With its complete devotion to the market-to-table dining concept, Soho's Chalk Point Kitchen seeks to introduce New Yorkers to a new sort of sustainable lifestyle. So, what makes it different from the city's countless other farm-fresh ventures? We chatted with owner Matt Levine (of Sons of Essex fame) and Executive Chef Joe Isidori (previously at Southfork Kitchen in the Hamptons), to find out why you should make a reservation.
Let’s start with the obvious: the food. Chalk Point Kitchen labels itself as a market-to-table restaurant, sourcing all ingredients from area purveyors. "The first rule of a chef is [to] cook what is in your backyard," says Executive Chef Isidori, echoing the eatery’s entire ethos. Levine concurs: “Sourcing local markets, Long Island fish purveyors, and tri-state area farms, while maintaining an organic and sustainable menu, is fundamental and the basis of our concept.”
Location, Location, Location
Although Soho is one of Manhattan’s most renowned neighborhoods, it's lacking in eclectic and modern dining options. "My goal when creating Chalk Point Kitchen was to combine Chef [Isidori’s] 'family recipes' and organic and sustainable practices, while bringing that Lower East Side style [of] entrepreneurship, community, and a neighborhood home-cooking-focused menu to the Soho food scene," explains Levine.
You'll Truly Feel at Home
Architect Chien Dao decorated the space to be reminiscent of a rustic home kitchen with lots of wood, unfussy upholstered and wood chairs, and tons of tchotchkes. "The décor and design elements are not just ornamental," says Levine. "They all have a story to tell, a history." It's easy to make a connection between the interiors and the food: "When designing the restaurant, I wanted it to have a farmhouse feel by complementing our vision of a locally sourced, organic, and sustainable market-to-table menu," explains the owner.
The Bar Area is Completely Separate from the Dining Room
Besides its food options, Chalk Point Kitchen’s arguably most striking and defining aspect is its downstairs bar. Named Handy Liquor Bar, the space looks to distance itself from the upstairs eatery ("I did not want the bar scene to take away from the food," explains Levine), while maintaining its overall concept by utilizing homemade syrups and fresh ingredients in all its cocktails. "The goal was to create a classic, sophisticated, and timeless cocktail lounge and piano bar," explains the restaurateur.
A Kitchen Staff That's (Literally) Inspired to Present Artful Dishes
Chalk Point Kitchen takes the food as art credo to another level by lining the kitchen's ceiling with Basquiat-inspired art. "As cheesy as it sounds, [we want the staff] to show the food as works of art." With the inspired creations we've tasted and seen, it's working.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SETH OLENICK