“The sliders are so good, I would eat meat again” — is a bold statement from a vegetarian. Yet, it doesn’t seem so bold after you’ve tried the gravy meatball sliders at the little owl. Biting into one is almost like eating a sloppy joe as the warm oil and richly spiced tomato sauce snakes through your fingers, waiting for your tongue to follow — only this is much better than the sludge served at school. The meat, a mixture of beef, pork, veal, and mixed with Pecorino, is moist, rich, and unforgettable. Bite-sized and inviting like the sliders, the Little Owl is the ideal neighborhood restaurant.
This homey restaurant is located in the West Village on the corner of Bedford and Grove, in the building where Monica, Rachel, Chandler, and Joey lived (supposedly). The next time you watch re-runs of Friends, look for when the camera focuses in on the street signs — a strong sell for the restaurant even before you step inside.
A hospitable restaurant to its core, the obliging host will often bring the soon-to-be diners waiting outside tea cups of wine — but with a warning to run your a** off if the cops come. The inside is just as welcoming and is warmly lit with floor length windows on two walls. Tasteful seasonal decorations adorn the room and are best viewed from a corner perch where a couple can wait for a table (not really room for more). The crowd is a mix of young and old who were both wise and lucky enough to get a reservation a month in advance.
The small menu changes frequently except for the mainstays: the sliders and pork chops. As a neighboring diner once told me at Union Square Café, “the Little Owl has the best pork chops in the city, and I know my pork chops.” He was right. It is a dish that should not be missed nor its seasonal sides. The rest of the carefully chosen plates do not focus solely on meat and will appease all diners.
Intimate, quiet, and worth the acclaim, the Little Owl always satisfies. Finishing our dessert of raspberry beignets and nutella one December night, my friend sat back, gazed softly out the window, and sighed, “If it started snowing, tonight would be perfect”.