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21 East 7th Street
Porsena 1 Italian East Village

Chef Sara Jenkins has combined her love for both meat and pasta at Porsena, a delightful trattoria on one side and "Extra Bar" on the other. As many will recall, she originally had two separate locations - Porchetta used to be a few blocks east on 7th.

Although I first began walking on the side streets in 2011, today in 2017, I still have fond memories of the first time I dined at Porsena. It was during Passover: We did not order pasta, but rather chose carefully, as we were observing the holiday. A few minutes after the waiter took our order, the chef appeared at our table, and shyly asked if we were Jewish and therefore trying to avoid certain items on the menu. When we replied, “yes,” he immediately offered to prepare something special for us. He suggested the Pennette Col Cavolfiore to me, minus the pasta and the bread crumbs. A fantastic plate of roasted cauliflower mixed with olives, capers and garlic arrived – it was outstanding. Everyone’s dinner was perfect, and we will always remember the chef’s thoughtfulness.

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Porsena 1 Italian East Village
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Porsena 7 Italian East Village
Porsena 8 Italian East Village
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Porsena 10 Italian East Village
Porsena 11 Italian East Village

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Lost Gem
Tokio 7 1 Consignment Women's Shoes Mens Shoes Women's Clothing Mens Clothing undefined

Tokio 7

Most business owners know how difficult it is to bounce back after being robbed. Makoto Wantanabe has done it twice and, ironically, has a thief to thank for the very birth of Tokio 7. Makoto was globetrotting in the early 1990s when he arrived in Southern California on what was supposed to be the penultimate stop on his tour. He befriended a homeless man and let him stay in his hotel room for the night, but Makoto awoke to find everything except for his passport was stolen. Stranded with no money and far from his home in the Japanese countryside, Makoto called one of his only contacts in the U. S., who worked at a Japanese restaurant in Manhattan. He scrounged up enough money for a bus ticket and was off. While in New York, Makoto felt that men’s clothing suffered from a lack of style. Having always had a knack for fashion, he knew he could change that but lacked the funds to open a store with brand new clothing. So, after several years of saving his wages as a waiter, he founded one of the first consignment shops in New York City. Tokio 7 now carries men’s and women’s clothes, with the overarching theme being, as Makoto says, that they are simply “cool. ” The clothes are mostly from Japanese designers and name brands with unique twists. In the store, clothing that has been donated with a lot of wear is labeled “well loved. ”Despite its importance in the community, the shop fell on tough times during the COVID-19 pandemic. To make matters worse, Tokio 7 was looted in the summer of 2020 and had 300 items stolen. When Makoto contemplated closing his doors permanently, longtime customers begged him to reconsider. Resilient as ever, he set up a small photography area in the back of the shop and sold a portion of his clothes online to compensate for the decline of in-person purchases. Reflecting on his journey, Makoto marveled at the whims of fate. Had he not been robbed all of those decades ago in California, he had planned to start a life in the Amazon rainforest