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Neighborhood Guide: Stone Street

You don’t really need much of a culinary payoff to enjoy a trip to the odd and charming Stone Street in Lower Manhattan, a semi-hidden pocket of al fresco dining that seems so non-New York (but not in a bad, Manhattan Mall kind of way) that it always feels like you’re on an adventure.

Before getting to the food and booze scene, a little back-story: in the late 1990s a consortium of sorts decided to spruce up what is said to be the city’s first paved street by cleaning the historic, mostly low-rise buildings, re-cobblestone-ing the entire area, opening up six or seven restaurants and, best of all, shockingly restraining themselves from throwing up all kinds of that faux historic decor that makes the nearby South Street Seaport feel so sterile. Well, those old-timey lampposts are a little much, but other than that….

 

 

Anyway, there’s nothing to do on Stone Street except eat and drink, so it’s fortunate that one of our favorite pizza restaurants in town is here, the always lively, deliciously satisfying Adrienne Pizza Bar. This is not a slice place, and the ten-piece “old-fashioned” rectangle pie—their signature dish, and really the only the thing to get—is huge, so bring at least two other eaters with you. Any topping you could want is available, but, honestly?, the plain, with its crispy crust, cheese beautifully burnt, and a nice balance between the core ingredients, is the way to go here.  Add a Cinque Fegile salad–a bushy pile of mixed greens with generous slathers of creamy blue cheese, nicely dressed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette—and a slice or three of the sweet and wonderfully gooey Nutella Chocolate Cake, and you have an inexpensive, crowd-pleasing meal.

If the line at Adrienne’s is too long for you to deal with—and it definitely does get long—a solid second Stone Street option is Smörgas, which is a little like eating at IKEA, in a good way. The Fjord Smoked Salmon Sandwich is a totally fine toast with scrambled eggs and nova concoction. The Chicken Snofrisk salad is a somewhat strange tossing of caramelized bird (literally caramelized… as in it tastes like caramel) with crunchy asparagus and potato salad. Also available, of course, is a decent plate of Swedish Meatballs, which comes with mashed potatoes and lindonberry jam. The bottom line: Smorgas offers competently made comfort food, with enough interesting twists to make it seem a little special.

Stone Street, a two-block stretch between William and Pearl Streets, is pedestrian-only. Because the restaurants are a little distant from the entrance on William Street, and sort of around a corner, no matter how many times you visit, you definitely get a bit of a satisfying feeling as you approach the maze of outdoor tables that you’ve stumbled upon a city secret.

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