I watched suspiciously from my apartment as the three-story building across the street was being renovated. Later, an enormous blue neon sign in retro-style script spelling “Mo Pitkin’s” was installed, casting a faint electric glow on my living-room walls. When the place opened, I was relieved to discover that the new kid on the block had sprouted from roots running deep in the Lower East Side. Phil and Jesse Hartman (owners of Two Boots and Great Jones Café) expanded their local empire with this Judeo-Latino restaurant/bar/cabaret, named after a fascinating relative (read about him on the menu). Mo’s Famous Orange Julius ($9) is like a melted orange Creamsicle spiked with vodka that packs a few million tasty calories. I was told that I was the first brave soul to order the Luchow ($9), a savory bouillon-based cocktail rimmed with “dry rub” and topped with a slice of karnatzel (beef jerky). Top on my list was the Manischevetini ($8), a simple vodka martini made with a dash of Manischewitz. And at $10, the Starving Artist Special, a burger and a beer, is a nod to the creative East Village community. So, I welcome my “new” neighbor, who arrived determined to keep historical continuity alive in an ever changing corner of New York.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 6, 2005