An East Village Evening: Koi and Veniero Pasticceria

October 17, 2005 | By | COMMENTS

When Diana and I made plans to see “A History of Violence” on 2nd. Avenue Friday night, we came across the obstacle of “where will we eat for dinner?” My brain entered Terminator mode and brought up a map of 2nd avenue and tried to determine, with various graphs and charts, what was near the movie theater. And then a word came into my head: “Koi!” I said.

“Koi?” asked Diana.

“Yes, Koi,” I said. “I seem to remember that next to the movie theater is a restaurant named Koi.”

“Ok,” she said, “There we shall go.”

And so we met on Broadway and walked over to Koi. Sure enough it was right next to the movies, just like my brain said it was:

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People on menupages.com love Koi. Go read the comments. I’d link to it, but I’m lazy. I’m not being coy. (Rimshot!)

The reason they love it, they say, is because “it’s the best sushi in New York.” Having eaten at Tomoe Sushi, I was interested to scan the competition. So Diana and I ordered “Sushi for Two.” It cost $40. It came with salad or soup. We each had salad, but my picture didn’t come out too well. Then we had sake:

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The sake menu was large and the waiter steered us to his favorite which turned out to be our favorite too.

“Mmm,” we said, “This is good sake.”

Sake acts for sushi like wine acts for other foods. It enhances the experience.

When our platter came, our neighbors gawked at our table:

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“What’s that?” we heard them ask the waiter.

“Sushi for 2,” the waiter said.

“We’ll have that,” they decided.

And they made a good choice. This sushi was top notch–definitely as good as Tomoe, and more variety. We were never bored. And Diana had fun critiquing my sushi skills. She saw me put ginger on a piece of sushi.

“I thought ginger was for between pieces, to cleanse your palate,” she suggested.

Was this true? I didn’t know.

“Oh,” I said sheepishly.

“I mean, I just heard that,” she said. She was very kind in her criticism.

Then she taught me the difference between sushi and sashimi. Now I forget it.

So we loved our meal—it’s perfect if you’re going to the movies right there. After the movie (which was a terrific movie, by the way, we really enjoyed it), we searched for a place to have coffee. We stumbled upon Veniero:

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I went here last year with my high school friends Amy and Dana. I’d forgotten it existed and then there we were. The place was hopping.

When you walk in, there’s a giant display case full of pastries. And the room has a very old feel to it, in a great way. It reminded me of Friendly’s or some other classic dessert like place. Plus the menu was really funny:

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[If you click that picture, above, it will get bigger.]

Here are my favorite descriptions:

“Miniature Pastries: A miniature fantasy that envelops the senses.”

“Tiramisu: Literally translates to ‘Pick Me Up.’ It’s just what our version of tiramisu does to you, the original Veniero’s recipe for the true tiramisu cake. You will feel Italian espresso, of course, mocha cream, for sure, whipped cream, certainly.”

These sound like treatments at a spa, not desserts in the East Village! But that’s what I liked about the place. I also liked the prices: check them out! Most desserts are in the $3 to $4 range. To quote Monty Hall: “The price is right.”

Here’s Diana with her desserts:

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She had two miniature ones (they enveloped her senses): a cannoli and a strawberry tart. She was very happy with her choices.

I had the “Pasticciotti: A house specialty for many years. A sweet pastry tart filled with baked vanilla soft custard.”

The picture I took of it didn’t come out, but it was indeed very tasty. I was happy with my choice.

And so, should you be in the East Village for a night of movies, sushi and Italian desserts now you know where to go. You can thank us later!

Categories: East Village, Manhattan, New York, Restaurant Reviews

  • http://yoko.typepad.com yoko

    In traditional Japanese sushi-eating, this is true: the ginger is to be eaten between eating pieces of sushi, as a palate cleanser and for better digestion. Also, wasabi is to be mixed with the soy sauce for dipping, not to be put on the sushi themselves.

    But hey, as some say, “It all goes down the same way.”

  • http://fingerineverypie.typepad.com Julie

    Veniero’s is such a great old NYC institution. Their pizza rustica (big 2-crusted pie stuffed with cheeses, ham and salami) is legendary — it comes out right around Thanksgiving, but the lines at that time of year are out the door. Their iced coffee with gelato is my favorite summer treat. And if I’m in the neighborhood on my way to someone’s house, a pound or so of miniature pastries is always the best guest gift. But — have you been to DeRoberti’s, right across First Avenue? The interior is amazing…and the coffee and cannoli are great too.

  • Shirin Keen

    Veneiro’s…I went there when I first moved to New York, when it was just a blustery city of unconnected dots (when I took the subway for just ten blocks because it seemed like a faraway place) I always thought it was in the West Village and couldn’t remember its name. So I frequented Rocco’s instead for many years, which is the closest my description of an Italian bakery in the village got me. I was so happy when I stumbled across it again last summer! Veneiro’s, I will never forget you again!

  • http://www.xanga.com/cchen Chris

    koi is nowhere close to being the best sushi in nyc…. try kirara (west village) or sushi of gari (ues)