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Sampling the New York Restaurant Where Russian Nhl Stars Find a Taste of Home

The restaurant is nestled in a quiet part of 20th Street in Manhattan. From the outside, it looks like an apartment. You could easily walk past the green-bordered windows and entrance with “Mari Vanna” written on a faded white curtain above it. But walk inside and you’re transported thousands of miles away and decades back in time. The menu, from the borscht to the cured herring, is cooked and served by Russian staff. It’s as authentic as NHL players have found in the States. So is the decor. There are old Russian books, lamps, dolls, gold-framed photos, tea cups and chessboards. The white tablecloths and floral china look like they’re from the 1970s under the dim light. Russian cartoons play from a flatscreen TV.

“It’s like your grandmother’s house,” says Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. “Like being back in Moscow.”

“You can dive back into your childhood,” Jets center Vladislav Namestnikov says.

“It’s having your home cuisine,” Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky says.

Mari Vanna also has a location in Washington, D.C., and two in Russia. It’s owned by the Ginza Project, which owns 70 restaurants in St. Petersburg and Moscow. This New York location, which opened around 15 years ago, has the personal touches of a hole-in-the-wall, family-owned spot. Namestnikov said “regulars,” at least before COVID-19, were given a key, with a Matryoshka doll attached, so they could get in on “off” nights or for private parties.

The head chef will come out and greet NHLers like Sergachev, Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy, giving them a hug. There are signed plates hanging on the wall of celebrities (like Sarah Jessica Parker), as well as their most high-profile hockey stars, from Kucherov to Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. On the November night Kaprizov brought Spurgeon and Middleton, there was a table full of Detroit Red Wings.

Source : The Atheitic