While not virtually extinct like, say, travel agencies and video rentals, independent bookstores have become a rare breed, thanks to competition with Barnes & Noble (not doing so well itself) and Amazon. Which is why, even though Brooklyn’s indie bookstore scene is relatively healthy, when something like Archestratus come along, we feel duty-bound to support them, especially when they’re laser-focused on food—our own particular, overriding obsession.
Like a pocket-sized version of Kitchen Arts & Letters, the Greenpoint newcomer is a shrine to culinary tomes, like hot-off-the-presses, restaurant-driven releases, like Yotam Ottolenghi’s NOPI; top-selling chef memoirs, such as Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Bones & Butter; and there’s even an entire shelf dedicated to MFK Fisher, one of the world’s most formative food writers. But more notably, Archetratus is a treasure trove of esoteric, frequently out-of-print manuscripts, like Hershey’s 1934 Cookbook and Are You Hungry Tonight? Elvis’ Favorite Recipes, as well as a collection of spiral bound, community-sourced cookery books, at $6 a pop. There’s even a separate kids section, most recently Halloween-themed, lined with vividly illustrated copies of I Want to Eat Your Books and Bone Soup.
But owner Paige Lipari (who previously worked as a buyer for McNally Jackson, Housing Works, and yes, Barnes & Noble), is wise not to rely too heavily on sales of The Erotic Baker—despite its titillating chapters on “Salacious Salads and “Lascivious Legumes.” Which is why she’s transformed the back of her shop into an adorable café — complete with a full wine and beer license — that will eventually host book clubs, dinner parties and other, ticketed events. You’ll also find handmade sweet and savory pastries, inspired by Lipari’s Sicilian grandmother (the chocolate-filled pistachio lace cookies are well worth a dedicated visit), which you can nosh while thumbing through recent issues of Cherry Bombe—an infinitely classier combo than M&M® Blondies and copies of US Weekly at the local B&N.