Photography by Trevor Smith

Caroline Ventura

Jewelry Designer, BRVTVS; Co-Owner, Calliope

| West Village

OK, but did you really enjoy that [insert photogenic baked good] or was it bought for the sake of your Instagram, then quickly disposed of as if the weight of that guilt is somehow less than that of just eating the treat? In a world where realities can be far different than they appear, we take special note when our paths cross with someone unabashedly genuine. Like Caroline Ventura, a California transplant (though she’s full New Yorker now) who designs, creates and curates not for sales, followers or “image,” but for the love of art and life, itself— we know, Bad. Ass. Her jewelry collection, BRVTVS  reflects her own brand of cool: sculpted ear cuffs, chain-link rings and single earrings that stand out with a quiet independence. Then there’s Calliope, Ventura’s eclectic design store she co-opened with her husband, Michael. Walk in on any given day and there could be antique coffee pots, Moroccan textiles or a class on flower arranging in full-swing— using the tagline, “Purveyors of things we like,” Calliope’s offerings are as organic as whatever catches the pair’s artful eye. Living above the shop along with their pup, Darryl, the Venturas remind us of what living in New York is all about: inspiring by living inspired. Here, Caroline sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: Café Cluny (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is always the one place I end up when I can’t be bothered to think of where I want to eat. Their roast chicken is great and I always order their “Filthy Martini” (house-infused garlic vodka, tomato water and olives).

COFFEE OR TEA: Coffee! I always go to The Elk on Charles Street (MAP IT, x). Good coffee, good things to eat and a nice mellow vibe. If it’s lunchtime, get the soba noodles!

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Estela in Nolita (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is my constant favorite for when I want a really good meal in a setting that’s laid-back, but feels exciting at the same time. If you eat meat, get the tartare. It’s the best I have ever had and if you don’t like it, I’ll buy your meal. The ricotta dumplings or burrata also shouldn’t be missed.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: Nari, the bartender at Estela, makes really great cocktails. You can’t go wrong with any of them, but she makes a mean daiquiri. ZZ’s Clam Bar (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is always fun for cocktails and a light seafood meal. Each drink comes with its own specific cup— one time, I ordered something that came in a giant pineapple. Last night, I had dinner at Piora (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) for the first time and their bartender, Shinya is a beast; he is so thoughtful with every cocktail that he makes and he just creates really beautiful drinks. Order the “Wear and Tear” (Old Overholt rye, Aperol, chartreuse jaune, Cinzano, Maraschino Luxardo and angostura bitters) and look at how he thoughtfully carves your ice cube. I know it sounds corny and probably coming from any other bartender you’d roll your eyes, but this guy is wonderful and makes you feel at home sitting at his bar.

AFTER-WORK HAPPY HOUR: The patio or bar at Hudson Clearwater (MAP IT, x) is always great when the weather is nice. In the winter, I like Little Branch (MAP IT, x)— really cozy and intimate.

MUSIC PICK: Rebelle (*Location now closed) has great music playing if you want a good soundtrack while eating, plus it’s an awesome restaurant in it’s own right. For live music, Village Vanguard (MAP IT, x) is a classic New York spot for great jazz.

BEST BRUNCH: For brunch-brunch-type stuff, Jack’s Wife Freda on Carmine (MAP IT, BOOK ITx). I always get a waffle to share with the table, a cantaloupe mimosa and the “Mediterranean Breakfast” (two eggs any style, chopped salad, labne, avocado and pita bread). I also really love a gluttonous dim sum on a Sunday. Nom Wah (MAP IT, x) in Chinatown is great and Asian Jewels in Flushing (MAP IT, x). Go hungry and try everything.

HEALTHY STAPLE: Nourish Kitchen (MAP IT, x). They switch the menu up often, but their daily frittata is always awesome.

