Where to Shop Like a Chef
The current issue of New York features a command performance by Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld. Their extensive guide to the new trend of food markets spun off from restaurants belongs on every New Yorker’s refrigerator door — these stores are “stocked with the precision and artistry of museum curators.” And in their guise as the Underground Gourmet, they introduce us to a former art-supply store now serving what the Robs say is some of the best Mexican food in Brooklyn. Something tells us Dumbo General Store is going to be packed this week.
Puglian Restaurant Coming to East Village
The corner of Avenue B and 11th Street has a troubled history for restaurants. Paolina, despite fresh, authentic, inexpensive Italian food, went out of business there, and then Matt Hamilton’s Uovo, despite favorable reception, also closed, thanks to its lack of a liquor license. Now comes a third try, La Scarpetta, a traditional Puglian restaurant from Pasquale Martinelli. Martinelli was the chef at Bellavitae, a restaurant beloved by Adam Platt, so there’s some hope, but at the current East Village rents, and with the presence of something approaching a curse, we have to wonder if it will play. Fate has to be kind, but if we were Martinelli, we’d be more worried about the community board. They’re throwing liquor licenses around these days like they were manhole covers.
Back of the House
Liquor Task Force Giving Restaurateurs the ShakesAlcohol is the lifeblood of the restaurant business. (We would liked to have said wine, which sounds less vulgar, but you can’t charge a 400 percent markup on that.) In light of the city’s recent nightclub murders, and with a growing number of protests over bar-generated noise, the State Liquor Authority is taking a verrry close look at who’s getting liquor licenses these days, and the hospitality business as a whole is getting nervous — morning-shakes nervous. This fear seems increasingly well founded. Crain’s reports that the SLA is now forming a “task force” to look into how licenses are issued. (Registration’s required to read the article.) Even in areas like Queens, local politicians are calling for a tightening, if not an outright ban, on new permits. “The blockade of issuing licenses to bars has hurt the restaurant business too,” Uovo owner Matt Hamilton told Eater in September, after his restaurant closed about a year into a license-less existence. The board is already so restrictive that before chocolate entrepreneur Richard Perl could open the Chocolat Michel Cluizel store in ABC Carpet & Home, he was forced to get a full liquor license in order to sell Kirsch-filled chocolate-covered cherries. Poor restaurateurs! They’re as alcohol-dependent, in their own way, as a red-eyed grill man the morning after.