All posts by Columbus Amsterdam BID

Plowshares

Plowshares Coffee

Sandwiched between a convenience store and liquor store, it would be easy to miss the narrow storefront of Plowshares Coffee Bloomingdale if it weren’t for the wafting smell of freshly roasted coffee drifting out the door. Named one of the top five coffee shops in New York City by Grub Street, Plowshares is a welcome addition to the Bloomingdale neighborhood.

Opened in 2014, the coffee shop on Broadway between 104th and 105th Street is owner Anthony Kurutz’s first retail cafe. Five years prior to the Bloomingdale shop, Kurutz founded Plowshares as a wholesale coffee roasting business, providing freshly roasted coffee and espresso to cafes and restaurants in and around New York City. Working out of a small roastery in the foothills of the Ramapo Valley in Hillburn, New York, Plowshares sources, roasts, and prepares unique coffees for its growing customer base.

Kurutz has brought his love and passion for coffee to Bloomingdale and has created a place for neighbors and visitors alike to interact. In his words,

“my favorite thing about doing business in this neighborhood has been discovering how many truly talented and interesting people live in our neighborhood.”

The front awning of Plowshares is proudly labeled with the name Bloomingdale, the neighborhood monicker dating back to the Dutch settlement of “Bloemendael” in this area in the 1600s. A resident of the neighborhood since 2000, Kurutz’s favorite local business, other than his own, is Absolute Bagels, just four blocks north of the cafe.

“There has definitely been an uptick in both the variety and quality of restaurants and drinking establishments in the neighborhood in recent years, however the diversity and social fabric that makes the Bloomingdale neighborhood interesting and appealing has remained largely in tact.”

The passion and talent of the staff at Plowshares are evident when you visit — they take pride in their work, preparing and serving consistently great espresso drinks and brewed coffee. During our visit, the barista crafted a picture perfect cortado that tasted as good as it looked. In addition to coffee, Plowshares also offers loose leaf teas, and a variety of pastries from some of the best bakers in the city, including Underwest Donuts, Colson Patisserie, and Ovenly. For those with dietary restrictions, a variety of vegan and gluten-free treats are also offered from Sans Bakery and Bakerlee Bakery.

Don’t miss the Nitro cold brew, a smoother and creamier alternative to regular iced coffee. Enjoy the friendly atmosphere and delicious coffee at Plowshares Bloomingdale — it may just become your new favorite stop.

Plowshares Coffee
2730 Broadway (btwn 104th/105th)
(212) 222-0280
Coffee Shop

feature by: Emily Edwards

West End Hall

West End Hall

On any given summer day last year, people packed the recently opened West End Hall, filling the oasis-like backyard and sidewalk cafe at Broadway and 106th St. In owner Karim El Sherif’s words, on days like these at the Bloomingdale beer garden,

“the outside becomes the inside, the inside becomes the outside, and the energy is unbelievable.”

El Sherif brings more than 25 years of experience in the New York restaurant business to Bloomingdale. After managing 4-star restaurants and French bistros and brasseries for celebrity chefs such as Eric Ripert and Daniel Bouloud, he has gone on to open three restaurants of his own.

A joint venture between KES Hospitality & The Lure Group, West End Hall represents El Sherif’s most casual vision yet and his first endeavor on the Upper West Side. The beer hall incorporates great execution of food and quality service but is also welcoming to families, groups, and individuals and provides value to customers. The bar has 20 craft beers on tap and 50 bottled & canned varieties from all over the world, and the list is constantly rotating. For those less beer-inclined, the bar also serves wine and cocktails. El Sherif has recruited a well-known 3-star chef to develop an eclectic menu of high-end bar food, including International Sausages, Maine Mussels, and their famous Truffle Burger. On game days, the beer hall offers specials on buckets of beer and wings, and on the weekend, brunch is served after 11am.

