It was a chance introduction on my way to lunch in New York’s Noho that I came to visit Il Buco Vita (first and fifth pictures), a charming housewares store on Bond Street. My dining companion is a bit of a neighborhood ambassador – he’s friendly with shopkeepers, takes pleasure in acting the architectural tour-guide and above all, has splendid taste. So when he insisted that we visit this second-floor interiors shop with no sign, no awning and none of the typical retail trappings, I could only trust that I was in good hands.
I followed his lead up a long flight of stairs to an airy atelier full of Mediterranean tabletop treasures and paintings. This gem of a store, just two years old, has been lovingly curated by Donna Lennard – proprietress of Enoteca Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, just down the street – and her partners Lorenzo and Antonello Radi, whom she met near her home in rural Italy. Lennard’s restaurant is a chic hive of activity – drawing locals such as Chuck Close for homely Italian meals served on Umbrian earthenware. With the success of her restaurants came an increase in admirers of the rustic tableware and glasses that she used in them – and so the store was born. Here the space is filled with bright, natural light and simple farm tables are topped with piles of linens ($18-$175; napkins, $160 for a set of four), candlesticks ($85 each) and recycled glass vessels in amber and green ($425, second picture). Beautiful yet utilitarian wire baskets ($145-$195, third picture) sit on bare floors, while on the walls hang Antonello Radi’s colourful, oil paintings ($3,000-$2,500).
I was particularly taken by the selection of unique wooden cutting boards ($136-$275) – some created by contemporary artisans, some recycled – and I now have several for my own kitchen and some which will make great Christmas gifts. I also managed to stock up on hand-dipped beeswax candles ($23-$175, fourth picture) from Assisi as well as a spectacular Carrera marble mortar and pestle ($187). Equally tempting is a collection of Italian antiques from central and southern Italy: speckleware basins ($400-$1,200) from Puglia in a range of patterns and glazes; tiles ($125) that double as tasteful trivets; and 18th-century painted platters (from $600).
With word-of-mouth spreading fast about this wonderful shop, there has been some discussion of moving to a proper storefront – or at least one with more foot traffic. I, for one, hope Il Buco Vita remains in this hidden aerie – and retains its ever-enchanting charm.