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Wednesday
Jul062011

Sposabella Window Display Featured in HuffPo Gay Marriage Article

Since opening last week, North Slope bridal shop Sposabella Couture has gotten plenty of attention for its striking window display, which features two women, one dressed in a wedding gown and another in a tux. Now it appears as if the AP has snagged a photo, above, of the storefront (along with owner Alice Sena), and in an article posted yesterday on the Huffington Post, it's being used as an emblem of the ability of gay New Yorkers to marry.

Way to go, Sposabella!

Tuesday
Jul052011

De Luxe Cafe Headed for Seventh Ave and Fourteenth Street

Owner Andy Schulz

A new cafe, De Luxe, is under construction at 410 Seventh Avenue, near the corner of 14th Street. Run by the husband and wife team of Andy and Tina Schulz, it should be open by early August.

Andy told me that the cafe will take "a high class, lowbrow approach," geared toward "normal people with a taste for finer things." They're modeling the narrow cafe after classic Italian espresso bars, serving a custom roast from Idaho-based Doma Coffee, sandwiches, bread and pastries from Balthazar, and baked goods from This Chick Bakes.

"Lots of cafes are really pretentious," said Andy. "This cafe will be no attitude, with great customer service. You won't feel awkward walking in. This is a hip, fun-loving neighborhood, and we'll be offering high quality coffee and food, great personality and atmosphere, great music, and no attitude."

They'll be in good company on this stretch of Seventh Avenue; Parco, Cafe Grumpy, and Couleur Cafe are just steps away.

The Space

Tuesday
Jul052011

Business of the Week: Okeanos, 314 Seventh Avenue

There's been a culinary trend catching on lately: high-quality ingredients, simply cooked, with no frills. By coincidence, that's precisely the Greek way of cooking, and a trend that's been interpreted with great success at Okeanos, the under-the-radar Greek restaurant that opened in January of 2010 on Seventh Avenue and Eighth Street.

Owner Tommy Mamounas also owns the neighborhood fixture Donuts Coffee Shop a couple doors down, and decided to open the restaurant in order to "show our Greek heritage," he explained.

"We've run the coffee shop for the past 20 years, and wanted to provide something else to enhance the community. This type of restaurant was nonexistent around here two years ago: simple, fresh Greek cuisine, with a modern twist. It's refined food, because diners in this neighborhood are refined."

Okeanos means "the deep sea," explained general manager Stephanie Voulgaris, who joined the team five months ago and has since fine-tuned the menu and added an extensive Greek-only wine list (she's also a professional sommelier). "We have seven kinds of fresh fish on the menu, and that's what we're known for. It's simply grilled with olive oil, lemon, and oregano. It's very healthy, and lets the freshness of the ingredients come through. There's zero compromise on quality."

The private room has a separate entrance and seats 25

Traditional Greek dishes such as moussaka, spanakopita, and pasticchio are on the menu, but it's the fish that has been drawing a crowd. And with good reason: the chef, John DeWine, honed his skills at the city's preeminent fish-centric restaurant, Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin.

So why did DeWine decide to trade one of the finest kitchens in the city for Brooklyn?

"Park Slope is attracting some great chefs, and it's carving out a niche for itself as a real destination neighborhood," explained the chef, who attended Johnson and Wales University. "This neighborhood has a tight-knit community of families, and we have an equal amount of passion. I'm passionate about what I cook, and Park Slopers passionate about what their families eat. I'm looking forward to growing together."

Owner Tommy Mamounas, Manager Stephanie Voulgaris, Chef John DeWine

That passion is obvious from the moment you walk through the door. "Our staff is unpretentious and down to earth, but we've trained them to be very knowledgeable about our menu and its offerings," said Voulgaris. "There's a Greek word, Filoxena, and it means 'come as strangers, leave as friends.' Our doors are wide open, and we embrace each guest as if they're our best friends. That's the Greek way: hospitality."

Okeanos, 314 Seventh Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. 347-725-4162.

Monday
Jul042011

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Independence Day my friends! Enjoy your beach, barbecue, and/or fireworks, and I'll see you back here tomorrow with some more neighborhood scoops.

Saturday
Jul022011

Car Fire on Fifth Avenue and First Street

At about noon today, a car burst into flames while driving down Fifth Avenue. The driver pulled over on the corner of First Street, where the entire car became engulfed in flames, according to a fireman on the scene.

There were thankfully no injuries, but that car is completely destroyed.