Village Awards loaded with pork, pastry and poetry
Rocco Generoso, Sr., above, bought Rocco’s Pastry in 1976 after having worked there since the 1950s. Rocco, Sr., has since retired, and his son Rocco, Jr., and daughters Laura and Patricia now own and run the store.
By Albert Amateau
The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation will honor the people, places and organizations that contribute to the character of the Village, Noho and the East Village at the 18th annual Village Awards next Tuesday.
Seven awards will be made at the annual meeting of the society at 6:30 p.m. June 17 at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 83 Christopher St.
The 2008 awards will go to Faicco’s Pork Store, Rocco’s Pastries and Grey Dog’s Coffee Ltd., all within a stone’s throw of each other on Bleecker and Carmine Sts. The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop on Christopher St., the Poetry Project, at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery on E. 10th St. at Second Ave., and the Morton St. Triangle, at the corner of Morton and Bedford St. just west of Seventh Ave. South, will also receive Village Awards.
The Regina Kellerman Award, named for the first executive director of G.V.S.H.P. who died on May 13, will go to the Salmagundi Club, a Village institution since 1871 and in its present brownstone on Fifth Ave. at E. 11th St. since 1917.
Faicco’s Pork Store
Faicco’s, at 260 Bleecker St. at Cornelia St., has been a Village landmark since Edward Faicco opened the original store on Thompson St. near St. Anthony’s Church around 1900.
The current owner, Eddie Faicco, 39, the great-grandson of the founder, still makes sausages, sopressata, cured meats and pasta specialties from recipes handed down over three generations. The store moved in the 1940s to the present Bleecker St. location, and Eddie took over in 1998 when his uncle, Joe Faicco, retired.
Faicco’s has eight full-time employees, and Eddie, who lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters, told G.V.S.H.P. that it’s possible that one of his girls may take over when he retires.
Rocco’s Pastry, 243 Bleecker St. at Carmine St., along with Faicco’s and Ottomanelli’s Meats at 285 Bleecker St. (a Village Award winner several years ago), is one of the few remaining original family-owned food shops on a street formerly dominated by such shops.
Rocco Generoso, Sr., an immigrant from Sicily in 1956, worked in various jobs for 18 years before buying the bakery in 1974 from the Zimma family, who had bought it from the Perniciaro family. Rocco concentrated on the items he knew best, like cannoli and spogliatella, still bestsellers at $2.25 each. He retired a few years ago and his three children run the shop, with Rocky Junior in charge of the bakery downstairs, Laura and Patricia upstairs at the counter, and Joe, who has worked there for 21 years, at the espresso machine.
Grey Dog’s Coffee
Grey Dog’s Coffee Ltd., 33 Carmine St. at Bleecker, a fixture only since 1996 when David Ethan opened it, renews and maintains the old tradition of Village coffeehouses that used to bring people to MacDougal St. Ethan came to New York as an actor and worked his day jobs as a bartender. Villagers young and old and resident theater luminaries appreciate the good homemade food, relaxed atmosphere and personal service, which has earned “The Dog’s” a Zagat notice as the best coffeehouse in town. Ethan opened a new location on University Place at 12th St.
Morton St. Triangle
The small Morton St. Triangle park where Morton and Bedford Sts. cross on the west side of Seventh Ave. South has expanded with a beautiful garden area and traded its chicken wire for a handsome wrought-iron fence over the past several years through the efforts of the Morton St. Block Association. Ede Rothaus and Jane Forman led the efforts after the association received a $5,000 donation at the end of 2004; a decision was made to use the cash to improve the triangle that was originally planted in 1975 when the Bedford Barrow Commerce Block Association received Department of Parks permission to plant the triangle.
In 2006, an anonymous donor offered to pay for the wrought-iron fence, the Parks Department authorized enlarging the garden with Belgian-block pavers for the perimeter and new topsoil, and a larger fence was installed last November. The garden was dedicated in June of last year and is a small, flowered gem of a park.
Oscar Wilde Bookshop
The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, 15 Christopher St., opposite Gay St., was opened in 1967 on Mercer St. by Craig Rodwell, a gay activist, to serve the gay and lesbian community. It moved to its present location in 1973, a block away from the historic Stonewall Inn. In the early days before there was a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center in the Village, the bookshop was the center.
Rodwell died in 1993, and Kim Brinster, a manager of the shop for about 10 years, took over ownership in 2006. Brinster and the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop staff carry on the tradition as the first bookstore of the L.G.B.T. community.
St. Mark’s Poetry Project
Since it was founded in 1966, the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, 131 E. 10th St., has been a forum for public literary events and a resource for writers. Hundreds of poets, writers and performers, including Allen Ginsberg, John Ashbery, Adrienne Rich, Robert Creeley, Amiri Baraka and Patti Smith, have shared their work at one of the three reading and performance series each week, plus lectures and special events.
Staffed entirely by poets, the project informs and inspires working writers and remains accessible to the general public.
The Salmagundi Club, at 47 Fifth Ave at E. 11th St., began in the Village as the New York Sketch Club for artists, and took the name Salmagundi (a disparate mixture, potpourri) to describe the club’s mixed members of painters, sculptors and designers. The club will receive G.V.S.H.P.’s Regina Kellerman Award on June 17. The club, which moved into its present Fifth Ave. brownstone in 1917, finally admitted women in 1972 and now admits members who are not graphic or plastic artists.
All of its exhibits and classes are open to the public, and since 2006, The Salmagundi’s new executive director, Kathleen Arffmann, has raised the club’s profile with important shows with guest curators. “American Masters,” the current show curated by John Grabach, is open to the public every day from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Salmagundi has also undertaken small restoration projects on its building. The second-floor library has been refurbished. The gallery is in line for a complete restoration, and the brownstone’s oculus skylight will be restored soon.
G.V.S.H.P.’s annual meeting will precede the award ceremony with the installation of two new trustees, Cassie Glover and Rob Rogers, to the society’s board of trustees. Returning trustees are Elizabeth Ely, Leslie Mason, Ruth McCoy, Florent Morellet, Andrew Paul, Fred Wistow and Anthony Zunino.