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Forcella, 265 Elizabeth, Vig Bar and More Face CB2

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Community Board 2 kicked off their first of two monthly SLA Licensing Committee meetings yesterday. In the midst of all the fireworks were appearances from multiple pizzerias (notably, Neapolitan newcomer Forcella), newcomer Piazza Seventeen, and the new operators of 265 Elizabeth St. Here's the rundown:

1) Opening up the meeting was a one-hour session with Forcella, who were looking to get a beer and wine license for a planned new Bowery location. Chef Giulio Adriani (in the country on a supposed one-of-a-kind visa for "pizza making") and his attorney returned to the board after receiving a suggestion to do some community outreach in a prior application. The discussion got heated right off the bat, with Adriani's attorney telling the committee that Forcella "does not have to demonstrate that this is in the public interest", and asserting that they plan to open regardless of the board's decision. He offered (jokingly) to throw down $50,000 on the pizzeria's success.

The community brought up a litany of concerns, including the over-saturation of liquor licenses in the area (one man brought in a homemade poster on which he charted all 28 of them out), happy hour signs, and future businesses grandfather-ing in a potential license. Some animosity was directed towards "odors" from the pizza oven, and a total of 326 supposedly opposed signatures were brought up. The restaurant appeared to reach a list of agreed stipulations with the committee, but they were eventually denied in a unanimous vote. Board members cited the fact that only two community members showed up to support Forcella (as opposed to nine against), and were "disappointed that they didn't have a plan for the venting." Evidently it's a major factor in liquor licensing. Adriani won't get to enjoy a Peroni with his pie just yet.

2) Spring St. establishment The Vig Bar showed up to try to get an alteration to their license. They were trying to correct an apparent "misunderstanding" with a previous application that had a noisy DJ booth in the front of the house, which had since been moved to the back. However, they ended up unanimously denied - with the "misunderstanding", they had never gotten to present a full license application to the committee, and apparently hold a poor SLA violation history.

3) TNTE LLC was back again with the 265 Elizabeth St. space, after last month's lay over. Chef/owner Cornelius Gallagher and his team managed to get a building permit to seal off the retractable roof in the back garden (supposedly the first of its kind the board has ever seen), knocking off a major previous issue. Community members spoke about few concerns, the only real issue being an unalterable "five-feet" of sidewalk space in front of the location. And at the end of the day, they got lucky: the board unanimously voted to deny unless a couple of previously discussed stipulations (nothing blocking the sidewalk out front, getting proper building permits and documentation for the space) were met. "New-York-Style Asian" cuisine might just finally happen.

4) The latest competitor in the uber-crowded Cleveland Pl., a 27-seat pizzeria named Piazza Seventeen in the old Bar Veloce/Veloce Club space was looking for a liquor license. Understandably, immediate opposition to the proposal arose, since the nearby La Esquina and Kenmare are already open into the early hours of the morning, along with previous issues with past "drinking establishments". A building resident claimed to have see a woman stumble out of Bar Velace and vomit all over a nearby fire hydrant. The owner maintained that he wanted to stay open until 2 AM, so the board passed two resolutions: they voted 4-3 to deny outright a 2 A.M. close, but 6-1 to deny unless the owner agreed to a midnight closing seven days a week, like nearby "good neighbor" Mexican Radio.

5) In a close 4-3 vote, the only straight approval of the night went to Mambo Italiano, who wanted to alter their license to accommodate an expansion from around 84 to 164 seats. They had originally appeared before the board multiple times before, trying to pack as many as 390 seats into an application. The committee was a little apprehensive, noting that the basement had never been licensed before, and that building codes wouldn't prevent the restaurant from packing more people into the remaining standing space. Now they'll be able to fit all the tourists in.

6) Oficina Latina is currently operating under a temporary retail permit, and had ended up being pretty much all but denied by the committee (who supposedly already wrote a letter to the SLA suggesting denial). Yet in a "rare move," the board decided to hear from the restaurant again, telling the owners that they believe "this place can turn around." Main issues included dealing with sound system levels, and community members also worried about the alcohol consumption spilling out of the open storefront into the street. The committee unanimously voted to deny unless the restaurant complied with a list of stipulations addressing all the previous issues.

7) In other news, Da Gennaro appeared to be looking for an alteration to include a sidewalk cafe - but the cafe was denied by the sidewalk committee, leading to an automatic unanimous denial. Benito's wanted to alter their license for sidewalk service as well, but were given a unanimous deny unless their cafe application gets through the sidewalk committee.
—Alex Ma
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[Photo via EVG]


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