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Blissful Brunch In Harlem

October 7, 2014 Written by | No Comments

Trufa store front

Trufa Restaurant’s store front.

Trufa, located on 140th Street and Broadway, is the smallest restaurant I have ever dined at. Despite its size, this Italian/New American eatery plays a huge role in the neighborhood’s budding gentrified restaurant scene. Trufa has taken the place of a restaurant that once offered Mexican eats, and currently serves Italian/New American comfort food; including pressed sandwiches, pasta dishes and burgers. On a Sunday afternoon, my boyfriend and I entered this “hole in the wall,” and were greeted with a warm welcome from Corey Havens, manager at Trufa. He directed us to our seats, only one foot away from the entrance, and handed us brunch menus.

Trufa has re-introduced itself to residents four years ago, and is one of many new restaurants that have made its way to Harlem. The owners of the old Mexican restaurant are the same owners of the current revamped space. While plates range anywhere from $7 to $21, the refined appearance and tranquil ambience of Trufa says otherwise. “Harlem needs more upscale restaurants like Trufa,” manager Corey stated. In fact, the majority of the people who visit have seemingly left the restaurant satisfied, as reported in most of Trufa’s customer reviews on Yelp.

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Soup and desert specials of the day.

Harlem has a rich history, but many of the incoming restaurants are eliminating, rather than preserving, the neighborhood’s historical culture. Many of the new restaurants in Harlem are built to appeal to an upper class demographic, which is why several of the old businesses are undergoing drastic, physical transformations. “The earth tones and cozy look of Trufa attracts ‘other’ types of crowds,” Corey said, “The older restaurants (in the neighborhood) appeal to less socially high class people.”

As a born and raised Harlem native, I can attest the major differences in the neighborhood compared to five years ago. Being able to enjoy a hearty brunch at a restaurant five minutes away from home still shocks me. Prior to visiting Trufa, I searched for a restaurant that would satisfy my huge pumpkin sweet tooth. My boyfriend suggested Trufa, and while I did not look at their menu, I crossed my fingers hoping they would have pumpkin French toast. Unfortunately, the only seasonal pumpkin dish was the “pumpkin gnocchi” – a dish I never came across at any restaurants I have visited in Harlem. Corey, who was also our waiter for the afternoon, sincerely apologized. I opted for the caramelized banana French toast, added a mimosa to my order and left Trufa completely forgetting my pumpkin cravings.

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My Sunday brunch meal.

Ten years ago it would have been difficult to find a restaurant in Harlem that offers a standard brunch. Today, there are a number of restaurants in the neighborhood that have brunch menus. Gentrification has made a strong presence in Harlem, and this is visible through the transformation of Mexican fast food restaurants to fancy Italian/New American eateries. Watch out West Village, Harlem is making its way into New York City’s bustling brunch scene.

Categories: Brunch · Dine Time · Food · Restaurant