Friday, October 12, 2018
Preparing for Saturday's dinner at Il Posto Accanto on 2nd Street
On one recent Saturday, EVG contributor Stacie Joy stopped by Il Posto Accanto, the rustic, 23-year-old Italian restaurant at 190 E. Second St. between Avenue A and Avenue B, to watch husband-wife owners Julio Pena and Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta prepare for that evening's dinner.
Words and photos by Stacie Joy
Saturday morning prep with Bea and Julio is a chaotic and boisterous affair, with lots of good-natured teasing, yelling, gesticulating and discussion about food and family, the pressures of running a small, family-owned business in the neighborhood, and local gossip and news.
Bea selects and picks up her vegetables, fruits and meats from the Union Square Greenmarket and comes back to the basement kitchen at Il Posto Accanto to start finalizing the day’s meals.
Meanwhile, Julio shops for flowers and today, smoke tree branches, in order to decorate the restaurant space upstairs, all of which he transports in his bright yellow old-school Caddy, a familiar presence on the block.
The ’65 Eldorado convertible (originally painted champagne gold) was purchased right after Julio and Bea met and fell in love in 1992.
Downstairs, Bea is making spicy pork belly ragu, pesto, tomato sauce, vegan lentil soup, and yellow heirloom tomato salad with burrata and prosciutto, among other things. There are a couple of whole octopus bubbling away on the stove with a wine cork to keep them tender, some onions caramelizing in a pan, and individual servings of blanched spinach are being rolled into balls.
Bea is constantly in motion, tasting, adjusting, issuing kitchen orders and making videos on her ipad to post to social media. The kitchen staff (including Geovanny, Armando and Gonzalez) all seem to speak or at least understand Italian, which is a plus as that is the default language spoken.
As Saturday progresses, decisions are made upstairs. The day’s drink has been created: a concord grape juice and prosecco cocktail.
The TV near the bar is now Chromecasting a soccer match while most deliveries, including breads, have arrived.
Finally, Bea and Julio sit down to map out their evening plans. The moment of quiet is short-lived, as Julio has to run to the bank and Bea starts offering (well, insisting on) tastings off her plate to some locals who dropped by: some egg omelet strips cooked in tomato sauce, and sautéed garlic and spinach.
You can follow along with Julio and Bea and the team on Instagram.