Walking into Timna, a chic Israeli restaurant, on a rainy day, the Manhattan Sideways team and I immediately felt at ease in the exposed brick space with a long bar lit with candles and a central herb garden built into the dividing wall. Amir, the general manager, met us and told us that the brick structure that gives the restaurant so much of its character is the original wall, found after peeling away bits of paint and paper during construction. Graffiti can still be seen on part of the original sections. Amir also pointed out that the lanterns that decorate the space are made of woks and mixing bowls. The clever design made with simple materials is just one way in which Timna is steeped in culture.
Since opening, Amir has had customers come back for a variety of dining experiences, whether it be a full dinner, a casual snack, or a glass of wine. “During the weekend, we get a real party scene,” he said with a smile. Amir introduced us to Nir, the head chef, who told us a little more about the menu. He explained that the idea of “farm to table” is already firmly ingrained in Israeli food culture, and so they have been welcomed by New Yorkers who also embrace local, fresh foods. Nir began his career in Tel Aviv before moving to Milan to open a kosher restaurant. He then worked at Catit and Mizlala, two acclaimed Israeli restaurants from renowned chef Meir Adoni, before moving to New York to start Zizi Limona in Brooklyn. In April of 2015, he opened Timna in an effort to bring Israeli food to Manhattan. The word “Timna” refers to a national park in Israel that sits on ancient mines, but it is also known for having been a stop on the old Spice Road. As Amir said, “Timna is a fork in the road – it represents the fact that we all come from different places.” Nir explained that many people only think of hummus and falafel when they think of Israeli food, but that since Israel represents a mix of so many different cultures, the cuisine is far more colorful and complicated.
Having spent time in Israel, I was pleased to now have Olivia, Sophie, and Tom get to experience first-hand how varied their food can be. Standing by as Nir brought out a Bedouin octopus and Mediterranean sashimi for them to try, Amir affectionately commented that “Nir is like a grandmother – he wants to feed you.” The roasted octopus came with a series of flavorful sauces, including roasted eggplant and sesame paste. Sophie, whose father is from Israel, reflected that these were the flavors of her childhood, as she visited Israel often. The sashimi was deemed extremely fresh and perfectly paired with quinoa and more creamy flavor-filled sauces. When we paid our visit, Timna had not received its full liquor license, and so Amir showed us the clever list of fortified wine cocktails, made using innovative ingredients like juniper and star anise syrup. The wines themselves represent a wide geographic range, from California to Lebanon.
Both the food and the drinks menu are seasonal - they change almost daily. Nir showed us a pile of zucchini blossoms that he had purchased from the market that morning and was piping with cream, basil and shrimp. This item was making its debut that evening. As he guided us past a mouth watering table of traditional Yemeni breads baked in flower pots, Nir went on to say that he would really like to put Israeli food on the map. Amir added that they have gotten really good feedback from Israelis who have come to dine at Timna, but that the restaurant has also become popular with the locals. “I feel like we’re a good fit for the neighborhood. We are creating a restaurant where people want to come back over and over again.” He added that since so many people only know Israel from its role in world news, he hopes that Timna will highlight the creative side of Israel, rather than the political side. In closing, Amir sweetly stated, “We’re here to make people happy in a humble, genuine way.”
Since its inception, Cafe Mogador has become a beloved East Village institution. In fact, it gained such a devoted following from both New York locals and celebrities that it later opened a second location in Williamsburg. The two successful restaurants, which specialize in inventive Moroccan-inspired dishes, owe their fame to the family that has continued to run both cafes. Cafe Mogador was founded by Rivka Orlin, who was born in the Moroccan city of Mogador that has since been re-named Essaouira. Though she and her family later emigrated to Israel, Rivka fostered a passion for both cuisines as she spent her childhood cooking alongside her mother. When Rivka and her brother moved to New York, there was no question that they would dedicate their new business to celebrating their heritage. The cafe is now known for Moroccan classics such as succulent braised tagines, warm homemade pitas, and a variety of dips, as well as its unexpected fusions with other cuisines, from Middle Eastern Eggs Benedict to duck confit.
