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Thursday, April 30, 2009

One Short Block

One of the most interesting and eclectic group of retailers in New York city likes on Bleecker Street between 6th and 7th Avenue. On this one short block, you will find a surprising number of legendary businesses, several of which I have previously written about. Here is a brief highlights walking tour:
At the corner of 6th Avenue, Carmine Street and Bleecker Streets, you have Father Demo Square, Trattoria Spaghetto and the beautiful Our Lady of Pompei church. Starting on the North Side of Bleecker, we have the vinyl (& CD) music emporium - Bleecker Street Records, a kind of bookend to Bleecker Bob's just across 6th Avenue. Then we have Rocco's Pastry, L'Occitanea Provence and Oliviers &Co - an olive oil store.
At 259 Bleecker lies the former home of Zito's bakery - legendary local business for 80 years (1924-2004) that many say fell victim to the anti-carbs movement (along with rising rents). At 269, the Neighborhood Church and at 273 Bleecker Street we have Matt Umanov Guitars, opened in 1965 and known worldwide with world class clientele. I personally met Richie Havens there (who opened the 1969 Woodstock Festival). Finishing the block on the north side is Ottomanelli's Butcher Shop (specializing in wild game).
Crossing over to the South Side at 7th Avenue, there is Caliente Cab Co - subject of a controversial incident - see here.
The south side of Bleecker has number of fish and seafood establishments. Appropriately named, Fish is an excellent restaurant which also retails fish. I have eaten there twice and highly recommend it. At 278 Bleecker we have John's, one of the most legendary pizza places in the city. You won't miss this place with its perennial lines. It was founded in 1929 by John Sasso and some say this thin crust, coal-fired brick oven pizza it is the best in the city (or even the world). Others find it over rated.
At 272 there is Cones (an artisanal ice creamery), at 270 the Risotteria restaurant, a specialist in Risotto. Aphrodisia is an amazing shop - a survivor since 1967 with a huge selection of herbs, spices and oils. Next is Trattoria Pesce & Pasta followed by two more vintage operations: Faicco's Sausage Shop--since 1927 and Murray's Cheese Shop since 1940 - see my posting here.
Rounding out the block is Amy's Bread and The Lobster Place, seen in today's photo. The Lobster Place at 252 Bleecker, was started in 1974 by Roderick and Joan MacGregor, who were inspired to bring the Downeast (Maine) seafood experience to Manhattan. Now retired to Maine, the business has been taken over by their son Ian. I'm looking forward to the whole smoked trout I purchased there on my last visit.
Don't be dissuaded by any naysayers who allege the destruction of Bleecker Street through gentrification. Nearly all the stores on this block are still single location, mom-and-pop type operations. Of course there have been several newer upscale retailers who have moved to the block. But the impact is nothing like the malling of many areas in the city like Broadway in SoHo. You would be hard pressed to find such a varied collection of shops like this (including many legacy businesses) in one short block anywhere in the world ...