday Mr. Gerard, who was a chef in New Orleans before most recently serving as chef of Soho House, said he would be preparing a frequently changing menu using, in part, ingredients from a backyard garden that he hoped would be used by local schoolchildren. “Some days I’m enamored with pasta, other days I’m enamored with tomatoes,” he said. “By the time the tomato season is just about over, I’ll be enamored with root vegetables and game.” The bar, backed by mirror-finished stainless steel, will serve beer-and-wine cocktails till 2 a.m. on weekends.

The walls are decorated with photos of some of Mr. Gerard’s creative inspirations, including downtowners like Lou Reed and Miguel Piñero. The chef is hoping to tap into the new make-up of the neighborhood, which has changed a lot since his younger days living in Alphabet City. Read more…

Brauhaus Brouhaha: High Levels of Lead at Beer Hall Site

2012-07-23 12.52.22Timothy Davis Construction work at Paulaner Brauhaus.

High levels of lead have been found in dust that shot up from the incoming Paulaner Brauhaus and blanketed an upstairs apartment, displacing a family of seven and causing the city to issue a stop work order.

The dust-up occurred last Wednesday at 265-267 Bowery, where the brewhouse and beer hall is being built on the ground floor. On June 25, ceiling work sent a plume of dust through the floorboards of a second-floor loft, forcing its residents to seek shelter elsewhere while testing for toxic materials was conducted.

Today, a health department representative said the levels of lead found in parts of the apartment were six times what the Environmental Protection Agency finds acceptable. According to the testing company’s report (posted below), the highest concentrations were found in the living room, where Mr. Davis said the children’s books and toys are kept.

Blood work taken from at least one of the five children is still out at the lab. Read more…

Adios, La Isla: Cuchifrito Spot Shutters on 14th Street

la islaMelvin Felix

A late-night standby for cheap, heaping helpings of Latin grub has closed its doors in the face of a rent hike, according to an employee.

La Isla, on 14th Street, stopped serving cuchifritos, empanadas, rotisserie chicken and other Caribbean staples this week, and will officially give up its space between Avenues A and B on Monday. Yesterday, it was empty but for a refrigerator, a steam table and a small plant by the front window, which an employee said had been there since La Isla opened a almost decade ago.

The employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said the restaurant’s management had decided not to renew the ten-year lease at 542 East 14th Street because its landlord had asked for an additional $3,000 per month, plus additional property tax payments; the one-two punch would’ve meant paying almost $15,000 per month instead of the previous $8,000. Read more…

Meatball Assembly Line Grinds to a Halt: Seafood Spot Coming Next Month

meatball shopMelvin Felix

Somebody call Michael Moore: there’s been a Factory closing on 14th Street.

The mysteriously-closed Meatball Factory is a goner and will become a seafood restaurant next month, its new owner said today. Miha Khondoker, who previously owned the West Village’s now-closed Mixx Lounge, said he’s busy deciding on a name and finalizing the new restaurant’s menu and decor.

“It’s going to be very different,” he said. Read more…

Benny’s Burritos Gets Fatter, Croxley’s Ales ‘Expanding Space’

Benny's expandsSuzanne Rozdeba A new awning over the Fat Sal’s space.

Benny’s Burritos is expanding into its onetime takeout space. Al Landess, a manager at the Mexicali spot on Avenue A said the restaurant let go of the next-door nook several years ago for rent-related reasons, and it became Fat Sal’s Pizza. “When the pizza place left,” he said, “we decided to jump on it again.” Mr. Landess said he hoped to expand into the space and add more tables within a month.

You may have also noticed on Community Board 3’s July agenda that Croxley’s Ales plans to inform the SLA & DCA Licensing committee of an alteration at its July 16 meeting. The agenda notes an “expanding space,” but a manager at the restaurant knew nothing of plans to expand. We’ll let you know if we hear more.

