Here are some of the situations in which we've ended up at Epistrophy: drinks with someone who helped us get a job, drinks with someone we were helping get a job, a dinner that was possibly or possibly not a date, a reunion of old friends with assorted dietary restrictions, and brunch when Cafe Habana had an hour-long wait. And then there was the time we walked in with a friend on a Saturday night and ended up taking shots of an Italian liqueur with the bartender and a guy who lives in the apartment upstairs.
All of this is to say: Epistrophy, an Italian-ish cafe in Nolita, is useful in many situations. It's a great place to grab a drink or have a casual low-stakes dinner, while the large tables up front (which you can reserve) are a good move when you're tasked with planning a eight person dinner on a Saturday night that's actually reasonably priced, fun, and with food everyone will like. We've all been there, and in these cases, Epistrophy is there for you.
What else should you know? The space is what you might call "homey" or "lived in" or just really "cafe that's been open since 2005." There are books on the shelves. You get the picture. The food is good too, though it's almost besides the point. The "point" is that Epistrophy is the kind of neighborhood place that you'd want in your neighborhood. Unlike so many other restaurants around here, the people inside Epistrophy aren't tourists or bloggers taking photos of acai bowls. What a relief.
So next time you find yourself needing to plan a drinks meeting/date/lunch/last minute gathering of six people in this part of town, you know what to do.
A ball of burrata, served with some beets and butternut squash (it used to be tomatoes, but things change) and a very thin cracker crisp to layer your cheese on. A perfect dish to share, this one is part of our order every time.
Grilled calami with some mushrooms. If you like those things, this one's another good appetizer.
In keeping with the times, Epistrophy has abided by the law that all Nolita restaurants serve a bowl featuring quinoa and brightly-colored things. The pink paste (beet tahini) is kind of a lot to deal with, but it's a solid dish overall.
A kale salad, but topped with pistachios. You know what to do here.
Any of the pastas here are a safe bet, and as pastas go, they tend to be on the lighter side. If you're sharing, the artichoke pesto ravioli is a good way to go.
Didn't we tell you Epistrophy was good for different situations? If that situation involves a desire to eat steak, know Epistrophy's is quite good.