Executive summary and spoiler alert for those who would rather not read a blow-by-blow of six month’s worth of commentary (as well as a warning that at much of this installment involves my home town of New York City to which we have returned):
What started as a six month cruise around the world from Los Angeles to New York by way of Hawaii, Australia, Asia and Africa, devolved into an about-face through the Panama Canal and an ever-changing romp around European the way back to the US.
We came aboard prepared with completed visa applications for Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar only to find out that they were scrap paper when we turned and ran. We filled out and filed various COVID and entry forms, on-line and on paper – some with fees, only to find out that no one in Bermuda, Malta, Italy, Spain, Israel and elsewhere paid the slightest interest in our copious and carefully prepared QR-Code emblazoned paperwork.
After fighting off a significant COVID outbreak, strict adherence to spacing and masking guidelines kept the disease at bay for a period of months until the cruise line made these optional and the spread of COVID aboard the ship became significant – and the lower the level of restriction, the wider the spread of the infection. We ended the cruise being in the small minority of the around-the-world passengers who did not contract COVID during the trip.
Overall, regardless of the major itinerary changes, we are happy we took the cruise, rather than stay home. We will all have to adjust to COVID and I believe, after the deployment of the next wave of mRNA boosters in the fall of 2022 – hopefully, multi-valent, the “new normal” will resemble the old normal.
When taking a cruise of this length, it is important to realize that the long-term passengers are not normal. Imagine asking a hundred people chosen on the street, at random, if spending six months cooped up in small cabin on a cruise ship is “normal”. Of course not. To do this, you need the time, means and desire to do so. You need to be willing to leave your family, friends, pets and your familiar neighborhood for half a year. Some do it for the “adventure” (generally, there isn’t nearly as much as traveling on one’s own) and some for the comradery of their friends who travel, year after year, in parallel. So, understanding that everyone has a different back-story, there are a higher percentage of people with quirky personalities than in the general population and, as a fellow traveler, one has to be understanding of this.
We are on the final leg of our journey and we have had a string of four days, (significantly) bouncing across the rough North Atlantic in a (relatively) small cruise ship before our next landfall at St. John’s, Labrador. There are 40 knot (45mph) winds and 12-18 foot (4-6 meter) seas, barf bags are being strategically located at the elevators and dishes are occasionally heard to be smashing on the buffet deck during breakfast. According to his wife, a friend of ours, who has been assigned the fore-most cabin for his COVID isolation, has added seasickness to his of maladies.
After our touching Canada (on Canada Day), we have another couple of sea days before docking in NYC. I’ve created a schedule of chores including emails, phone calls, getting our stored empty luggage pieces back, transportation home and so on. Our call at St. Johns has allowed me to take care of telephone calls starting our internet connection back up, restarting the billing of our electric service and adding collision insurance back on our car. There are still over 30 tasks which need to be addressed when he get home.
Today I had to choose between a one hour course in how to photograph a potato or a bridge lesson. It was a close contest ?.
Sooner or later (later is preferred) we’ll have to start packing.
OK, OK. We started looking at how to reassemble our re-filling our luggage. This was complicated by some useful gifts the cruise line gave us (a pair of nice “breathable” all-weather jackets, a backpack, hats, shirts, etc., as well as the fairly small number of items we had purchased – a can of duck confit, a kilogram of Dutch coffee candies, some spices from Istanbul a (forgotten until found) bird’s head mask from Guatemala, a number of shirts and sweaters and so on. The good news is that we will be taking our luggage home with us by van.
I am heartened by my already doing the tasks which could be done in advance (like turning on our internet at home, our electric as well and placing full auto insurance on our car. I am disheartened by my find out that one of my car’s tires is flat, challenged by my car’s inspection lapsing in March, but having to drive 50-100 miles after re-connecting my car’s battery before its lobotomized battery will revive to the point that it can pass a new inspection. And I am not looking forward to the dozens of other emergency tasks that have to be addressed immediately when we return (paying deferred taxes, buying food, banking, etc., etc.
As we enter New York Harbor and pass the Statue of Liberty at 6am on the 4th of July, I am reminded of the differences between our country and those we have seen over the past six months. I am also made dramatically aware that the new World Trade Center tower is not a substitute for the missing “two front teeth: of my harbor view.
Our Fourth of July was spent escorting three of the other couple of our ship on one of the walking tours of Manhattan found below.
St. John’s, Newfoundland
This is one of those places that sends sophisticated R/C wrist watches into conniptions as it is a 30 minute offset time zone. The weather is as weird as the time, with a warmish area hovering over the city and chilled fog (around 20 degrees cooler) outside the immediate harbor area.
We are visiting on “Canada Day” (July 1st), which means that there is a military parade (complete with bagpipes as the major ethnic demographic here is of Irish ancestry) up to the Anglican Cathedral for a mass and then back again. The Irish arrived here during the 17th and 18th Century, first as summer workers for fish merchants, then as permanent settlers.
There are a limited number of rental cars and accommodations available in Newfoundland. Book things that will really make or break your trip ahead of time, especially if you go during the summer.
Drive carefully, especially at night, because moose regularly cross the main roads. If you think it’s unpleasant to hit a tiny bird with your car, imagine a moose.