First Look Inside Iconic Hand Rolls, Serving Sushi to Coneheads Tomorrow

Photos: Daniel Maurer

Back in April, we brought word that David Ravvin, a 29-year-old graduate of N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business, planned to open a quick-service sushi spot in the former home of Cotan, on First Avenue near Saint Marks Place. Soon after that, its plywood got defaced (to the delight of neighbor JoeDough), but after a fresh coat of paint, the restaurant opened to friends and family just minutes ago, and will open to the public tomorrow.

Earlier this evening, Hiroko Shimbo, the Japanese cooking authority who designed the menu, was busy in the kitchen as Mr. Ravvin buzzed about the modest eat-in area, which is still awaiting some finishing touches. Mr. Ravvin plans to plaster a mural of this photo of Rocky Aoki, the late charismatic founder of the Benihana chain, on a wall where the restaurant’s few tables are lined up. “He’s kind of an inspiration,” he explained. And he’s still working on perfecting a method of delivering the cone-like temaki rolls that will be the signature of his menu. (You can see that menu below.) Hours are from 6 p.m. to midnight daily, and beer and wine will be served. Read more…

C.B. 3 Report: B-Side’s Chip Shop, Bowery Beerhaus, 9th Street Espresso’s Brewski Bid

cb meetingEdna Ishayik

Community Board 3 may have set a record last night: with 27 items on the agenda  – including Ninth Street Espresso’s bid to serve beer, a pitch for a German beer hall on the Bowery, and a Starbucks location’s attempt to win back its sidewalk seats – the board’s State Liquor Authority committee meeting ran past 2 a.m.

The main event: the owners of B-Side are hoping to open a spot at East Broadway and Clinton Street that would be “totally different” than the punk bar on Avenue B and would include a chip shop purveying “the best fish, chips and falafel you’ve ever had,” according to owner Sivan Harlap.

In an e-mail, Ms. Harlap called the new venture a “grown-up version of B-side,” explaining that “there are things I am interested in now that I wasn’t that all interested in when I was 22 – craft beers, cocktails, thoughtful food, this new place will reflect those new interests.”

Speakers lined up to argue in favor and against the new watering hole that would be catty-corner to the Seward Park Cooperative. Some neighbors said they looked forward to having a place to grab a drink or a bite in an area that isn’t laden with bars and restaurants. But opponents, some of whom were concerned about loud noise, had collected over 600 signatures, partially through churches and schools nearby. Read more…

Second Avenue Shuffle: Vandaag Closes, Calliope Opens

vandaagStephen Rex Brown

First, the good news: Just a week after its paint job, Calliope has opened in the former Belcourt space. Grub Street has a look inside, and you can find the menu at Menupages.

Now, the bad. A couple blocks up on Second Avenue, Vandaag has become the latest ex-Villager. Thursday morning, The Local spotted a sign on the window of the darkened Dutch restaurant indicating that it was closed due to plumbing problems. Today, a new sign regretfully informs patrons of a “recent decision to close Vandaag.” The note concludes, “Fortunately, we were able to move most of our team to new digs, in Brooklyn,” meaning Woodland in Park Slope.

Vandaag opened in the former Bounce Deuce space at Second Avenue and Sixth Street and garnered two stars from The Times and then another favorable review from The Local (“Perhaps Vandaag, too, will disappear before long,” worried James Traub back in November of 2010. “I hope not; it’s the only Dutch-Danish restaurant in the neighborhood.”) Unfortunately, it was under-performing even before it lost its chef back in August.

Anyone know where to go now for a nice shot of aquavit?

Iconic Hand Rolls, Nicoletta Get Paint Jobs

sushiDaniel Maurer

The construction shed at Iconic Hand Rolls, which got memorably defaced last month, has come down; earlier today, workers were painting the facade of the building on Second Avenue near St. Marks Place. Seems everyone’s in a painterly mood: Calliope was sporting new colors earlier this week, and yesterday we spotted work being done at Michael White’s forthcoming pizzeria, Nicoletta, at Second Avenue and 10th Street. Here‘s how it looked today.