GUILTY PLEASURE: I love a really good burger. Favorite go-to spots are The Spotted Pig (MAP IT, x), Minetta Tavern (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) and Corner Bistro (MAP IT, x). For dessert, I love Victory Garden (*Location now closed). Get one of their goat’s milk sundaes to split (or eat one by yourself… there’s no shame in that either).

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: On the classy side: the apple strudel at Café Sabarsky (MAP IT, x). I love spending an afternoon walking around the museum (it’s my favorite in the city!) and then sitting at one of their quiet tables for dessert and tea. For something a little off the beaten path, Fu Run in Flushing (MAP IT, x) is the best Chinese. It’s Northern Chinese food and has quite a bit of Middle Eastern influence— get the Muslim lamb, the coriander salad and the Ma Po tofu. It’s also really cheap so you can eat a ton for next to nothing.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: Having access to anything you want, any time you want it. Sometimes you just need a 3 am cheesesteak sandwich!

REGULAR AT: For a nice solo meal, I always go to Café Minerva (*Location now closed) and sit in the window with a book and a glass of wine. Tartine (MAP IT, x) is my favorite in the fall when the weather is cool enough to sit outside with a jacket. There’s a cellist named Peter that’s often on the corner playing and it’s just a wonderful moment to eat outside and listen to music.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: Jeffrey’s Grocery (MAP IT, x). Sit at the bar and order a martini or a glass of wine and split a dozen oysters. It’s never a bad decision and always consistently good. They always have funny little puns drawn on their sandwich board outside too; I love a place that doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

DELIVERY GO-TO: Do Hwa (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). Best Korean in the Village. Get the watercress salad.

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: Minetta Tavern.

TO ESCAPE AND UNWIND: The Cloisters (MAP IT, x)— beautiful quiet spot to go for a walk or have a picnic.

CLOSET CHECK: My style is all about being simple and minimal. I tend to take cues from menswear, but add in something feminine to balance it all out. Oroboro (MAP IT, x) is always great for beautiful pieces. I also really love No. 6 (MAP IT, x)— beautiful vintage-inspired silk dresses for when I’m feeling feminine.

ACCESSORIES PICK: I like Assembly NY (MAP IT, x) for leather purses, hats and they have the best shoes!

FOR HIM: Cocktail Kingdom (MAP IT, x) in the Flatiron is a great spot for classic barware like beautiful rocks glasses. I like gifting a nice bottle of whiskey and Astor Wines (MAP IT, x) has a pretty good selection.

BEST HOME DÉCOR: Am I allowed to say my own store Calliope (MAP IT, x)? We carry a mix of old and new— weird antiques and art and objects for the home (pottery, books, home furnishings, etc.)— everything we stock is hand-selected by myself and my husband, Michael. For me, decorating your home is all about incorporating things that are meaningful and make you happy. It doesn’t matter if that weird piece of art isn’t on Pinterest; if you love it, get it!

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Same as above, ha! We have some unusual vintage bar glasses, cute linen napkins from artist Caroline Hurley, cedar scented candles from Bower, weird fruit shaped planters from Chen & Kai, hand-woven baskets from Doug Johnston… lots of weird stuff to gift!

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: CAP Beauty (MAP IT, x) on 10th Street is my mecca for anything beauty-related.

FIT PICK: I like to just walk around the city a lot. A LOT. I often take my dog, Darryl for walks down the Hudson to slow my brain down and give us both a little exercise.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: I designed the accessories for Jason Wu’s spring collection a few seasons ago and watching something I made walk down the runway at NYFW was pretty surreal. My favorite New York moment was a night that we spent at Rao’s. A friend gifted us his table and at one point a guy who was celebrating his 85th birthday got up and sang “New York, New York” to everyone in the restaurant. It felt like we were back in old-school 1940’s New York. CP

Caroline’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Womenswear from No. 6; Décor at Calliope; Inside Nourish Kitchen + Table; Womenswear at Oroboro. Second Row: Décor by Bower; Oysters at Jeffrey’s Grocery; Steak tartar at Estela; Breakfast at The Elk.

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