Photos by Cara Garcia-Bou
- Why it’s worth it: Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria masters the mash-up of restaurant and market; one pops in to browse, and one sticks around for a meal. Known for its in house-cured meats and home baked bread, Il Buco AV, Il Buco‘s casual spin-off, is perfect for grabbing Aperitivo with friends, co-workers and/or family. Plain and simple, the drinks and salumi della casa are top notch.
- Vibe/layout: This casual, bright and simple Italian spot serves rustic Italian fare in a perfectly complimentary setting: terra-cotta floor tiles, handblown wine bottles, rickety chairs. Separated from the dimly lit dining room by a wall of Modena vinegar barrels, the front Alimentari grocery section offers curated dry goods and loaves of Italian bread baked in-house and features high-end sauces and condiments arrayed on antique wooden shelves.
- Ideal meal: To drink, order either the refreshing Negroni Sbagliato (prosecco, campari, sweet vermouth) ($14) or the crisp Italiano Fresco (dry vermouth, soda, cucumber lime, basil) ($15). To eat, we cannot rave enough about the salumi della casa: the bits of peppery salami were superb and the fat on the prosciutto was tender and dissolved in a rush of salty, porky flavor. Each meat was unique and delicious.
- F.Y.I.: Donna Lennard’s ‘straunt is located at the original site of the Great Jones Lumber Supply and recuperated joists from the original structure were incorporated into the design: bar paneling, banquette benches, tables and cutting boards. In addition, traces of the original lumber yard graffiti are still visible on the brick walls.
- ‘Straunt tip: Artist Warren Muller’s studio used to be located in the Il Buco space; today, one can see his giant sculptural lamp hanging from the second floor dining room in Il Buco AV.
- Address: Noho/Greenwich Village, 53 Great Jones St. (Between Lafayette & Bowery)
- Prices: $8-$34
A little something extra:
- A few weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to attend the launch party for this ‘straunt’s Aperitivo. The menu was fabulous and the dishes were wholesomely delicious. The spontaneous spirit of this ‘straunt and the open kitchen’s wood-burning aromas left us sniffing and begging for more. Bravo Chef Joel Hough and team!
Want to experience a Mario Batali ‘straunt, but don’t want to break the bank or dip into next month’s rent check? We’ve got just the ‘straunt for you: Otto.
- Why it’s worth it: Conveniently located just past Washington Square Park, and a few blocks from NYU, Mario Batali’s Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria is a great place to grab a meal. Whether you are going on a date, hanging out with friends or taking your visiting family to Otto’s, you are sure to find something that everyone will enjoy. Otto offers salads, appetizers (meat, vegetable, fish or cheese), pizza, pasta and an extensive wine collection.
- Vibe/Layout: Beyond its revolving front door is a wine bar and elevated tables that help to set up the atmosphere for the large interior. The middle section of the ‘straunt is finished with red walls and wooden tables and provides a more intimate feel with tables of 2 and 4. The back section of the ‘straunt is bustling and chatty and ideal for hosting larger parties.
- Ideal meal: Caprese salad ($8), pane frattau pizza ($13) (tomato, pecorino, egg) and milk chocolate chip gelato (special thanks to my mom for teaching me to always leave room for dessert)
- F.Y.I.: This ‘straunt is modeled off of a train station, such that, upon checking in, your group will be given the name of a city and you watch the train schedule board click away until your reservation is called. In addition, “Otto Enoteca” actually means wine bar and offers more than 700 types of vino.
- Address: Greenwich Village, 1 5th Avenue (on 8th St and 5th Ave)
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- Why it’s worth it: Jane has large portions, the price is right and the brunch items come with a complimentary cocktail. Definitely a default brunch spot on the weekends!
- Vibe: Cozy and modern decor with a relaxed vibe. This spot is always crowded on the weekends, so be sure to make a reservation before going (I can’t stress this enough!). Great brunch spot for friends and family, but definitely not a first date spot!
- Layout: The space is tight, but the high ceilings make it so you can hear your friends. There is an upstairs and downstairs with ample seating and the downstairs level contains a waiting area and a private room.
- Ideal meal: The brunch menu covers all the basics, but they also serve chicken and waffles! I LOVE the classic Eggs Benedict ($18); however, for those who prefer their brunches on the sweeter side: the Vanilla Bean French Toast ($18) that I tried off my aunt’s plate was delicious as well (Thanks Aunt Susan!)! The challah bread was thick and delicious and the texture was amazing. Served with a generous sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar and maple syrup, it’s sure to quell any sweet tooth!
- F.Y.I.: For Sunday brunch, if you get one of the brunch items, you receive a complimentary drink (freshly squeezed juices, apple champagne, Bloody Mary, mimosa, etc.)
- People behind Jane: Jane is owned and operated by Jeffrey Lefcourt and Glenn Harris (of Corner Table Restaurants), who also own and operate The Smith.
- Address: Greenwich Village, 100 W. Houston St. (near Thompson St)
- Prices: $4-$25 (depends how fancy you want to get…and how hungry you are)