Pearl and Ash (Nolita)

Pearl and Ash

  • Why it’s worth it: For an elegant and vibrant small plate menu with global influences and designed for communal consumption, one should head to Pearl and Ash.
  • Vibe/layout: Pearl and Ash occupies a long, sexy and relaxed space on the ground floor of the Bowery House and features a causal wine bar with backless stools, as well as an open kitchen, which faces a communal table, bare wooden tables and benches dressed in blue velvet. The asymmetrical wooden box-wall design separates this ‘straunt’s design from the rest in its flight. The wood compartments host trinkets, dried flowers and candles, which illuminate the all black and dimly lit room.
  • Ideal meal: Four dishes for two hungry people is the perfect amount; therefore, our top four recommendations are below:
    • Raw: tea cured salmon, goat cheese, tamarind, seaweed ($14)
    • Small: quail eggs, focaccia, trumpet royale, dandelion greens ($12)
    • Meat: duck, sweet potato, brussel sprouts ($18)
    • Vegetable: long beans, kale, peanut, bbq sauce ($9)
  • People behind the ‘straunt: Fluent with spices and Asian flavor, Chef Richard Kuo, a Taiwan-born Australian, logged time at Corton and wd~50 before starting his first solo ‘straunt, Pearl and Ash.
  • Conversation starter: The building in which Pearl and Ash resides was first opened in the 1920s as a “flophouse” or cheap hotel, called the Prince Hotel. Although the Bowery House has since transformed the upper levels of the building into an upscale hostel, there were still guests paying $10 a night to sleep in the cubicles on the second floor in 2013.
  • ‘Straunt tip: Check out the latest exhibition at the New Museum on Thursdays from 7-9 for pay-what-you-wish entrance and then dine at Pearl and Ash.
  • Address: Nolita, 220 Bowery (between Rivington & East Houston)
  • Price: $12-$18

Pearl & Ash on Urbanspoon

Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria (Noho/Greenwich Village): Mangia Monday

Photos by Cara Garcia-Bou

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!

Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria on Urbanspoon

The Garret (West Village): Speakeasy

The Garret Speakeasy West Village

  • Getting in: Do your best to make it past the delicious wafting scent of french fries and burgers, as you must walk into the Bleecker St Five Guys, go past the tables, the condiment stand, and the burger ordering station and make your way to the back staircase.
  • Vibe/layout: This impossible-to-find-unless-you’re-looking-for-it cocktail bar is hidden above a Five Guys, and features two massive vaulted skylights, a glass chandelier, several couches and vintage hourglasses. In addition, The Garret has a sunken private party room decked out with a taxidermied rhino head and copper ceilings. The best part about The Garret…besides the cocktails and the fact that you can snag a burger at literally any time: the pop-in breeziness…no reservations are needed.
  • Drinks: Signature cocktails are made from fresh ingredients right before your eyes, but we highly recommend the Sunken Santa (rum, pineapple, velvet falernum, St. Elizabeth allspice dram, angostura) ($14).
  • F.Y.I.: This speakeasy proudly displays the artwork of NYC based artists, including Bradley Theodore (the swans and skull paintings), Nick Bakita (the rhino head), Philip Mortillaro (the door) and Nathan Driver (painting).
  • ‘Straunt tip: Grab dinner at Jeffrey’s Grocery and then grab a drink here!
  • Address: West Village, 296 Bleecker St (7th Ave S & Bleecker)
  • Prices: $7-$14

Garret on Urbanspoon

Trattoria Il Mulino (Flatiron/Gramercy): Mangia Monday

TrattoriaIlMulino (1)

  • Why it’s worth it: Trattoria Il Mulino is the twelfth addition to Il Mulino New York’s global network of elite dining venues. This ‘straunt is the more casual, affordable and louder sister to Il Mulino New York, and is therefore an ideal intimate Italian ‘straunt for your next small or large dining party, date night or girls night out.
  • Vibe/layout: This spacious 140-seat ‘straunt baits a young demographic, and is unique in boasting an industrial chic atmosphere. Decked out with industrial accents, including concrete walls, exposed piping and light bulbs and a large NYC-themed mural by Vancouver artist, Tim Barnard, this ‘straunt offers an intimate dining setting for both small and large parties. The front section features tables for two, while the back section presents a sleek and sexy bar, which offers wood-fired pizzas as part of its late-night bar menu, and circular and rectangular dining tables for larger parties.
  • Ideal meal: Ricotta meatballs ($17) to start and ravioli ($26)
  • ‘Straunt tip: Grab dinner at Trattoria Il Mulino and then check out nearby speakeasy, Dear Irving.
  • Address: Flatiron/Gramercy, 36 East 20th St (between Park S & Broadway)
  • Prices: $10-$38