Behind the bar hangs a panel of dials and gauges that look straight out of a mad scientist’s lab. This “flux capacitor” allows the bartenders to maintain the optimum pressure and carbon dioxide to nitrogen ratio for each beer, based on the precise measurements given by each brewery’s brewmaster. By recommendation of the bartender, we sampled the Flying Dog Bloodline on Nitro, and the effect of the higher nitrogen levels was clear. The beer had smaller bubbles and a smoother, creamier texture similar to Guinness. West End Hall is one of only four bars in the U.S. with one of these gadgets. El Sherif holds tastings for the staff each week and invites breweries to the restaurant to ensure that his bartenders and waitstaff are knowledgeable.

As a testament to his commitment and creativity, El Sherif also played a large role in the design of West End Hall. He wanted to achieve a “warm but unique” aesthetic, featuring reclaimed wood from Upstate New York and lush greenery cloaking the backyard patio. He has replaced the entire infrastructure of the space (new plumbing, electrical, and HVAC) and added insulation to the ceiling and sound-deadening curtains to the outside area in order to be a good neighbor to nearby residents.

In choosing a name, El Sherif says that he was torn between using the name of an old New York brewery or referencing the neighborhood. Ultimately, he chose West End Hall due to the restaurant’s location at the intersection of West End Ave and Broadway. In regards to the Bloomingdale neighborhood, El Sherif says that he sees the area as “transitional” and diverse, with different “dynamics” on each block and a multi-generational population.

“Beer halls are fun and democratic… They promote socializing.”

Next time you’re looking to try a new brew or grab a bite to eat with friends, check out West End Hall right here in Bloomingdale. The beer hall features live music every Tuesday night at 8pm and trivia nights on Wednesdays at 8pm.

West End Hall
2756 Broadway (105th-106th)
(212) 662-7200
Beer Garden
130 seats inside/ 40 sidewalk cafe/ 100 backyard
Weekend Brunch, Weekday Happy Hour 4-7pm, Game Day Specials, Live Music & Trivia

feature by: Emily Edwards

Miss Mamies

Miss Mamies

Soul Food is a great draw for foodies the world over. Here in Bloomingdale, you don’t even need to leave the neighborhood for some of the best fixin’s around. Owner Norma Jean Darden runs Spoonbread Inc. one of the city’s premier catering kitchens. In October of 1997 she opened her passion project in Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too. In the years since, the Michelin recommended restaurant has become a neighborhood landmark and a proud favorite of mayors, former presidents, and neighborhood residents alike.

“The neighborhood has certainly grown since we opened and has really blossomed into one of the premier neighborhoods in New York.”

While the catering menu ranges between different cuisines, Miss Mamie’s is all about bringing the best of the south to our taste buds. They have classic New Orlean’s style flair in their Louisiana catfish and seafood gumbo. They serve a great Caribbean style Jerk as well as traditional Southern fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. Norma Jean has decades of experience in our area and notes that “the neighborhood has certainly grown since we opened and has really blossomed into one of the premier neighborhoods in New York.” They have been excited to see such a thriving and diverse restaurant scene in the area and have been eager to have support all the new Bloomingdale Restaurants over the years!

Stop by their recently remodeled Southern Dining Room-style restaurant on 110th across the street from Morningside Park. Their lunch specials are difficult to beat and their famous Sunday Brunch will definitely need a reservation at the 50 seat restaurant. In fact there’s rarely a night when something special isn’t on offer, which is fitting at such a great neighborhood place.

Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too
364 Cathedral Parkway (110th)
(212) 865-6744
Soul Food
50 seats
Famous Sunday Brunch, Tuesday Tastings, Daily Bar Specials, Bake Sale 1/2 Price Desserts

feature by: Alex Zamudio

Tropical Sensation

Tropical Sensation

There is something special about island cuisine. Unique flavors grow while culinary ideas are exchanged. Tropical Sensation, which opened in the summer of 2008, is where these Flavors of the World meet. This family owned and run restaurant specializes in Tropical Spanish/Caribbean food with dishes from each of the islands and a weekly rotation of regional dishes that’ll have you island hopping without leaving Bloomingdale.

