Destination Dining at Manhattanville Market

Five places to have a snack or a meal at an innovative new food venue

| 29 Oct 2021 | 11:34

Take Manhattanville, a tiny former industrial chunk of Manhattan; add a chef who knows what he’s doing, mix new dining choices in a new Columbia building and what do you come up with?

Five places to have a snack or meal in a sun-dappled, large windowed location — Manhattanville Market, a new destination for everyone who likes decent food.

Manhattanville? What is That?

The Manhattanville neighborhood, whose boundaries range between West 125th and 135th Streets, from the Hudson River to CCNY has had a long history of manufacturing, and transportation for freight and passengers. While the factories, ferries and railroad facilities there are no longer functional, the iconic 1923 Studebaker Building, now owned by Columbia University, is symbolic of what this neighborhood used to be.

The University started construction on its new Manhattanville Campus in 2008, which is ongoing. Among the cluster of new Columbia buildings, in the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, is a Broadway entrance to the new Manhattanville Market. Named for the surrounding neighborhood, its April opening was a welcome addition to an area that has seen few food choices for a while. A white tech look and FarmShelf hydroponic cases revealing fresh food growing for salads may not specifically reflect NYC, the 1 train, elevated at this point, reminds you that Manhattan is around the food hall.

About Manhattanville Market

Brooklyn-born Chef Franklin Becker conceptualized this 4,000 square foot space, for which a lease was signed in August of 2019. Becker, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, appeared on Top Chef Masters, and had many other television appearances. His passion is creating concepts that begin with a beloved dish, then thinking outside the box to surprise, delight, and raise palate consciousness.

This new destination is an oasis for all. Tweaking and upending the classic food court models, the four stalls and one restaurant are different than the usual suspects, with fresher and more diverse food. Prices for main items are within the $5-15 dollar mark at the four stalls. But what makes each one different? Let’s take a look:

Botanist provides healthy and combinations of plant-forward creations. Many greens are grown onsite in visible hydroponic chambers making salads with a range of inspirations from the chef’s travels. Take any preconceived notion of those high-style chain restaurants and keep it outside. A Southwest Salad here becomes the South By Southwest salad with butter lettuce, corn, black eye peas, pecans and smoked tomato vinaigrette. Chef Becker thought this one through. There are meat and fish add-ons for non-vegetarians. Salads, big enough for two, start at $10.

Shai features a selection of hummus with a range of toppings, with takes on Middle East favorites like falafel, shawarma, and vegetarian and vegan options. One potential usual failing of this cuisine is too many additives that take away flavor. Here, those excessive ingredients seem to have gone missing; dishes are properly light and flavorful. Hummus dishes start at $10.

Benny Casanova’s is devoid of Benny standing over the counter; he doesn’t exist here. One of the first food places that Chef Becker worked in was a Brooklyn Pizzeria, where the owner took to him and provided a secret Sicilian recipe that everyone can order now. Square pies with fresh ingredients are the mainstays, with hero sandwiches and sides to keep everyone happy. At the Market, you can order it by the slice, where two people can split one and not feel hungry. Slices start around $5. Pies, which will feed four people, start at $24.

Butterfunk Biscuit Co. Bravo Top Chef finalist Chef Chris Scott partnered with Chef Becker. Scott’s mission? To bring four generations of his family’s biscuit recipes to devour either at home or at the Market. Yes, we’ve all had biscuits in some variations, but not ones like these. How about a smoked salmon biscuit? Avocado toast biscuit? Chopped cheese? Starting at $8 for biscuits and gravy, this partnership is one great pairing.

Oliva is a tapas restaurant, with higher price points. The same high-tech interior and tall windows embrace a broad range of food to sate every starving Iberian food aficionado. It has a much different feel than the four stalls, with Spanish ham and cheeses staples. Other choices from peppers stuffed with tuna to Crab Fideos make it hard to think you aren’t dining in Madrid. Tapas plates here range from $8 to $45, and, yes, there are desserts and all manner of alcoholic beverages.

Before You Go

While each of the four stalls deliver within the area from 92nd to 170th Streets, between the Hudson and East Rivers, the Market is a destination worth visiting. Riverside Park is a few blocks west and offers a chance to watch river traffic on the Hudson. The sun and sky, as seen through large windows offer a pleasant dining space, with a tolerable noise level; no house music here!

The stalls are open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., with Oliva open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., with Friday and Saturdays until 11 p.m.

The entrance to the Market is at 3227 Broadway, between West 129th and 130th Streets, reachable by taxi, the #1 train at the West 125th Street Station, and bus lines BX 15, M4 and M104, which also stop at or near West 125th Street.

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