Village Survivors

By Arthur Z. Schwartz

60 Greenwich Avenue (between 11th and 10th)

A sampling of Semma’s South Indian regional specialties.

Semma is both a Survivor and a New Kid On the Block.

Semma is located in the same space, run by the same trio of chefs and entrepreneurs once occupied by a restaurant called Rahi. This was a fantastic restaurant which served Northern Indian food but closed due to the Covid pandemic.

After opening Dhamaka on the lower east side, the owners then unveiled Semma, an exceptional Indian restaurant which opened in January 2022.

Semma serves South Indian regional specialties typically made in rural home settings and they do so in a narrow space with quintessential wooden-table West Village charm. Vegetarian highlights include a crispy uthappam filled with seasonal root vegetables, crunchy, chili-flecked Mangalorean cauliflower, and a masala-potato-filled gunpowder dosa that tastes like cheese even though there’s none present. They also serve meaty dishes including a vat of tender venison drenched in a dark brown gravy that tastes like clove and smoke, as well as the Goanese oxtail made with ample amounts green cardamom and cumin. Their chicken, called Kohzi Allepey, is drenched in a cashew and poppy seed gravy. They serve goat with garam masala and mint. Gunpowder dosa is an amazing appetizer, a bread folded into a triangle, stuffed with lentils and potato masala.

What struck me the most is how many flavors one can taste in one bite of any dish.
If you’re someone who prioritizes seafood, call ahead and secure a whole Dungeness crab for your dinner. Semma only serves three to five of these a night.

Warning: Semma isn’t cheap. You pay for quality. My visit there was worth it.

Semma, by the way, was 2022’s only Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in the U.S.

New Kids on the Block

Holey Cream
50 Greenwich Avenue

DONUTS AND ICE CREAM, because what else do you really need? Photos by Arthur Schwartz.

Donuts and ice cream, because what else do you really need? Combining two of the most popular sweet treats into sandwiches is what made the original Holey Cream in Hell’s Kitchen a legend. There is now a location in the heart of the Village, just a block west of 6th Avenue and Greenwich Avenue.

The doughnut ice-cream sandwiches at this Technicolor shop are an exercise in decadence: Two halves of a split old-fashioned doughnut bookend three scoops of house-churned ice cream. We like the sweet-and-salty vanilla studded with chocolate-covered pretzels. Festoon this prodigal masterpiece with your choice of flavored frostings and garnishes, such as colorful sprinkles, candy fragments and nuts.

48 Greenwich Ave

THE UNIQUE EMPANADAS at Nadas. Photos by Arthur Schwartz.

Having arrived from Colombia in 1999 with a child and only $600, Olga Santos always dreamt of opening her own business. So, amid the financial crash in 2008, she took a leap of faith and opened Aqui Es Santa Fe in New York. Fast forward to 2020, a year unlike any other. It was now that child’s, Carlos’, turn to take another leap of faith. With the hospitality industry being flipped upside down, he decided to take their highly touted and unique empanadas and share them with as many people as possible. A few months later, Nadas was created.

Nadas’ mission is to bring original and unique Colombian flavors using only the freshest ingredients and recipes, that have been passed along for generations, with some colorful and refreshing twists.