Anita Lo serves two of the things people need most: food and stories. Chef and owner of the esteemed Village restaurant Annisa, Lo is also a contributor to Greenwich Village Stories, the anthology of art and prose to be released by Village Preservation and Rizzoli later this month.
You can pre-order the book here, or buy it at the Strand and other local bookstores beginning March 25.
Lo is a second-generation Chinese American who grew up in Michigan, studied French cooking formally and other world cuisines informally: her cookbook is called “Cooking Without Borders.” Although a globetrotter, Lo always comes back to Greenwich Village, and her story in the collection is about the colorful history of Annisa’s address, 13 Barrow Street. Let’s just say the previous café owners were as dodgy as Lo is accomplished ( — you’ll have to read the book for details).
Having earned countless accolades, including a Michelin star, and made many television appearances, Lo entertained 10 questions on the occasion of the publication of Greenwich Village Stories.
Now we just need to pick out a hostess gift!
Describe your feeling when you learned Annisa earned three stars from The New York Times last month.
I was elated, relieved and bewildered. We had no idea that Pete Wells had been in the restaurant, so we were certainly nervous. And I had stopped chasing stars years before.
Why did you open Annisa in Greenwich Village rather than somewhere else?
I live in the West Village and I felt that downtown would understand and appreciate our adventurous cuisine better than other neighborhoods.
In addition to the incredible food, the unusually civilized atmosphere at Annisa consistently wins raves. How did that come to be a signature feature?
My founding partner, Jennifer Scism, designed the space. She did an amazing job of keeping the space serene and elegant.
If you could open a second business, where would it be?
West Village, of course.
What’s your favorite dish on the menu now?
If a dish makes it to the menu, it means we’ve put it through rigorous tests, so I stand by every item. Every once in a while a favorite will emerge, but it’s usually the most recent addition, and that rarely happens.
If you had me to your home, what would you cook?
Something seasonal and ingredient-focused.
What are some great shops for the home cook in the neighborhood?
There are so many — Murray’s Cheese, Amy’s Bread, the Greenmarket on Saturdays in Abingdon Square…
What other restaurants do you recommend to friends?
I adore Gabe Thompson’s restaurants, L’Artusi and dell’anima…and Taim, Ushiwakamaru, Pizzetteria Brunetti, Spotted Pig, Empellon…
What’s your second-favorite neighborhood in the world?
Le Marais in Paris.