This 500-year-old city is one of the oldest in the “New World,” and is the easterly most city in North America. The town is quite walkable and drivable, with lots of local store shopping and restaurants in an historical setting.
For a city of 100,000, St. John’s has a nice street. Downtown St. John’s, along Water Street, is known for its striking clapboard Row houses, in vibrant reds, yellows, blues and pinks. There was a significant fire during the end of the 19th Century which reached the location of the Yellowbelly Brewery. The remaining buildings on one side of the building have peaked roofs, but the hurriedly built buildings which replaced those which were burned have flat roofs.
Water Street is also lined with some interesting stores including “We Are Chocolate” which are purveyors of wonderful (what else?) chocolate. Nonia is a non-profit which sells high-quality hand-knitted wool sweaters (at somewhat higher prices than we saw in Ireland at about $220 Canadian Dollars).
It’s about a half hour (or more if you don’t walk briskly) – or a bus ride - to the views of the city from atop Signal Hill. This has been an important site for the military and maritime signaling. The iconic Cabot Tower, dates back to 1898 and is the site where Guglielmo Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic wireless message in 1901.
The Rooms (opens at noon, free admission) are a public cultural space boasts breathtaking harbor and city views, and houses the province’s most extensive collection of artifacts, art, and archival records. You’ll find an extensive collection of natural history specimens (think birds, polar bears and even carnivorous plants), and artifacts that play an important role in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history.
It’s only a short walk to tiny Quidi Vidi Village, an historic fishing village. Quidi Vidi Village Plantation is a crafter’s incubation facility, designed to help emerging artists grow their businesses. Quidi Vidi Brewery sells iceberg beer, which really is made with water sourced form icebergs.
Merchant Tavern is a nod to a time period of hundreds of years ago, highlighting local ingredients and traditional eats. Try the fish and chips; cod tongues (get small ones as the larger ones can be tough), pan roasted cod; fresh pasta; and raw bar selections.
Rocket Bakery has great coffee, baked goods, full breakfast, and soup/salad/sandwiches for lunch.
Witless Bay & Bay Bulls, a half-hour’s drive south of St John’s, is the summer home of 2.5 million seabirds and the largest Atlantic puffin colony in North America. It’s also a whale watching site and in the spring, you could even see a few icebergs! Check it out on your own, or book a puffin and whale watching tour (whales are around between May and September).
Walking, Bus, Subway tour of Brooklyn (NYC Tour 1)
NYC Subway Map: http://www.mta.info/nyct/maps/subwaymap.pdf
Brooklyn Bus Map: http://www.mta.info/nyct/maps/busbkln.pdf
Pick up a 7 day Metro Card at the beginning of your trip. If you are only staying a couple of days, it is probably cost effective to put $10 or $20 on a Metro Card (you get a bonus either way) and keep refilling it at the vending machines in the stations on an “as-needed” basis. These are available at all subway stations either at change booths (cash only) or in vending machines which take cash and credit/debit cards These will give access to all the public busses and subway systems The one week cards cannot be used again at the same subway station or the same bus route for at least 18 minutes. The pre-loaded cards will give you a free transfer from the subway to a bus within two hours of first use.
Be aware that there are Chinese, Arabic and Pizza lunches pointed out (as well as a couple of desert places), so you’ll either have to be selective, and eat small portions in each or gorge yourself throughout the day.
This is going to be very abbreviated because Brooklyn is huge (and as a standalone city would be the fourth largest in the US)
Take the DOWNTOWN A or C train from 8th Ave and 14th Street near Meat Packing district to Chamber Street
Walk east down Chamber St. through the Tribeca neighborhood to City Hall (where the Mayor has his office). The court houses that you pass as you continue walking past Broadway were banks until they were wiped out during the stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent bank closures through 1931. The huge building with the gold statue on top directly ahead of you is the NYC Municipal Building and houses administrative offices. The modern building that you can see through the archway in the Municipal Building is the New York Police Department headquarters.
At the end of Chamber Street, as you make a right turn around the back of City Hall, ask a cop (there will be no shortage of them around there – if you cannot find one, the entrance is directly across the street “Park Row”) where the pedestrian entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge is. Walk across the bridge (a little under two kilometers) and make sure you have film in your camera – the walk will take about half an hour. Remember to look at the views of Manhattan over your shoulder (It is actually nicer to walk the bridge towards Manhattan, but I figured you would be too tired in the afternoon).
- Take the first exit off the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian walkway. Note: There are two pedestrian exits when walking across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn. The first exit is the most direct route to DUMBO.
Take the path off the pedestrian walkway that bears to the left and slightly downhill as you face Brooklyn.
Follow the path to a small stairway . Go down the stairs to an underpass on Washington Street. The Washington Street underpass is about two blocks from Front Street in the heart of DUMBO.
Turn left and head down hill, toward the East River and Manhattan skyline. When you cross under the highway overhead, you will see the industrial buildings, shops and restaurants of DUMBO.
