John’s of 12th St in Manhattan’s Lower East Side
“A traditional and vegan Italian Restaurant”
-words and photos by Alison Leigh
We happened upon this place, oddly enough, while heading to a different vegan restaurant. There was only one vegan in the group (me), 2 Italians, and one female who didn’t really want to try any weird food concoctions, but was willing to be a good sport. So as we approach the place, I notice that right next door to the upscale granola-y vegan bistro, was THIS gem~ a gorgeous, Old New York Italian spot! And it had the word “vegan” across the awning! What the—? We made a last minute choice and everyone agreed we wanted to check the place out.
When we walked in without a reservation on a Saturday night around 9:30 pm, we were told there were no tables. At that moment a member of our group asked “Do you have a table for the senior editor of WINK Pinup Magazine by chance??” We were immediately told to grab a drink at the bar and that we would be seated shortly. SCORE!!
The place was insane– wall to wall people, signed 8 x 10s all over the walls of famous people, old and new. The crowd was an interesting mix of old school New York Italians, and young wiry tattooed vegans. The waiters all wore bow ties and were constantly going through the crowd with huge trays of food and drinks. It was out of control busy and exciting! Being from 1908, it was oozing with culture and fun things to look at- like the original tile on the floor and the weird al fresca paintings. Not to mention the bizarre candle wax sculpture in the back room- it was pretty out there.
We got seated right in the window (WINK Pinup online ‘zine is not messing around, ya hear?) and prepared to have a lavish feast. The guys ordered some appetizers and we all got a few rounds of drinks. The atmosphere was light and the waitstaff was a bunch of sassy young dudes who flirted senselessly with us girls. It was funny and a bit rude, but whatever- it was harmless. We were having a fun time laughing amongst ourselves and enjoying each others’ company…
Now onto the food… Everything was wonderful, lush and traditional. They all got oysters and antipasto, bread and who knows
what else. Our entrees were large but not ridiculous, and mine was a vegan spinach stuffed ravioli with marinara sauce. It was both fragrant and properly spiced. It was light, yet filling, and I ate all but the last one which I gave away. It was wonderful. I forgot to take a picture before I ate it all.
We had a great time, it was worth the money (thanks guys, for picking up the check!) and we all agreed was a good last minute choice.
Please give this place a try for a fun night out on the town!
Here’s their facebook page
Visit their site for more pictures John’s of 12th Street • 302 East 12th Street, NYC 10003 (212) 475-9531