BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
2nd Avenue gets a bad rap these days, with construction of the 2nd Ave subway underway those who don’t live up in Yorkville would rather stay away. Keep the small businesses alive in their time of need and make the trek, there are still some great food finds to be visited. While you’re in Yorkville, stay a while – visit the beautiful Gracie Mansion for a tour or relax in Carl Schurz Park, overlooking the Hell Gate section of the East River.
1481 2nd Avenue – Lenny’s
This NYC lunch chain serves a wide variety of sandwiches for any taste, making Lenny’s a solid choice for a workweek lunch. Be prepared for a wait during busy lunch hours, and keep an eye on whomever’s making your sandwich – with so many options they’re bound to make a mistake on yours.
1483 2nd Avenue – Vero
This wine and Panini bar is best known around the neighborhood for their Monday special featuring a free Panini with purchase of a drink, but the other menu selections are solid choices for any other day of the week. Be sure to try a glass of one of their specialty sangrias – they’re not only delicious, but may help you stomach the vivacious (read: loud) atmosphere inside the tiny space.
*If you like this uptown location but the trek is a bit much – try their Midtown location at 2nd Ave and 53rd Street
1484 2nd Avenue – Al Forno Pizzeria
Pizza is the way to go at this family friendly Italian. Although gourmet pies aren’t what they’re after, Al Forno serves a solid pie cooked in the brick oven on premise. The friendly, neighborhood atmosphere paired with reliable pizza is what gives this place 2 thumbs up with the locals – and that’s all that really matters for business!
1485 2nd Avenue - Brother Jimmy’s
It’s “Bro J’s”, fondly to the regulars who pack the place most nights, but don’t expect much class at this UES location of NYC BBQ chain Brother Jimmy’s where the liquor runs freely until you get kicked out cause you’re causing a scene. The food will do in a pinch, but it’s not the food that brings most back for a rowdy good time.
1486 2nd Avenue – Uva
Uva is the perfect first date spot if you’re looking to romance your date over fine Italian wine and food. Most menu items pay homage to the motherland (Italy, of course), using either homemade or imported direct from the source ingredients. The bruschetta is a can’t miss, just don’t get caught sharing a plate with someone other than the date you took to Uva last week!
1489 2nd Avenue – Sable’s
It’s all about the smoked fish at Sable’s. You can’t go wrong with the smoked salmon, or the lobster salad, a sweeter version than found on your classic lobster roll. Pricing beats the competition from the Upper West Side or the Lower East Side, so most find the trek up to Sable’s worth every stop on the 6 train.
1490 2nd Avenue – Doc Watson’s
Head to Doc Watson’s for brunch or to catch a weekend afternoon game. Burgers or eggs benedict are always a safe bet here; otherwise it’s just standard pub fare. The evening crowd can get a little fratty, so unless you want to get up close and personal with the polo team stick to the day shift!
1491 2nd Avenue – MXCO
When you’re in the neighborhood and craving Mexican, MXco is a solid choice, every time. Service that makes you feel like you’re at you’re abuela’s and margaritas that will knock you flat keep the neighbors coming back but most agree that portion sizes aren’t in line with pricing.
*Try the braised short rib taco!
1492 2nd Avenue – Vermicelli
Vermicelli is a favorite with the locals, for comforting Vietnamese dishes at comfortable prices. Try the chicken with ginger and scallions in honey sauce (Ga Xao Gung), a favorite at Vermicelli or the grilled pork chop (Suon Nuong), a house specialty in many restaurants featuring Saigon food.
1494 2nd Avenue – Lusardi’s
Lusardi’s has been a neighborhood staple since it first opened in 1982 and regulars have been visiting ever since. Worthy of a special occasion, Lusardi’s service is top notch with prices to match. While the menu options aren’t there to wow you, Owners Luigi and Mauro Lusardi have been at it for 30 years and they stick to what they know works. An extensive Italian wine list rounds out the meal, but not before setting you back a few $$.
1496 2nd Avenue – Bocca East
With a slightly more updated menu than Lusardi’s next door, Bocca East appeals to the younger set of UES patrons with a clean, wine cellar esque design sense and even a late night menu. Best for some wine tasting from their considerable list paired with a few select antipasti, Bocca East will impress almost any date.