My LES: Francesca Romeo

Francesca Romeo – a self portrait in front of Motor City

We are back with our weekly feature spotlighting a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side.  If you would like to participate in “My LES”, please email us here.


What do you do?

I’m an artist (francescaromeo.com), primarily documentary photography (danielcooneyfineart.com) and filmmaking, and I own Motor City Bar on Ludlow Street.

How long have you lived on the LES?

I’ve lived and/ or worked in the neighborhood for 12 years.

Favorite block in the hood?

East 7th between Ave. C and D, because the architecture is the most beautiful.

Favorite date spot in the hood?

Kuma Inn on Ludlow.  The best Pan-Asian tapas you could ask for.  Plus, the chef is super nice.

Favorite coffee in the hood?

Hands down it has to be Abraco on East 7th St. between 1st and 2nd Ave.  It’s a little hole in the wall, decked out in orange, and it’s the first place I hit as soon as I wake up.  The owner hails from Oakland, and being from California originally, it makes my day to have a part of the east bay in NYC.  The coffee is strong and amazing, and the pastries are all made on the premises and are unusually original ranging from olive oil pound cake, to olive biscotti, lavender shortbread cookies and a ton of different specials.  The staff is so welcoming, and having worked in the service industry for the past 16 years, I really appreciate kindness when I walk into a place.  For the runner-up I go to Cafe Ost on the corner of east 12th st. and Ave A.

Favorite slice in the hood?

I am loyal to Rosario’s on Orchard Street because when I first moved to the east village, he was located on Houston, and his place was a New York institution where people would line up late at night for a slice.  When gentrification encroached upon the neighborhood, he managed to a secure a new location, and I really felt like I couldn’t eat at the commercial entity that replaced him on Houston Street.

Where do you take your visitors when they’re here?

Caracas for some Venezuelan arepas, Prune for high end home cooking, Clinton Street Baking Company for brunch,  the New Museum on the Bowery for art or anything that Creative Time is organizing because Nato Thompson curates and his events always rock. A little Chinese place on Orchard for massages, clothes shopping at Project 8, Some Odd Rubies, TG-170, The Kast, International Playground and Honey in the Rough.

Antique  jewelry at Doyle and Doyle on Orchard has the most amazing estate finds with the provenance of each piece attached, vintage boots at Edith and Daha, book shopping at St. Mark’s Bookshop because they carry an amazing selection of critical theory, political texts and poetry, films at the Sunshine theater because they have the best new independent releases, or Anthology Film Archive for the true cinephile. 

Obscura Antiques on east 10th Street has the coolest objects like old gas masks, weaponry, pharmaceutical relics, and vintage photographs – so I love to pick up things that I can use in my art work. Sometimes I take friends to visit Jason Viseltear because he makes violins for a living and has an old loft from which he works, and it’s just so great to see true craftsmanship still alive on the Lower East Side. Also, if I can get the keys from a local, there is a little community garden on east 6th street between B and C that I like to hang out in at night and look at the stars.

Francesca Romeo – self portrait inside Motor City

Favorite dive/locals bar in the hood?

Well, if I’m not at my bar, I really love International Bar on 1st Avenue between 7th and 8th Street.  It’s dark, quiet, and there is a little backyard where you can have drinks in the sunshine.  I’m friends with the owner Molly, and she made it such an awesome, unpretentious place that I really like to just stop by and say hi when I can.

Favorite LES memory?

Making out with my ex-boyfriend on the pinball machine at the Mars Bar.  If you are familiar with the bar, you know that it really can’t get anymore Lower East side than that!

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