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Jan 7, 2007 01:41 PM

Max SoHa?

Dear Hounds--

Anyone have anything to say about Max SoHa on 123rd and Amsterdam? Went to the cafe last night and enjoyed a few drinks and a good panini. I resisted the place for a long time out of sheer repugnance for the name: "SoHa," an absurd coinage for "South Harlem" (itself an oxymoron),
formed in analogy to "SoHo," brought to us by developers, perpetuated by real estate agents, and enjoyed by Columbia students who really ought to know better by now. 'Twould have been more honest to dub the place "ByCo" for "by Columbia," but I digress into matters nomenclatural. In any case, my misgivings about the name notwithstanding, the evening was so pleasant that I am now curious about the restaurant. Thoughts?

Thanks in advance.


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  1. Max Soha is so named to distinguish it from the original Max, which is in the E Vill. I have been to Max (though a while ago now) and enjoyed it. I haven't been to Max Soha, but it is often recommended as a place to go in the Columbia/Morningside Heights area.

    1. Yes, the name makes me cringe too, but fwiw, I think the name predates the fullblown nasty development real estate stuff going on these days. And they don't even deliver East of Morningside Park. So I like your name--I think I'll call it Max ByCo from now on.

      The menu is the same as the EV location, with a limited number of options, but all of them solid. They also serve a delightful tomato/citrusy/olive sauce with bread. I adore that stuff. Pastas are tasty, perfectly al dente, with rich, lovely sauces. They also have specials, which are generally quite good. It's a pretty small space, which can get pretty loud, and they have outdoor seating in the summertime (and, for all I know, may have outdoor seating in freaky 70 degree NYC January). Wine selection is eh. Cash only.

      1. I think it has gone downhill in the last couple of years. When it opened (about 8 years ago?) it was a refreshing change for a stretch of Amsterdam that was best classified as a dead food zone (anyone remember that awful AmCaf) and I used to visit often. Then, about four years ago, that cute hostess who used to kiss me on both cheeks disappeared (the food always tastes better when you are kissed on both cheeks!), I moved from Amsterdam to Broadway (which is like moving across the country), and the visits got fewer and far between. Was there a couple of weeks ago, for lunch rather than dinner, and couldn't help noticing that the restaurant was rather tatty. The food (I had a lobster pasta special) was ok - the "diablo" was not as fiery as it used to be. The only reason to keep going is that the winelist has some really good sicilian and tuscan wines at prices that are hard to beat.

        As with every other restaurant in Morningside Heights, I wish they would change their darned menu. Eight years of the same choices can get pretty tiresome.

        1. The Max's in the East Village was pretty bad last time I went (about a month ago). The "service" was practically non-existent, although not specifically rude or attitude-y when I repeatedly got out of my seat to flag them down. And my lasagna was gummy and pretty bad overall where previously this had been a standout dish.
          I used to eat there fairly often but never again.
          Again, this is the E. Village loaction, but I just thought I'd put it out there.

          1. Dear Hounds--

            Many thanks for the feedback. Have actually been a couple of times by now. 'Tis a a good neighborhood place--i.e., I'm glad it's in the vicinity, but I probably wouldn't go out of my way to eat there. They had a good Malbec by the glass, and the lasagna was good comfort food during that horrid cold spell.

            Glad the "ByCo" tag is catching on. "SoHa" makes me wince every time.



            2 Replies
            1. re: Tristram

              They also have a wonderful black linguine with spicy tomato sauce and shrimps. (Name escapes me right now.... pasta marinaia, I think.) I love it so much I can never bring myself to order other dishes. My boyfriend seems to have a similar relationship with their carbonara.

              1. re: philoclea

                Yes, the black squid ink linguini was very good, but I went there a few years ago...has there been a big change since?