Lights On…In Lower Manhattan

By Kelly Rush

It’s not spring yet, no matter how tightly I squeeze my eyes and pretend it is, so in this edition I’m focusing on treats to help you get through the last throes of winter. Soon enough I’ll park my down jacket in the closet and wipe the filthy salt residue off my well-worn boots. In the meantime, February is a perfectly appropriate month to indulge in chocolate, comfort food and wine. As usual, if you see any new retailers or spot changes to a long-time friend, please email me at tre@downtownny.com and I’ll check them out.


Aroma Espresso Bar – 100 Church Street
(212) 346-0095 | www.aroma.us

Coffee shops abound, but it’s hard to find a place that serves an outstanding cup o’ joe and fresh, made-to-order food. You won’t find pre-made sandwiches wilting in a cooler here. The coffee bar emulates the Middle Eastern concept of organizing the space around a u-shaped work station where baristas make their caffeinated creations out in the open instead of behind a counter, said Manager Gal Danay. “Customers feel like they’re part of the coffee-making experience,” he said.

The bar is large and airy and has plenty of seating for both groups and the individual who wants to settle in with a book and a hot chocolate. Speaking of the hot chocolate—try it. It comes with a large chunk of chocolate praline at the bottom and a spoon to stir it as it melts. Enjoy this treat because eventually, you’ll have to go back to work.

Chipotle – 281 Broadway
(212) 385-3506 | www.chipotle.com

Chipotle is a place that does satisfying Mexican food fast the way you want it. They now have another location for us to enjoy in Lower Manhattan, which brings the count to four within a half a mile of one another. The chicken is always juicy, the condiments are plentiful and if you’re looking for a bit of a healthier version of the burrito, you can go for some tortilla soup or mix up a custom bowl. There’s something comforting in knowing you’ll always find a hot and fresh meal here and with a portion size that’s big enough to take the leftovers home for dinner.

Financial District Wines & Liquor – 120 Nassau Street
(212) 933-1092 | www.fidiwine.com

Don’t let the construction, cranes and drills on Nassau Street stop you from hitting this new wine and spirit shop. FiDi Wines & Liquor is spacious, bright, features a diverse selection and what they describe as the lowest prices in Lower Manhattan. Customers already are dubbing the shop a favorite. One recent patron declared on Yelp: “If you live or work in the Financial District, FiDi Wines & Liquor really is a neighborhood gem.”

They kicked off their grand opening with a party that included a D.J., free tastings and a stilt walker. Assistant Manager Norman Bent says the stilt walker was the consummate professional and didn’t come close to knocking over any bottles. They know how to throw a party, so give them a call to see how they can help with your event.

J&R Jr. – 1 Park Row, Second Floor
(212) 238-9060 | www.jr.com

Above the computers and the laptop cases and the office supplies of J&R Electronics lies a sweeter venture more concerned with nurturing our youth than say, expanding a business. Children’s store J&R Jr. opened on the second floor above the electronics retailer and is busily entertaining Lower Manhattan’s kids. The store sells everything from car seats and strollers to the tiniest grand piano you’ve ever seen. Don’t attempt to sit on the miniature bench. C’mon; you’re too large if you’re reading this column. They held their grand opening the day before Valentine’s Day and entertained a packed house. I stopped by the store a few days before it opened and felt a bit of an expectant lull or pregnant pause, if you will, kind of like a delivery room at the hospital. Stop by and welcome J&R’s newest addition.

 

Vintry Fine Wines  – 230 Murray Street
(212) 240-9553 | www.vintryfinewines.com

Vintry is so pretty it looks more like a work of art than a shop that sells wine. Their architect knew what he was doing. The space’s curvilinear lines are reminiscent of waves or straw-colored sand dunes softly stretching out to the water and beckoning you to stroll through the store’s vast selection. The shop has something for the wine connoisseur and the casual sampler who is just looking for a great bottle to go with dinner. Vintry is owned by Peter Poulakakos, whose father Harry is the restaurateur responsible for such establishments as Harry’s at Hanover Square, later reborn as Harry’s Café and Steak. Customers have come to expect a lot from this family and Vintry is sure to deliver.

Closings:

Waterstone Grill – 79 Pearl Street

For more information on retailers in Lower Manhattan, visit the Alliance for Downtown New York at www.DowntownNY.com. You can check out an interactive map with details on hours, locations and services and search the events calendar. Or, stay connected through the Downtown Alliance iPhone app, available for download on the website.