this is not my beautiful block

from the crazy east village portal I call home, directly across from Tompkins Square Park on 7th between Avenues A and B, it’s a whacked out dimensia ~ my radius of New York City. we’re actually one of the more residential blocks bordering the park. residential, but bookmarked by Niagra and Horseshoe bars, with only a dry cleaners (which used to be a liquor store eons ago) and a now-closed hot dog spot rounding out the commercial offerings. not so overdone as some of the truly commercial blocks of the EV. but there’s a lot of change afoot in our hood.

down the block, what had been a formerly a fairly quiet, hipster clothing boutique’d block, there is a flurry of commercial activity, especially between 1st and A. can you say outrageous rises in rent? one very cool men’s wear shop succumbed months ago only to become a(nother) hair salon. (at last count, i think there are no fewer than five salons on that block alone.) the old world candle and spell shoppe, presto chango, is getting whipped into shape as “affitato,” an Italian charcuterie set to open within two weeks, helmed by Jason, the former owner of the 7th street (further west) wooden indian cigar bar. the new, expanded Bourgois Pig recently moved from one side of the street to the other, near the church, and now Ravi and his crew can cater more than ever to the Williamsburg-esque cocktail hour traveler types. just a week ago, a fedora-topped dandy with a waxed handlebar moustache (it seems to be a growing trend among young gentlemen), vest, tie and retro oxfords stood looking perplexed in front of the old BP, phoning in to find the correct rendez-vous spot. the burgeoning Bourgois Pig (there is a second in the west village) outgrew its tiny abode on the south side of the street only a year or so into its growth and took over newly expanded digs in Heatherette’s old studio next to the orthodox ukranian church, it’s french brothel style interiors an ironic juxtapositioning. the former Bodanna pottery shop that both sold and taught the exquisite art of ceramics (and, simultaneously, contributed greatly as a charitable organization apprenticing inner city youths) is morphing into lord knows what, at this time…. more to come when the “for rent” signs come down.

but i’m pleased to see most of these changes. I mean, 7th street, especially between avenue A and 1st, is fostering a real foodie feeling. Already bolstered by the stalwart and predictably good 7A, 7th street has profited by the now-several-years-old Yuca Bar, a welcome change from the badly-modified “new” old Leschko’s. Pylos is firmly planted in its Greek roots. Caracas is the go-to arepa hang out. BP has excellent and delicious selections of fondue, as well as cheese and charcuterie platters. i wonder if they’ll branch our and order from affitato. now with Giano, the new Italian wine bar/restaurant open next to Pylos, you can dine on 7th and not even feel like you’re in New York, let alone the EV. the night we were there, the couple next to us had that dashing continental flare, spoke only Italian and must have been friends of the owners. we felt like we were in Milano.

Tuscany by way of avenue C would just about be the best way to describe the newly opened Alphabet City Wine Co. started by the guys who run In Vino on 4th street, ACWCo. takes you to Italy and beyond with a well-thought out range of nicely-priced, provocative wines from around the world. they even have a Mexican bordeux. and tastings every tuesday and saturday. in other words, a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

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