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Russian Grandeur Coming to Former Greenwich Village Pizza Spot

By Andrea Swalec | August 9, 2011 6:43am

MANHATTAN — An over-the-top Russian restaurant inspired by a jaded literary character is moving into a former pizza place in Greenwich Village this fall.

Onegin restaurant, set to open inside 391 Avenue of the Americas, is a sister restaurant of Brooklyn cabaret Rasputin, which New York Magazine called "our very own Moscow on the Las Vegas Strip."

Yelp commenters say diners at the Brooklyn spot favor sequins, lots of diamonds, a fake tan and "anything Versace."

The new venture is inspired by the protagonist in the 19th century Alexander Pushkin novel "Eugene Onegin," who's described as "a jaded but dashing aristocrat — a man often lacking in empathy, who suffers from restlessness, melancholy and, finally, regret," the restaurant's promoters said.

To keep up with its highbrow literary forebear, the former Pizzeria Uno is currently undergoing renovations to reflect classic Russian opulence, operations manager Jacob Ryvkin said.

"The interior and ambience of Onegin will reflect the era of the empirical time," Ryvkin said.

The menu of the 112-seat restaurant will include pierogi, borscht, spice-rubbed quail, lobster mashed potatoes and puff pastry dish salmon kulebiaka, Ryvkin said. Onegin is not planning on offering takeout, and entrees will cost at least $20 each, Ryvkin said.

The space will feature an open kitchen and a traditional wood-burning Russian oven known as a pech, which Ryvkin said will be the only one of its kind in Manhattan. The restaurant plans to infuse its own vodkas in flavors including horseradish, honey pepper and cranberry. Onegin's liquor license is pending.

Though Onegin's Brooklyn sibling is known to be rowdy, the restaurant's owners have promised Community Board 2 that the new spot will be more reserved.

Community board support of Onegin's liquor license is conditional on its agreement not to seek a cabaret license, play recorded music only at "background levels" and close at 1 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends.

The restaurant plans to open in September or October.