New York’s East Village has some of the city’s best and most diverse restaurants, but there are parts of the neighborhood where one can only find bars and take-out options. If you find yourself in search of an elegant restaurant in Alphabet City, look no further than Kobo by Nai. Kobo by Nai is Chef Ruben Rodriguez’s latest offering. His other restaurants also include Amigo, Nai, and Emilia. Kobo stands out for its assorted tasting menu and spacious contemporary interiors. Grab your foodie friends because this restaurant is well worth the trip to Avenue A. 

Walking into Kobo you immediately notice the restaurant’s contemporary interiors and unique blonde wood chandelier, composed of 1,117 handcrafted pieces, hanging above a gorgeous marble bar. Upon our welcome we were presented with the restaurant’s signature cocktail, Kōbo Kiss, consisting of gin, Cappelletti, vermouth, and Maraschino juice. The delicious cocktail was unlike anything else we tasted and we can easily imagine ourselves coming here for just a cocktail or a glass of wine. The drink menu is created by beverage director Niko Hagerty and Service Director-Sommelier Raul Oleaga. 

Kobo does not serve your typical tapas. Shareable dishes at Kobo range from seafood to meat to pastas. There is something for everyone. All the dishes are inspired by Chef Ruben Rodriguez’ travels throughout the Mediterranean. Among the popular dishes are Oysters with orange and rosemary and homemade Burrata with roasted pepper and basil sourdough. The oysters were light and refreshing, while the burrata was just luscious. 

Other homemade dishes include focaccia topped with cured sardines, and while this dish was satisfactory we walked away raving about the Broccoli Rabe with romesco and parmesan. Studying the menu one can’t help but notice how the chef put his own twist on familiar comfort food and humble Mediterranean-style dishes. 

Our favorite dishes had to be the Pappardelle pasta with Italian sausage and pecorino, and the exquisite Fideuà made with squid ink, baby squid and saffron. Both dishes were delectable and are wonderful to share between dining companions. These dishes were paired with a special wine, Buscando: 100% Natural Garnacha numbered limited production from La Rioja. The dishes will rotate with seasons, but we certainly hope these two stay on the menu. 

We ended our dining experience with a tiramisu, paired with Jaume Giró i Giró: Xarello Parellada Chardonnay from Cava. The restaurant has an excellent wine selection, mainly from Italian and Spanish regions. The staff is friendly and enjoys discussing the menu. The outstanding service, wine pairings and shareable dishes help set the mood for a fun evening. Come here with a group of friends and share your love of food and wine or throw an event. The pleasant ambiance also makes this an ideal date spot for impressing a foodie date. 

The tasting table seats twenty, making it ideal for throwing an event.

Kobo by Nai, 202 Avenue A (betw 12th/13th St), East Village 

Photography by Paulina Kajankova and Kobo by Nai.