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The Whole Foods Kosher kitchen

Noidue Restaurant: Panini, Coffee and Nostalgia a la carte

Posted on 9th of December, 2010 by Lévana

There are several reasons Noidue Restaurant tugs at my heartstrings. Some questions come up about it quite often:  I thought sharing my thoughts would make me feel somewhat more at peace with seeing a whole chunk of our lives behind us….

Here’s why for my husband and I, going to Noidue is  not exactly like going to just any other restaurant: Noidue Restaurant is located literally next door to where Levana Restaurant was located, at the corner of 69th Street and Broadway. In fact if we were still there we would be sharing a wall…. Closing our restaurant after 32 years of operation (first as a bakery, then as a dairy restaurant 2 blocks away, then at our final location for over 25 years) caused each of us no end of sad feelings, and to me it caused a total meltdown.  We (especially me, the namesake) are constantly asked, do we miss it, how can we be without it, etc….It took me a lot of pep talks to myself before I could even walk on that block. I kept telling myself, and my husband: We had a nice long run. We were the first, the best, and so on. All true enough, but when the rent doubles and times are what they are, it’s time to move on, which is exactly what we did! Hardly a day goes by without someone telling me they got engaged, or had their graduation, or had their business meeting, and so on, at Levana Restaurant. So yes I am sad and I miss it bitterly as it was the hub of our lives, but I am proud we have pioneered upscale Kosher cooking, we have left such an inspiring legacy, and so many other Kosher Restaurants have followed our model, albeit at a much higher price….

As soon as my husband and I were able to walk on 69th street without waxing wistful, we became regulars of Noidue. Nice people (half the battle, and then some), genuine Italian feel, great salads, pasta and pizza dishes that are delicious but mostly off-limits to me and many like me who would rather have lower gluten options, pretty good desserts and FABULOUS coffee: Here’s what you order: Cappuccino (regular or decaf) extra shot, extra hot. We never order the heavy duty main courses, so no comments on these. See if the staff would agree to prepare a couple nice Risotto dishes: Italian enough, no? And a welcome departure from the pasta-pizza-ravioli starchy gamut

And then comes my greatest treat: Some outrageous French songs playing in the background (which I can make out even with all the din, lyrics and all, and sing along to, even after all these years) my mother and I used to sing ages ago: Among my favorites is  Bambino, by Dalida, which makes me go to pieces  with nostalgia (about a young teenager hopelessly in love with an older woman: Delightful! just listen to the song!), which the obliging owner, Golan, practically a landsman (he is Israeli via Morocco!) puts on each time I ask him to: It goes perfectly with the food and the place!

Oh, there’s another question which comes up quite often: “Will you reopen a restaurant some day?” and my answer is “I need a sugar daddy! Badly! If one materializes I’m there!” Seriously, the restaurant business is in our blood. My daughter Bella might emerge as a worthwhile disciple someday, she sure has what it takes. When she was a little girl she wrote for her homework: “The Little Red Riding Hood got lost in the woods. She was terrified, she started crying for her Mommy, she was exhausted. And then she got hungry and went to a restaurant.” Just in passing: This is where Bella and her husband met, as he was working with us!

Filed under: Behind the kitchen scenes, Food Stories, Kosher Food, Kosher Restaurants, Levana Restaurant, Nice Stories, NoBo Restaurant, Noidue Restaurant, Stories

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