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Entries in Scoops (357)

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.

Monday
Jun292015

Closed for Business: Brooklyn Central Pizza, 289 Fifth Avenue

Some sad news for brick oven pizza lovers: Brooklyn Central, the Neapolitan pizzeria that opened on Fifth Avenue between First and Second Streets in October 2012, has shut down. The windows have been papered over and the phone has been disconnected. Many thanks to the several tipsters who reached out to let me know, and for reader Gabo for forwarding the above photo.

Brooklyn Central opened with a fair amount of fanfare, namely because of their custom-built Stefano Ferrara pizza oven and the fact that the two owners, Naples-born Roberto Patriarca and Matt Hyland, were both veterans of Boerum Hill's renowned Sottocasa. Hyland left just six weeks after its opening (he's since opened Clinton Hill's super-popular pizzeria Emily), but the closure is still a bit surprising because it had a reputation for very good pizza and it always seemed to have a fair amount of diners inside. And aside from Franny's and Giuseppina's, there aren't many other places in the area to get a solid and authentic Neapolitan pizza.

That said, there are a few potential reasons for its closure: It never got nearly as much buzz as it probably should have, their Twitter and Facebook pages were lacking, the seating arrangement was awkward and the back yard never got much use, the menu probably could have used some pasta dishes and wider non-pizza options, they didn't deliver, and, of course, high rents.

The space has been on the market for the past few months; if it's been rented we'll probably be learning about its replacement soon.

Thursday
Jun182015

Beauty Bar, Ollie & Ry Spaces On The Market

Two prime Fifth Avenue storefronts have appeared on Craigslist within the past couple weeks: Beauty Bar, the outpost of the popular mini-chain between Garfield and Carroll; and Ollie and Ry, the still-new bagel and sandwich shop a block further north.

Beauty Bar, which took over half of the space formerly occupied by Ozzie's Coffee in 2012, has a solid concept but never really found a niche in an area with no shortage of great watering holes. They recently started offering free hot dogs with every $10 purchase but put an end to that, but their $5 PBR tall boy and shot of Evan Williams deal is still a certified steal. It's one of the few storefronts with a frontage that's parallel to Fifth Avenue, making for a truly great space. The 1,400 square foot space is on the market for $8,500.

As for Ollie and Ry, this is one business that sadly seemed misguided from the get-go. The two chefs who opened it in February had a good idea — sell quality coffee, baked goods, bagels, and sandwiches inspired by their Korean and Chinese heritages — but the space never really came together, they didn't develop much of an online presence or buzz, and it just never found a footing. Which is a shame: these guys really know how to cook, and their house-cured salmon is among the best I've had. Hopefully they can find a place that allows them to make the most of their talents. The 2,400 square foot space (which includes a full kitchen, two walk-ins, and bagel-making equipment left over from its time as Bageltique) is available for $6,300, which isn't a bad deal.