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111 East 7th Street
Virgola 1 Italian East Village

As Joseph Marazzo tells it, the emerging chain of Virgola restaurants is a response to the unimaginative way in which seafood restaurants offer oysters in New York City. Joseph's oyster bar - which he physically built - emphasizes the “dark and sexy side of oysters” with its black brick walls, wine-colored leather couches, and warm light from the hanging chandeliers, making it an ideal place for an intimate dinner. As for its specialty, Joseph assured us that he serves the “freshest oysters of New York City at the best price,” but that is not all he offers. Fluke and mango ceviche, caviar, shrimp cocktail, and tuna tartar can be ordered alongside a special selection of salumi, cheeses, and salads. Joseph recommends the excellent house Italian prosecco to accompany any the dishes.

The success of the oyster bar’s locations in the East and West Village can be traced to no other than Joseph, a third-generation Sicilian with decades of experience in the culinary industry. He began his culinary career in a Japanese restaurant at seventeen, from which he learned the cleanliness, efficiency, and organization of Japanese tradition. After that, he worked in numerous Italian restaurants. As if running restaurants in New York City were not enough, Joseph is also a boxer who trains six days a week. This ambition and energy in his personal life translates to his business: He plans to open a third location in Manhattan along with one in Florida and one in Oklahoma, to make sure that people outside of New York have the chance to eat oysters as they should be, “dark and sexy.”

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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