I was not a regular at Buffa’s, but while living on Mott Street I knew about it and stopped in a few times. It was one of those special old New York places with tons of character and characters that you hope will exist indefinitely. It is places like Buffa’s that made me fall in love with this city.

Unfortunately, Buffa’s no longer exists and what has replaced it is a sleek unimaginative café called Delicatessen offering mediocre food and drink at prices that don’t merit the cookie cutter atmosphere. In the last 10 years many of these types of places have cropped up around town offering their neighbors nothing while happily ripping off the unsuspecting tourists. Even though I know better I hastily sat down with my friend Jackie this past October not wanting to walk further to find another outdoor café that would accommodate us and our two dogs. We had lunch and some cocktails and for the most part all was acceptable except for the bland food and hands off service. Then the bill arrived and we saw that Jackie’s Bloody Mary was mixed with Ketel One vodka which she did not specify and it cost $15. We asked our aloof , wannabe hipster waiter about it and his reply was “Ketel One is the standard here…besides this is Soho.” We were speechless and couldn’t believe our ears. We didn’t need to be told where we were, we knew EXACTLY where we were. I don’t think a Bloody Mary costs $15 at Balthazar or at The Mercer Hotel, two chic, longstanding establishments a stone’s throw away. And, even if they do I wouldn’t flinch because everything else they have to offer makes it totally worth it.

We let the manager know about our waiter’s comments and she too defended the $15 price. It was not about the price at all, it was about the attitude. Even though the manager eventually took the drink off the bill we still felt disheartened that we got no apology or acknowledgement of the waiter’s rude behavior. It is really sad that this kind of place has replaced charming Buffa’s.


Christina Dalle Pezze: After 10 years in Manhattan she defected to Brooklyn, but ventures back on the island every day to care for her thriving business, Simple Silhouettes in Soho.