Open to 4:00 a.m. every night - no exceptions - this scantly lit Irish watering hole has everything one could expect from a real neighborhood bar. It is well-stocked with liquor, the beer and wine list is eclectic, the TV's are always broadcasting various sporting events, and the menu is simple with only two choices - Ham and Gruyere or Cheddar and Onion sandwiches. Our bartender called this place a “gentleman’s bar” - no pitchers, no Bud Lite. "It is where the regulars hang out, old timers from along the street or avenues, and a few artists." This is one of those East Village pubs where people come by to rest their elbows on the scuffed bar-top, have a good conversation, and down a pint.
"The Two Faces of Italian Food" is the tagline at this restaurant and wine bar. The perfect blend they are referring to is tradition and innovation. The menu boasts homemade and traditional options - the wine list is not limited to Italian varieties, though the beer is. We stopped in briefly and relaxed with a glass of wine in their quiet back garden and spoke with one of the restaurant's partners as waiters set up for that evening's meal. When we asked him to describe the food that Giano served in a short sentence he told us humbly: "Italian food. No big deal." Can't wait to try it!
We had the pleasure of spending time at Joe's Bar in 2011 before Joe passed away and it closed down. Continuously operated for over one hundred years, Joe's even had a bowling alley down stairs in the early 1900's. Now, renamed to Josies, the bar is owned by the guy who also runs Sophie's. This was his favorite place to hang out years ago, and he has every intention of keeping the bar's "small town" feeling exactly the same. "The theme of this bar will be just that - a bar where people can play pool and listen to the juke box," the contractor of Josies told us. Hopefully, the bar still remains as the neighborhood hangout that it was before Joe passed away - a place where moms came in the late afternoon for coffee with friends and babies and the locals drank at night.
The East Village has notoriously been New York’s counterculture epicenter. It has become synonymous with art, music, grit, and grunge: a good place to let your freak flag fly. It comes as no surprise, then, that this beloved East Village dive bar, built in 1835, was a haunt for people like Frank Sinatra, Allen Ginsberg, The Ramones, W. H. Auden, and legend has it, even Leon Trotsky. It closed its doors in 2012, but resurfaced in the spring of 2015, new and improved and ready to welcome a new generation of creatives over its dimly lit threshold.Pirate Booty’s founder Robert Ehrlich and La Palapa owner Barbara Sibley teamed up to restore the old neighborhood staple. They cleaned the place up, but still aimed to keep some of the grungy charm that kept people coming back; A mural dating back to the 1920s still remains, as well as a wooden phone booth and classic horseshoe bar. Holiday Cocktail Lounge has all the eccentricity of the East Village that people have come to expect from time-honored St Marks Place establishments with just a touch of contemporary chic.
In May 2006, Ten Degrees opened its doors under owner Moti Hasson. With a staff “so lovely” that he would have them at his own Thanksgiving dinner, Moti told us that he runs his business with “great” and “honest” service. In the ensuing years, he has worked to provide “high quality product without asking high prices." Dark wood, warm lighting, and comfortable seating provide the perfect backdrop for those looking for a place that has a vast selection of wines or who want to try some great local beers -- all accompanied by a comforting meal from an eclectic menu. Ten Degrees also hosts private parties in its back room - an ideal space for an intimate gathering.
