BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
Gramercy Tavern may make this block a cut above these days, but before the famed restaurant called East 20th home, Theodore Roosevelt did. Stop by the Teddy Roosevelt Museum on this block and take a tour of the house in which he was born. The site pays homage to the life and times of America’s 26th president. The aptly named Performance Studio also called E 20th home at number 23 and saw a very green Ramones play their first show in 1974. Today, E 20th Street between Broadway and Park is a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of Broadway and the high-society feel of Park Ave. Great food finds without the crowds or the attitude await!
900 Broadway – Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
Its entrance is basically on E 20th, a catty-corner door facing neither E 20th or Broadway. Beecher’s makes its own cheese, hence the name of the store, but also carries a variety of other artisan cheeses, salumi and anything else you’d like to go along with the two. Stop by The Cellar downstairs to indulge in Beecher’s famous mac and cheese or a selection from their dinner menu. Don’t forget the wine… and more cheese.
27 E 20th Street – Rohm
Rohm Thai sits down a few steps from street level just enough to duck out of sight and keep Rohm a quiet spot where you can bring a date. The music is fun and upbeat, and the food and pricing right in line with other Thai offerings. Though most may find it rather un-sensational, those who dig it are loyal and come back for more time and time again.
29 E 20th Street – Mizu
It’s Japanese and Thai at Mizu, whose menu sports all the basics (with options heavier on the Japanese side) and can call itself a solid spot when you’re in the neighborhood. Don’t expect a glorious experience here, but do expect consistently fresh fish and reasonable rates at this area go-to.
30 E 20th Street – No Idea
This dive on E 20th is a favorite of the after work crowd, the cheap doubles (or so) served in a pint glass will leave you feeling fine after a tough day at the office. Find your name on their calendar and you’ll feel like it’s your birthday when your name is the chosen one for the night – drink free from 5-11 and bond with others who share your namesake! A pool table rounds out the experience and most agree this is a solid neighborhood kind of place.
31 E 20th Street – La Pizza Fresca Ristorante
La Pizza Fresca flaunts the membership rites of being only one of two restaurants in New York City to be part of the VPN (La Vera Pizza Napoletana), a rigorous membership process which includes the training of pizza chefs and a strict ingredient list whose components can only be imported from Naples. If pizza isn’t your thing, indulge in the seafood dishes from seasoned chef Alessandro Cargiolli, a native of famed seafood region of Liguria, Italy.
33 E 20th Street – Moore Brothers Wine Company
Moore Brothers stands a cut above the rest with an attention to fine wine from France, Italy, and Germany. The owners import and select all wine directly from the vineyards themselves, ensuring a quality bottle (with reasonable price tags to match) every time. A friendly, knowledgeable, and down to earth staff round out the oenophilic experience.
Parea Prime takes classic Greek specialties and the American steakhouse and makes them their own, pleasing everyone at your table with its something-for-everyone offerings; attentive service and a pleasant atmosphere round out the overall pleasing experience of dining here. Try the grilled octopus and the zucchini tempura to start!
40 E 20th Street – Flute
Ok, so the Champagne bar thing is kind 90s but Flute manages to own the theme and bring it home with a knowledgeable, friendly staff and a well thought out champagne list. Small bites are offered and can be hit or miss so come early or late depending on the type of celebration.
41 E 20th Street – Mari Vanna
Mari Vanna’s opulent decor will take you to your babushka’s house (the one who still lives in Moscow) complete with black and white family photos, floral wallpaper, and knickknacks. The classic Russian specialties here like their borscht and pelmeni will warm you heart and soul, while their selection of Russian and house infused vodkas keep you toasty on a cold winter night.
42 E 20th Street – Gramercy Tavern
For nearly two decades Gramercy Tavern has been the gold standard for new American fare and supreme service in New York City. The seasonal pre fixe menu curated by executive chef, Michael Anthony is timeless and poignant, creating a meal that will surely transport.
*Pre order a copy of the Gramercy Tavern cookbook (being released later this year) to enjoy some of the classics at home!
43 E 20th Street – Veritas
The wine list at Veritas is not merely a list, it is a collection. The collection of Park B. Smith, a textile entrepreneur, accounts for much of the wine list at Veritas and is yours to peruse while you enjoy the offerings of executive chef, Sam Hazen. The kind of experience you should expect at Veritas doesn’t come cheap – for a more affordable option grab a seat at the bar and snack on a selection of sumptuous contemporary American small plates.