What a find... down a flight of stairs from street level on 8th Street, Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor is the "antithesis of a sports bar. " Artisan and craft beer are brought together in a friendly environment that certainly had us feeling like we were right at home. The Parlor is also named for the Arts and Crafts movement, “a cultural revolt against the ideals of industrialization. ”When we visited, we spoke to Robert, one of the two owners, with whom we thoroughly enjoyed chatting. Robert is an internationally recognized speaker and writer on dining out and traveling with special diets (he co-authored the series Let’s Eat Out! ), and he also has a background in acting and producing on Broadway. He told us that the other owner, Don, has an impressive resume working with the FBI and counterterrorism efforts both in New York and around the world - which left us wondering what brought this dynamic duo together as friends and eventually co-owners. Robert informed us it was a love of American Craft Beer and the visual and performing arts... and that they actually met enjoying a pint of beer in Manhattan. Just as intriguing as its owners, the interior of Arts and Crafts is beautifully designed; the sophisticated wallpaper is custom made by Bradbury and Bradbury, and the soft green and beige pattern was Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite, supposedly. The constantly changing art is displayed along the wall opposite the bar, and an exposed brick wall and fireplace give the parlor a true “extension of your living room” feel. Described by Robert, as the “Bugatti of beer systems, ” the twenty plus beers the Parlor keeps on tap rotate monthly and are kept by this state of the art system at a refreshing 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Robert also astounded us with how small the carbon footprint of the Parlor is — he told us they are very conscious of keeping things compostable and earth-friendly. In addition to their rotating display of art from both established and up-and-coming artists, the Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor also hosts a monthly lecture series on the subjects of art as well as culinary topics. We could not get enough of how interesting this place is — both the concept of art and beer coming together and the two fascinating minds behind it.
The Village Party Store, also known as Balloon Shop NYC and Halloween Headquarters, is a one-stop shop bursting with festive finds. From Christmas baubles to Pride parade supplies, this humble hole-in-the-wall has everything needed to throw a bash to remember. Inside, the shop feels like a dollar store, with packed aisles full of plates, cups, banners, costumes and more. But the real gems are the memories made here. Since 1993, New Yorkers have flocked to this party supply store to prepare for life's celebrations, big and small. For many, it's a family tradition to pick up graduation balloons or new year's hats. For others, it's the perfect place to find a last-minute baby shower gift or bridal shower decor. What makes the Village Party Store stand out is its focus on customer service. The knowledgeable staff help each customer find what they need for their perfect party. Next time you're planning a special event, check out this Greenwich Village gem. You'll find what you need for a celebration to remember.
We love Buon Italia in Chelsea Market for all their fresh ingredients imported directly from Italy, and what better way to enjoy those ingredients than prepared in a traditional Italian-style panini? La Panineria offers just that since it was opened by Mario Pesce, whose uncle is the owner of Buon Italia over in Chelsea Market. La Panineria is a quaint, authentic little Italian deli that offers sandwiches, pastries and desserts, soups, cheese plates, beer, wine, soda, and coffee, in addition to their small selection of Italian groceries. The shop is small, with just a couple of barstools in the window and one central table for people to eat around, but the food is absolutely delicious. We sampled the Parma Panini — a perfect combination of prosciutto and robiola cheese, along with the Cornetto — the Italian’s take on the croissant filled with Nutella and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Needless to say our taste buds were satisfied as we chatted with Mario about the subtle but notable differences between “American” Nutella and authentic Italian Nutella (Italian Nutella is apparently slightly healthier! ).
Warhammer is the retail branch of an online British company that has been providing its unique gaming service for thirty years. The 8th Street location is New York's hotspot for miniature table-top war gaming. Eager workers will walk customers through every step - how to assemble the models, paint the pieces, and how to play the game itself. It takes a certain kind of patience and skill set to contract one's army and may appeal to a customer who enjoys strategy games such as chess. While it is recommended that kids begin learning the game at age twelve, we met a half a dozen men from ages eighteen to fifty who were sitting around the large table, chatting and toiling away on their magnificently detailed pieces.
Over many months, we had the pleasure of observing the construction of Amelie through each stage of its creation. To experience the ambience of this spectacular bar and restaurant alone is worth the visit... but then there is also the impressive wine list and a full French menu. The award-winning team behind Amelie in San Francisco opened their east coast wine bar in early 2012 and all we can say is tres delicieux.