My first summer living in Manhattan I lived down in the village, actually I lived in the heart of the village right by Washington Square Park. It’s a neighborhood of students — both under grad, graduate level, and even law students, not to mention there are loads of families that live in the neighborhood. Walk into the East Village and the mood will go from collegiate to hipster. Walk into the West Village and you’ll find yourself sitting in a sophisticated bistro. I love that I can walk for five minutes and feel like I’m in a different city!
Last night I met up with a friend who also happened to help me find my first New York City apartment, Sam. We met up on Sullivan Street right below Houston Street at a restaurant called Pepe Rosso. Typically you will walk into this little restaurant and take your food to go. I’ve done it numerous times on a beautiful spring or summer day and then I would take my food to Washington Square Park and people watch as I ate. But tonight, Sam and I snagged two of the 12 seats available!
Pepe Rosso chefs know how to make a tasty pasta dish and the Caesar Salad is truly incredible. Plus, the prices on the menu are so cheap, I guarantee you’ll do a double take your first time eating at the restaurant. $10 or less for pasta! Incredible! But don’t expect for service if you sit down in the restaurant. There’s a water cooler that is self-serve and when you’re food is ready they will literally pass it to you over the counter. Customers sitting closest to the kitchen will even pass down plates of food in an assembly-like line to others that are sitting close to the window. And when you’re done, you clean your own table and pass your plate and cutlery items back to the guy at the register. Totally different than any other restaurant you’ve been to before, right? If the food is as cheap as it is, there’s no need for high-end service! But the guys working this joint are ridiculously friendly. Their warm smiles and peppy attitudes remind me of the Italian locals in places like Florence, Rome, and Capri.
The food also comes out so fast, it’s clear that the chefs are a well-oiled machine in this eatery! I ordered a very basic Penne Al Vodka that was insanely flavorful, creamy and rich. Of course I bathe the pasta in cheese! Sam ordered a lemon chicken and spinach dish that he nearly devoured within 5 minutes. There are so many choices to pick from on the menu, it would be nice to order for 5 people and sample a bit of everything!
When I compare Pepe Rosso to other Italian restaurants like Perbacco … well, there’s just no comparison. While Pepe Rosso is very tasty, Perbacco still blows me away! Pepe Rosso has very basic cuisine that hits the spot. And if you’re looking to have a picnic in Washington Square Park, I strongly suggest you order from here!
Have you ever walked Sullivan Street between 4th Street and Houston Street? If not, do it. There are so many gorgeous town houses that will have you day dreaming. It’s the heart of the Village, no tourist heads here — they are missing out on such a charming, sophisticated, and insanely intriguing neighborhood.