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A Bella Hadid-Approved Banana Pudding Shop Is Taking Off in the East Village

Plus, Gaia Italian Cafè appears to be opening another location — and more intel

An overhead photograph of a decadent banana pudding dessert made with mousse, jam, and graham crackers.
The Ubenanas, made from ube mousse, graham cracker, banana, and ube jam.

A banana pudding shop with a following in New Jersey has found its way to the East Village, with help from a smash burger counter located next door. Baonanas, which operates two locations in Jersey City and has popped up at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, expanded with its first New York City storefront in the East Village on March 5. It opened in partnership with 7th Street Burger, a popular smash burger shop next door that previously sold its puddings from a fridge.

Lloyd Ortuoste and Patricia Villanueva, the owners behind Baonanas, were already looking to open in New York City, but those plans accelerated after the pudding company received a glowing endorsement from Bella Hadid — to her 50 million followers — on Instagram last September. The pudding was flying off of 7th Street’s shelves, says owner Kevin Rezvani.

Baonanas has only been open in the East Village for two weeks, but business is already picking up, with help from its next door neighbor. Rezvani has been offering his customers a 20 percent discount on the shop’s decadent banana puddings, which come mixed with ingredients like ube jam and graham crackers, while local followers of the New Jersey-based brand have been showing up to support the opening. “I didn’t realize it would do so well,” he says.

Baonanas is open Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Sunday from 12 to 10 p.m.

Gaia Italian Cafè to open another location

After making its comeback as a takeout operation in the East Village last summer, Lower East Side Italian restaurant Gaia Italian Cafè appears to be opening another location. According to neighborhood blog EV Grieve, the beloved restaurant has posted coming soon signs to a storefront at 226 East Third Street, between avenues B and C. It’s not clear whether the restaurant will focus on takeout and delivery, as well, or when it intends to open in full. Eater has contacted owner Gaia Bagnasacco for more information.

Has the $50 designer strawberry met its match?

Bowery Farming is the latest to cash in on the designer strawberry craze. The Manhattan-based agriculture company, which specializes in produce grown using vertical indoor farms, has grown a strawberry that’s ready for market shelves, Crain’s New York Business reports, with 8-ounce packages of the berries going for around $15 at Eataly and other NYC shops. The company joins the city’s preeminent designer strawberry company, Oishii, who’s been selling luxe berries grown indoors — $50 for eight — since 2018.

Piano bar headed to the Upper East Side

Tom and Anthony Martignetti, the restaurateurs behind a handful of celebrity hangouts in Manhattan, are headed to the Upper East Side for their latest, Page Six reports. The brothers, who ran the shuttered Nolita hotspots Brinkley’s Broome Street and Southside, will open a piano bar on April 1 called Melody’s at 1020 Lexington Avenue, near East 73rd Street.