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At Croissanteria, Homemade Baguettes and Salmon From the Family Smokehouse

croissanteriaDana Varinsky David Simon at Croissanteria.

Hot on the heels of Bikinis, the neighborhood is getting another European-style cafe. Croissanteria, which doubles as a bakery, will debut on Avenue A in two or three weeks.

You can guess what’s on the menu: a variety of croissants with flavors like cinnamon raisin and chocolate, assorted mini croissants, and croissant sandwiches like ham with melted Gruyere. Owner and chef David Simon also plans to offer homemade baguettes and a custom coffee blend created by Brooklyn Roasting Company.

Mr. Simon, 30, grew up in a food-making family. His parents, originally from Belgium, started Catskill Artisan Smokehouse in Wallkill, New York. Until early summer he worked for them as a distributor, selling their products to high-end stores and restaurants like Russ and Daughters, Dean and DeLuca, and Veselka. Read more…

Neighborhood Appeal | Dog-Friendly Favorites?

Time for another installment of Neighborhood Appeal, where we appeal to East Villagers to share their go-to spots. Today, Kate McGee Reyes salutes some dog-friendly businesses. Leave your own tips in the comments. 

ost2Alberto Reyes

The East Village is a great neighborhood to have a dog: we’ve got the dog run, some great dog rescues, the beloved Puppy Love Kitty Kat, and of course Doggie Dearest. But where do you go for your morning Joe when the health department doesn’t allow dogs inside cafes? Ost Cafe, on corner of 12th Street and Avenue A, has the answer in the form of a walk-up to-go window. Not only can you get your cappuccino and croissant there but the baristas always have some dog treats to dole out.

Veselka will let you and your canine companion share a meal in its outdoor eating area, so long as he or she stays on the other side of the fence. While there, you can get their made-on-premises dog biscuits for just 35 cents or three for $1. And the servers are always happy to fetch a bowl of fresh water.

If you’re the type that prepares for the Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade months in advance (and who doesn’t?), stop by Sew Good Cleaners at 337 East Ninth Street, where they’ll make you a custom costume. They’re exceptionally kind and patient while making measurements for the outfit, and they’ll also mend your doggie’s winter coat to last another season.

Have some suggestions of your own? Unleash ’em on us!

Party People | Agnes Wlaszczuk, The Waitress

You’ve met the the DJ, the musician, the drag queen, and the bar manager. Now, to conclude this week’s series, meet Agnes Wtaszczuk, the overnight waitress and floor manager who hosts the nightly after-after-party at (where else?) Veselka.

John Leguizamo’s East Village


From 1980 until 1996, John Leguizamo, the actor, comedian, writer and producer behind such hits as “Mambo Mouth” and “Ghetto Klown,” lived on East Seventh Street. He now resides in the central Village, but he still has roots in Alphabet City: his production offices are headquartered in his old brownstone there; and last month his wife Justine, who sits on the board of the Greenwich Village Society For Historic Preservation, spoke at a hearing that resulted in the landmarking of a block on East 10th Street.

Mr. Leguizamo told The Local that the East Village “will always hold a special place in my heart.” Of course, things have changed since the days when “you’d see Eric Bogosian at the bodega, Steve Buscemi buying a coffee, Iggy Pop at the health food store, Quentin Crisp tottering down the street,” as he wrote in his memoir. Over e-mail, he said, “The neighborhood used to be alive with all different kind of artists. Musicians, poets, painters, actors, singers, dancers. But the rich came in and all the squatters left and went to Brooklyn.”

So what’s there still to love about the “East Vill”? Mr. Leguizamo reflected on some of his past and present favorites. Read more…

Prepare For Borscht Martinis: Veselka’s Bowery Location May Open Next Month

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Despite blog chatter about tables arriving in the dining room, Tom Birchard, owner of Veselka, tells us that the Bowery outpost of his Second Avenue fixture won’t open for about four to six weeks. Veselka Bowery is currently staffing up via Craigslist, but one position in particular remains to be filled: “We’re having a really hard time finding an executive chef,” said Mr. Birchard.

