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In his first venture since the South Asian-French fusion Elettaria, Noel Cruz and his partner Sam Rivera are set to open Carmine Club Cafe in the West Village on Monday. This time around, Cruz went back to the basics with a simple approach to Mediterranean cuisine; he’s focusing on high quality, unadorned ingredients in keeping with the classic, neighborhood ambience of the space.
“We want to elevate the ingredients, not mask them with sauces,” says Cruz. To do that, he brought in chef Joe Vigorito, formerly of Lupa and dell’anima, to craft the menu specialties, including grilled sepia topped with mint salsa verde; house-made pastas like oxtail orecchiette with lovage, bitter chocolate and tangerine, and seasonal items like steamed date cake for dessert.
The two-story, 65-seat restaurant features an open kitchen, a wrap-around bar, original exposed brick and café-style seating on the first level. The oversized photo of a New York street on the back wall, circa 1900, aptly serves as a reminder of the neighborhood’s rich past.
“We wanted to take what Carmine Street has to offer—it’s a very historical lot—and dot it throughout the design,” says Cruz. “We wanted to give it the feel of an old, New York social club.”
In the downstairs, cave-like wine cellar, guests will be treated to a more plush, refined dining experience. (Originally, Cruz only intended to open a wine bar and then later decided to do a complete restaurant). And much like the finely crafted cocktail menu at Elettaria, the wine and beer pairings, will be key ingredients in Cruz’s recipe for success with Carmine Club Cafe.
“One of the main focuses is to source boutique, small growers which otherwise wouldn’t get a lot of exposure,” he says. “It takes a little more effort but in the end, it’s worth it because you get to find these small gems, either in Portugal or locally.”
Carmine Clube Cafe, 41-43 Carmine Street, NY, NY; 212-933-0527; carmineclubcafe.com