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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.

Inside Nicoletta, Michael White’s Pizzeria Opening Tomorrow

Photos: Noah Flecks

Michael White, the oft-lauded chef-owner of three-star seafood palace Marea, fine-dining Italian spot Ai Fiori, and SoHo’s Osteria Morini, will open Nicoletta, his first pizzeria, for dinner tomorrow, and the pies will be a touch different from the ones at all those other East Village parlors. (A Midwestern touch, to be exact.)

The crust, formed in a wood-burning brick oven (imported from… Long Island) was inspired by Mr. White’s teenage years slinging dough at Domenicos in Beloit, Wis., and is said to be a bit chewier than the Neapolitan norm. Pies, said to cost an average of $21, will come in 12-inch and 16-inch varieties, and can be topped with bacon lardons, egg yolk, truffled mushrooms, and more. Shown in our slideshow: the Calabrese (fennel sausage, pepperoni, red onions, and Pecorino Romano) and the Patate (mozzarella, crushed potatoes, pann, bacon, and charred scallions). Read more…

L’asso EV Opens for Dinner


Have you abandoned South Brooklyn Pizza ever since it stopped carrying Manhattan Special coffee soda on draft? (We’re assured it’ll return when the takeout parlor expands into a proper restaurant, possibly next month.) Well, there’s a new option just a block away: L’asso has opened its East Village outpost for dinner. Last month, The Local told you what to expect from the NoLIta transplant. Check back here shortly for interior shots as well as the menu, which features a Polish pie with kielbasa, pickles, and mustard oil.

NeighborhoodAppeal_B6 Where Should You Take Those Out-of-Towners?

Ost Cafe

Presenting Neighborhood Appeal, in which Villagers share their go-to spots and we appeal to readers to add their own. Today, Chicago transplant Katie Olson tells us where she likes to take her out-of-town visitors. We’re adding her recommendations to Foursquare, because – that’s right! – The Local is now on Foursquare. Just click the “Follow” button on our shiny new page and every time you “check in” at spots like the ones below, you’ll get tips from notable locals like Rachel Dratch and Christina Tosi; and from our savvy and sundry commenters and contributors, like restaurant guru James Traub. After you’ve pondered Katie’s list below, make your own additions in the comments and we’ll add those to our Foursquare page, too.

I moved to the East Village from Chicago last spring and as soon as summer came around, so did the visitors. Before I knew it, I had the tour down: walk across the Brooklyn Bridge; have a picnic in Central Park; walk through SoHo, the West Village and Little Italy, etc. I still love exploring the city, but my favorite part of having friends visit is showing them the neighborhood that I now call home. The East Village has a lot to offer, of course, and I always make a point of trying new things with out-of-towners; but I do have a few staples I take most of them to. As you’ll soon notice, my friends never go hungry. Read more…

Ajay Naidu’s East Village

Ajay NaiduCourtesy Ajay NaiduAjay Naidu.

To some, he’ll always be Samir, one of the disgruntled heroes of “Office Space,” or more recently, Vikram from HBO’s “Bored to Death.”

They know him by his real name, however, in the East Village, the neighborhood that actor/writer/director Ajay Naidu has called home for over 16 years. Back in the day, he was a self-described “club kid,” and though he still frequents the neighborhood’s live music venues, he’s just as likely to be found on set these days as he is on the scene. Naidu has several notable projects in the pipeline, including Sacha Baron Cohen’s upcoming “The Dictator” (about which he’s been sworn to secrecy) and his own directorial debut, “Ashes”, a 10-year labor of love that has been touring the festival circuit (catch it next month at the New York International Latino Film Festival).

Naidu took a timeout to share some of his favorite places with his fellow Villagers.

Best Location for People-Watching

“My fire escape on Saint Mark’s. It has the perfect angle because it’s just above the crowd and you can watch everyone and hear everything.”

Best Live Music Venue

“That’s a really tough one because I go out a lot to music. The best place to go hear music right now is Santos Party House and has been for a while.”
Read more…

Amid Glut, Liquor Licenses Still Sought

South Brooklyn Pizza outsideIan Duncan A passerby inspects South Brooklyn Pizza’s liquor license notice. Despite the hurdles of entering a thoroughly saturated market, owners of bars and restaurants are still flocking to the East Village – and filing applications for liquor licenses.

This weekend, the Post reported what we all kind of knew anyway. The East Village has more places to buy booze than any other neighborhood in the city: 474 in the 10003 zip code by their count. Cue mass eye-rolling in the blogosphere at the non-news.

Concerned by the profusion of bars, Community Board 3 and the authority have started to toughen up. Last month, the board narrowly voted down a liquor license application for a Mexican restaurant run by Two Boots Pizza owner Phil Hartman and music promoter Todd Patrick.

The reason for the proliferation of bars hinges on zoning technicalities and what critics say was the State Liquor Authority’s past trigger-happy attitude to handing out licenses.

That created momentum and now entrepreneurs are desperate to get a foothold in the neighborhood, despite the obstacles. Next Monday, 33 businesses will put their case for new or expanded licenses to the community board.

In a bold step, the owners of South Brooklyn Pizza labeled the community board “infamous” and urged their customers to sign a petition supporting their application. EV Grieve noted the claim, trigging much rumbling from the blog’s commenters.
Read more…