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Wednesday
Jul292015

Signage Up at Artichoke Pizza, Coming Soon to Fifth 

There was much rejoicing when it was announced that mini-chain Artichoke Pizza would be opening a location on Fifth Avenue between St. Marks and Bergen (in the space last occupied by prepared foods shop Luscious Foods), and now the pizzeria looks like it's getting closer to opening.

Signage has gone up at the storefront that's essentially identical to that of its other locations, also revealing that (as expected) there'll be plenty of beer. The menu will most likely be similar to that of its other locations as well, with unique pies with toppings including their cult favorite flagship artichoke pie (artichoke hearts, spinach, cream sauce, and cheese), crab, burnt anchovy, and twice-baked Sicilian. "Not Pizza" items include a stuffed artichoke, meatballs and ricotta, and homemade garlic breadsticks.

Thursday
Jul232015

Astoria's Namaste Indian Opening Second Location in Fifth Avenue Zito's Space

When Zito's Sandwich Shoppe closed its only remaining Park Slope location last month, owner Marcello Bucca assured me that a "fantastic Indian" restaurant would be opening in its place. Well that indeed seems to be the case: Many thanks to a tipster for sending the above photo, of signage that's gone up for Namaste Indian.

This will be the second location of the popular Astoria, Queens restaurant of the same name. Upscale yet still reasonably priced, the Halal Indian restaurant has four stars on Yelp with 300 reviews. It's known for its $10.99 lunch buffet as well as popular menu items like tandoori chicken (made in a real tandoor oven), goat curry, biryani, tikka masala, and homamade naan. The restaurant also regularly offers solid Groupon deals.

Solid Indian has been difficult to come by in these parts; Aarpan was on to something good but its replacement isn't as popular, and many other Indian spots have come and gone. This part of Fifth Avenue is also decidedly lacking in the Indian department, so this is an opening that all signs point to being most welcome.

Along with Williamsburg's popular Ramen Yebisu opening a second location up on Seventh, this could be the beginning of a trend. Hopefully Xi'An Famous Foods decides to pay us a visit next.

Tuesday
Jul212015

Closed for Business: Urban Wellness, 72 Seventh Avenue

Urban Wellness, the supplement shop that opened on Seventh Avenue between Berkeley and Lincoln in late March, has closed for good. The shop is in the process of being cleared out and was locked up over the weekend.

The blink-and-you'll-miss-it shop sold specialty health foods as well as a variety of vitamins and supplements. It also sold fresh juices (or "elixirs") and some housemade foods like salads and crostini.

While the shop had a Facebook page, its low-key signage never did a good job of communicating what was for sale (or even if the shop was open or not), and with competition incluing Back to the Land and the Park Slope Food Coop nearby it never really found a niche. Even though it didn't just sell vitamins (supplement offerings ranged from non-psychoactive vaporized cannabidiol to herbal mixtures intented to kill off parasites), the market was just too niche, and many potential customers probably didn't even know it existed.

At four months in business, this closed a full three months sooner than the shop that came before it, The Walk-In Cookbook, which was around from August 2013 to March 2014. While it's nice to see the landlord giving niche local businesses a shot in this high-rent space (The Walk-In Cookbook sold recipes along with perfectly-measued ingredients), neither of those businesses seemed exactly destined for success.

These two storefronts were renovated and restored at great expense by the building's owner in 2012 after restaurant La Taqueria moved out. The last incarnation of Ozzie's Coffee (Renamed Noella Brew Bar) and DIY pottery studio The Painted Pot were quick to move in after the renovation, but The Painted Pot soon moved up the avenue, so now both of these attractive storefronts sit vacant.

With such a poor track record, it'll be interesting to see whether the landlord fills these spaces with yet more risky tenants, opts for something potentially more stable like a chain, or simply allows them to sit vacant.

Monday
Jul202015

Williamsburg's Ramen Yebisu Opening Second Location on Seventh Avenue

Ramen Yebisu, the popular Sapporo-style ramen shop on North 6th Street in Williamsburg, will be opening its second location at 52 Seventh Avenue, between St. Johns and Lincoln. Temporary signage has gone up on the storefront, and a manager at the Williamsburg location confirmed that this will indeed be the same restaurant.

As opposed to pork-based tonkotsu ramen, which is by far the most popular style around these parts, Sapporo-style ramen (from Japan's northermost island, Hokkaido) involves a seafood-based stock. Other varieties available include miso-based ramen, shoyu (soy sauce-based) ramen, and shio (salt-based) ramen. Noodles are slightly larger and chewier than with pork-based (Hakata-style) ramen, and other options include chicken ramen, vegetarian miso ramen, and spicy ramen. A popular specialty is abura soba, soup-free noodles topped with a rich soy-based sauce.

The shop first started as a hugely successful stall at Williamsburg's Smorgasburg food fair, and Yelp reviews are largely positive. Along with hidden gem Sushi Katsuei further up the avenue and the East Village's Wasan opening on Bergen, this neighborhood is seriously upping its Japanese restaurant game.

Wednesday
Jul152015

Could it Be? "City Subs" Coming to 82 Fifth Avenue

For those who have been mourning the loss of beloved sandwich shop City Sub since it unceremoniously closed its doors after more than 25 years in business on Bergen Street near Fifth Avenue on May of 2014, pledging to just be moving "up the block to a new location," it appears as if that new location has finally materialized: Park Slope Stoop is reporting that a temporary sign has gone up in the window of the former Nuteria (on Fifth between St. Marks and Warren), announcing that a new restaurant called City Subs is moving in.

City Sub, which was one of the only storefronts in the area that commanded lines out the door on a near-daily basis, was a no-frills sandwich shop selling a wide variety of simple cold cut sandwiches and a few hot ones, like meatball. It's hard to say what exactly made it so good; it was quite possibly the freshness of the super-thin-sliced meat sliced to order, or maybe the sesame seed-topped bread from Carroll Gardens-based Mazzola Bakery. Whatever the reason, these were some seriously good old-school sandwiches.

I think we have very good reason to be cautiously optimistic here that this is in fact the second coming of City Sub: The logo and name are essentially the same as they were before, they said when they closed that they'd be re-opening up the block, and... well, that's about it, but it's enough to go on for now. Possibly it's under new ownership; City Sub's closing notice was written by "the staff of City Sub," not the owners. And even if it's not City Sub reopening, any new sandwich shop is one that's worth getting excited about.

Photo via Park Slope Stoop.