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Travelers Poets & Friends wants to introduce consumers to the idea of an Italian market with no meat

Staples like salami and cured meats won’t be found at this market, but it’s more authentically Italian than others

New York City’s West Village is just a bit more vegetarian-friendly than it used to be, thanks to the minds behind restaurants Osteria 57 and Alice Restaurant, founder Emanuele Nigro and chef Riccardo Orfino.

Their newest venture, Travelers Poets & Friends, is a new pescatarian market near the other concepts, but it’s markedly different. It is a marketplace but be sure to know, it’s not famed worldwide Italian market Eataly.

Though it shares many elements of the largest Italian market in New York City — Eataly has two Manhattan locations — and is only 25 blocks north, Nigro doesn’t think the two concepts should even be in the same sentence.

There is no cured meat at Travelers Poets & Friends. There is fresh-caught seafood, local fruits and vegetables, and homemade pasta that customers can watch chefs make.

Travelers Poets & Friends is meant to bring customers to an Italian mindset not just through the quality of ingredients, but also by recreating the way that Americans often feel when they’re on vacation in Europe.

Nigro pointed out that many Americans who travel to Europe and eat things like croissants and pasta every day lose weight by the end of their trip. That’s because of the quality of the ingredients and the lack of preservatives, something Nigro and Orfino are both very passionate about.

Nigro said that, while Travelers Poets & Friends is not the first brand to use fresh, local ingredients, it resonated with customers in a way that other brands haven’t.

Nigro’s own father, who is an engineer, said, “whenever I go to restaurants, I always have reflux when I go to bed. When I come to your restaurant, I don't.”

“We don’t overcook the oil, we don’t use canola oil,” Nigro said. “Ricardo knows how to balance the salt in the food, so you don’t wake up in the middle of the night to drink water. You’re not supposed to be thirsty at 3 a.m.”

All of Nigro’s concepts were built around the idea that the American consumer’s diet was moving toward the pescatarian diet, and he’s been proven right.

Osteria 57 has been consistently ranked as one of the best restaurants outside of Italy by various publications since its debut in 2017.

Orfino was mentored by the famous chef Aimo Moroni of Milan, Italy, and he joined Nigro in 2019.

“I found finally an Italian chef who was willing to leave the meat outside of the kitchen and explore what in reality is the foundation of Italian cuisine,” said Nigro.

Travelers Poets & Friends was built because the space next to Osteria 57 was vacant, and, tired of looking at the empty space, Nigro and Orfino decided to fill it.

“We know that we are giving people something fundamental to their life, which is the connection with the land and with nature,” Nigro said.

Nigro wants to create a place for the neighborhood customers could use more like a supermarket for specialty items on a weekly or daily basis.

The Hippocrates quote “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” is a big inspiration for Nigro and Orfino and informs how they source and prepare ingredients and dishes at Travelers Poets & Friends.

“It’s possible for everyone to just change a little bit of their mindset and give importance to the food, because we are what we eat. Sometimes we have a million other things, so we don’t think about what we introduce to our body,” said Orfino. “That’s why our mission is to make people understand [healthy food].”

Travelers Poets & Friends is currently open until 10 p.m. daily and will be opening a new restaurant concept at the end of the month. It signed its lease through 2035.

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