Here's a nice picture. A reader sent it to me asking if I knew anything about this Greenwich Village restaurant, which sat at the wedge-like space where Sixth Avenue meets W. 4th. (There's a Grey's Papaya there now.)
I did find something out about it. It opened in 1963 and was hailed by Craig Claiborne, the New York Times restaurant critic, as "an incredibly good idea...The restaurant is modeled after an Italian trattoria, and is a combination espresso shop and dining establishment with antipasto, pasta dishes and main courses." Imagine a New York foodie world in which that sort of thing would have been novel.
The place earned its name because it also sold Italian products from its shelves. Though Claiborne liked the "idea" of La Groceria, he was disappointed in the execution. The antipasto was "trite," the pasta "overcooked," the sauce "amateur." The espresso, however, was "excellent."
La Groceria was opened by Vito A. DiLucia, a restauranteur who seemed to favor theme joints. His other restaurants were O'Henry's Steak House and the English Pub. Formerly, he had been a travel agent. He died in 1970 at the age of 67.
La Groceria was still there in the mid-'80s. Not sure when it closed. But it wasn't there in 1988, when I hit town.