When I lived down in The Village last summer, I was able to discover several New York neighborhoods all in walking distance — the area of St. Marks was one of them. The street itself feels like an entire neighborhood; it’s not the cleanest place and oddly enough there are dozens of sex shops over only a few avenues, but it’s full of hip and trendy bars, restaurants, clothing stores, and record shops that make me love the street. Whatever you’re craving for dinner you probably can find it on St. Marks — I’ve enjoyed Japanese, Chinese, Italian, and Mexican cuisine.
About an avenue away from where the crowds flock to is a restaurant called Paprika (located on St. Marks between 1st and A avenue). The scene is casual/trendy and it’s not a location tourists ever make it to (thank goodness!) and prices are very reasonable. I enjoyed a dinner in Paprika last year and the menu was completely different — so when I saw that my favorite dish was no longer being served I considered leaving to go some where else. I took a glance at the new menu and decided to chill out and pick something. The waitress told me that tons of people come in asking for the same dish I asked for (homemade fettucini and alfredo sauce with grapes, asparagus, and shrimp) and 9/10 of those people ended up ordering the new cream dish (homemade taglierini tossed in a cream sauce with shrimp). It sounded like nothing special but the secret ingredient to this plate was what no one can see — the zested lemon. Usually I get thirsty with alfredo sauce and I feel like I fill up so fast, but adding the lemon zest made the flavors on the plate come together in a refreshing way. Pair this dish with the classic Italian beer — Peroni — to make dinner perfect. (The artichoke ravioli was also tasty too!)
P.S. I have been cooking my own cream sauce ever since I devoured Paprika’s new dish in my kitchen (a bit of butter, regiano cheese, and some heavy whipping creme) and I’ve been zesting lemon into it too! I can’t stop eating it and it’s the easiest thing to whip up — it takes me less than 20 minutes to cook my pasta, make my sauce, and oh — eat the meal!