Volume 78 / Number 17 - September 24 - 30, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower
East Side, Since 1933

Discover Hudson Square

Cuisine from the world’s 4 corners in the Square

By Victoria Grantham

The area west of Soho, north of Tribeca, and south of the West Village has long been a nameless swath, but as civilization rushes to the region — in the form of restaurants and residences — so too comes a name. Enthusiastic developers, (like Trinity Real Estate, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Trinity Church, which has a significant stake in the neighborhood), hoping to spur the growth have christened it “Hudson Square.”

Historically a commercial neighborhood dominated by printers and production houses, Hudson Square’s now dotted with new glass-faced high-rise condos and it’s playing host to an increasingly eclectic mix of businesses, including ad agencies, publishers, and Internet companies.

Who is going to feed all these people?

To assess its gastronomic possibilities, I hopped on my bike and pedaled along the newly installed bike lanes, intent on exploring the restaurants in the region. Here are a few of my favorites:

Ear Inn
Established in 1817, the bar/restaurant’s the resident old timer in newly named Hudson Square. The hugely popular landmark pub is located in the James Brown House, one of the oldest private buildings in the city, and situated steps from the original New York waterline. It has a stalwart, timeless quality that draws a diverse crowd — which includes white and blue collars alike. The clientele runs the gamut from Armani-suited executives to uniformed laborers, to baseball cap-wearing college grads. Revelers, who come for the affordable, tasty grub and grog, the relaxed atmosphere, and the live blues, country and jazz music, overflow into Spring St. on weekends and during the week too. The bar’s Web site features the music schedule as well as podcasts of performances. 326 Spring Street near Greenwich Street, 212-226-9060, http://earinn.com.

Kana Tapas Bar and Restaurant
Located next door to Ear, Kana serves delicious sangria (in both red and white varieties) alongside an array of tapas, including boquerones (anchovies for $5) and pulpo con patatas (octopus with potatoes for $7). This Iberian enclave offers live music and attracts a young, stylish Euro crowd. Outdoor seating, available on warm weather days, will be handy for diners intent on basking in the remaining rays. 324 Spring Street, Between Washington & Greenwich Streets, 212-343-8180 http://www.kanatapasbar.com.

Lomito
Lomito, which sounds like it could be a new neighborhood itself (first Noho, now Lomito), is actually named after an Argentinean filet mignon sandwich. Not surprisingly then, meat plays a central role at this energetic, eight-month-old restaurant. Carnivorous fare shares the stage though with homemade pastas like Noquis De Espinaca (roasted baby eggplant, roasted tomato cream sauce with goat cheese $18) and fresh seafood dishes. Lomito, the offspring of Jorge Sosa’s popular restaurant, Sosa Borella, is the product of a divorce. (When Sosa split from his wife and business partner, he opened the new Spring Street eatery while she kept the Sosa Borella in Tribeca, renaming it Estancia 460.) Lomito’s décor aims for youthful and retro simultaneously, with clean lines and whitewashed brick walls complemented by large wrought iron chandeliers and rows of old Cokes on elevated painted shelves. Sosa screens movies at the restaurant late night. 300 Spring Street, 212-929-9494 www.lomitorestaurant.com.

508 Restaurant and Bar
This restaurant’s another family affair, but the family’s intact. The Hills of Tribeca are the new proprietors and their daughter and son-in-law are the co-executive chefs. According to the note on the door and the buzz on the Web, the Hills bought 508 from the owners of nearby Giorgione and they’re reconfiguring it — adding tables and reducing the bar. The family plans to tap locally available food to provide Mediterranean-influenced meals. The sample menu lists sardines with dandelions and raisins as an appetizer and has an entrée featuring curried carrot and sweet pea ravioli. The soon-to-be-newcomer promises to be an intriguing autumn addition to the restaurant scene. 508 Greenwich Street near Spring, www.508nyc.com — coming soon.

Giorgione
The unassuming burgundy awning, which hangs over casual distressed metal seating, undersells the surprisingly large, crisp-looking oasis that lies just behind Giorgione’s front door. The brainchild of Giorgio DeLuca of Dean and DeLuca fame, this distinctive Italian restaurant has established a devoted fan-base in its six years in business. White-gray marble tiles and a shimmering sky blue rear wall give the restaurant an open European vibe, while bottles of wine lining wooden shelves on whitewashed walls and a wide raw bar complete the picture. The menu ranges from oysters to burrata to eggs with mushrooms and diced tomatoes, but people really rave about the pizzas. The brunch crepe with mascarpone and berries ($9) is delicious too. 307 Spring Street near Hudson Street 212-352-2269.

Mekong
This trendy Southeast Asian corner joint straddles the Hudson Square-Soho border. Its simple, affordable fare — like Vietnamese spring rolls ($6) and halibut with spicy ginger and scallion sauce ($19) — served in its open-air digs (doors swing wide to bring the outside in) is a hit with hipsters in skinny jeans. Exposed brick and old-school tiled floors round out the experience, but beware the crowds. 18 King Street near Sixth 212-343-8169.

Pao Restaurant
Pao, one of the few Portuguese places in the city, is nestled on the Spring Street strip alongside Kana and near the Ear Inn. The restaurant’s a cozy nook for Hudson Square visitors craving straightforward, traditional Portuguese food like caldo verde (soup with kale, potatoes and linguica sausage $4.95), bacalao (cod cakes $13.95) and pao (bread), though the service tends to be rather indifferent. I’ve yet to get to Lisbon, but according to Portuguese transplants, the diminutive space feels authentic. 322 Spring Street near Greenwich, (212) 334-5464.

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