(Thompson Street between Houston & Bleecker Streets in the West Village)
I was pretty disappointed when I got to Rocco Restaurant this evening and found not the lovely, flickering sign I’d seen recently, but a nearly burnt out sign—the back was completely out and the green on the front was, too. I was sad not just because it’s always a little sad to see a neon sign in need of repair, but because I wanted to make a subtle neon animation inspired by the mostly fashion-related animated gifs of From Me to You. The awning was blowing about a little so I made it anyway (it’s pretty subtle), but I’m definitely going to experiment more with flashing & flickering signs.
But back to Rocco’s. Even though the sign uses single-stroke letters (usually not as appealing as outlined or filled letters unless it’s a script), I still love this sign—especially when the green part is lit. It’s on a great great red & white base with curves that put me in mind of a tiered wedding cake. Plus I’m pretty fond of signs that hang over the sidewalk. And while I enjoy the Kabuki-like black paint used to disguise tubes connecting letters, I’m also pretty fond of this style where the tubes dive in and out of the sign through tiny rabbit holes. Plus I like the stretched-out lettering in “Rocco” and the way the stems of U and R seem to combine to create a single outlined stem.
I’d seen this sign in the distance often when I worked in the neighborhood, but I’ve never been in, so tonight I got my friend Paul to join me for a classic red-sauce dinner. Clams Casino followed by pasta (tortellini bolognese for me, spaghetti carbonara for him) and tiramisu—a classic Italian dinner in a classic setting. The restaurant’s been around forever (well, since 1922) and I’m guessing hasn’t changed a whole lot. A warm glow & a pleasant chatter of conversation make this a cozy nook in the raucous Friday night West Village. The food was good if not great, but a totally great place to spend an evening. Here’s hoping the cost of our dinner will go toward repairing the classic sign of this classic red-sauce joint.
PS: Hey, welcome to the bazillions of new followers and subscribers! Don’t forget to visit the Project Neon Kickstarter page, where you can get cool rewards (membership cards, photo prints, and posters) for supporting my project to make a digital guidebook to New York’s best neon signs.