As The Local has noted, Malgosia Sibilska has been making the restaurant’s borscht for about 30 years. Mr. Birchard described the rest of the kitchen staff as “a really good team of Polish and Ukrainian ladies.” The new restaurant, however, will offer “more upscale, refined, creative dishes,” and so Mr. Birchard is looking for “a chef that has gotten around and done stages with the more accomplished chefs like Daniel Boulud or Jean-Georges Vongerichten, but also has a love and appreciation for Eastern European peasant food, or comfort food.” Read more…

Sidewalk and Veselka 2.0

Two late-night dining institutions are getting ready to unveil their new incarnations: Fork in the Road reports that Sidewalk Cafe, which closed for renovations in March, will reopen by mid-August with “reclaimed barn wood from upstate New York,” “housemade” potato chips, and other flourishes. Meanwhile EV Grieve notices that the long in-the-works second location of Veselka, on the Bowery, has put out chairs and is now hiring.

Rachel Dratch’s East Village

Rachel DratchMary Ellen Matthews

She may be known for the lovably oddball characters she’s brought to life on “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock”, but in the East Village, actress Rachel Dratch has another mark of distinction. She’s a local.

As new mom to an infant, Ms. Dratch has been more of a homebody than usual of late, especially now that she is penning a collection of autobiographical (and, we trust, laugh-out-loud funny) stories on life after “S.N.L.”. Still, we found her to be an enthusiastic consumer of the local hangs, and with nine years as a resident of the East Village, she’s sampled more than a few of the best. Lucky for us, she was not at all timid about sharing her favorite spots.

Best Breakfast

“I like the pierogis at Veselka, and I like that it’s open 24 hours. Now that I have a baby, I don’t usually take advantage of the 24-hour thing like I used to, but I just like living in New York and knowing everything is open 24 hours.”
Read more…

Two Veselkas, One Chef and a Secret

If you live in the East Village, chances are you’ve been to Veselka, the iconic Ukranian restaurant on the corner of Second Avenue and Ninth Street, and tasted its classic beet soup — borscht. What you might not know, however, is that that the restaurant owes its signature dish to Malgosia Sibilska, who has been almost single-handedly preparing Veselka’s borscht since emigrating to the East Village from Poland nearly 30 years ago.

“Way back then, we weren’t making nearly the volume of food that we are now,” says Tom Birchard, the owner of the East Village landmark, “but as the volume has increased, increased, increased, Malgosia keeps making more, and more, and more. And she hasn’t complained.”

And, Mr. Birchard says, over the years the process of preparing the dish has become so complicated and intricate that Ms. Sibilska is the only one who knows precisely how to make Veselka’s signature version of the dish. Sure, Mr. Birchard says, other chefs at Veselka can make borscht, but even he concedes that no one else’s quite matches Ms. Sibilska’s.

“When she goes on vacation, it is a moderate hardship for us,” says Mr. Birchard, “it’s never quite as good as when she is there.”

With Veselka opening a new location opening up on the Bowery and First Street, the restaurant is considering moving all of the borscht production to the new venue, and training someone new to copy Ms. Sibilska’s exact recipe.

Before the change occurs, The Local visits Veselka’s kitchen to speak with Ms. Sibilska about her somewhat-secret recipe.

NYU Journalism’s M.J. Gonzalez reports.

A Celebrated Rainbow’s Second Home

P1010549Hannah Rubenstein The owners of the iconic Ukrainian restaurant Veselka are planning a new restaurant on the Bowery.

In a few months there will be a new Veselka Restaurant on the Bowery. Whispers about construction on a Second Avenue subway line prompted Tom Birchard, owner of the iconic East Village Ukrainian restaurant, to take out an unconventional “insurance policy” on his investment: Nine blocks south, in the same building as DBGB Kitchen & Bar, Veselka Bowery is taking shape behind closed doors.

The second Veselka, located on Bowery and First Street, won’t be a carbon-copy of the original — Mr. Birchard said that he hopes the new restaurant will allow him to explore Ukrainian food “at a slightly higher level.” Mr. Birchard’s son Jason will take over the day-to-day operation of the original location at 144 Second Avenue.

The owners of Veselka already operate a café, Little Veselka, near East First Street and First Avenue, which essentially features an abridged version of the Veselka menu — coffee, sandwiches, breakfast food. But Veselka Bowery will be its own restaurant with an entirely different menu and a plan to serve alcohol.
Read more…