The West Village is now home to Bleecker Street Luncheonette, a new gluten-free restaurant. Located at 270 Bleecker Street, the café is the brainchild of chef Joseph Pace, the former owner and chef of popular Italian eatery Risoterria, which closed in 2016. Pace has returned to the site of his old business to try again with a Middle Eastern-themed venture. However, his love for gluten-free offerings has not diminished.
Pace began his love affair with delicious food at the University of Arizona where he studied agronomy and meat science. He went on to serve as the executive chef at the French-style restaurant Petrossian in Midtown Manhattan. After three years at Petrossian, Pace left to start his own establishment in 2000.
With Risoterria, Pace anticipated the gluten-free craze. Initially, the restaurant attracted patrons suffering from celiac disease. Unable to enjoy conventional bread and pizza, diners flocked to Risoterria in droves to enjoy delicious meals made without wheat and oats. The restaurant even offered gluten-free beer. Eventually, guests without gluten sensitivity came to Risoterria to enjoy healthy dishes like saffron risotto and mushroom panini.
In 2015, Pace opened a new branch of Risoterria on Amsterdam Avenue in the Upper West Side. Unlike its predecessor, the new location was not a success and closed after only six months. Due to the skyrocketing cost of rent in Greenwich Village, Pace was finally forced to shutter the original Risoterria in 2016.
Pace has emerged from retirement to try again in the same space, persuading his old landlord to rent him 270 Bleecker Street for a new concept. He launched Bleecker Street Luncheonette in late March. The name is an homage to the Bleecker Luncheonette, a long-defunct establishment once famed for its green minestrone and eccentric Italian owners who refused to print menus. The Bleecker Street Luncheonette’s menu includes grilled lamb sandwiches and Lebanese-style kofta. True to form, the eatery also offers gluten-free pita and biscuits.