We love Sorella’s grissini and have found unadulterated gelato bliss at Stellina. You could say, in other words, that we are big admirers of what Emma Hearst and Sarah Krathen have done at their two establishments. And we’re fairly confident that if they open a “small steak-driven eatery,” as the Post reports they’re planning to, it will offer similarly high-quality goods.
That said, Hearst’s assertion that the stretch of Allen Street below Delancey is “a little bit underdeveloped” made us scratch our heads a bit.
Which part is she referring to, exactly? The other side of the street where White Slab Palace, Congee Village, the Tenement Museum, and the ChinaSquare contemporary art gallery reside? Or her own side of Allen, which, in addition to Sorella and Stellina, is home to Berkli Parc and Fried Dumpling? Exactly which part of this block is underdeveloped? The parts occupied by what the Post snottily calls “Chinatown greasy spoons and shabby boutiques”?
In January, it was noted that all four corners of the Allen and Delancey intersection are now occupied by establishments that will “leave you drunk, caffeinated, and well-fed.” And while we are generally in favor of alcohol, coffee, and calories, we find ourselves wondering: How many more goddamned restaurants does a block need?
Are pricey, trendy establishments that capitalize on the irony of their “shabby” ethnic surroundings the only kinds of development that matters anymore? And why exactly does this block of Allen Street need to be taken over “one spot at a time,” as Hearst told the Post? So that moneyed white folk can further congratulate themselves for re-molding a neighborhood in their own image?
Yeah, yeah, the lady was just talking. And she makes good food that we’ve enjoyed on multiple occasions and likely will again. But the notion of “underdeveloped” is one that rankles: That block of Allen Street isn’t underdeveloped to the people who opened their businesses there long before Hearst came around. It’s only underdeveloped to people who want to sell $13 pints of gelato.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 23, 2011