Home away from Home -an Iconic Brooklyn based Italian Restaurant has dawned on the Lower East Side

by | Jan 10, 2023

Restaurant Review:

Ainslie Bowery

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Winter in New York can stir up the hermit in all of us, yet these days uncharacteristically spring-like mornings lead to brisk, chilly nights. One might be tempted to simply hibernate through the winter. Amid the current economic climate of high-interest rates, inflation and bills due every second you turn makes, stepping out of your apartment, unless necessary, feel insurmountable.

Let me enlighten you on a hidden gem worth putting both your coat on and cash out for, Ainslie Bowery. A charming venue that opened its doors to the lower east side and the public in September 2022 offers a multitude of room concepts and a home away from home cuisine that will have you missing Nonna. This unpretentious Italian oasis dishes up an authentic eatery with budget-friendly options. From wine bar rooms to a beer garden, this 20,000-square-foot space even has an underground lounge. Have I captured your attention yet?

The seasoned NYC restaurateurs AJ Bontempo, Sergio Riva and Mario Riva held nothing back when opening their fourth restaurant Ainslie Bowery. Already a Williamsburg staple since 2019, the wood-fired pizzas, small plates, entrees and seasonal cocktails can now be adorned by its Manhattan neighbors.

As if the concept was not enticing enough, renowned NYC Executive Chef John DeLucie, who founded Waverly Inn, is the mastermind behind the menu. Currently, the Chef for LuMaca, Bedford & Co, and Chef and partner for the iconic Empire Diner, DeLucie, is no stranger to homage. A Brooklyn-born haute cuisine artist, DeLucie brings his Southern Italian roots through the likes of Wood Fired Rosemary Wings, Salt and Pepper Ribs, and an assemblage of in-house homemade pastas such as his House-Made Ravioli with butternut squash, sage, brown butter, walnuts & amaretti to warm your soul.

Wine room

The serendipitous moment to experience this taste of Italy came on a crisp winter Sunday evening. Instantly greeted with a warm smile, manager Daniel offered us an opportunity to choose which room to dine. From the intimate high-top tables to the chill rustic 50-foot bar to the expansive beer garden area adorned by a striking Shepard Fairay mural, we chose our vibe for the evening. Equally charming as the decor were waiters Evan and Charlie, who sought out our palettes and personalities from the moment we sat down. Everything was spot on.

Opening up with two signature seasonal cocktails, Mornin’ Love (Bombay bramble, dry curacao, honey, chamomile, lime, mint, bubbles) and Spicy Like Me (Montelobos mezcal, Contratto, aperitif, pear, lemon and habanero), we knew we were embarking on a magical journey.

The experience continued with two starter plates, fresh creamy Burrata, red & yellow cherry tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, accompanied with wood-fired charred flatbread for pairing. Salt & Pepper Ribs arrived next on a wooden block. Crisped to perfection, the skin radiated a beautiful brick hue; juices ran down our chin as we bit into the tender and extremely savory inside. Immediate eye contact and giggles were shared across the table as we tried to keep our composure. WOW, was all I could muster between bites.

Meatball Pomodoro and wood-fired Margherita Pizza with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil came minutes later. Wanting to take a break but unable to tear ourselves away, we restrained ourselves from devouring every morsel on the plate as we waited for the grandeur.

The in-house pasta. Evan recommended the house-made Pappardelle with braised pork ragu to reinvigorate our senses. One dish was enough for two to share, considering the array of small plates consumed earlier. The rich and intense flavours of the sauce and the robust texture of the Pappardelle knocked the ball out of the park with this traditional dish. Beyond the point of no return, there was no way we were leaving without dessert. And so we ordered the Tiramisu, arguably the nail that sealed our coffin. Our take, this wonderland of a restaurant is a match to be reckoned with.

Beer Garden with Shepard Fairay mural

New York offers a plethora of culinary options in which to dine on any given day. Clever to design one location that captures all your senses, with incredibly comforting cuisine and an array of experiences from room to room. At Ainslie Bowery, you have your pick for a notion of romance, game night brewers or a treat-yourself kind of night. For sultry intimate lovers, consider dining in the wine room in the back, lit by candlelight and chandeliers and an open-concept kitchen. Beer enthusiasts can enjoy the ample beer garden space with two massive hanger doors, impressive living floral chandeliers overhead and a 32-beer tap assortment to choose from.

Indeed saving the best kept secret for last, The Underground lounge is a breathtaking space located sublevel with speakeasy vibes. Glass chandeliers, a full bar, crimson velvet couches, Victorian decorated paintings and mirrors. The mood is instantly set. A fitting ambiance for their weekly Burlesque shows. You can even book this room for private events. Check the website for up-to-date showtimes and details.

Don’t let this year’s winter blues keep you locked in and away from experiencing an epic meal at this quintessential NYC find.


199 Bowery

New York, NY 10002


Contact: 646-360-2194

Article by: Ashley Foster

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