- Look at the walking directions here: https://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF-8&gl=us&daddr=Du…
Notice Jacques Torres Chocolate Shop on Water Street to the left of the “B”. This is a world class place and a great place to stop for a hot (or frozen) chocolate and a piece of dark chocolate/almond bark. Across the street is a decent French bakery named Almondine which makes pretty good almond/chocolate croissants and cappuccino (the chocolate place is a better choice, but you might stop here anyway for its clean toilet). Continue down Water Street past the Chocolate shop, passing some ugly warehouses until you see a passageway to the right. This will take you to some of the most fantastic views of Manhattan. There is an antique carousel there if you are feeling like a kid again. Walk to the water and make a right walking under the Brooklyn Bridge and you’ll find a small beach on the river.
Walking in the other direction will take you past the “River Café” (owned by the same people as the “Water Club” in Manhattan and famous for the view and small/expensive portions like their sibling). There is a good ice cream shop in the old ferry building just past the restaurant (but you may want to hold off as the deserts will be better latter on). Continue to walk along the shore (passing a Water Taxi terminal where you can take a boat back to Manhattan) and into “Brooklyn Bridge Park. This is a brand new (still under construction) park which features a pool, canoeing, fishing and other cool stuff. Up above you is an historical neighborhood (Brooklyn Heights) which would be worthwhile walking through next time you are in the neighborhood.
After you’ve had your fill of the park, backtrack to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and make a right up Cadman Plaza. You will pass a fairly famous pizza place named Grimaldi’s on your left. If it is empty, you can try their pizza, but if there is a line, just pass it by as there will be another chance at a great pizza (maybe better than here ?) latter on. Since it is a fairly long (partly uphill) walk, I’d recommend jumping on the B25 bus at the bus stop between Everit St. and Elizabeth St. Tell the driver that you want to transfer to the B41 bus towards Flatbush Avenue and he’ll let you off about five minutes later at Tillary Street (and hopefully point you towards the proper bus stop). While taking the subway would be faster, the bus ride might be more interesting.
Take the B41 bus to “Grand Army Plaza”. This is Brooklyn’s competitor to the Arc de Triumph and the large boulevards radiating from the plaza were going to be its Champs Elyse according to the original plan (derailed when Brooklyn joined NYC in 1900).
The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch, a Civil War memorial designed by
John H. Duncan with sculptures by Frederick MacMonnies, stands at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. The arch was built between 1889-92, commemorating Union forces that died in the Civil War. MacMonnies’s huge quadriga sculpture on top was installed in 1898, and the two groups on the south pedestals representing the Army and Navy were added in 1901. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on the arrival of the sculpture in this article: “Quadriga is here” (August 15, 1898).
The Grand Army of the Republic was a private veterans’ association of former Union soldiers and sailors, founded in 1866. The organization disbanded in 1956, after the death of the last surviving Civil War veteran.
Touching the south side of the plaza are Prospect Park (designed by the same team who had previously built Manhattan’s Central Park, but improved on the design here), a large botanic garden with arguably the best Japanese garden in the US and the Brooklyn Museum, a world class institution – mainly art and anthropology. The large building in front of the arch is the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. The entranceway to Prospect Park is directly across from the Arch and taking a couple of minutes to walk inside might be fun.
OK, back to work. Walk back up Flatbush Avenue in the direction you came down, past the fountain and across Sterling Place (important to cross this street so you do not take the wrong subway). The station you are looking for is going to have indication signage for the “B” and “Q” trains and will be at the intersection of Carlton Avenue, 7th Avenue and Flatbush Avenue. Go to the platform heading “Downtown” or Towards Brighton Beach/Coney Island (opposite direction from Manhattan). Take whichever train comes first (the “B” is the express, but there will only be a few minutes difference, at worst, if you catch the “Q”. Take the train all the way to the Brighton Beach stop (as a reminder, it is the stop after Sheepshead Bay and will be about 15-20 minute ride).
Walk down the station steps. You want to be on the north-west corner of the rather large intersection (diagonally across from the large Chase bank branch (and more or less in front of a Walgreen’s pharmacy (Has a big red sign). You should walk towards Brighton 7th Street (if you see Coney Island Avenue, you’re heading in the wrong direction).
Keep walking (total distance will be about 1/2km) and keep your eyes open. Most people will be speaking Russian, the signage in the stores will be Russian and the food in the supermarkets (walk into a couple and browse around) will be Russian. Walk until you get to a very broad street named Ocean Parkway (this actually extends as far as Prospect Park and was part of Brooklyn’s original “grand plan”).
Do not cross Ocean Parkway, but instead, cross Brighton Beach Avenue by making a left and walking along Ocean Parkway. A couple of blocks further, you will see a ramp/stairs up to the Boardwalk which runs along the more than 5km of beach which makes up Brighton Beach and Coney Island Beach (actually one seamless beach). Make a right turn and take a walk along the Boardwalk. While the weather will likely be cool in October, visualize a million bodies on the beach on a hot summer weekend day. Ahead of you will be the Parachute Drop tower. When I was a kid, this was an amusement park ride (moved here from the 1939 NYC World’s Fair) which would drop people sitting on parachute supported seats. It shut down in the 1960’s I think, but has been refurbished as an iconic symbol.
There is a minor league baseball stadium next to it and, with the exception of the pretty cool “Wonder Wheel” (a Ferris wheel designed to have some of the cars swing out on rails as it turns), all of the rides are pretty lame now as the old (supreme) amusement parks all closed or burned decades ago. There’s a very good aquarium here as well.
