In Early December 2013, owners Colby and Sarah Zito debut North River, an inviting and approachable restaurant in the East Village with an emphasis on classic American comfort foods and libations. Playing on a bygone era when the Hudson was known as the North River, the décor features Victorian design elements with wainscoting and antique brass detail that lend a relaxed, old world charm to the neighborhood. Chef Adam Starowicz, formerly of fine dining establishments Picholine, Mas, Hearth, and Momofuku Ko, collaborates closely with husband and wife team Colby and Sarah on a dinner and weekend brunch menu of home-style dishes that evoke a sense of warm hospitality and ease within the bustling environs of the Manhattan block.
“Sarah and I both come from a culinary background, and together with Adam the three of us have created a menu that reflects the best versions of the food you already know and love,” says Colby. “Our inspiration for the restaurant is rooted in familiarity with traditional recipes served in a spot that feels like home.”
As graduates of the Culinary Institute of America with a combined 15 years of experience, Colby and Sarah bring strong expertise to both the front and back of house. Colby began his career with service roles at Eleven Madison Park before joining the team at Danny Meyer’s Maialino where he rose up the ranks to become service director. Sarah in turn graduated top of her class, working as a private chef to bring her cooking and hospitality directly to the homes of her clients. At North River, the team introduces high-end touches to a friendly service style without stuffiness or pretense.
The value driven menu reflects a range of culinary influences from across the US, from Southern inspired-dishes like Shrimp and Grits and perfectly Fried Chicken, to Italian touches seen in the Meatballs and Cavatelli.
Designed by Colby with thoughtful detail, the 55-seat restaurant’s welcoming dining room and bar is set against a canvas of light wood paneling and white painted bricks. A brass chandelier creates a focal point at the entrance adjacent to the front dining room, which is bathed in natural light from French doors facing 1st Avenue. A sweeping bar in richly textured woods is located in the middle of the restaurant, with high top tables perfect for cocktails and a lighter bite. Beyond the bar resides the back dining room, with walls lined with banquettes and tables suited for larger parties. Ambient backlighting further complements the convivial space.