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Shop Op: New York's Hip Pocket

By Anne Glusker
The Washington Post
Sunday, July 6, 1997; Page E04
   


Although New York is the epicenter of Cool, for years the streets of the northern end of Little Italy -- wedged between SoHo and the Lower East Side -- were barely warm. Mott, Mulberry and Elizabeth streets were lined with crumbling red-brick buildings; sometimes you could smell the aroma of baking semolina bread or spot an old lady taking the sun.

But the area's funk quotient has picked up dramatically of late, centering on Mott and Elizabeth streets. Sigerson Morrison (242 Mott St., 212-219-3893), a shoe store favored by the fashion cognoscenti, offers maroon leather pumps and pea green velvet loafers closer to art than footwear. (The stuff is pricey, but watch for sales.)

Next door is Cafe Gitane (212-334-9552), a small, low-key former grocery. You can sip spice tea at the counter or dig into an $8 plate of couscous. Leave time for eavesdropping and scene-watching. Heading north toward Houston, check out the art at the tiny Mary Gearhart Gallery (252 Mott St., 212-966-3556) and the eye-popping dresses and scarves made from batiks and Indian sari fabric at Calypso (280 Mott St., 212-965-0990). Elizabeth Street's nascent restaurant row has the new Rialto Bar (265 Elizabeth St., 212-334-7900), with an American bistro menu and a beautiful garden. Look to Shi (233 Elizabeth St., 212-334-4330) for minimalist housewares or Orio Trio (248 Elizabeth St., 212-219-1501) for vintage glassware. The hottest reservation in town is just up the street at Balthazar (212-965-1414). Can't get a table? Stop in for a drink at the bar.

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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