At first glance, Primo’s is an oxymoron: an inexplicably sexy space modeled on… a 1950s diner? On one hand, there’s glass-block partitions, chrome-edge tables and doo-wop music. But swap the black-and-white checkerboard floor for soft-gray terrazzo triangles, the soda-fountain counter for a liquor-stocked bar and the squeaky plastic booths for jewel-tone velvet banquettes, and you have the most downright sensual “diner” we’ve ever seen. Most importantly, change the patty-flipping menu for something you would find at an upscale lounge in Europe—for example, instead of getting a lukewarm coffee in a ceramic mug, you’ll be presented with a chilled, indulgently rich $22 espresso martini (served alongside a mini pitcher set on ice for an extra serving). In place of a typical diner’s watery orange juice is a sweet turmeric-honey vodka highball with flavor notes that are similar to freshly blended carrot juice.
Tribeca’s usual crowd of tony, baby-toting couples was nonexistent on a recent Tuesday night. Instead, by 10pm, the scene is akin to something out of Bushwick or Soho; hipster friends sporting chopped, bleach-blond cuts à la Hailey and Justin and fashion-forward dates dressed in oversize normcore occupy the booths to sip Negronis and martinis rather than milkshakes and floats.
But what could easily turn into downtown snobbery and pomp doesn’t quite get there. The plush ambience and high prices might seem contrived, but it’s hard to chalk it up to elitism when you’re ordering from servers dressed in ‘50s-style, red Harrington jackets. Greasy spoon, meet silver spoon.
129 Chambers St
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