Better Than Ever: The Gastro-mecca Known as Greenwich Village

Wander Greenwich Village's intricate web of angled, leafy streets that criss cross alleys, mews, and narrow sidewalks leading to 19th Century brownstones, low-rise apartment buildings and quaint carriage houses. South of 14th Street, it's bordered by Broadway to the east, the Hudson River to the west, and bustling Houston (pronounced How stun not Hu ston) to the south. The first stop for countless European immigrants and rebels, it spawned beat and folk, the Village has always been known as an artists' haven. Its historic, subterranean music venues like the classic Cornelia St. Cafe are packed with jazz fans, while bars like the Ear Inn and White Horse Tavern proudly proclaim "Dylan Thomas drank here" on Hudson Street. Today, the area is more swank than bohemian. row houses have morphed into multimillion dollar private homes and international boutiques line leafy Bleecker Street. Still, the creative energy in the neighborhood's award-winning kitchens inspire. From European Viennese vibes, to cross-border glob-trotting chefs who devise multi-cultural recipes, to farm-to-table fare and burgers, Greenwich Village is home to many of the city's top restaurants. Chefs like Dan Barber, Kurt Gutenbrunner and Mario Batali made their names right here in the Village. 


Mary's Fish Camp

Located on a bustling corner of West Fourth, this sunny, glass-walled spot serves seafood so fresh, you'll think you're on the Maine coast. A mixed crowd of local regulars, NYU kids with the parents' weekend set, and displaced New Englanders convene for Mary's always stellar catch of the day. The miniscule kitchen turns out crowd-pleasers like lightly battered fried shrimp, lobster knuckles with drawn butter, pan-seared Atlantic salmon, and plate after plate of plump lobster rolls. Reservations are not accepted and the lines are nearly always out the door, so it's worth arriving early to stake a claim on a prime table. Mary's Brooklyn Fish Camp is in Park Slope and it's big and beautiful, with a back garden and the exact same menu.

Recommended for Greenwich Village's Best Restaurants because: Mary's serves the freshest fish this side of Bar Harbor, and opened a second locale in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood

Maria's expert tip: On Tuesdays, the oyster of the day is served by the half dozen for a song or just a few bucks more than what most New Yorkers spend on a cup of coffee.

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West Village

dell'anima means "of the soul" in Italian and the food features seasonal, eloquent dishes of thoughtful simplicity , including bruschetta and fresh pastas made in-house daily by Executive Chef Andrew Whitney. The wine list features more than 150 hand-chosen wines, with an emphasis on traditional and natural winemaking, with more selections at their wine bar Anfora located next door, all of which are poured into hand-blown crystal glasses from Milan. This tiny and dare we say it "carino" Italian restaurant appeals to a rich diversity of an upscale crowd and foodies who vie for prime seating at the chef's counter to nibble on some of that charred octopus or pulpo with rice, beans and chorizo, Whitney's original vision of "downtown Italian."

Recommended for Greenwich Village's Best Restaurants because: Magic happens when you combine pedigrees: a former Babbo sommelier and the kitchen whiz from Del Posto.

Maria's expert tip: dell'anima accommodates up to 50 guests, and six lucky people may sit at the chef's counter with a commanding view of the kitchen. Inquire about chef Andrew tastings at the chef's counter. Reservations are a must.

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Part restaurant, part bar, part café, Buvette Gastrotheque combines the elegance of an old world cafe with the casual nature of a neighborhood eatery on a leafy block in the West Village, giving the the street a Parisian je ne sais quoi. The long, marble-topped bar is filled with stylishly bespectacled regulars sipping wine and nibbling tartines made from Royal Crown baguettes, the floor is made from reclaimed white oak, and artist Warren Muller's custom-made chandelier gives the 50-seat space a twinkly glow. This is gastropubbery at its best: think perfectly made omelet topped with fresh parmesan, crusty bread with hazelnut pesto, and no fewer than three types of croque monsieurs.

Recommended for Greenwich Village's Best Restaurants because: Perfect for that first coffee, friends-at-lunch or after-work respite, Buvette stands out for its chic aesthetic and warm, welcoming vibe.

Maria's expert tip: After cooking her way through Italy and France, self-taught, chef-owner Jody Williams blends a casual wine bar and old European cafe, with menus that feature Italian classics and French comfort foods.

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West Village

Tucked away on Waverly Place in a former coach house, Babbo offers up Italian food in its purest form. Known for its classic simplicity both in decor and menu selections, this establishment provides diners with exotically named, sumptuous pastas and meats flavored to perfection by celebrity chef Mario Batali. But it's not just food that will have you coming back time and time again. The extensive Italian wine list is the perfect complement to whatever food choice tickles your fancy. Add the lovely bi-level setting and a skylight that provides connoisseurs with the perfect backdrop to a truly unique meal, and you've got yourself a winning combination.

Recommended for Greenwich Village's Best Restaurants because: Babbo has a lunchtime white truffle tasting menu; on select Mondays, the Vintage Babbo tasting menu pairs the best vintage wines for $1,000 a person.

Maria's expert tip: Power tweeters take note: six tables and ten seats are kept open for full service dining; last-minute openings @BabboRistorante flash on twitter precisely at 3PM.

