NEW YORK—The streets of Nolita are awash in hip cafes and trendy eateries, keeping up to speed with the ever-changing dining scene.
But sometimes, simple is best.
At Market Ipanema, one of the latest additions to the neighborhood, owner Beatriz Lobato Grabowsky and executive chef Caroline Borges de Figueiredo are serving up just that.
“Nothing fancy, but homey food,” Lobato Grabowsky said. “I wanted to do something that would be like an everyday meal for people. Good ingredients, healthy, simple, and when you put them together, they taste good.”
Market Ipanema centers on a “do good” philosophy—for the body, the environment, and the community. The Nolita restaurant actually had its beginnings in Brazil, where Lobato Grabowsky grew up.
She worked in finance but was always drawn to the culinary world. “My dream was always to open up something with food,” she said. Despite having no formal culinary background, she decided to take the leap and open her own restaurant in Ipanema, in southern Rio de Janeiro.
The restaurant ended up experiencing enormous success, winning Best Light Food Restaurant and Best Quick Service Restaurant awards from Rio’s prestigious O Globo newspaper and Veja Rio magazine, respectively. It was closed, however, to make way for a commercial building.
Lobato Grabowsky opened a smaller grab-and-go cafe in Rio before moving to New York with her family. She studied at The International Culinary Center for a year. When her family decided to stay for the long run, she decided to bring Ipanema to New York City.
Market Ipanema, a fast-casual place with both a sit-down menu and grab-and-go options, upholds the same philosophy as its Rio predecessors.
Everything on the menu is made in-house—from the bread to the ricotta that tops it—using natural, unprocessed, and organic ingredients. These ingredients are featured in the restaurant’s variety of healthy offerings, from smoothies and tartines to fresh salads and hearty grain bowls.
The Beetroot Tartare ($9) is one of the owner’s personal favorites. A layer of finely chopped beets sits atop a housemade sunflower cream base, and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds completes the virtuous dish. The result is an intriguing combination of wholesome flavors and fun textures: earthy sweetness from the beets, nutty richness from the cream, and a light crunch from the seeds.
Much of the menu also reflects the restaurant’s Brazilian roots.
Beans, a major component of a typical Brazilian diet, feature in several dishes. They star, for example, in the bright and citrusy Buckwheat and Brown Rice salad ($9), with fava beans, tomatillo, and lime and parsley dressing, and the clean and refreshing Chickpea & Organic Chicken salad ($12), with caramelized onion, arugula pesto, and chives.
Market Ipanema’s version of the popular acai bowl ($9.50), long celebrated and enjoyed in Brazil for its energizing and delicious qualities, is made with the addition of cassava and guarana, an Amazonian berry always mixed with acai in Brazil, according to Lobato Grabowsky.
For a taste of true Brazilian street food, Lobato Grabowsky offers a selection of signature tapioca crepes, made from cassava, with both sweet and savory fillings ($5–7). The crepes are delightfully light and crisp, with just a touch of sweetness, and beautifully complement their warm fillings, from pleasantly chunky cashew cream with avocado to sweet and tropical banana jam with toasted coconut. The tapioca flour is naturally hydrated with beet and spinach juices, giving the crepes an eye-catching pop of color.
Finally, to round out the meal, there’s the rich and fudgy gluten-free Chocolate Brownie ($3.80), a date-sweetened miracle simply bursting with chocolate flavor. Or try the smooth and dreamy Banana & Cacao Cream ($4.00), a three-ingredient wonder that beautifully showcases the pure flavors of each component—an almost unbelievably simple concoction.
This simplicity is exactly the restaurant’s strength. In the city’s hectic and often extravagant food scene, Market Ipanema offers a welcome reprieve—an oasis of healthy, happy, homemade eats.
The restaurant exclusively uses compostable dishes, which fully disintegrate in a matter of months. Lobato Grabowsky went to great lengths to find a waste management company that would take compostables and actually dispose of them appropriately. She was surprised to find how many were unwilling or untruthful. Her extensive research, which eventually led her to Bronx-based Avid Waste Systems, testifies to her genuine dedication and care.
66 Kenmare St. (between Mulberry & Mott streets)
Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–8 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.