A Beloved East Village Maternal Figure Starts Boozing It Up


Sweet simplicity reigns at the newly opened Mama’s Bar, the lively sibling and neighbor of East Village comfort-food-capital Mama’s Food Shop. Shunning the notion of becoming another stop on the Alphabet City weekend pub crawl, owner Michael “Mama” Rosenfeld intends to keep the bar low-profile and low-key: The green awning still reads “Deli & Grocery”—a hint of the bar’s past—and there’s no sign in sight. Inside, the spare, oddly cozy space captures the moody charm of a ’40s neighborhood joint. Grab a cheap bottle ($4 and up) or one of the Brooklyn Brewery beers on tap ($4); adventurers should try Mama’s homemade flavor-infused vodkas, including ginger, raspberry, and cherry varieties. Be sure to check out the hot, dirty, bike-riding Mama’s staff—the barflies who work at the food shop’s three locations—as you coddle your drink. And there’s a jukebox catalog assembled with the same obvious, delicate care of a mix tape you’d make for your high school crush: David Bowie, Television, Charles Mingus, De La Soul, the Modern Lovers, Diana Ross. But it’s the attention to ease that distinguishes Mama’s Bar from its neighbors. As Rosenfeld says, “It’s Mama’s—you get what you want, but cheaper than everywhere else.” It’s just that simple.