The ice cream at Alphabet Scoop is refreshing in more ways than one:Managed by Robbie Vedral, Alphabet Scoop is an extension of Father’s Heart Ministry, which has been focused on empowering the neighborhood youth in the Lower East Side since 2005. Robbie, for his part, has always believed that if you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of you—in this case, those employees just so happen to be high schoolers from the East Village.Under the wishes of his parents, who are still pastors of the church next door, Robbie has taken it upon himself to hold Alphabet Scoop to an uncompromising standard, always ensuring that things are done right. From a background of 25 years in retail, Robbie has found that he can learn from anyone’s mistakes - including his own. He has, in this vein, adjusted the shop’s schedule to keep it open all year; previously it was just a summer stop, but Robbie found that being a seasonal location made it more difficult for customers to anticipate when Alphabet Scoop would be in business.So, now, rather than seasonal hours, Alphabet Scoop boasts seasonal flavors. Pistachio flavor, a summer 2019 special, comes highly recommended by the Manhattan Sideways team. Alphabet Scoop is also constantly experimenting with new flavors suggested to them by customers, so if you’ve been saving up that million-dollar ice cream flavor idea, Alphabet Scoop might just be the place to make it a reality. The “sweet n’ salty” flavor is proof of the potential here, as it was suggested by one of the shop’s younger customers.While the spritely New Yorkers that work in the shop are paid for their work, Alphabet Scoop is also a non-profit. The mission, transparently, is as stated on the walls: “Justice & Sprinkles for all.” The kids, typically between the ages of 14 and 16, learn all aspects of the business, from hands on skills such as making ice cream to managerial skills like taking inventory. The goal of Alphabet Scoop is to encourage maximum involvement from its employees, so they are invited to help make decisions about the business. Robbie told us a story of a young woman, for example, who has worked in the shop for close to two years, and who was initially quite difficult to work with - but with patience and persistence from Robbie and other employees, the young woman grew to better understand the mission of Alphabet Scoop, and now even has keys to the shop.Robbie’s work at Alphabet Scoop shows the importance of creating strong foundations for young people, as well as how truly influential small businesses can be in their communities. Stop by the shop - any time of year - to help Robbie make his impact.
“By 1958, it was a social club. My grandfather's friends from Ukraine — everyone who had survived WWII — were spending time here.” Mike’s grandfather, Michael Roscishewsky Sr., was very strict. He had a set of rules by which he ran Blue & Gold, named for the colors of his country’s flag. He wore a three-piece suit and tie topped with an apron every day. He also would not allow in anyone wearing denim, and women could not come in unaccompanied. “When he ultimately let women come in on their own, as well as people wearing jeans, he thought it was the end of the world,” Mike shared.Mike’s grandfather traveled through Germany in the 1940s, then to England, and eventually landed in the East Village. He owned a grocery store on 10th Street, saved up enough money, and opened Blue & Gold. He ran the bar until he retired in 1981, and his daughter, Julia, Mike’s mom, took over. On Christmas Eve of 1989, when Mike was only seventeen, the bartender took the evening off. “I covered her shift, and since then I have worked behind the bar, here and there, while running the whole place. My mom retired in full in 2002.” Back in the day, Blue & Gold opened at 9 a.m. as they welcomed the retired firemen, police officers, and other members of the community. “We were a family. If I was five minutes late, there was always a line of retired guys waiting for me.” In the 1970s, Mike’s grandfather was one of the first to have a color TV, allowing people to come in to watch the Yankees. He also had an air conditioner, making it the place that everyone wanted to spend time. The flow of clientele was slow and steady: they would come in from opening until noon, have two or three drinks, and leave, and then the next shift would arrive to occupy the barstools between noon and 6 p.m. “They had their quotas of what they could drink and afford. Nobody drinks like that anymore.”As the scene in the East Village began to change, Mike witnessed Blue & Gold transform from a place for old Ukrainians, to a hangout for musicians, poets, and artists, to becoming a college bar. During the week, they would greet the older clientele and on the weekends the younger folk. More recently, Mike found there is a switch where the regulars change up every five years or so. “Most come to New York with a hope and a dream and it takes them about this amount of time to realize it isn't, necessarily, going to work. However, all roads continue to lead to Blue & Gold. If you come to New York, you find your way to us.”
We stumbled upon Maiden Lane on a quiet, foggy afternoon in mid-June. The weather was fitting: this is a bar and restaurant that takes its name, design, and menu from the concept of the port city and the long-past days when men sailed and fished the high seas. Niles, the owner, explained to me that “Maiden Lane” was a common street name in port cities of old. The wives and daughters of sailors and fishermen lived on these streets – cooking, doing their washing, and waiting for the return of their husbands, fathers, and sons.Indeed, the entire restaurant revolves around this seafaring theme. It is predominantly a beer and wine bar, serving everything from Narragansett to more specialized craft beer, as well as a variety of wines, and a few cocktails. The food menu focuses on seafood, especially cured and smoked items from the local farmers’ market. It’s not a full menu, but the offerings pair nicely with the different beverages and can be used as upscale bar food or a small meal.The restaurant itself is tiny, folded into a small, square space at the corner of 10th Street and Avenue B. Its simple interior is further evocative of the port-city theme: brick walls, wooden tables, large side windows, and even a stone slab for a bar. The place feels spare, but lovely, and is doubtless appealing to its hip East Village neighbors.