“We opened here because there is a great diversity in the neighborhood with old and new residents, people of all ages and from all over.”

“We opened here because there is a great diversity in the neighborhood with old and new residents, people of all ages and from all over” says owner Jose Clemente, who runs the restaurant with his wife Maria, and children Jose Jr. and Joseline. “The restaurant itself can seem roomy compared to other places in NYC that try to crunch in as many people as possible in tables barely inches apart.” They love the area and are happy to share a block with other established neighborhood favorites like Awash and Mama’s Pizza, as well as newcomers like the Ellington, Yasha Ramen, and La Toulousaine.

Come over to Tropical Sensation’s beautifully designed 60 seat dining room for a comfortable sit down meal, a daily lunch special, or a regional favorite. Several craftspeople were involved in decorating the space: with a mural painted by an artist from the Dominican Republic and a wood worker designing a custom 60 foot bench along the front wall of the restaurant. It’s a unique mix of crafts, traditions, and of course delicious food, that will have you coming back.

Tropical Sensation
953 Amsterdam Avenue
(212) 222-0098
Spanish/Latin Caribbean Restaurant
60 seats
Daily Lunch Specials, Happy Hour Specials

feature by: Alex Zamudio

Manhattan Brew & Vine

Manhattan Brew & Vine

Bloomingdale newcomer Manhattan Brew & Vine provides brings an exciting selection of wines and craft beers to their beautifully designed space on 109th and Columbus. Owner/partner Joseph Hargrave is quick to point out that it’s a great time to be doing business in Bloomingdale. “Our team is familiar with the neighborhood,” he says, “and we notice that crime is at an all-time low, new businesses are being welcomed by the community, and our local legislators are making a stronger effort to encourage growth.”

“The diversity of the business community encourages us to meet the standard for quality products and services that residents have come to expect.”

The northern end of Columbus Avenue is now home to a thriving cluster of restaurants that the welcoming MBV rounds out perfectly. “The diversity of the business community encourages us to meet the standard for quality products and services that residents have come to expect.” New specialty dine-in restaurants along Columbus and Amsterdam “create a buzzing environment for residents and businesses.” Joe enjoys frequenting neighbors Miss Mamie’s, Freda’s, and has a soft spot for his favorite: Mama’s Pizza on 106th and Amsterdam.

Manhattan Brew & Vine seats 50 and serves a varied selection of 44 hand-selected wines and 29 craft beers that pair with the chef-inspired tasting menu to truly offer something for everyone. It’s the perfect place for a special occasion or a Happy Hour after a long day’s work. Feel free to ask manager Ralphie Mercado questions about what is on offer, interesting flavor pairings, and suggestions for what to try next time!

Manhattan Brew & Vine
998 Columbus Avenue
(646) 964-4091
Lounge
50 seats table
Happy Hour, Special events

feature by: Alex Zamudio

Casa Mexicana

Casa Mexicana

Flavors of the world are within walking distance here in Bloomingdale. One of the most interesting food trends to hit the city in recent years has been the proliferation of authentic Mexican eateries reflecting increased migration to areas like El Barrio, Washington Heights, Bushwick, and yes right here at home. “We designed the menu to reflect the best that Mexican cuisine has to offer,” says owner and partner Leo Vidals. No Tex- or Cal-Mex here!

“We saw this promising area as the right place to open and the neighborhood has been wonderful! We have been received and treated very well.”

Casa Mexicana opened in September of 2014 and has helped transform a block that had multiple vacancies before Arco Cafe and Casa arrived. Leo manages the restaurant with his brother Eric who is the executive chef, with their father also helping run the family-owned and operated business. Eric let us try his slow cooked 47-ingredient Mole Poblano, a real tour-de-force in Mexican cuisine from the city of Puebla.