Trattoria Il Mulino on Urbanspoon

Cafeteria (Chelsea)

Cafeteria

  • Why it’s worth it: Cafeteria, a 24 hour ‘straunt, amps up the definition of comfort food and capitalizes on a prime people watching location, making it a great option for an after work drink or tasty meal with friends.
  • Vibe/layout: This ‘straunt is decked out in post-modern white, chrome and plastic, with wooden tables and a front wall made up of glass doors that lift up like a garage… leaving nothing in common with your typical school cafeteria. The ambiance is casual, yet upbeat and trendy.
  • Ideal meal: Mac attack tasting of all three mac and cheeses: cheddar & fontina, smoked gouda & bacon, with truffle oil ($14)… the crispy gooeyness will get you.
  • ‘Straunt tip: Check out the Phlegm mural on 17th between 9th & 10th and then indulge in amazing comfort food at Cafeteria.
  • Address: Chelsea, 119 7th Avenue (between 17th & 18th)
  • Prices: $10-$25

Cafeteria on Urbanspoon

Mulberry Project (Little Italy): Speakeasy

Mulberry Project Little Italy Speakeasy

  • Getting in: On a strip of Little Italy mostly known for its red-sauce Italian ‘straunts and cannoli vendors, The Mulberry Project hides from sight, behind a recessed red door below street level. Reservations for the backyard are recommended and on weekends a doorman will stand outside past 10pm.
  • Vibe/layout: This speakeasy is stylish without being pretentious. The interior is small, long and narrow with a few choice black leather booths along one wall and bright red metal bar stools at the bar. The bright crimson mural created by Kurtis Kulig (aka LoveMe at the Ace Hotel) highlights the speakeasy’s focal point, the bar, transforming it into a “stage” for cocktail craftsmanship. The dim lighting and color scheme, along with the industrial lamps dangling from the low ceiling, illuminate the energy and focus of this speakeasy: cocktails. In the summer, the back graffiti-decorated garden and patio is open (and is AMAZING).
  • Drinks: Order a custom-crafted cocktail. Period. I chose the ingredients of my drink from the chalkboard menu, my poison, desired flavors (sweet, spicy, sour, etc) and a selection of fresh fruit, et voila! My vodka-based mango cocktail with a bit of fizz was delicious! The combinations will vary from day-to-day and bartender to bartender, but the cocktails are all beautifully executed.
  • F.Y.I.: A collection of nightlife all-stars (Milk & Honey, Boom Boom Room, Surf Lodge, Bagatelle, RdV) reinvented their cocktails, menu and decor with this speakeasy.
  • Address: Little Italy, 149 Mulberry St (Mulberry & Grand)
  • Prices: Cocktails are around $15

The Mulberry Project on Urbanspoon

Chop-Shop (Chelsea)

Chop-Shop

  • Why it’s worth it: Chop-Shop, a Chinese/Southeast Asian restaurant, is a hidden gem in Chelsea, that is perfect for an early evening, post-gallery or pre-sunset on the High Line.
  • Vibe/layout: The decor of the cozy indoor portion of this ‘straunt is minimalist white, with the vibe low-key and inviting. The back of this ‘straunt opens up into an intimate garden patio with fairy string lights wrapped around tree branches (perfect for a date or gathering with close friends).
  • Ideal meal: Pan fried pork dumplings ($8) & spicy drunken noodle ($14)
  • F.Y.I.: This ‘straunt is unique such that there are no “starters” or “entrees;” there is just a list of dishes and their prices, all of which are amazing.
  • ‘Straunt tip: Check out the Kobra mural on 25th & 10th and then head to Chop-Shop for a delicious dinner!
  • Address: Chelsea, 254 10th Ave (corner of 25th St)
  • Prices: $7-$16

Chop-Shop on Urbanspoon