It’s safe to say that Morningside Heights is the culinary center of America.

Hey, JK! Since the Pinnacle Incident made everyone debate the merits of Cracker Barrel, Bwog is here to quell your foodie nerves: there are new options! The Morningside food openings, renovations, and gossip:

  • The vacant storefront formerly known as Empanada Joe’s has been deserted for nearly a year. The spot is one of Morningside urban legend– perhaps some will remember the rise and fall of the Wrapp Factory– nothing that occupies the spot next to Famiglia’s can never stay open. Now Israeli vegeterian falafel chain Maoz is trying its hand: a huge poster with two tanned falafel enthusiasts went up about a week ago, announcing that the internationally successful chain is coming soon to Morningside.
  • A new Caribbean and Soul restaurant, Freda’s, recently opened in La Negrita-ville, 993 Columbus and 109th Street. Freda’s offers standard Soul fare, with a menu similar to Miss Mamie’s but cheaper prices. A fried chicken entree, for example, is $7.99 and includes peas, rice and two sides. Freda’s menu also includes a selection of fish, curries, and desserts.
  • A new gourmet-ish deli, Crystal Gourmet, has also recently opened on Broadway and 108th Street, serving the genre of slightly high-end deli food that you often find in Midtown. There’s lots of selection, and the prices are reasonable. It’s certainly shinier than its across-the-street neighbor, Famous Deli.

  • The brand-new Cafe East next to Liberty House on Broadway has gotten a makeover. It has a new name, TeaMagic, and nothing seems to be different besides the fact that store is swathed in an eery blue light. Same FroYo, pastries, still right across the street from monster FroYo machine Pinkberry. Still, the Cafe East fare you can get in Lerner is no more.
  • The Kosher Deli in John Jay, closed since November, has just re-opened with a new mashgiach, who oversees the food to make sure it remains kosher. Director of Dining Vicky Dunn told Bwog that the new mashgiach is creating a new kosher menu and comes from a kosher catering/retail background.
  • Some unsubstantiated gossip…on Bwog! A few weeks ago our friends at Samad’s told us that the storefront currently under construction next to Samad’s, formerly Academy Hardware, is being turned into a restaurant/bar owned by Westside. Westside management hasn’t gotten back to Bwog yet, but we poked around a bit and saw Westside owner Ian Joskowitz talking with a construction worker. The building has three floors like its next-door neighbor, the Heights. Oh, the possibilities!
  • Plus: salvation! Pinnacle is open again. It was only shuttered for two weeks after amassing what Bwog can only imagine was a long list of health violations. A sign that went up late last week declared that the store was closed for renovations (uhhh…) and indeed Pinnacle opened again over the weekend. We bet the pizza’s still there from the day it was shut down!