There is a long pier, used by people fishing for fun, named Steeplechase Pier (Steeplechase was the name of one of the legacy amusement parks in the “old days”) as well. There is a famous hotdog stand a block inland from the named Nathan’s (dates from the early 1900’s and is the flagship of a chain of them), but I think we can do a bit better for lunch than a sausage. We are going to walk past the NY Aquarium (worth seeing on the next trip – better in the summer when they bring out the dolphins, but we have still got a lot of ground to cover) all the way to just past the Wonder Wheel and we’ll make a right at Stillwell Avenue.
About a block from the Boardwalk, across the street from Nathan’s, we’ll find the Coney Island subway station (actually elevated above ground). Also, if it is still running in October (It is closed for the winter), to your right is the “Cyclone” one of the old time wooden roller coasters – and certainly worthy of a ride.
Be aware that this is not the greatest neighborhood in the city so it important to keep aware of the people around you – but we are only walking a few blocks.
Now’s when we’ll have that great pizza (or at least very good and pretty convenient). We will walk past the left hand side of the station crossing Mermaid Avenue to the next street – Neptune Avenue (not crossing it) and make a left turn. A block and a half later, on the left, at 1524 Neptune Avenue is a place called Totonno’s which looks like a bit of a dive, but makes good pizza.
Now walk back to the nearby train station you passed when you walked from the boardwalk.
There are a lot of different trains which congregate here, so we have to be careful to take the “N” train (towards Manhattan – no choice as it is the end of the line).
Now we are going to see how the patchwork of neighborhoods can make small distance seem worlds apart in Brooklyn.
Take the train to the 8th Avenue station (in Brooklyn – the stop after Fort Hamilton Parkway and about a fifteen minute ride). Walk down 8th avenue in the direction where the cross street numbers decrease (north). You will find yourself in a neighborhood (Sunset Park) which, other than architectural details, is similar to what you might expect in Hong Kong or China. If you are in the mood for good dim sum (or ordering off of a menu), there is a good restaurant named Pacificana on the second floor of a building located at 813 55th Street (corner of 8th Avenue and a few blocks from the station).
If you feel like trying something else for lunch instead, head back to the subway station and continue on the Manhattan bound train one more stop to 59th Street. Now, cross to the opposite platform and take the “R” AWAY from Manhattan (towards 95th street) for two stops to 77th Street. You will come up above ground on 4th Avenue. Ask someone which direction is 3rd Avenue and walk to 7523 3rd Avenue (corner of 75th Street) to a Middle Eastern (technically Palestinian) restaurant named Tanoreen. My recommendation is to order a number of appetizers rather than main courses (what is known as a mezza). I can recommend most of them (but not their falafel which for some reason they tend to ruin). Make a point to try their muhammara – a roasted red pepper and walnut paste. Rather than have desert there, cross 3rd Avenue and walk back to 7612 3rd Avenue to the Omonia Café – a very good Greek pastry shop and order one of their deserts (and maybe a Greek coffee – same as Turkish coffee, but do not call it Turkish in this establishment).
Another option is to take the train three stops (instead of two) and get off at 86th Street (and 4th Avenue). There is a local high fashion discount department store here named Century 21 (closed during the COVID crisis, so check if re-opened), but we are heading to 8221 3rd Avenue (between 83rd and 82nd Streets) to Le Sajj, NYC’s best Lebanese restaurant (closed Mondays). This reasonably priced restaurant will make you feel like you’re in Beirut. All their food is great, but they have a couple of salad platters for two which are worth trying. Incidentally the Bay Root grocery store is a couple of blocks further up the street?.
After you finish eating, at Tanoreen, cross 3rd avenue and continue walking past 4th Avenue to 5th Avenue (or simply walk a few blocks further up 5th Avenue, towards lower numbered streets, from Le Sajj). For a few blocks in either direction on 5th Avenue, you will find dozens of Arabic (mainly Lebanese and Syrian) grocery stores, jewelers, restaurants and a couple of good French pastry shops and so on. Though we are not going to go quite that far, once you cross 65th Street, 5th Avenue becomes almost entirely Hispanic (with an emphasis on Mexican) if you feel like some pretty authentic Mexican food.
Now we’ll walk back to 77th or 86th Street and 4th Avenue and duck back into the subway. We’ll take the “R” train UPTOWN (towards Manhattan) to 36th Street (5 or 6 short stops) and change to the “D” train heading back towards Coney Island (DOWNTOWN, so means changing platforms again). Take the “D” train four stops to 55 Street. You will be on 13th Avenue in the neighborhood of Borough Park.
Walk a few blocks up 13th Avenue through one of NYC’s Hassidic Jewish communities. While there are a few others which are somewhat more “intense” the point to this exercise is that, with the exception of the Russian neighborhood, all of the ethnic communities we are visiting are within a circle of about three kilometers. Walk into one of the bakeries (Weiss, for example, at 13th Avenue and 50th street) and ask for “a quarter pound of cheese ruggelukh” (phonetic, rather than usual spelling) and you’ll end up with a handful of very tasty small (and relatively unique) pastries.
