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Bhoomki, An Eco-Friendly Boutique, Coming to 158 Fifth Avenue

A sustainable, artisan clothing and accessories boutique is in the works on Fifth between Degraw and Douglass, in the space last occupied by a real estate office, and before that Scoopz Ice Cream.

Bhoomki translates to "of the earth" in Sanskrit, and that's the overriding philosophy for the shop. It's run by designer Swati Argade Pollak, who's been creating ethically-fashioned, eco-conscious clothing for ten years. The merchandise will focus on brands which source locally, employ traditional artisanship, and use sustainable fabrics.

The majority of the clothing will be designed by Swati herself, who has been on-premises nearly every day assisting with construction. About 75% of the merchandise for sale will be geared toward women, with some items for kids and men, as well as jewelry from recycled materials.

Their opening collection for autumn will be made in New York, and all fabrics and trims have been sourced from local businesses. If all goes to plan, Bhoomki will be open by the end of the month. Along with Hiho Batik and Impeccable Attire, there's been a notable boom of high-quality handmade clothing stores along this stretch of the avenue in recent months.


Scratch That: Fro-Yo Actually Coming to Sette Space

Two weeks ago, I called Union Market's headquarters after getting a tip that they'd be moving into the space on Seventh Avenue and Third Street that was last home to Sette. The rep that I spoke with confidently told me that the rumors were true, and that they indeed rented the space. Well, that turned out not to be true after all, and a few days ago someone else from the company chimed in, saying that they weren't sure where the rumor started.

So at that, I issue a wholehearted mea culpa, and announce the space's actual next tenant: Yogurtland, a chain fro-yo shop. A temporary sign has gone up on the storefront's roll-down gate.

The Southern California-based chain claims to be "the land of endless yogurt possibilities, where you rule the portions, the choices and the scene." There are over 190 locations in the US, Guam, and Mexico, and another will be opening soon in Lenox Hill. One bright spot: they use real yogurt from real milk, and Cap'n Crunch is a topping option.


What to Expect: Brooklyn Central Pizza, Opening Tomorrow

Brooklyn Central, the new pizzeria from Sottocasa pizzaioli Matt Hyland and Roberto Patriarca, will be opening tomorrow in the space last occupied by Pete's Pizzeria, on Fifth Avenue between First and Second Streets.

The space has been completely transformed, and is comfortable and casual. There's a seating area up front with a full bar behind that, and a hand-built wood-burning oven from Naples' Stefano Ferrara dominates the back room. There's a counter surrounding it so you can watch the magic happen, and behind that is an outdoor seating area, which should seat about 35. There's plenty of exposed brick and reclaimed wood; the counter is actually made from an old bowling alley.

But on to the pizza. "Flour, water, yeast, and salt are the only ingredients," said Patriarca, who hails from just outside Naples and whose father ran several pizzerias in New York. "The pizzas are made in strict Neapolitan style, using primarily fresh, local ingredients." The crust is chewy and springy, with just the right amount of char from the blazing oven.

The pizza menu is separated into two sections: "New World" and "Old World." Pizzas in the Old World section are made with imported fresh buffalo mozzarella and fresh tomato sauce, and come topped with prosciutto, sausage, ham, pepperoni from M&S, anchovies, mushrooms, olives, and other traditional toppings. There's also a classic calzone, filled with mozzarella, ricotta, ham, tomato, and basil. "Very traditional," added Hyland. "We're going back to basics with the Old World menu."

Where the Old World menu is classic and traditional, the New World offerings are anything but. There's the North Maple (above), topped with smoked mozzarella, bacon, maple syrup, and pecans. The Canard comes with duck, smoked mozzarella, and a seasonal compote. The Ivette (named after Roberto's wife) has ricotta, onions, bacon, and potato. The Emily (named for Matt's wife, who also manages), has mozzarella, tallegio, truffle spread, pistachios, and honey. There's also a vegan pie, topped with sauce, artichokes, peppers, cherry tomatoes, and scallions. Fresh mozzarella on the "New World" pies is from Brooklyn as opposed to the "Old World"'s Italy, which makes for an interesting comparison when eaten side by side.

There's a solid assortment of appetizers, including a few salads, charcuterie from La Quercia, meatballs, oven-roasted octopus with fennel salad, and "stix," foccaccia rolled in pizza spices and served with tomato sauce (I have a feeling the kids will love that one). For dessert, there's a s'mores calzone (filled with marshmallow, chocolate, and graham crackers), "pizza churros" rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with Nutella, Steve's key lime pies, and Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches. Coffee is from Toby's Estate in Williamsburg.

There will be weekly pizza specials according to what's fresh and in-season, and brunch will be rolled out within a month. A liquor license is also in the works. They'll do orders to go, but are still toying with the idea of delivery. Brooklyn Central will be open from 5- 10:30 during the week, and until midnight on the weekends.

Owners Matt Hyland (l.) and Roberto Patriarca


Hoi Polloi Vintage Curios to Close Next Week

Hoi Polloi, the "vintage curio" and knick-knack shop that opened last October on Sixth Street just east of Fifth Avenue, will be closing for good next week. There's currently a 50% off sale on.

The shop, which has merchandise very similar to that of the late, lamented Bob and Judi's and Under the Pig, is run by three siblings who grew up in the neighborhood and had assembled a very funky assortment of items over the years through curb rescue, donations, and clearing attics. The space looks a bit like your wild friend's cluttered apartment, stuffed with old furnishings, antiques, and some items that I'm sure haven't been up for sale since the 60s.

They've kept odd hours for the past few months, but should now be open every day until they close for good. If you have a chance I'd recommend dropping by before then, not only because you'll get a great deal, but because this place can truly also double as an Americana Museum.


What to Expect: Beygl, 291 Fifth Avenue

A new bagel place is in the works in the space last occupied by Peruvian restaurant El Pollo, on Fifth Avenue between First and Second Streets, and earlier this afternoon I had the chance to drop by and speak with owners Robert and Joey Massa, two Brooklyn-born brothers who are eager to start serving up some hot, fresh bagels.

"All our bagels will be baked on-premises, in the authentic, honest way of doing it," said Robert, who lives in Staten Island but grew up about 20 blocks away. "When I say that, I mean hand-rolled, kettle-boiled instead of steamed, and slow-baked in small batches. Most places churn them out by the hundreds; we'll be baking only 4-6 dozen at a time."

The commitment to the hand-crafted, artisan technique will also carry over to the other food offered. "All our meats will be roasted in-house, instead of just using Boar's Head," he added. "We'll be making fresh roast turkey, ham, and roast beef here every day, sliced fresh to order." All pastries and muffins will be made in-house as well, and all other bread will be from Baked in Brooklyn, located further down Fifth. Jams and jellies will come from Anarchy in a Jar, usually found only in specialty stores.

According to Steve, the jovial baker, fresh batches of bagels will be coming out of the oven every hour, so there'll always be something hot. "They'll be crunchy on the outside, and soft on the inside," he said. "Just the way I like it. Not doughy, soft."

"It's more labor intensive to do it the old-style way, to take our time with it and do it right," said Robert. "But when you try it you'll be able to tell the difference, and to tell that we take pride in it."

If all goes to plan, Beygl will be open by the end of the month.

Owners Robert (l.) and Joey Massa