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West Village

Considered a standard bearer as it walks off with its James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurant award for 2017, co-owner Ken Friedman and Chef April Bloomfield opened The Spotted Pig in February 2004. Call it seasonal British with a touch of Italian, the classics include chargrilled burger, gnudi, deviled eggs, and seasonal specials. In 2007, Bloomfield was also recognized as one of Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chefs. In 2010, the duo opened the buzzworthy John Dory Oyster Bar, which joined The Breslin at New York's Ace Hotel. And two years later, she penned her book, A Girl and Her Pig.

Recommended for Greenwich Village's Best Restaurants because: This perennially packed Village mainstay has serious star power and does not accept reservations, so be prepared for an hour-long wait even on a Monday night.

Maria's expert tip: Set in an original carriage house Friedman has transformed into a convivial three-story pub. Pull up a stool at one of the two bars where cask conditioned ales, an eclectic wine list and signature cocktails are served.

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Greenwich Village
Photo courtesy of Sevilla

Set on Charles Street formerly known as Asylum Street that was a busy corner in the Village as it was the site of the "uber" of its day – a busy horse and carriage taxi service. A Greenwich Village haven of garlic and green sauce since 1941, Sevilla serves up a long list of recipes from all over Spain from Galicia to Andalusia. The refreshing sangria always tastes festive. Think beyond paella, be adventurous, try the bacalao (cod fish), or the mariscos (seafood). Grab a seat at the bar for people watching, a glass of Jerez and those Pimientos del Padron, followed by empanadas, gazpacho in summer, topped off by guava with cream cheese. A couple can dine large and lovely for under $50. Recommended by Michelin for 10 years in a row; ranks high in Zagat and recognized as an American Classic by the James Beard Foundation this year. Incidentally, the wait staff is downright courtly, no rush and no actors waiting to be discovered.

Recommended for Greenwich Village's Best Restaurants because: A winner in the nationwide James Beard Foundation American Classics in 2015, Sevilla is proof that a good thing has staying power. Don't miss it.

Maria's expert tip: Instead of leaping for the giant pan of paella Valenciana, order two dishes for variety. Ask if Pimientos del Padron are in season. Food is made to order so it may take 30 minutes.

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Gotham Bar and Grill
Photo courtesy of Gotham Bar & Grill

Gotham Bar & Grill showcases Chef Alfred Portale's award-winning New American fare. A classy crowd of good-looking suits and creative types come together in the elegant dining room, which serves timeless fare like grilled Atlantic salmon with roasted fennel and tomato confit with spinach, garlic and a splash of buttery, lemon-infused oil. Consider the grilled strip steak, which comes to the table accompanied by a bone marrow custard and vidalia onion rings. And ditch the diet for the chocolate caramel cake, which tops caramelized banana tart with rich chocolate sauce. An extensive, international wine list includes over 60 bottles available by half bottle, delighting solo diners and heavy-drinking list samplers alike.

Recommended for Greenwich Village's Best Restaurants because: Alfred Portale's elegant institution is a timeless favorite in a city of notoriously fickle culinary tastes.

Maria's expert tip: No expense account? No worries. Drop in during lunch Monday through Friday for the $38 Greenmarket prix fixe.

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West Village
Photo courtesy of Wallse

Gutenbrunner's menus are "Austrian at heart, European in spirit," listing European dishes like goulash, roasted cod, octopus and sweetbread ravioli. His restaurants boast the most extended Austrian wine list in the U.S. Wallse is an elegant Austrian boite does not help dispel that theory serving elevated fare such as wiener schnitzel, predictably the classic dessert tofenknoedelor with apricot comptote. KG is uber-successful at creating a sophisticated and serene gathering spot with a haute menu for neighborhood locals, as well as a dining destination for those in a Viennese state of mind.

Recommended for Greenwich Village's Best Restaurants because: Wallse is one of the very few restaurants in New York that have kept its Michelin star for 11 consecutive years.

Maria's expert tip: Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner (KG) is the face of Michelin-starred Austrian cuisine in the Big Apple. He also owns the inviting bar and cafe next door, The Upholstery Store, Blaue Gans in Tribeca and the 19th century very Viennese Sabarsky Cafe in the Neue Gallerie on East 86th St. I

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West Village

Hidden three steps below street level, the restaurant occupies a landmark "speakeasy" just off of Washington Square Park is Blue Hill. A farm-to-table innovator before such hyphenates existed, Blue Hill is devoted to local, sustainably sourced ingredients. What sets it apart is the Chef Barber's leadership at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in bucolic Pocantico Hills, NY, which sources many of the restaurant's ingredients as does the Barber family's farm in Great Barrington, MA. Lucky business associates and soon-to-be-engaged couples fill the small dining room, uttering the occasional rhapsodic sighs over New American fare like duck with lovage and cherries, or braised halibut with fermented oats and mushrooms or somethings simple like Blue Hill farm pig with corn polenta and morels.

Recommended for Greenwich Village's Best Restaurants because: Chef Barber's activities at Blue Hill at Stone Barn benefit diners at this downtown Michelin-starred dining room where flavors pop more intensely than you'd imagine.

Maria's expert tip: Reservations accepted a month in advance for groups of up to six; with just 55 seats in the main dining room and16 in the Garden Room. get here early. A word to the wise: stash the phone or flash for the duration, please.

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Meet Maria Lisella

No matter how many countries Maria Lisella has visited (62), this native New Yorker finds the world at her doorstep in amazing Queens where its residents speak 138 languages.

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