After working for years in restaurants in the city, the brothers came to our neighborhood to open their first restaurant and we are glad Casa Mexicana calls Bloomingdale home. Across the street from our landmarked Youth Hostel, take advantage of their great sidewalk café, cozy ambiance, and the occasional art or music exhibit. Talk to them about their menu and ask for something new to try.

Casa Mexicana
894 Amsterdam Avenue
(212) 222-3151
Mexican Restaurant
48 seats inside/18 seats outside
Happy Hour M-F 12-7pm , Brunch Weekends, Free wifi

feature by: Alex Zamudio

Isola On Columbus

Isola on Columbus

Isola is Italian for island. “A lot of people don’t realize that Italy is made up of islands like Sicily” says owner and long time neighborhood resident Sebastiano Cappitta, “and here at Isola we bring Sicilian cuisine to the island of Manhattan.” With a traditional style wood burning brick oven and all pasta dishes made fresh in-house, we are glad he did and encourage you to visit this Bloomingdale gem.

“A lot of people don’t realize that Italy is made up of islands like Sicily and here at Isola we bring Sicilian cuisine to the island of Manhattan.”

Though it opened in the Fall of 2013, Sebastiano opened the original Isola in 1991 down on 83rd and Columbus. After closing in 2007, the former resident of 110th Street saw their current space on 109th and Columbus as “a great opportunity to bring simple affordable Italian food to the neighborhood.” He’s in good company, right across the street from newcomers MBV, and he and manager Gaspare di Fede enjoy eating at neighbors Freda’s and taking out from Saiguette.

With its open design, corner location, and 18-seat sidewalk café, Isola is a great destination on the northern end of Columbus Avenue. The more modern version focuses on “light cooking and healthy alternatives” with an Island cuisine that will seem both familiar and inviting. Like one of Sebastiano’s other restaurants Arco, Isola also offers a great brunch menu that includes a Mimosa, Bellini, or Bloody Mary.

Isola on Columbus
994 Columbus Avenue
(212) 665-2970
Sicilian Italian Restaurant
50 seats inside/18 seats outside
Happy Hour Drink Specials M-F, Brunch 11-4 Weekends/Holidays includes drink

feature by: Alex Zamudio

Arco Cafe

Arco Cafe

We pride ourselves for having Flavors of the World here in Bloomingdale. Sitting down for a meal at Arco Cafe takes you straight into an Italian home kitchen. “Italians mostly eat at home, with fresh local ingredients and home made pasta,” says Partner/Manager Daniele Fiori who runs Arco Cafe with his sister Francesca, “and that’s what we have created here.”

“Everyone knows everyone else. It’s like a family between businesses and the clients.”

The Fiori’s, who hail from the Island of Sardina, opened on 103rd and Amsterdam in February of 2014 and have helped turn around a block that now also features newcomers in the family owned Casa Mexicana. They love the small town feel our neighborhood provides as a respite from the big city. “Everyone knows everyone else. It’s like a family between businesses and the clients.” Aside from his neighbors at Casa, Daniele also likes The Ellington, and newcomers Schatzie and West End Hall.

Arco seats 70 inside and 10 outside and serves wine and beer, which pair perfectly with the regional menu carefully designed by Daniele to mimic “the food I grew up eating at home.” Their $12 two-course fixed price lunch is one of the best deals in the neighborhood, and you can get a bottle of wine for 50% off if you go Monday through Thursday. You might need to as reservations are usually required on weekends, as they have adopted the classic American tradition of serving brunch!

Arco Café
886 Amsterdam Avenue
(212) 665-0033
Sardinian Italian Restaurant
70 seats inside/10 outside
Weekend Brunch, Weekday $12 Lunch served M – F until 6 pm, Mon-Thurs 50% off wine

feature by: Alex Zamudio