There is nothing funny about the Gramercy—that is until now. Thanks to the founders of Cringe Humor, brothers Paul and Cris Italia, Patrick Milligan, and David Kimowitz, the neighborhood now has something to laugh about at The Stand Restaurant and Comedy Club. And, thanks to the skills of chef Seth Levine, they also have something to decent to eat.
“Gramercy is the sort of neighborhood that appreciates good food, and comedy…well, they didn’t have it,” said Cris Italia, who has been managing comedic talent for twelve years. “We didn’t want to serve the regular comedy club food like mozzarella sticks.”
The menu Levine has put together for the club meshes comfort food with bar classics. For example, instead of Cris’s loathed cheese sticks, they turn the dish into a caprese salad with fried buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, tomato, and a balsamic reduction. Other menu items also play to the brother’s Italian roots, like the slightly spicy tuna tartar cannolis, fried ravioli, and Peking duck pizza. They also serve a super secret pretzel bread that comes on things like the steak sandwich, hamburger, and soon, will be a bread bowl for their chicken pot pie. All this you can get upstairs before the show, and downstairs they offer smaller plates like the gooey tater tot nachos, which are comedic in their own right. Soon, said Cris, they plan on doing different tater tot-based dishes each night. I just hope the comfort food won’t upstage the talent.
The cocktail program at The Stand came from the consulting minds of Cameron Dale and Mark Noonan from Minetta Tavern. They took twists on classics like putting brown sugar in the Old Fashioned, as well as making an array of signature cocktails including the warming 3rd Avenue with Bulleit bourbon, lemon juice, and house-made five-spice honey syrup.
Their ginger and gin drink The Boozler pays homage to comedian Elayne Boosler,who is just one of many faces that may be popping in. The night I was there, Comedy Central’s Kurt Metzger took the stage. Other comedians that have or will perform includeJay Oakerson, Artie Lange, and Jim Norton.
“So far we have been lucky,” said Paul Italia, who works in commercial real estate by day. “People have come in for the comedy and discovered the restaurant and vice versa.”
Photo by August Young