Market 57 is open daily, 11am to 8pm
Rooftop Park is open daily, 6am to 1am
BY MICHAEL MUSTO | Since I love food, I also happen to adore food courts, which bring a whole lot of eateries together under one delicious roof. I always have a grand time traipsing around Chelsea Market, Eataly, Hudson Yards’ Mercado Little Spain, and Moynihan Hall. (I’m happy to catch a sandwich there, even if I’m not catching a train). And I was thrilled to learn that there’s a whole new food hall, and it’s extremely jazzy and up to date.
The invite beckoned us to a March 30 preview of “Pier 57’s ground floor, which features Market 57, NYC’s newest dining destination on the Hudson River, with 15 women- and BIPOC-owned food concepts, as well as Platform by JBF, a modern showcase kitchen operated by the James Beard Foundation and a series of community educational spaces….Pier 57’s Market 57 and community partners showcase the culinary and cultural diversity of NYC’s local, independent food culture.”
I was so there, with my tongue—and notepad—out. And it was great to see Pier 57—a former cruise terminal and transit depot, which has sat vacant for 20 years—spring back to life, like so many of us have after lockdown.
Atop the pier, there is an almost two-acre landscaped Rooftop Park with breathtaking views of Lower Manhattan and the harbor. On the ground floor, the food mall—which was scheduled to officially open two days after the press review—has arisen thanks to a partnership between Google, Hudson River Park Trust, Jamestown, the James Beard Foundation, RXR, YoungWoo & Associates, and Baupost Group.
On the same level, there are new features like community classrooms that are open to the public and bookable, as well as the Living Room, a space where visitors can “relax and reflect.” That area is situated past the crush of restaurants, and it fills a long stretch of space where you can take advantage of gorgeous river views as well as a lovely glance at the neighboring Little Island, which to me looks like a giant high heel.
The well-organized preview event brought us more than just a taste of the 15 establishments that join City Winery on the ground floor. There was also a jazz singer with a combo, some salutary speeches, and even an appearance by NYC Mayor Eric Adams, who was asked to “ring a ship’s bell in maritime tradition” and gamely did so, though I have to admit I wasn’t listening to every word he said; I was dutifully doing my job and sampling the eats! I’m a professional!
Each eatery had scores of prepared plates laid out on their counter, so you could swoop it up, down it, and then move on to the next bit of heaven. I certainly enjoyed visiting Ammi (Kiosk 13), which specializes in Indian homestyle cuisine. I sampled the chicken tikka, mango lassi and other treats, trying to pace myself so there would be room for the works of a lot of other vendors. By the way, “Ammi” means “mother” in Hindi/Urdu, and the name was chosen because restaurateur Jimmy Rizvi’s mom has been extremely influential as to the cuisine they serve. The lady is rich with recipes!
I was happy to see that another vendor there is LoLo’s on the Water (Kiosk 10). I’m a regular at their 303 W. 116th St. Caribbean-style place, LoLo’s Seafood Shack. Here, I nibbled on jerk pork belly and pillowy “Johnny cakes” and was fascinated to learn that chef/co-owner Raymond Z. Mohan has expanded the menu to also include burgers and empanadas.
Then there was, at Kiosk 1, Due Madri by The Butcher Girls (namely Erika Nakamura and Jocelyn Guest), which has a Chelsea restaurant that specializes in Italian-inspired sandos. The shaved bottarga (salted, dried fish roe) and cultured butter, as well as the Gaetano (a little sandwich centered on wild arugula), were sublime.
I next engorged myself with cauliflower tacos at Ras Plant Based (Kiosk 16), a new outpost for “an organic, farm to table, locally sourced and eco-friendly eatery in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.” I was starting to realize that organic, locally sourced stuff is not as off-putting as it may sound to the untrained ear and palate; in fact, it’s downright delicious—and furthermore, the wilder and fancier sounding the item, usually the better it is.
One of my favorite items of the day was the chili garlic oyster I had at Kiosk 14’s The Galley by Lobster Place (Lobster Place is a popular feature at Chelsea Market). It was so sassy, it was impossible to eat just one, though the smoked salmon wasn’t chopped liver either.
Continuing to run around—quickly, to burn off calories—I munched on hot honey fried chicken and sweet potato croquettes at various outposts around the market. And then I came across Local Roots (Kiosk 5), whose founder/CEO Wen-Jay Ying told me they emphasize local farmers at this place and her two other locations. Whatever she’s doing, she’s doing it right. The scallion pancake cheese melt was zingy, the sesame miso chocolate chip cookie hit the spot, and I also had my very first lychee bubble tea, which was truly bubblicious.
And finally, Bessou—which serves “updated takes on traditional Japanese fare”—put out some fabulously dense shrimp toast crispy rice, but also miles and miles of sweetly delectable miso caramel popcorn. And then I exploded. Kidding. And then I rolled home because I couldn’t possibly ingest another bite. For the record, here are the other fine establishments that I tragically didn’t have room for:
Bird & Branch (Kiosk 15)
The Good Batch (Kiosk 3)
Malai (Kiosk 6)
Mijo (Kiosk 12)
Nom Wah (Kiosk 11)
Harlem Hops (Kiosk 17)
Zaab Zaab (Kiosk 2)
See you at Pier 57 sometime soon. I’ll be passed out in the Living Room, with crumbs on my mouth.
Michael Musto is a columnist, pop cultural and political pundit, NYC nightlife chronicler, author, and the go-to gossip responsible for the long-running (1984-2013) Village Voice column, “La Dolce Musto.” His work regularly appears on this website as well as Queerty.com and thedailybeast.com, and he is writing for the new Village Voice, which made its debut in April of 2021. Follow Musto on Instagram, via @michaelmusto.
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