Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Is Octavia's Porch an insensitive name for a restaurant?

Yesterday, we posted the sign for "Top Chef" alum Nikki Cascone's new eatery at 40 Avenue B called Octavia's Porch.

This prompted a strong reaction from EV Grieve reader Cookiepuss. I'll replay the comment here:

This is something that's beyond offensive. The name Octavia's Porch is a reference to the main street in Trastevere, Rome's Jewish Ghetto.

Considering the continued annihilation of the Lower East Side, including its rich history of Jewish immigrants and culture makes this that more disturbing, and not only that, you wanna talk about a ghetto. Many of the people who live in the very immediate area live below the poverty line and have great disparages, so tell me how does this help the situation. It doesn't.

This is just another restaurant that is catalytic towards gentrification!

Grub Street noted that the eatery is "named after the main street in Rome’s Jewish ghetto, as a nod to the couple’s Jewish-Italian heritage." That's nice, I like heritage.... but... a little history:

During a time of an increase in anti-semitism, Pope Paul IV created the Jewish Ghetto in 1555. 4000 Jews were walled in on 7 acres of land. The Jews had to wear yellow scarves and caps, couldn't own property and a curfew was enforced. The Ghetto walls were finally torn down in 1848. In 1870 after Italian unification they were granted full rights and citizenship.

So the food here at 40 Avenue B will celebrate this heritage? Menu items include:

• Niman Ranch Beef Frank, Spiced Beans & house Kraut
• Brisket on Rye with Pickled Red Onion
• Maple & Ginger Roasted Turkey Sandwich, farmstead cheese, Beer Mustard
• Grilled Vegetable- Matzoh Lasagna
• Long Island Duck Breast with Cardamom glazed Baby Carrots
• Wild Salmon with Sweet Potato Latkes, Cucumber & Apple Mostarda


Anonymous said...

This resto will close within a year..wait and see.

Bowery Boogie said...

and it's not kosher...

Anonymous said...

Huh? I had trouble following this, but I gather we are accusing the Jewish-Italian couple of celebrating ghettoization? Or just floating the idea?

It's a dumb name, but claiming that it is a deliberate comment on the surrounding neighborhood is extremely daft. If you are offended by gentrification, fine, get in line behind me and everyone else. But can we possibly avoid comparing 2010 residents of the LES to oppressed 19th-century Jews? Maybe just until after Hanukkah?

Ant said...

Get. Over. Yourself.

esquared™ said...

the patrons there should be walled within 7sq. feet of that joint and wear yellow scarves and caps when dining/eating

blue glass said...

perhaps there could be potato peels and stale bread crusts on the menu.

lest we forget: words do mean something.

the new bars that have names that refer to AA events ("the thirteenth step", i think "off the wagon" - and other names i can't remember from this owner) make light of serious social problems.

the clubs with names like "riot" and "chaos" entice anti-social behavior.

but so what? would people behave better if they were in a bar named green tea or a roudy club called silence?

Anonymous said...

are we so hungry to feed our sense of grievance that we go back to 1555? If their heritage is Italian-Jewish and they want to name this after the Jewish area of Rome, what's wrong with that? Did people protest when Le Marais opened?
We have enough real problems, this is inane.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 9:33
i don't think its a deliberate comment at all but rather subliminal

what's deliberate in the name is that it indicates that the restauranteurs are somehow empathetic towards these oppressed people which makes them look good

but thats according to them not the dead people of the ghetto

Anonymous said...

Anyone with antisemetic sensibilities--can eat shit and die--perhaps a good place for their meal.

Anonymous said...

@anon 12:07PM--Le Marais is a Jewish District In Paris-asshat.

Stephanie said...

Yup, just like Tenement and Mo Pitkins, nostalgia theme restaurants are destined for failure. If these people cared so much about maintaining some semblance of jewishness in the LES, they would have helped save the Second Ave. Deli, or Ratners, or the Streitz factory... geeez. Throwing matzoh in one of your dishes (as lasagna!!) does not give it a jewish shout-out. It's tragic.

Anonymous said...

That place is where Alphabet restaurant was, then Al Dar, and another place afterwards.

It will not last, as that seems to be a cursed location, and no business there seems to make.

So they can even name it Utopia and it would still not make it. It's the location.

Anonymous said...

Anti semetic illusions...fuck off--seriously.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they will open a Nazi memorabilia shop called Lampshades on the Park.
Gentrification has not obviscated antisemitism.

Anonymous said...

places like this put up signs in their windows that say ten percent of our sales today will go to the Henry Street Settlement and we give to City Harvest

but its just a front to make themselves look good for the community (you understand
even if they are for Henry Street...)
and all the while similar types perhaps even their friends and family members are insidiously taking over

people need to wake up otherwise everything will be like the new and improved Bowery

its a sad state of affairs when even some of the most radical people look the other way when it comes to gentrification

this is the most narcissistic era ever its all about self preservation

Anonymous said...

There is an area of Rome known as the Jewish Ghetto, but it's not Trastevere.

Anonymous said...

Gentrification, really? In the East Village in 2010? Jesu Christo, that ship sailed a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

people need to chill the fuck out. if you're offended by the name, don't patronize the place.

Hilary said...

Trastevere is hugely expensive and it is not the Jewish ghetto. The neighborhood that is called the Jewish ghetto has nonmore to Donetsk anti-semitism than Chinatown does. And the food of that area is celebrated-and delicious! They're not mocking but speaking of great food. It would be like opening a "canal st." in Roma. It's just shorthand, people.