If you ever see me on the streets of New York City, there’s a chance I will be wearing one of my favorite T-shirts: It’s from Roberta’s in Brooklyn, and it has the restaurant’s name in the style of a death-metal band emblazoned over a skull, a sword and, of course, a pizza.
I treasure that shirt as much as I treasure any band T-shirts. Restaurants are an incredible place to look for you-can’t-get-this-anywhere gifts for your restaurant-loving friends and family. Just in time for the holidays, I’ve put together a Where to Eat gift guide that will make you a gift-giving star.
What to Wear
It’s no secret that some of the city’s finest merch comes from its institutions of Jewish food. Zabar’s, Katz’s and Russ & Daughters all have a ton of gift-worthy options. But I’d like to acknowledge B & H Dairy, the 84-year-old vegetarian kosher restaurant in the East Village, for really putting the humor in restaurant merchandise with its line of “Challah! Por Favor” clothing, which includes hats, onesies, kids’ shirts and sweatshirts (from $10). Grab one after you’ve polished off a plate of the challah French toast.
If you’ve got any Williamsburg hypebeasts in your life who go to Cafe Balearica every Saturday night, surprise them with Fini Pizza’s new black satin bomber jacket ($110, available in store and online). Or if they regularly drop by Cafe Erzulie on Jazz Night for a roasted goat sandwich, give them the gift of one of the restaurant’s Black Rainbow shirts ($40), which can be ordered online and picked up later.
Say you’ve just gone to the Japanese restaurant Rule of Thirds in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and you’re on a post-brunch or post-dinner walk. Then you’ll definitely want to pop into the restaurant’s sake store, Bin Bin Sake, because I haven’t stopped thinking about its four-bottle tote ($40) since they introduced it over the summer. It’s huge, and features an adorable illustration of a cat gripping a bottle of sake, and — get this — it zips! It zips!
Another slightly circuitous route to gift-giving: If you’ve had the chance to visit the excellent tasting menu restaurant Nudibranch, perhaps you spied one of the colorful nude paintings in the bathroom. Those paintings come from Amanda Geller — @paint.and.nip on Instagram — a sommelier at Pasquale Jones and Bar Pasquale who also sells prints on Etsy (from $69) and takes commissions. Your art-collecting friends and family will thank you.
What to Send
Perhaps the recipient of your largess doesn’t live within city limits. Not a problem. I’ve got one very, very good gift in mind that you can send their way: a tin of the cookies from the Vietnamese bakery Bạn Bè that I just can’t get enough of. Each tin ($45) contains 28 beautiful butter cookies in coconut pandan, black sesame ube, tamarind cacao nib and cà phê crunch flavors, and they’ll ship by Dec. 19.
Whatever you decide to give your family and friends, there’s always the option to treat them to dinner. Most restaurants offer gift cards, and buying one (or three) is like a long-term investment in an unforgettable meal. Happy holidays!
In Other News …
This week, Pete Wells reviewed Koloman, the Austrian-influenced restaurant from the Austria-born chef Markus Glocker at the Ace Hotel in NoMad. The excellence of the food more than makes up for service shortcomings, he writes.
Openings: Rich Torrisi of Major Food Group fame opens Torrisi Bar & Restaurant on Thursday in SoHo. Greenpoint welcomes House Brooklyn, a new French-Japanese tasting menu restaurant on Norman Avenue. And, for all things bao, Greenwich Village’s Bao Tea House has a new, larger restaurant at Mulberry and Hester Streets.
More than a year after a Times investigation found widespread evidence of verbal and sexual harassment leading employees to file a class-action lawsuit, the Willows Inn has permanently closed, Julia Moskin reported.