Dining

Nicholas Morgenstern's East Village & LES

The restaurateur tells us what makes his mouth happy

Nicholas Morgenstern, of Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream and El Rey Coffee Bar & Luncheonette in the Lower East Side, has just set up (pizza) shop in the East Village.

"GG's is our take on a more contemporary New York pizza restaurant," says Morgenstern. "We have more of a dining perspective—it's a restaurant that serves pizza, and hopefully good pizza, with a new take on toppings."

Morgenstern has the key to three of our favorite things—ice cream, coffee, pizza—so it was only appropriate to catch up with him to see what other bites he likes in the neighborhood.

"I love the East Village because it still feels like real New York," he says. "It hasn't been overly gentrified."

Here's where he heads for coffee, curry and everything in between.

Illustration: Tasting Table

Coffee: Abraço
Nick's order: The tiny Portuguese espresso bar brews up a benny ($3.25)—a hybrid coffee drink similar to a cortado that's served in a tiny mug.
Why he loves it: He puts it simply: "The coffee is killer."

Breakfast: Café Mogador
Nick's order: A St. Mark's Place staple since 1983, the Moroccan-Mediterranean restaurant dishes out a savory platter ($8) that includes hummus and labneh (strained yogurt drizzled with olive oil).
Why he loves it: "You get a little bit of everything, and the food is always solid."

Lunch: Punjabi Grocery & Deli
Nick's order: If the coffee is Portuguese, and breakfast is Moroccan, then why not have Indian for lunch? He fills up on rice that's topped with spiced chickpeas, stewed squash and yogurt ($5.50).
Why he loves it: "I've been going here for years. It's just sort of hidden there. It's so inexpensive, and the steamed chai tea is super tasty."

Snack: Moishe's Bake Shop
Nick's order: More than 40 years of kosher Jewish baking means that his pastry of choice, the poppy seed hamantaschen ($2), is always on point.
Why he loves it: "If I didn't fill up on sweets at Abraço earlier, I can always count on this place."

You can't go wrong with any of the pies at Lavagna. | Photo: Courtesy of Lavagna

Dinner: Lavagna
Nick's order: Little can go wrong with the daily salad and pasta specials (prices vary) at an old-school New York Italian restaurant—run by a Greek guy named Yorgos.
Why he loves it: "This place has been around for 15 years. The owner is amazing, and the food is always so good."

Takeout: Lombardi's Pizza
Nick's order: For Nick, choosing a particular pie is thoroughly impossible at this spot, which has more than 100 years of experience with dough. "I don't look at pizza and think, 'That's my favorite.'"
Why he loves it: "It's super fast and very good."

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Wine: Antonioni's
Nick's order: Rosé—whatever kind they're pouring at the moment.
Why he loves it: "I just like hanging out with the guys who work there. I'm not much of a drinker, but this place is great for grabbing a glass."

Abraço 86 E. 7th St. New York NY 10003 Café Mogador 101 Saint Marks Pl. New York NY 10009 Punjabi Grocery & Deli 114 E. 1st St. New York NY 10009 Moishe's Bake Shop 112 2nd Ave. New York NY 10003 Lavagna 545 E. 5th St. New York NY 10009 Lombardi's Pizza 32 Spring St. New York NY 10012 Antonioni?s 177 Chrystie St. New York NY 10002

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