The signage that was covering up the goings-on inside of Galeria, Clinton Street’s new hybrid art-restaurant-concept shop, has finally been ripped down. Last night, we found Jairo Barros sitting in the back, a small chef’s hat on his head and his hands wrist-deep in beets as he tweaked recipes in preparation for the opening.
Galeria’s decor tries its best to straddle the line between a proper destination and a down-to-earth local spot where regulars can feel comfortable dropping by for a snack-and-chat. It easily fits into the design family of recent hits like Dimes, El Rey, Lucky Bee and the like — something Barros called a vague “West Coast influence” seeping into New York.
The food is loosely Brazilian (Barros, previously a co-owner of Organika in the West Village, is originally from Belo Horizonte) and also on trend. Which means big, healthy bowls overflowing with fresh seasonal vegetables and farro (or something else that Michael Pollan told you would be healthy but, let’s be honest, takes too long to cook and chop up).
The menu will change seasonally but, to start, there are dishes like brussels sprouts with oranges and duck legs, or wild rice with beef, veggies and yuca puree. No traditional rice and beans here, but kick back to Brazilian tunes, grab a smoothie, pao de queijo (Brazilian cheesy bread), or cornmeal cakes with açaí butter, and you just might feel transported far from your winter blues. For now, there’s only wine and beer, but if Barros’s liquor license application goes through later this year, expect tropical cocktails to complete the vibe.
Barros hopes to be more than just the next healthy-feeling bar on the block, hence the concept shop theme. Everything in the place, from the table tschotskes to the furniture you’re eating on top of, has a price tag attached. The idea is also to make the rigid gallery format a little more accessible.
“It’s so much of the same thing. You’re always thinking, ‘What am I supposed to see? Am I allowed to speak?'” said Barros, an avid gallery-hopper. “If you have a bar involved, people relax a little bit more and they might be able to really see what the artist wants you to see, not just like — hey, it’s a pretty drawing — but, what is his expression? I think that goes along with the environment.”
Like a cozy showroom, the artwork will change every month, the furniture probably every three. Apparently, this is par for the course for Barros. “I move furniture around my apartment every single month,” he said. “I get bored very easily!” The first artist to grace the wall is Matheus Goulart, with flashy Warhol-esque illustrated portraits. The wooden benches and tables are from Paper Road Fabrications.
Galeria, 43 Clinton Street between Rivington and Stanton. Soft opening for lunch for the next two weeks, 12 p.m. – 2 p.m, then 8 a.m. – 12 a.m.