We fell in love with this little restaurant in Long Island City and thought you might too. Owner/chef Alex Schindler and his wife Lisa DiClerico opened the neighborhood restaurant LIC Market in 2010, focusing on fresh ingredients and natural wine. Born and raised in Queens, Alex worked in many restaurants, and was an Executive Chef for 10 years in places like Giorgione, 508 and Hotel Giraffe where he learned many styles of cooking before opening the doors of LIC Market.
Alex says he fell in love with natural wine 8 years ago when friends in the food and wine world introduced him to the concept. “Natural wine seems like the logical choice to accompany the food we’re cooking – it fits the same philosophy” says Alex. “Conventional wines can many times get in the way of food while natural wines are lively and fresh and work really well with food.” He also likes the conversation it brings to the dining experience and getting people to talk about the food and wine is exactly the experience he imagined. In the very beginning customers were only asking what was new and exciting on the food menu, and now they ask the same about the wine list, which has doubled in size since those first days. Alex says, “[People] know they won’t see the same wine here they see everywhere else.” Lisa adds: “this is one of our goals for both the food and wine – that they will always be outstanding and offer a variety of interesting and out-of-the-ordinary choices. This is what sets our restaurant apart.”
As far as food, they buy locally whenever possible, but also incorporate specialty products from all over the world to add some creativity. They focus on ingredients that can be cooked simply and stand on their own and believe the seasonal local food movement is not just a passing trend. People are much more aware of where their food is coming from and really appreciate this information as part of their dining experience.
Lisa has worked in the neighborhood since 2000 and really fell in love with the community which is full of artists, artisans and manufacturers. She found a genuine sincerity to the area which was gritty and industrial but for the right reasons – because it was being used for creative purposes. As they watched businesses move into the neighborhood they saw an opportunity to open a place where they would actually like to spend time. The response has been incredible. Lisa uses skills from her main profession, where she conserves and restores fine art objects and furniture at Lisa DiClerico studio (Lisadiclerico.com), her LIC based business to keep the space cozy and fresh. She designs and changes the restaurant interior personally, sometimes spicing up the walls with local art. This past Spring they added 18 extra seats to an outside space to maximize the restaurant but still maintain the intimate ambiance.
What’s your favorite part of the business? I asked Alex as we sat amongst happy locals on their lunch breaks. “I get to work with people from all over the world and get to know other people’s cultures and backgrounds. I have an opportunity to work with amazing ingredients and wines from all over the world and be creative with them every day.”