Chef Anita Lo, Chef, Owner, Annisa, annisa, West Village, New York, NY, Asian, American, Where to eat in the West Village, Chef Recommendations, 10014, Restaurants in the West Village, Restaurant Fire



Photo Courtesy of Anita Lo

It’s not easy to start over, but after a fire completely destroyed chef Anita Lo’s well-regarded restaurant annisa, she was forced to begin anew. This past April, the doors opened up once again to the small, elegant West Village restaurant and to rave reviews. While the design details have been updated, chef Lo’s contemporary American award-winning cooking remains.

Chef Lo started her career at Bouley, but left to enroll in L’Ecole Ritz-Escoffier, Paris’ prestigious culinary institution. Returning to New York, she worked at Chanterelle and Mirezi, before opening annisa in 2000.


Q. With the reopening of annisa, what are the differences from the initial restaurant, both in the physical space and on the menu?

A. The layout of the physical space remains the same, with the same number of seats and tables, but we've updated the design details. We have much nicer chairs now, a wall of fabric panelling to help absorb noise and warm up the space, solid walnut at the bar, a window to the kitchen with spun copper accents, and a new logo. 

The style of the menu stays the same; it has always been seasonally changing and contemporary American. Only a few of the signatures remain. If anything, the food is perhaps more upscale this season, and in my time off, I've found some great ingredients that I'm really excited about.


Q. What food and drink combinations on your menu are your favorites?

A. I stand behind everything we've put on the menu, so usually I'll pick the newest as my favorites if pressed. I have a new dessert which pairs Concord grapes with black pepper shortbread and yuzu mascarpone. We have a great new cocktail called the ‘Velveteen’ made with Russels Rye, Velvet Falernum and Chartreuse, which is beautifully herbal and complex. 

For wine and food pairings, I love the Domaine Marcoux Chateauneuf-du-Pape with our grilled scallops with loofah and sea urchin.


Advice / Tips

Q. You’ve had a lot of experience in the last few years opening restaurants, and due to some unfortunate circumstances, closing some. Could you share 5 wise tips for aspiring restauranteurs?

A. Don't do it!

Don't panic if you do.

Don't sell yourself short.

Don't overspend.

Do try to enjoy yourself.


Q. You’ve cooked in a number of well-regarded kitchens throughout your career, what would you say are a few essential tips you’ve learned that you use in your own kitchen?

A. Shopping well is half the work - you must start with great ingredients.

To be a good leader, you must have strong communication skills, be perfectly consistent in your demands and be able to manage people's expectations. Cook what you love.



Q. Are there food markets around the world that you love?

A. Qing Ping market in Guangzhou is one of the most fascinating. Everything edible is sold here in every form. Part of the market seems like a take-away zoo.

Tsukiji in Tokyo probably has the best quality of fish in the world, and incredible variety.

For eating, I love La Boqueria in Barcelona. Bar Pinotxo never disappoints. 

And the Noryangjin fish market in Seoul, you can buy a live fish or any seafood, including live octopus, and have it butchered for sashimi right there.

Q. What is the most unique gadget you’ve come across recently?

A. My first cook, Suzanne, gave me a pair of cooking chopsticks that have a little rubber spatula on the end of one, and a little spoon on the end of the other. They're great for the delicate work we do at annisa.

Q. What ingredients or spices should every home cook have in their kitchen?

A. Lemons and kosher or fine sea salt. Getting acid and salt levels right make all the difference.

Q. Is there a cookbook, new or vintage that is like a bible to you?

A. I love the old Joy of Cooking. It has recipes for everything; from armadillo to classic cocktails.

[See details.]

Q. Are there food purveyors that inspire your creativity in the kitchen that we should be on the lookout for?

A. My friend Patty Gentry grows some of the most beautiful vegetables at her farm, Early Girl in East Moriches, where I have a house.

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Q. When not at your own restaurant, we'd like to ask where you eat:

Q. Off the beaten track, that you'd be excited to take an adventurous eater?

A. Yakiniku Takashi: Kobe sashimi with shiso and uni, and Korean tripe salad.

[See details.]

Q. Neighborhood favorites:

A. Taim, the falafel bar, for green falafel on whole wheat with pickles and hot sauce.

Baoguette for pork chop and egg sandwich.

L'Artusi is my favorite Italian restaurant. Gabe Thompson's pastas (and really everything else on the seasonally changing menu) are great. He is an unsung hero.

Murray's cheese for a Bleecker Street Classic panini.

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Q. For inexpensive Korean:

A. Do Sirak for grilled mackerel and pork and kimchee stew.

[See details.]

Q. For sushi:

A. Jewel Bako, Sushi Azabu, Sushi Seki. And for Japanese that will blow you away- Kyo Ya.

[See details.]

Q. You’ve been spotted waiting in line to eat at Caracas Arapa Bar in the East Village. Is this a place you frequent and what is it about the restaurant that you’re willing to wait in line to eat there?

A. I've only been once, but it was a lovely experience--delicious, inexpensive food from an under-represented cuisine.

[See details.]

Q. You recently traveled around the globe for culinary inspiration, what specific restaurants did you discover that you’d want to return to?

A. I would definitely go back to the Cellars at Hohenort in Cape Town, South Africa. I'd order a tasting menu and some wine from Klein Constantia.

And I'd have koshary at Koshary El Tahrir in Cairo again.

[See details.]


Q. You do both savory and sweet on your menu, is there an interesting mixer/beverage you’ve recently discovered?

A. Tito’s Handmade Vodka gives a wonderful full mouth feel and viscosity unlike other vodkas. It is clean tasting and is great in our ginger cooler cocktail.

[See details.]


Q. Can we get you to share a recipe?

A. Duck E-fu Noodles, Seared Foie Gras with Foie Gras Soup Dumplings, Duck Breast with 5-Spice and Grapes




Anita Lo’s recommendations for where to eat in New York, Barcelona, China, Korea, and Tokyo.

Q & A

Details of chef Anita Lo’s recommendations for where to eat in New York, Barcelona, China, Korea, and Tokyo.



West Village

Contemporary American

13 Barrow Street

New York, NY 10014 (view map)

T: 212.741.6699 (make a reservation)



Mon - Sat: 5:30pm - 10:30pm

Sun: 5:30pm - 9:30pm