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International Health Food Cafe Opens on Mott Street

By Lisha Arino | June 30, 2014 12:28pm
 Two Hands opened on June 27, 2014 in Little Italy. The cafe offers caffeinated drinks, fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies, as well as salads and sandwiches.
Two Hands in Little Italy
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LITTLE ITALY — A cafe that just opened on Mott Street aims to bring healthy, locally sourced food to the neighborhood — just like the meals the owners used to have in their native country of Australia.

Two Hands, at 164 Mott St., offers fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies and coffee and later this week will debut a menu of premade seasonal sandwiches and salads inspired by owners Giles Russell's and Henry Roberts' childhood foods.

The 26-year-old buddies have worked in Lower Manhattan since moving from Australia two years ago, and got the idea for Two Hands after discovering that it was tough to find healthy lunch options in the area.

“We’re really just trying to simplify the game, [and] just make it easier for New Yorkers to access good food,” said Russell, who lives in Greenwich Village.

While the cafe won't have any uniquely Australian specialties, the spirit of the place is all about healthy food, which they say is in keeping with Australian food.

"The type of food we grew up with was just very simple, but also very healthy," Russell said, adding that he hopes to add menu items based on the cafe's location at the crossroads of Little Italy and Chinatown, including fresh cold pastas and Chinese-inspired salads.

“We’re really looking to take on a little bit of everything from the community," he said. "It’s a great area...a melting pot of really different people.”

The rotating lunch menu at the 700-square-foot cafe will launch with a seasonal veggie sandwich on seven-grain bread, as well as a prosciutto and fresh mozzarella sandwich with ingredients from Di Palo's Fine Foods at Grand and Mott streets.

Two Hands will also serve a Moroccan couscous salad, made with chickpeas and a chermoula sauce that consists of Moroccan spices; a beet salad with goat cheese, walnuts and arugula; and a lentil sweet potato salad with a black olive tapenade.

Sandwiches and salads will cost $5 to $10, while the juices will go for $5 and the smoothies for $8.

For breakfast, diners can try an acai bowl with granola and other "superfood" ingredients like hemp seed, coconut flakes and pecan nibs. The coffee is Nicaraguan, sourced from Cafe Integral on Grand Street.

Russell said he is looking forward to Two Hands becoming part of the community.

“At the end of the day, Henry and I just wanted to open the cafe just to be with people, to share food with people," Russell said, "but also conversation and good coffee."

Two Hands, located 164 Mott St., is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.