Friday, September 21, 2018

After 32 years on 4th Street, Cucina di Pesce will close after service on Sunday

We've heard rumors in recent weeks that Cucina di Pesce, the unpretentious seafood-focused Italian restaurant on Fourth Street between Second Avenue and the Bowery, would be closing this month.

The owners made the official announcement today on Facebook:

It is with great regret that Cucina di Pesce will be closing its doors.

We would like to thank all of our customers for their support. It has been an honor to be part of the East Village community for the last 32 years, as we continue to keep close the memories and friendships established here.

A special acknowledgement to all our current and previous employees, as well as our friends at New York Theatre Workshop.

Our final day is this Sunday, September 23.

As we understand it, the building has a new owner, and there is a rent increase. (Public records show that an LLC bought the property for $6.8 million in a closing last month.)

Owner Mehenni Zebentout, who also has Nomad around the corner on Second Avenue, consolidated Cucina di Pesce — which was at 87-89 Fourth St. — in 2016 after the landlord next door asked $8,000 for the space.


Giovanni said...

Cucina di Pesce and Frutti di Mare were the places to go on a Saturday night, way back when people still had reasonably functional brains and a semblance of taste and manners. Sorry to see them go but they had a good run, outlasting East Village institutions such as Empire Biscuit, DF Mavens, Gotham Pizza and Funkiberry. Nomad is very good too, lets support them before another greedy landlord takes away yet another local treasure.

Unknown said...

Empire Biscuit?!?! Weren't they around for like 4 years?

Unknown said...

Amen...In total agreement!!!

tlim said...


Wasn't Frutti di Mare first, and then the same owner added and opened Cucina di Pesce? I believe the same owner also had a restaurant in the West Village that was very similar to Frutti di Mare.

-- Tom

eastvillagesiren said...

Nomad is very good, and the owner is a friendly guy who treats customers and neighbors well. The food is also very good.

Giovanni said...

@Tom. Yes that sounds right, although I never went to Frutti di Mare because it was mostly a fish and calamari place. I did find this bit of history interesting, although I’m not sure how much of it is true”

"Cucina di Pesce, way back in the 1920's and 1930's was a casino run by Charles "Lucky" Luciano, the chairman of the Mafia Syndicate. It later became a mob social club called the Stage Bar run by Vincent Ciraulo aka "Jimmy Second Ave." of the Genovese family.“

Scuba Diva said...

Cucina de Pesce and Frutti di Mare shared a kitchen in the 80s and 90s—that I know. To tell you the truth, I thought of them as the same restaurant.

I think I ate at Cucina de Pesce once or twice; a friend of mine raved about it when she went there.

JQ LLC said...

There needs to be more transparency regarding these LLC's. The majority of apartment building and real estate and commercial storefront purchases have been by these shady secretive conglomerates.

Suzy Cupcake said...

I will miss this place deeply. It is one of the best in the city and I have some of my fondest birthdat dinner memories there. T

Unknown said...

My mother went into labor here (with me) in 1990! Fare thee well 🙁

Laura Goggin Photography said...

Nooo! This is one of my favorite restaurants - good food, affordable, nice atmosphere and great staff. It's more and more difficult to find a relatively quiet place to share a dinner and conversation and not contend with loud crowds. I'll really miss this place.

Scuba Diva said...

It just occurred to me that Cucina de Pesce used to be called Evelyne's back in the 80s. Does that ring a bell with anyone else?

Unknown said...

Scuba -- you are correct

Giovanni said...

@Scuba Diva. I found this item in The NY Times, which noted all the new East Village restraints were attracting the art crowd, way back when we still had artists and art galleries. And compared to most places back then, Evelyne's wasn't cheap.

MAY 24, 1985

“Close to midnight, people were crowded around the bar at Evelyne's, 87 East Fourth Street, a larger and more dramatically decorated establishment.

David McDermott and Peter McGough, two painters who work together and co-sign their paintings ''McDermott/McGough,'' were just finishing dinner. Suddenly, Mr. McGough rushed to the telephone by the maitre d'hotel's table. ''I found an 18th-century corner cupboard,'' he shouted above the general din. ''It's on the street. I have to find a way to pick it up right away.''

Evelyne's seats about 100 people in the restaurant and garden and serves French nouvelle cuisine, with entrees costing between $13 and $20.”

They also mention Hawaii 5-0 on Avenue A, and note how cheap it was to open a restaurant in the neighborhood back then:

“The 16-table Hawaii 5-0 opened in April, after Mr. Tarango and a friend, Hank Tomashevski, a former architecture student, decided to name their venture after the old television show. ''We spent next to nothing, under $80,000,'' Mr. Tomashevski said. ''That's what it would have cost 10 years ago to open a restaurant.''

Scuba Diva said...

@Giovanni, this is making me remember all the other 70s and 80s restaurants in the nabe: Sugar Reef, EAT (11 St. Mark's), Binibon (Who can forget Binibon?)

Giovanni said...

@Scuba Diva. Sugar Reef was fun, and so wad Global 33, which had amazing tapas. My other favorites were Life Cafe (they made a great veggie chili), Kiev (for the best pieogies and potato pancakes at 2AM), Dojos (with the best cheap eats around, the soy burger dinner and Yakisoba) and my all time favorite Mitali — their samosas were the best, and for a time they also had a location in the West Village on Bleecker St. As for Binibon, that murder of a 23 year old employeee was a tragedy that could have been prevented if Norman Mailer hadn’t been so easily manipulated by the killer Jack Abbot, who was diagnosed as a sociopath.

Scuba Diva said...

@Giovanni: Two I forgot were 103 2nd Avenue—from which I was 86ed for a few years because I sat for hours without ordering enough—and Sandra's on St. Mark's, where I used to hang out for hours and play cards with the waitresses when it was slow.

Sandra prided herself on never throwing away food, but one time I got food poisoning from her salmon. Sometimes it's better to throw away food if it's spoiled.