Our last food/neighborhood stop. Get back on the same direction that you were heading (“D” train towards Coney Island) and head another two stops to the 71st Street station. We are heading to the corner of 70th Street and 18th Avenue (you will get out of the train somewhere between 15th and 16th Avenues, so it is a couple of block walk. This neighborhood is Bensonhurst (which was featured in the movie Saturday Night Fever).
We are heading to the Villabate Alba southern (Sicilian and Neapolitan) Italian pastry shop (at 7001 18th Avenue) that is nothing short of extraordinary (the famous Ferrara’s pastry shop on Grand Street in Little Italy only wishes their pastries were as good as in this shop). This is a neighborhood place where you have to take a number and wait on line. While the cannoli’s are filled while you wait, this is the place to get gelato and Italian ices better than you can imagine (and the reason that I told you to wait for when we passed by the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory a million hours ago). They also have good espresso/cappuccino. Walking a couple of blocks up 18th Avenue (I think between 71st and 72nd Streets) brings us to a small, but fantastic store selling Italian products.
OK, I guess all good things come to an end and it is time to head back to the Meat Packing District. We head back to the “D” train and this time take it UPTOWN towards Manhattan. We pick it up at 71st Street near 16thAvenue. We are going to take it all the way to the West 4th Street/Washington Square station in Manhattan and then change to the “A”, “C” or “E” trains (any will do) heading uptown (will have to change platforms) for one stop to 14th Street and 8th Avenue at which point you’ll come up for a well-deserved rest ?
Walking tour of downtown Manhattan and Williamsburg Brooklyn (NYC Tour 2):
Recommended book to read about the neighborhood we’ll be discussing (as well as a couple of others like Union Square and Gramercy Park) in the context of a good murder mystery: “The Alienist” by Caleb Carr
I’ll try to put together the second route I described. I find the key to seeing a large city is to break it into areas of interest, or at least a path linking a number of interesting items. Otherwise, you end up wasting a lot of time zig-zagging from place to place and missing a lot that you might find interesting.
There are many fine places to eat in Manhattan and many mediocre ones (including many that tourists seem to flock to). They are all (with the exception of some of the ethnic places in the East Village and Alphabet City, and of course fast food places) expensive. There are a number of Indian restaurants on 2nd Avenue in the East Village which are reasonably priced. There is also a popular Moroccan place named Mogador (101 St. Marks Place, http://www.cafemogador.com/contact)
if you find yourself in that part of town (for lunch – the neighborhood is not recommended for tourists after dark).
Warning – this is a REALLY long walk, so wear comfortable shoes:
A good walking tour a few hours in duration from the Meat Packing District (assuming a start at West 14th Street at 9th Avenue – walk to the elective shopping mall, Chelsea Market at West 15th Street (the former factory of Nabisco, the maker of the Oreo cookie) and walk through the market building to the opposite side (try to avoid eating too much on the way through). Walk out the other side and, to the right, you’ll see an elevator which will bring you up to the High Line Park. Take a bit of a walk to the north, stopping to gaze through the picture window overlooking 9th Avenue, and then continuing on between the pair of condominiums with “bowed” windows which overlook (and exposed to voyeurism from) the High Line path.
Remembering that every further step increases the distance you will have to back-track over, reverse your walking direction. Shortly you will see evidence, to the right, where a track spur entered a building. It is clear from the brickwork that the opening would accept a complete box car and, inside the building, were elevators designed to bring that car to an upper floor for loading. Continue on, under the overpass and recognizing railroad ties and rails under the wooden lounge chairs as you walk towards the Whitney Museum (which we will leave for another day).
Leave the High Line at the 14th Street staircase and cross 12th Avenue to the new “Little Island Park” which is built on mushroom-like pods on top of pilings emulating those found in the adjacent ruins of another pier. Try out the musical instruments which are scattered around and make sure to take a look at the amphitheater.
Leave the park and cross through the former Gansevoort Meat Packing District of tony shops to Hudson Street.
Walk in the downtown direction on Hudson Street and you will be entering Greenwich Village. In the “olden times” this was a cheap place to live and therefore attracted a lot of poor artistic types. It is now, like almost all of Manhattan too expensive for even most middle class to afford. Keep an eye out for 435 Hudson on your right. This is a L’Oreal Professional Academy and, depending on what they have going on, your wife may be able to score a free professional hair styling. If this is not of interest, (before reaching the above mentioned boring place), make a left turn on Morton Street. We are going to wander a bit to give you a few flavors of “The Village”. Continue on Morton (past 7th Avenue) until Bleeker Street.
Make a right turn on Bleeker Street (a commercial street with some interesting boutiques, bakeries and that sort of thing. Take Bleeker as far as MacDougal Street and you will be at the center of one of NYC’s jazz/country music spots – clubs such as the Bitter end have been there since before I was born. Make a left MacDougal and take it a few blocks to Washington Square Park (whose proximity to where my former company was located gave it its name).
This is a social center for both the denizens of the neighborhood and the students of the adjacent NYU University. Walk across the park for a special view up 5th Avenue to the Empire state Building and the Chrysler Building (my personal favorite skyscraper). Walk north on 5th Avenue on the right side of the street and about the middle of the first block you will find a small courtyard named “Washington Mews”. These were originally the stables and carriage houses for the town houses facing Washington Square Park between 5th Avenue and University Place. They are currently highly sought after faculty housing for NYU.
