Discover more from FOUND NY
Fishing for corn cob gelato in a sea of sameness
RESTAURANTS • First Person
Live in New York City long enough, and eventually every place is taking the place of something that was there before. Something, more likely than not, that someone — perhaps you — even loved.
I didn’t love Cafe Loup, the classic, threadbare bar/restaurant on West 13th Street, as much as some of my friends did. But I always liked stopping in, especially on the nights that were just martinis at the bar. (One thing that could always be said about Cafe Loup: the bartenders were magnificent.) Cafe Loup closed in 2018, seized by the city for back taxes.
This past Saturday, I stepped into the old Cafe Loup space, reborn earlier this month as Cecchi’s, named for its new proprietor and (maître d') Michael Cecchi-Azzolina. The space has been punched up, the colors darker, the barstools shining. The room was alive, with Cecchi-Azzolina working his way from table to table, greeting his guests. The menu, however, did not excite, and, quite tragically, neither did the martinis.
A few nights earlier, down in Soho, a similar experience at Sartiano’s. There, club impresario Scott Sartiano has taken over the longtime Mercer Kitchen space. To his credit, fans of the Mercer Kitchen will appreciate the preservation of that dining room’s bones. As at Cecchi’s, the place was rocking. But the menu here also disappointed. A sea of sameness pervades the food at both places — bistro stalwarts, big steaks and seafood, and the like. This is not food to get excited about, at least not in the middle of summer.
Also this past weekend, a visit, finally, to the new Superiority Burger on Avenue A in the old Odessa space. It’s as good as everyone says, and somehow the room’s been elevated into something even more essentially New York — casual, electric, supremely itself. Proprietor Brooks Headley heard us reminiscing about Odessa and told us he believes the choice of tenant here came down to his restaurant or a Chase bank. Score one for NYC, and for a restaurant unlike any other. Oh, and order the corn cob gelato and apricot tart at all costs. –Lockhart Steele
→ Cecchi’s (Greenwich Village), 105 West 13th St. (between 6-7th Aves.), Resy
→ Sartiano’s (Soho), 99 Prince St. (at Mercer), Resy
→ Superiority Burger (East Village), 119 Avenue A (between E. 7th-St. Marks), no reservations except for the just-opened private-ish dining room that comprises the former bar waiting space