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Open for Business: Fresh Bite, 168 Fifth Avenue

A new corner deli called Fresh Bite opened on Sunday on the corner of Fifth Avenue and DeGraw Street, in the space last occupied by bodega Magic Deli.

It's a fairly straightforward if no-frills sandwich shop, with a decent selection of Boar's Head cold cuts, cold salads, and other supplies needed to make a wide variety of hot and cold sandwiches. There's also a small selection of hot foods in the steam table. All breads and other baked goods (including bagels, which looked surprisingly decent) are delivered daily from a wholesale bakery in Long Island City.

Along with sandwiches, there's a decent variety of sodas and other beverages as well as chips and salsa and other snack foods, with an emphasis on healthy and organic items. The owners are friendly and seemed quite happy to be open and serving the neighborhood. While there's certainly no shortage of places like this in the area, that doesn't mean that they're not good to have around.


What's Going on With Bierkraft?

Bierkraft has been one of the most popular spots in the neighborhood to grab some great beers and awesome sandwiches for years, but something very strange seems to be going on with them. 

First, the storefront was tightly locked yesterday, and Sunday is usually one of their most popular days. Second, their website has gone offline. Third, their usually very active Twitter account has been completely shut down. It still has an A rating from the Department of Health, so we know that's not the culprit. The lights are off, and nobody's home. 

The shop specialized in selling a huge selection of beers, and their growler station was consistently busy. Things got even better a couple years ago, when they received permits to serve beer on-premises and a seating area was added. If this is indeed the end of the road for Bierkraft, it'll be a major shocker, and a major loss for beer lovers. 

UPDATE: Many thanks to a couple tipsters for pointing me to their Instagram page, where they've just dropped their only hint about what's up: "Renovations are coming! Stay tuned in and turnt up."


Breaking: Zito's Sandwich Shoppe Closes on Fifth, Indian Restaurant Moving In

Some sad news to report via Twitter: The only remaining Park Slope location of Zito's Sandwich Shoppe, which opened its (now-closed) Seventh Avenue location with much fanfare in 2011 and expanded to a second location at 195 5th Avenue (between Union and Berkeley) the following year, has sold its space. Owner Marcello Bucca confirmed that the shop has already closed, and that the owner of the next occupant of the space, a "fantastic Indian" restaurant, will begin renovations tomorrow. 

Those looking for their Italian sandwich fix will have to travel to the only remaining location, which opened last year in Bay Ridge. 

Here is their farewell sign:


Delicias Urbanas to Bring Latin Breads, Unique Ice Cream to 86 Fifth Avenue

Delicias Urbanas, an "urban bakery," is in the works at the tiny 86 Fifth Avenue, between St. Marks and Warren, and should be openby mid-July. I spoke with the owner, Felix Castro, and he filled me in on what to expect.

While the finalized menu is still in the works, the main draws will be homemade Latin breads, sandwiches, and ice cream. Offerings will include Cuban sandwiches (made on homemade bread), Latin pastries, Colombian cheese bread, and a rotating selection of extremely intriguing-sounding ice creams and sorbet. Ice cream options will include dulce de leche, avocado, corn elote, Mexican crema with strawberry, spicy tomatillo, fermented pineapple and cactus (tepache-nopal), quinoa horchata, café tres leches, Tajín, coconut, and cucumber jalapeno. Sorbet options will include mango margarita, passion fruit, melon mojito, and lychee margarita.

Between this, Sky Ice across the street, and Culture and L'Albero dei Gelati further up Fifth, the avenue very well might as well be dubbed Ice Cream Row.


Artichoke Basille's Pizza Coming to 59 Fifth Avenue

Artichoke Basille's Pizza, which opened on 14th Street in 2008 and today has six locations, will be opening its next one on Fifth Avenue, in the space between St. Marks and Bergen that was last occupied by takeout shop Luscious Food, which closed last October. The news was first reported by Park Slope Stoop, and confirmed by the company on Twitter

Along with Shake Shack and Patsy's, this represents one of a handful of chain restaurants (albeit a small one) to arrive on this side of Flatbush Avenue since the Barclays Center opened. The nightlife scene on this stretch of Fifth Avenue is pretty hopping even when there's nothing going on at Barclays, so it makes sense that Artichoke (which has a reputation for being a post-drinking destination) would decide to put down roots here. In short: It's really good drunk food.

The pizzeria is best known for its rich and filling artichoke slice, which is essentially cheese-covered spinach artichoke dip on pizza crust; a slice sells for nearly $5 and a pie for $30 at the East Village location. The owners, Sal Basille and Francis Garcia, are also known for the Cooking Channel shows they host, Pizza Cuz and Pizza Masters.

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