Make a right turn at the end of the block at East 8th Street and walk past Broadway to Lafayette Street. Before the turn of the nineteenth century, this area was a posh place to live and the Metropolitan Opera House was located around here.
To your right, across a plaza with a large black cube type sculpture, you will see a large (old) brown colored building. This is “The Cooper Union” – a free (and therefore highly competitive) college devoted to engineering, architecture and the arts endowed by Peter Cooper the initial railroad magnate of the US. It is unique in that the first elevator in the City was installed in the building. When it was built (before the elevator was “invented” – actually made practical by a safety locking system invented by Mr. Otis) a shaft was created with the expectation that one day there would be elevators. When they finally came about, the building was already waiting (though the shaft was oval, rather than rectangular – but who knew?).
Make a right turn on Lafayette Street (there is a large Starbucks coffee shop if you need a toilet). If you subsequently made a left turn on Astor Place (known as St. Marks Place) and walked straight, you would be going into the “East Village” – the center of NY’s hippy culture during the 1960’s and a couple of blocks further on you would reach “Alphabet City”, traditionally the more heavily drug oriented portion of the East Village (while it has gotten better, that’s the reason I suggested a daytime visit if you were going to go to Mugadore).
Instead, we are going to make a right and head down Lafayette Street. Just past Astor Place (where I had one of my offices about a million years ago), on the right side, look for a building with a series of tall columns in front. This is one of the oldest buildings in the area and you might want to read the brass plaque attached to it. Across the street from “The Colonnade” is the NY Shakespeare Theatre which runs open air Shakespeare in Central Park during the summer. Head down Lafayette Street (enjoying the eclectic stores) to Great Jones Street and make a right turn. All through this walk, it is important to look at the architecture as it is constantly changing and some of the styles are unique to the area. Walk a block and make a left turn on Broadway. You will not be alone (and almost everyone you see for the next couple of kilometers will likely be a tourist).
When you cross the wide Houston Street (pronounced here like it is spelled, rather than the long “u” used for the similarly spelled city in Texas), you will be entering “SOHO” (South of Houston Street). Continue another block to Spring Street (location of a water pumping station owned by Arron Burr, Thomas Jefferson’s Vice President and the man who killed Alexander Hamilton simplistically the founder of the central bank of the United States in a dual. Wooden water pipes made from hollowed logs are still sometimes dug up here). Cross Broadway and walk down Prince Street, experiencing a bit of SOHO and watch for the Apple store a couple of blocks down on the right (former post office). Walk another few blocks to “West Broadway” and make a left turn.
Walk past the art galleries and assorted high end tourist traps and make a left on the next corner onto Spring Street. Look up and down the street and you will see a load of world class product logos (Chanel, Longchamp, Armani, etc.). When the famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he answered “because that’s where they keep the money”. These shops are here because this is where they keep the rich tourists. As you head back to Broadway, keep an eye out for number 97 Spring Street on the left (my office for 14 years when this was the cheapest neighborhood in the city). Walk back across Broadway (trying to shield the Bloomingdale’s department store sign to the right so your wife does not notice it : -) and you’ll pass a posh French bistro on the right called Balthazar (good food, high prices).
Keep walking down Spring Street back across Lafayette Street (technically leaving SOHO and entering Little Italy) and looking to your right (apparently in the middle of the street) is a domed palatial building. Until about 20 years ago (when it was moved beyond the arch of the municipal building downtown near city hall) this building was NY Police Department headquarters and is now full of very fancy condominiums.
Continue about a block further down Spring Street to number 45 – a restaurant called Taim (Hebrew for tasty). This is one of the best falafel places in the city.
While logic would dictate a walk through Little Italy at this point, the reality is that the neighborhood, like much of Brooklyn’s Bensonhurst has lost a lot of its attraction as most of the signage is in Chinese. The restaurants, as expected, are mostly tourist traps with high prices and average food. (For really good Italian food, there are plenty of places in Brooklyn and the Bronx.
For REALLY good (as well as REALLY expensive) Italian food in Manhattan, Rao’s at 455 East 114th Street (between 1st Avenue and Pleasant Avenue) in Harlem is the place to go. The bad news is a reservation is nearly impossible to get (and the meal will be expensive enough that you might as well have flown to Florence). Likewise, having seen an authentic Chinese area in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, we are going to forgo Manhattan’s Chinatown as a cross between being touristy and redundant. Canal Street, which was at one point known for high quality knockoffs of designer stuff has pretty much been closed down by the cops except for places that I would not recommend going to (as you would be too exposed to issues).
Anyhow, apologies aside, what we are going to do is continue walking down Spring Street until the Bowery, a few blocks ahead.
The Bowery was originally the road to Peter Stuyvesant’s country farm (one of the first Dutch governors of New Amsterdam – which became New York when the British took over). For most of the 1900’s it was NYC’s main skid row with the storefronts a mixture of bars, lighting fixture distributors and used restaurant supply distributers. (That was in the days when Center Street was occupied by used machine tool dealers, Spring Street with leather wholesalers, Broadway in this area with fabric and bed clothes wholesalers and so on – all pretty much gone except a couple of legacy places). The second floors of the Bowery buildings were flop houses where you could rent a room the size of a small bed for $.25 for the night and sleep off the booze that was progressively making you blind – all gone now and replaced by apartments for young stock brokers who are more likely to buy dinner at Dean & Deluca than in a bar.
