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Homey East Village Italian Restaurant Porsena Shutters After a Decade

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The neighborhood Italian restaurant, popular for its handmade pastas, was unable to reach a rent agreement with its landlord

Porsena Porsena [Official]

The East Village’s popular pasta-focused Italian restaurant, Porsena, has permanently closed after 10 years in the neighborhood. The neighborhood restaurant celebrated its last night of outdoor dining service on August 1, according to local blog EV Grieve, which first reported on the closure.

General Manager Ian MacRae confirmed the closure to Eater Monday afternoon, citing the fact that the restaurant was unable to reach a rent agreement with its landlord. Ultimately, chef-owner Sara Jenkins made the decision to permanently close two days before its last night of service, MacRae says. “It was a sort of a quick decision when we realized our landlord would never work with us in any way,” the restaurant wrote in an email to EV Grieve. “We couldn’t continue to owe more money.”

At Porsena, Jenkins managed to bring something new to a corner of Manhattan already bustling with homey Italian restaurants. Shortly after opening in 2010, the restaurant received positive reviews for its housemade pastas, which reconcile American and Italian approaches to the dish. “Italians want to eat a small amount, then move on to something else; Americans eat it as a hearty main course,” as New York Times reporter Julia Moskin put it in a 2011 review. To address that conflict, Jenkins served Italian staples like lamb bolognese and veal ragu in sizable portions befitting of a drawn-out conversation or a tall bottle of wine.

The words “neighborhood Italian restaurant” are used often in New York City, but Porsena embodied them, critics say. “Everybody knows everybody, by sight or by name,” East Village resident Sarah Larson recently wrote in the New Yorker. In pre-pandemic times, Jenkins hosted weekly Monday-night film screenings at the restaurant’s neighboring bar, Porsena Extra Bar, and last year, the restaurant held a pasta-filled memorial after one of its regulars died.

In February, Jenkins announced that Porsena would be honoring its 10-year anniversary on Seventh Avenue with a year of community events. “I am really proud to be celebrating Porsena’s 10 year anniversary,” Jenkins told Eater at the time, one month before the shutdown of dining services due to COVID-19.

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