58 W. 38th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-869-7482
The glatt kosher kebab house, Olympic Pita, is famous among a small but well-fed segment of the population for several reasons, including: the freshly house-baked flatbread called laffa (regular pita pales by comparison); the Iraqi-Jewish hot mango sauce called amba (perhaps the world’s greatest condiment); and the fact that you can get French fries (not just with, but on your lamb-and-turkey shawarma sandwich). It used to be, if you wanted to binge on one of these giant shawarma sandwiches with amba and French fries rolled up burrito-style in laffa, you had to earn it by clumping out to Midwood, Brooklyn, where Olympic Pita is based. That’s no longer the case. “Because my customers demanded it,” says partner Nissim Soudry, Olympic has recently opened a comparatively natty garment-district branch, with the same menu, salad bar, and all manner of grilled kebabs, chops, and steaks. Also, because Soudry is not the type to say no to his customers, he’s introduced booze into the Olympic Pita experience. At the new branch, there’s Israeli beer and kosher wine, a full bar and lounge, and cocktails galore, like the Olympic Peach Breeze and the Blue Long Island Iced Tea. If you drink too much, there’s the delicious, hangover-curing, baked egg-and-tomato-sauce dish known as shakshuka, served at breakfast only.
Blue Ribbon Bar
34 Downing St., nr. Bedford St.; 212-691-0404
The City Council should give some serious thought to renaming the South Village intersection of Downing and Bedford Streets Bromberg Square, now that brothers Bruce and Eric have three establishments clustered there. The newest, Blue Ribbon Bar, bears the telltale Brombergian mark of obsessive carpentry, with white-oak shelving and paneling, plus a marble bar and French-limestone floor, and makes a sleek holding pen for diners waiting for tables at Blue Ribbon Bakery across the street. While they wait, customers can sip a broad selection of wines, beers, and liquors, and nibble on Blue Ribbon–baked bread, cheeses, some new additions to the menu of toasts on offer around the corner at Blue Ribbon Market, and a few baked dishes like snails and short ribs.
173 Ave. A, at 11th St.; 212-677-2933
Nearly three years after his short-lived first foray into the East Village, Westville chef-partner Jay Strauss tries once more to clone his perpetually thronged West Village joint across town, in a relatively spacious 40-seat corner spot with what Strauss calls “great light and a very expensive big new kitchen.” As an Alphabet City local himself, Strauss perceives a niche for his elevated brand of all-American comfort food, from cast-iron-cooked turkey burgers and Niman Ranch Fearless Franks to the vegetarian-friendly chalkboard market menu. Once lunch and dinner are up and running, he hopes to corner the local breakfast market with destination bagels and eggs.