The restaurant of the summer, part II
Bar Vinazo, Roscioli, Earl Swanigan, the Brass Factory, Luger menu redux, more
RESTAURANTS • First Person
Dreaming of summers past and present
Summer arrives, officially, in New York City tomorrow at 10:57am. It’s a good moment to reflect further on an ongoing FOUND concern, namely: 2023’s restaurant of the summer.
The restaurant of the summer is a freshly opened place that captures the spirit of that particular season — not unlike a song of the summer. Ten years ago, in 2013, that restaurant was Charlie Bird. In the northwest corner of Soho, it brought a true lightness, helped largely by its west-facing windows and the low-slung buildings across Sixth Avenue which allow for the golden hour sun to pour in. It’s not a restaurant you only want to visit in summer, but it’s the season when it shines.
Last year’s restaurant of the summer, though, is a place I’m not sure I’d want to dine at outside of peak season: Laser Wolf (above). Opening in early May, the Williamsburg rooftop serving Michael Solomonov’s pita bread, salatim, and skewers became an impossible reservation overnight, though everyone somehow found their way in. My meal there in mid-July was my favorite of last summer, challenged only by the other top contender for last summer’s restaurant of the summer, Cafe Spaghetti in Carroll Gardens. (Any restaurant boasting a Vespa in its backyard is an immediate short-list for consideration.)
This summer’s Cafe Spaghetti might also be in Brooklyn. A FOUND subscriber emails: “Another contender for restaurant of the summer: Bar Vinazo in Park Slope. Incredible wine list and tinned fish and a beautiful backyard.” Joey Campanale (Fausto, Lalou) seldom misses, so: noted.
Manhattan bias will always push me back towards that island, though, and it may be that the restaurant of summer 2023 is emerging right around the corner from Charlie Bird. Later this week, previews begin at Roscioli NYC, Ariel Arce’s import of Rome’s most important restaurant of the past 20 years. (As I was planning a trip to Rome last year, one food writer friend I asked for advice started, “Well, besides Roscioli…”)
Rome’s Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina is a place where the walls are stocked with thousands of jars you want to pack away to carry home, and throughout it, a restaurant of sorts serving some of the best Italian cooking you’ve ever had. Arce says they’re planning to have a store element to Roscioli NYC along with multiple dining experiences, all of it replacing the ongoing party that was her underrated restaurant Niche Niche and its downstairs lounge, Special Club. It’s a divine setting on a perfect streetcorner. Eagerly, we await. –Lockhart Steele
→ NEW LUGER MENU: A FOUND correspondent emails, “The Peter Luger (Williamsburg) menu gained a crab cake earlier this year, the first notable addition to the menu since a Ribsteak was added back in the mid-aughts during a Prime beef shortage. But what to make of the volley of new additions that the venerable Williamsburg steakhouse unleashed recently — including, notably, two varieties of steak sandwich, limited in quantity and served only at lunch? It may be the imminent opening of the Las Vegas branch of the now burgeoning chain.”
NYC RESTAURANT LINKS: An oral history of Long Island Bar: ‘It has the frisson of a classic New York moment’ • Angel’s Share debuts new digs in West Village • Central Park Boathouse Cafe reopened over the weekend • Enrique Olivera planning a taqueria in Williamsburg • A curbside dining demolition like no other.
GOODS & SERVICES • The Nines
Haute provisioning, home delivery
The Tin Building, Jean-Georges fried chicken delivered, yes please
Natoora, extremely elevated fruit, produce, and more
Farm to People, farm boxes delivered to NYC, fka Quinciple
FreshDirect, don’t sleep on the prepared foods
Browne Trading Co., seafood from Maine favored by Eric Ripert
Crowd Cow (above), top online retailer of Japanese wagyu
Thrive Market, organic grocery delivery
Regalis, for rare and specialty item delivery
Got a good source? Hit reply or email email@example.com.
GOODS & SERVICES: FOUND Object
Show me your Earl
I recently bought a painting by Earl Swanigan, Hudson’s famous outsider artist, as an NYU graduation present for my best friend’s daughter. Earl was a real personality around Hudson before he died in 2019. He used to sell his paintings from a shopping cart and you could always find him on the street or get word to him that you wanted to buy a painting. There were frequent rumors swirling that he was doing a collaboration with Marc Jacobs, but I don't think that ever materialized.
Everyone up here has one and it's fun when you go to someone's house in the Hudson Valley to see their “Earl.” (I have one of two dogs in sheriff suits.) I bought one of a dog and a donkey for a friend that I really regret giving him. I gave another dog on a tractor to a farmer friend. Earl did a lot of dogs on trapezes and went through a pornographic stage that was not his high point. His Obama period produced some great work though. I wish I had bought one of those.
A lot of stores in Hudson were stockpiling Earls, but they’re hard to find now. (You can browse the online market here, here, and here.) I had heard the woman at the White Whale on Warren Street in Hudson had a few good ones left and got very lucky to find this 'cat' Earl there (pictured above). It’s a bit bigger than I wanted. The owner said she has some choice pieces at home that she refuses to sell. But there’s still one more too-big Earl left for sale at the shop. –Ann Marie Gardner
GOODS & SERVICES LINKS: Inside Aston-Martin’s new NYC design center • Cashmere boutique Lingua Franca moves to Jane Street • Legendary Cobble Hill butcher Staubitz Market in danger of closing • Ice cream micro-chain Ample Hills is BACK • Get the Banshees look.
