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Currently Crushing On: Galli Restaurant

Warm interiors with a low-key glamour make the Lower East Side space our new favorite hangout

The interior of Galli restaurant on New York's Lower East Side.
The interior of Galli restaurant on New York's Lower East Side.
Photographed by Genevieve Garruppo


Remember this name: Karen Gallo. The New York–based footwear and accessories designer made a splash this year with her debut collection of leather and calfskin cross-body bags, sleek backpacks, and boots, winning her some mega A-list fans (hello, Beyoncé!). But what really impresses us is her easy, playful way with interiors, as demonstrated in the new restaurant she co-owns with her chef husband, Steven Gallo, and their business partner, Michael Forrest. Open for barely two months, Galli—the Lower East Side outpost of their first location in SoHo—was the site of the Lonny staff’s  holiday lunch last week.

Currently Crushing On: Galli Restaurant

The mood of the space is confident and expressive, a design statement in a neighborhood with an “urban and masculine feel,” in Karen’s words. “I want people walking through the Lower East Side to stop in front of our windows and look inside,” she says. For immediate impact, she started with a black-and-white color scheme—“a design staple for me in whatever project I work on”—and added lively and sophisticated hits of green throughout, along with subtle yet effective metallic accents. Rustic farm tables that can be combined for communal seating look even more welcoming surrounded by the classic round tables and café chairs elsewhere in the room.

Currently Crushing On: Galli Restaurant

Juxtaposition plays a big role in Karen’s work. “I always base my designs on contrast—I love a sporty and classic shoe, bag, and interior, and I make sure each has a touch of understated elegance,” she says. Her inspirations embody this aesthetic philosophy. “I like men and women who are confident but discreet, strong but simple and easy. Johnny Depp and Phoebe Philo are two perfect examples that come to mind.”

Currently Crushing On: Galli Restaurant

The marble-topped bar is clearly the centerpiece of the interior. Backed by vintage mirrors and shelving with gold details, and complemented by white subway tile and dark wood flooring, the entire area emits a burnished glow. “It’s a strong focal point that still has a soft and inviting quality,” says Karen.

Wallpaper is another standout element in the space. Karen sourced the bold botanical paper from a vendor who salvaged vintage stock in the ‘80s and ‘90s from Deco-era homes around Miami. “I loved it so much that I bought all the stock,” she remembers. Even though it didn’t work for the original Galli restaurant, she saved it and found a perfect fit in the Lower East Side location. As for the quirky illustrations in the bathrooms, they’re an affectionate nod to the couple’s inner circle. “I sketched some of our best friends during late-night parties at Galli, and then worked with a company called Design Tech to execute the look,” Karen explains.

Currently Crushing On: Galli Restaurant
Currently Crushing On: Galli Restaurant

The food? Hearty, satisfying Italian fare with a surprisingly delicate touch—think kale Caesar salad, rigatoni pasta with eggplant and ricotta salata, and baby rice balls that the Lonny team devoured almost instantaneously. And the floral-patterned serving plates are old-school in the most nostalgic of ways.

Currently Crushing On: Galli Restaurant
5 THINGS WE LOVE ABOUT THIS RESTAURANT
  • THE PALETTE

    Black, white, and green is timeless yet fresh, and here it's enhanced with hits of gold and brass that reference a worldly lair. The rich mix of materials—wood, marble, tile, metallics—create depth and textural interest throughout.

  • THE PLANT LIFE

    From the potted topiaries on the sidewalk to the lush planters spilling over above the bar, there's no denying the impact that greenery brings to a commercial space.

  • THE VINTAGE DETAILS

    From the eye-catching botanical wallpaper (which evokes house parties hosted by society ladies in floor-length dresses) to the sweetly patterned servingware, a few judicious retro elements add history and soul to any interior.

  • THE LIGHTING

    Who doesn't want to look glamorous in a restaurant? The combination of sconces, pendant lamps, and chandeliers set the room aglow.

  • THE INSIDE JOKE

    Judging by the custom wallpaper in the powder room composed of Karen's sketches of her friends, this couple knows how to throw a good party.

Next on the agenda for Karen: a men’s sneaker collection (which, if it’s anything like her ‘90s hip-hop–inspired pool slides, will be highly in demand in our household), as well as another interiors project that was offered to her shortly after the restaurant opened. “I really hope to one day have my own interior design company,” she says. We’ll be waiting.

Currently Crushing On: Galli Restaurant
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