Mediterranean Mina’s Now Open As MoMA PS1’s New Cafeteria
It’s a tough act to follow the seven-year run of M. Wells Dinette, which closed as MoMA PS1’s cafeteria-in-residence last winter. But Mina Stone, who served as the chef for Urs Fischer’s studio for nearly a decade, and published a cook called Cooking For Artists during that time, seems uniquely suited to the task.
Stone’s new restaurant, located at the top of those wide concrete stairs just off PS1’s iconic courtyard, is called Mina’s, and it is bright and welcoming with a Mediterranean-inspired menu that’s kind of an homage to her Greek grandmother, Yiayia, from whom she learned just about everything. When we spoke with Stone in February about the venture, she noted, “I’m a home cook at heart… so it’s important to me that my food always reflects that.”
I dropped by for a press lunch over the weekend to try some of her dishes, though there’s still plenty more I’m excited about ordering in the future. And it’s worth noting you can go eat at Mina’s at any time, without paying for admission to the museum, for a meal, or a snack, and be on your way.
Mina’s menu changes daily, and I dined from the weekend slate of offerings, which had more of a brunch focus. The most obvious go-to whenever you go, however, is the spectacular Peinirli, a seedy, crisp, and doughy pizza-like boat that features chewy melted feta and a runny egg. The whole thing is given some extra zip with fresh dill and red chili flakes.
Also deeply satisfying was the selection of Greek Mezzethaki, which comes with more terrific bread (the baking is consistently outstanding). My companion and I made quick work of four selections, a tart Whipped Feta with sesame seeds, an even-more-tart array of Quick Pickled Radishes and Carrots, White Anchovies laid flat in a puddle of oil, and some sprightly Muhammara, the classic Syrian red pepper and walnut dip.
Other treats from the feast included a soft and sloppy slab of Tahini Babka French Toast, slathered with maple yogurt and fruit compote, and a wonderfully sticky Buttermilk Cardamon Loaf filled with blueberries and honey. Even the most basic-sounding salad held flavor surprises, a pile of raw Bittergreens punctuated by pecans, mint leaves, and a tangy buttermilk dressing. On weekdays you might find even heartier fare like Braised Chicken with cinnamon and clove, a Roast Beef Sandwich with horseradish, or a platter of Orzo with pine nuts, lemon zest, and parmesan.
Stone was given the same room that held M. Wells Dinette, but she’s definitely made it her own. “A little Miami beach, a little Greek island, and a little New York,” is how she described it to use earlier this year. Gone is the open kitchen, and broad banks of twinkling tiles and oversized mirrors now surround the ordering counter. A pastel banquette runs along the windowed wall, as does a thin band of lavender neon light. There’s an expansive booth in the back, an additional row of tables, and a counter for when it gets crowded and you just want to sip some coffee or knock back a shot of ouzo. The overall vibe is warm, comfortable, convivial.
Mina’s is located within MoMA PS1, at 22-25 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, and is open Thursday through Monday from noon to 6 p.m. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Museum admission is NOT required to eat here (718-440-4616; minas.nyc)
Programming note: If you go soon, we recommend PS1’s excellent, often harrowing winter exhibition, Theater of Operations, which fills the entire museum with paintings, sculptural work, installations, and videos that have emerged from the Iraq War.