The first of a promised horde of invading outlets from the Korea-based chain, the new Red Mango on Bleecker Street is not only now serving first-rate frozen yogurt—as good, or better, than its obvious (and copycatting?) rival Pinkberry—but is doing so in a surprisingly comfortable, unsurprising designy setting, with a definite coffee-house, lounge-all-you-like atmosphere.
The place was pretty empty when I stopped in yesterday, but it was mid-afternoon on a weekday, so maybe it gets as unpleasantly hectic as Pinkberry can during peak hours. Either way, this is a large, well-considered space—a fair number of seating options, plus plenty of standing room while you order, plus an alluring-come-spring outdoor patio in the back—that seems suited to handle a crowd.
Most important, Red Mango's fro-yo is terrific, with that deep tang we've come to demand since Pinkberry came to town last year. I sampled the Green Tea, and it was good, but ordered a small Original with two toppings, chewy, sour dried cranberries and intense Ghirardelli dark chocolate mini-chips. I could have gone for the Bear Naked granola, or the fresh raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries, or even the Captain Crunch, or graham crackers, but I didn't. I admit that, as I watched my exceptionally (but not irritatingly) friendly server construct my treat, I was thinking she was a tad stingy with the toppings, but I needn't have worried: every bite had plenty of everything, and I gleefully devoured my dessert in about 90 seconds. Next time I'm trying a Blender: yogurt plus toppings in a smoothie format.
Red Mango is located on Bleecker Street between MacDougal and Sullivan. Coming soon, supposedly: 14th Street and Sixth Avenue; Eighth Avenue and 45th Street.