We are going to cross the Bowery and make a left, walking as far as Houston Street (2 blocks) and make a right (stay on the same side of Houston Street). You are now entering the Lower East Side (years ago the original neighborhood of many Jewish immigrants from Europe, but that is all in the past – though some legacy restaurants live on). In a block, we pass by the end of a park and cross Forsyth Street. On your right you will be passing Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery at number 137 Houston Street. A knish is a traditional eastern European “thing” made from potato, kasha, cheese, spinach, cherries or whatever. They were fairly common at one point, but this is one of the last places which make decent ones. (Warning – they are filling and we are on our way to an eatery).
As we continue on, past the double conduit of Allen Street, we’ll be passing Russ & Daughters at 179 Houston. This is the type of “amateurish” Russian appetizing counters that we saw in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn brought to its multi-generational apex.
Crossing the next street (Orchard street – which at one time was known for designer bargains obtained from the garment workshops of 7th Avenue and sold for a song – but with the original labels cut out.
The garment center no longer manufactures and Orchard Street is a waste of time as a shopping destination), we head to Ludlow Street and find the famous Katz’s Delicatessen on the corner. Katz Deli is full of tourists, but about 1/3 of the people eating there are “genuine” New Yorkers (It is a place I end up at a few times a year). There are two ways to eat there – the civilized way, where you take a table and are served by a waiter – and the “fun” way where one of you claims a couple of seats at a table and the other waits on line for your choice of food. It is known for its meat sandwiches (if you are adventurous, you can try a tongue sandwich, otherwise the pastrami is about as good as it gets). Normally the bread to ask for is rye with mustard. They will give a plate of pickles (ask for “full sour” and pickled green tomatoes).
When you enter they will give you a paper ticket on which prices are written (DO NOT LOSE THE TICKETS!). When you wait for your sandwiches, fold a dollar in quarter and hold it behind the ticket tilted so the sandwich maker will see that he’s getting a tip. The sandwiches will be larger and likely he’ll cut you a snack to eat while you are waiting. The “traditional” soda is a Dr. Brown’s “Cel-Ray” (A celery seed flavored soft drink). Sandwiches are fairly expensive (in the $15-$18 range), but the place is worth seeing. If you want to pay by credit card (and beat the line at the cash register), go to the rear of the restaurant where they have a “take-away” counter. They have a credit card machine, but there is not one at the cash register near the front of the restaurant. Just show the credit card receipt on the way out and avoid the long line.
After grazing at the restaurant, make a right turn on Ludlow Street and look at some interesting small shops (best walked during daylight hours). We are going to walk two blocks to Rivington Street and turn left, stopping at Economy Candy (110 Rivington), to see one of the world’s broadest display of international and legacy candies for sale (at generally very reasonable prices). This is where my wife picks up her favorite Hopjes Dutch coffee candies if we haven’t restocked in Holland for a while.
Make a right turn at the corner of Essex Street and when you reach Delancey Street in a block, ;ook for the subway station which mentions the “J”, “Z” and “M” lines (do not get on the “F” train by mistake). Take either the “J”, “Z” or “M” (does not matter which of these) one stop to Marcy Avenue and rise above the earth. Walk along Broadway in the opposite direction from the approach way to the Williamsburg Bridge. In two blocks (at 178 Broadway) you will find Peter Luger’s Steak House. Lunch of a hamburger here is much less expensive than steak for dinner.
Turn down Driggs Avenue (corner of Broadway where Peter Luger is) and walk a couple of blocks to Division Street. Make a left turn and walk the two blocks to Roebling Street. This Chasidic Jewish neighborhood is the real deal and is the home of the Satimar sect. (On Saturday, you can see the men in their full regalia, but the shops are all closed. The reason all of the women’s hairdo’s are all neat is that they are all wigs). If you happen to pass the deli name “Gottlieb’s” at 352 Roebling, you might peek in. While Katz’s Deli is “kosher style”, this one is a true kosher deli. While the sandwiches at Katz’s are more expensive, I think they are also better – pays yer money and takes yer choice.
On Division, between Driggs and Roebling you should find the B62 bus going in the direction of Queens Plaza (and AWAY from Fulton Mall - ask to be sure as this bus makes a few sharp turns around here). Take it along Bedford Avenue and get off (after it passes a large park) at Manhattan Avenue. You are in the Polish neighborhood of Greenpoint and while it is a few generations old, so it is not as “in your face” as Brighton Beach is with the Russians, a walk of a block down Manhattan Avenue will make it pretty obvious. OK, now cross the street back to Bedford Avenue and walk past the park. Once you come out the other end, you’ll be in the younger, hipper part of Williamsburg. As you pass N. 8th Street, look to your right and you’ll see the “Old Poland Bakery” which has a large collection of artisanal rye and multigrain breads (and a place I stock up at every time I visit). Walk along Bedford Avenue about as far at N. 1st Street to get a feel for the eclectic bunch of bars, restaurants and boutiques (this is what SoHo looked like in the 1980’s before it got posh).
