Serious Eats Neighborhood Guides: Carlos Suarez's West Village
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When restaurateur Carlos Suarez (the mastermind behind West Village hot spots Bobo and Rosemary's) was away at boarding school in England, he pined after the meals cooked by his mother Rosemary (cue "aww"s). Perhaps that's why he's chosen to plant his roots close to home. He lives right above his first restaurant Bobo, in the century-old townhouse in which the restaurant is situated. With an outdoor garden on the second floor, it's a true respite from the city's hustle and bustle, and he's brought more of that beauty to the neighborhood with a rooftop garden that provides the produce for Rosemary's. Check out the other spots he frequents that make the West Village feel like home.
Pizza, slice: Two Boots' Cleopatra Jones slice with sweet Italian sausage, roasted peppers and onions (though I recommend rubbing some of the semolina off the bottom first). I also love Bleecker Street Pizza's Grandma slice. It's great: the indulgent amount of cheese and dough are balanced by the brightness of the chunky tomatoes.
Pizza pie: Plain pie at John's of Bleecker. The pie is great and I love the old school Americana atmosphere. I grew up in England, and John's gives me some of the American Graffiti experience I felt that I missed out on.
Burger: I like to have lunch at the bar at Corner Bistro, read the paper, and catch part of a Yankees game on the big screen. This place still has some magic left.
Sandwich: Sant Ambroeus's Panino is basically a schnitzel sandwich, made with incredible bread. My grandmother is Austrian so I grew up eating schnitzel sandwiches. There's that and the fact that it's about the only thing I can afford on the menu. Well, that and breakfast.
Breakfast: Buvette's steamed scrambled eggs showered with Parmigiano Reggiano win for ingenuity and fluffy decadence. Saint Ambroeus for quality scrambled eggs, great bread, fantastic coffee, and an elegant sidewalk cafe, best enjoyed before the neighborhood wakes up.
Bagel: Murray's Everything bagel. I've attempted to order this for delivery on a rainy weekend morning and found out that most of the neighborhood has had the same idea. Save yourself the frustration and just walk there in your PJs. Or failing that, the Everything bagel at Gourmet Garage is more than serviceable. Maybe I'm admitting to being a bagel moron. Alas, the closest thing to a bagel we had growing up in England is a round-about.
Delivery food: Thank god I'm in Republic's delivery zone. They have the best, most consistent, high-quality, great value delivery going. Republic is all about the spicy beef broth noodles, the salmon sashimi salad, and the BBQ pork noodles. Clean, bright flavors, heat, savoriness, and freshness. I will not move outside their delivery zone!
Dive bar: Does Fat Cat count? This has to be the most wildly entertaining and generally wholesome basement bar in America. See my note about American Grafitti. This place has it in spades—cheap beer, ping pong, pool, shuffle board, and they have live bands every night. One can get pretty bonkers and no one seems to mind.
Ice cream/gelato: The olive oil coppetta at Otto is one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten—savory or sweet. If you happen to be lucky enough to be enjoying it at the bar, you would do well to befriend Dennis. You're welcome!
Falafel: I went through a period of hitting Taim several times a week for lunch. The order: Red (falafel), whole wheat, extra spicy pickles and a ginger-mint lemonade.
Tacos: Mercadito's tacos de Cameron have been a summertime staple for several years. Their homemade chips are satisfyingly thick and salty, the guacamole dependably spicy, and these rock shrimp pockets of juicy heat are a surefire crowd-pleaser.
Late-night eats: Jody Williams is a genius, and Buvette is likely my favorite spot in the entire neighborhood. The details are so elegant—they are at once mind-blowing and devastatingly humbling, the cast of characters completely fascinating, and her classic French food is deeply gratifying. Her lentils, her leek vinaigrette, her miniature boeuf bourguignon, the tarte tatin, and the mousse au chocolat are all best-in-class dishes, no matter the neighborhood or price point. France should honor Jody for resurrecting traditional French dishes after they were nearly killed off by years of abuse at big box bistros.