WORK • Tuesday Routine
Finding spaciousness in an oasis of calm
It’s Tuesday morning, where are you working?
I start my day by taking my daughter to school on my e-bike, blaring a “DJ Viva” playlist on a portable speaker as we zoom down Berry Street. It's one of Williamsburg's main thoroughfares, and these days, closed to through traffic as part of NYC Open Streets. After drop-off, I sometimes take a detour to Rhythm Zero, an amazing new coffee shop in Greenpoint that makes me feel like I took a quick trip to Copenhagen. Then I head into my office at the Brass Factory in Williamsburg. It’s this great independent, women-owned, under-the-radar spot and, IMO, the best co-working space in all of NYC.
What’s the Tuesday morning scene at your workplace?
The Brass Factory is a plant-filled converted warehouse, quiet and spacious — an oasis of calm. Alice, the owner, is always floating around, welcoming everyone and usually in the process of putting out fresh fruit and croissants (like I said, not your everyday co-working space). I sit down across from my partner Piera [Gelardi]. My desk is pretty clean and organized, hers is covered in Post-Its for the book she's writing.
What’s on the agenda for today?
After three years of working on Lonely Planet, I’m in exploration mode and enjoying a bit of spaciousness in my life. In the morning, I have a check-in with Piera — I’m helping her with some product work as she’s getting ready to launch a new business focused on the power of a playful mindset for adults. From there I explore new things I’m interested in. I love creating and reinventing meaningful brands. I have a few new business ideas in travel that I’m really energized about, so I’ve been pitching friends and family to see if they are equally as excited.
This is my off time so I allow myself extended strolls through the neighborhood where I constantly discover new spots like Academy Record Annex on Banker Street, which must be the coolest record store. For extra kicks, I’m currently obsessing over mastering the Rubik's cube in under two minutes – I think I’m entitled to at least one cliche “I’m on a work break” hobby.
What’s for lunch?
There’s a new salad pop-up called Eden’s. No sit-down option but amazing salads in a world of infinite generic salads. (They have a collaboration with Acme Smoked Fish). Two neighborhood mainstays that I still love after all these years are Cafe Mogador and Sweetwater. And if you’re in the mood for something new try K’far in the Hoxton Hotel for some awesome Israeli food.
Any plans tonight?
As the parent of a young daughter, my evenings out are severely limited these days. One thing I’m dying to check out right now is KAGAMI at the Shed, a mixed reality concert by Ryuichi Sakamoto, fusing virtual performance with the real world. The Shed puts on amazing programming and it doesn’t seem to get all of the hype, a rarity in NYC.
WORK • Cycles
Can we lift the shroud now?
It’s been almost 18 months since the stock market peaked near 4,800 the week between Christmas ’21 and New Year’s ’22. Debt was still cheap, to the tune of 3% 30-year fixeds.
By spring, the tide had definitively turned. Over a drink in early May ’22 with a friend who had witnessed a cycle or two, I fished for optimism. “Hunker down for 12 to 18 months,” she said.
Down cycles are hard. In the winter of 2009, masons repointed the brick of our mid-block office on Cooper Square in the East Village. To do the work, they shrouded the facade in an opaque black netting (above, hi Dan). Dark times, literally and figuratively.
Eventually, brick by brick, the light shone again.
Last week, when the S&P 500 reached back up for 4,400 and the Fed paused, I allowed myself a look at the calendar. It had been 13 months since that drink, almost 18 since the peak. And then I read a blog post from the venture capitalist Fred Wilson, who had just returned from a short break from writing. Was his absence a sign of “the dark times,” as a reader had suggested? No, he wrote:
The combination of computer science advances in machine learning, decentralized systems (blockchains), and new forms of interacting with computers (chat interfaces, heads up displays, voice, etc) presents the most potent cocktail of innovation I have ever seen. We are also seeing amazing scientific advances in areas like renewable/clean energy, health and wellness (biotech), robotics, and many other areas.
These are bright times. As bright as they come.
The market’s closed for the holiday as I write this. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. But it definitely feels lighter out there. –Josh Albertson
NYC WORK LINKS: May RTO check: NYC in top tier • It’s hard to run a restaurant in post-pandemic Times Square • Ex-Met Matt “The Dark Knight” Harvey joins commercial real estate firm Newmark • Goldman Sachs is at war with itself • Brooklyn data startup BHR wants to tame real estate data • What work used to be like in the early aughts: an oral history.
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PROMPTS, two new, one for which we continue to seek more intel:
I'm a home pour-over obsessive and want to up my game. Who's selling the best beans in New York right now?
What are the best/coolest coworking spaces? There are so many to choose from.
Back when I was a law firm summer associate, we used to go out for long, fancy lunches with partners. Is that still a thing? What are the new hot spots?