Just north of Houston Street — which the Americans pronounce “Hauston” and not like the city Houston — on Bleecker Street, you find Quartino, a nice little restaurant serving Italian style food.
At Quartino, there is a focus on fresh, local ingredients. Seasonal greens come from the local markets. Bread is baked with flour made from ground organic whole grain. And cheeses come from local farms and are made with raw milk from grass-fed cows. All dishes are prepared with a proprietary olive oil, produced at a 500 year-old family farm in Liguria, Italy, and added raw to preserve its flavors and natural vitamins.
Since we first arrived in the city we eat at Quartino regularly. It’s not on the main street so it’s quiet, the food is always good and in the summer it’s nice to sit in the back with the roof open.
After we eat, we usually take our coffee at Gasoline Alley, a small coffee shop nearby, between Lafayette and Mulberry St. They have some of the best coffee in the area — and delicious sweet treats — so it’s one of the more popular cafés in the Soho/Noho neighborhood. When it’s warm, you’ll find many of the neighborhood’s creatives relaxing on the benches outside, imagining new ideas for their work.
Nearby is a very cool store, S.K.U. The name is a play on words. They say “Save Khaki United” but usually S.K.U. means “stockkeeping unit” the number of an item that allows stores to keep track for inventory. I like the casual men’s style they have at S.K.U. and the shop is so neat. Designer David Mullen launched this minimalist menswear label in 2006, focusing on super-soft, impeccably tailored basics in earth tones and blues.
An important selling point at S.K.U. is that all the items are made in the US. The country once had a huge manufacturing base but now most of it has moved overseas where labor is cheaper. Now, if a company invests in American factories and people it’s a big deal — and the quality is usually at a very high level.