Gasoline Alley exterior
If you’re on the hunt for a post-Sandy pick-me-up, what better way to restore yourself than with a cup of freshly brewed, artisanal coffee? We swung by Gasoline Alley, a sliver of a café nestled in a triangular building between Houston and Bleecker streets—and a favorite haunt of the downtown crowd—to talk with its two owners, Nick Carnevale and Neville Ross, about the design of the space, their standout menu items and what sets Gasoline Alley apart from the other boutique cafes in the city.
Owners Nick and Neville. Photo: Blaise Hayward
According to Nick and Neville, the name of the shop harks back to what people called the street in the ‘60s and ‘70s when it was teeming with car mechanics and gas stations, and its design is a play on words: The architects transformed the café into a mini alleyway between Mulberry and Lafayette streets and installed lights and industrial-style doors reminiscent of old auto repair shops. In the warm weather, the steel façades open up to overlook the sidewalk.
Gasoline Alley’s famous cortado – an espresso cut with a small amount of warm milk.
Both owners are self-proclaimed coffee fiends (Nick’s father owns an espresso bar in Italy), and their various blends—roasted by the Chicago-based company Intelligentsia—change seasonally depending on what tastes good at the time. And if for some reason coffee isn’t your thing, the baristas also serve up donuts and kombucha on draft.
But besides the architecture and quality brew, Nick and Neville say the distinguishing characteristic of Gasoline Alley is the service. “We’re a community based business serving artisanal coffee with unapologetic enthusiasm and friendliness,” Neville said.
Considering how happy they were to re-open their doors in the wake of a devastating storm, we definitely believe it.