Then backtrack to N. 7th Street and make a right turn to the “L” subway. Take this train towards Manhattan and get off at the last stop (5 stops, I think) at 14th Street and 8th Avenue in the Meat Packing District.
Jeff’s Favorite New York City Museums
Depending on which list you look at, there are between 85 and 100 museums in New York City. They cover the great, the ridiculous and the sublime. As in all things, I have personal preferences which I’ll outline here:
Admission policy can be a bit confusing. Many museums are free on Friday evening (but the lines can be long). Some have a “suggested” entrance price, but will accept any amount offered – ask when at the ticket booth or research on-line. Some, like the Neue Gallery, are free except when they have a special exhibit.
Many of Manhattan’s museums are clustered along 5th Avenue between about East 70th Street and East 90th Street (Museum Mile), but there are some important exceptions.
A good listing of web-based information:
NYC has so many art museums that it pays to be a bit selective unless you have unlimited time.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, Fifth Ave at 82nd Street, New York. This massive collection is the US competitor to the Louvre, the Hermitage and the British Museum. It’s an awesome and potentially time consuming place to visit. The admission cost is up to you (though they suggest $25)
The Cloisters, 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, (Fort Tryon Park), New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval collections are housed in this European cloister, imported and reassembled on a cliff overlooking the Hudson River in upper Manhattan. Definitely worth the effort.
The Brooklyn Museum of Art, 200 Eastern Pkwy., Brooklyn. If it wasn’t for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it’s likely that this would be the City’s primary art museum. While smaller than the Met, its collection is vast and varied.
The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), 11 West 53rd Street, btw. 5th and 6th Avenue, New York. This is the City’s premier modern art museum. It never fails to be interesting.
The Frick Collection, 1 E. 70th St., btw Madison & 5th Ave, New York. A petite (by comparison to the ones mentioned above) collection of wonderful traditional art presented in the setting of one of the “robber baron’s” mansions.
The Neue Gallery, 1048 Fifth Avenue, New York. This small museum specializes in the art of Germany and Austria between the two world wars. It was established by Ron Lauder. The permanent collection features a number of important Gustav Klimt’s – including the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I which became notorious in the movie “The Woman in Gold” and which spent five decades as the centerpiece of the collection of Vienna’s Belvedere museum. The museum also has an expensive, but complete Viennese café.
The JP Morgan Museum & Library, 225 Madison Avenue. This fabulous mansion houses one of the largest museums of rare books in the world (including three Guttenberg Bibles), along with exhibits from a lifetime of collecting ancient art (along with some more modern galleries.
While the Guggenheim Museum’s architecture should be appreciated from outside, frankly their collection, like that of the Whitney Museum of American Art, while world class are largely redundant if you visit the museums listed above.
The Cooper Hewett Museum, Smithsonian Design Museum, 2 E 91st St, New York. This is one of my favorite museums. Housed in the former Andrew Carnegie mansion, the exhibits are frequently eclectic, but always interesting. It is small, but worth making an effort to see.
Museum at FIT, 7th Avenue at 27 Street, New York. The Fashion Institute of Technology’s Museum houses the largest collection of costumes, textiles and apparel dating from the 18th century in the world. The museum also hosts fantastic exhibits ranging from jewelry design to fashion photography and including the Fashion Design Student Show.
Cultural and Natural History Museums
The American Museum of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium, Central Park West at 79th Street. This is the place I loved to go to as a kid – dinosaurs, a full sized blue whale, fantastic gems, one of the world’s premier planetariums and on and on. Its scale is so huge that only the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History in Washington DC even comes close to offering competition in the US.
National Museum of the American Indian, One Bowling Green, New York. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Americans.
The exterior looks like an ancient Greek temple with columns and complex statues and the inside is even grander, the walls and the floor of polished white marble and the ceilings are covered with paintings. It has a large collection of more traditional artwork as well as a significant amount of contemporary Native American art. The museum is free.
Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, New York. Focuses on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, one entire floor is devoted to the Holocaust. It is walking distance from the National Museum of the American Indian and the 911 Memorial Museum.
The Jewish Museum, 1109 5th Ave at 92nd St, New York. Covers the entire history of Judaism from five thousand years ago to the present. It features a vast collection of artifacts from around the world.
Rubin Museum of Art, 150 W 17th St, New York. A unique museum of Himalayan and Indian subcontinent wall hangings and artifacts.
NYC History Museums
The 9/11 Memorial Museum, 180 Greenwich Street, New York. This poignant museum is dedicated to the destruction of the towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 by terrorist directed aircraft.
The Museum of the City of New York, 220 Fifth Avenue, at 103rd Street, New York. A massive museum, the fifth floor, which houses the Rockefeller rooms, a recreation of the houses of several famous Robber Barons, including Rockefeller, is open to the public intermittently. The other exhibits have just about everything you ever wanted to know about New York City
Great for Kids
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 145 Brooklyn Avenue at St. Marks Ave, Crown Heights, Brooklyn. This museum displays a number of interesting collections and hands-on exhibits to hold the interest of children.
New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens. While many of the exhibits are licensed from the Exploratorium in San Francisco, that in no way diminishes their ability to hold the interest of kids in a hands-on approach towards teaching science to kids.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (located along pier 86 where W. 46th Street enters the Hudson River). This place has something for children of all ages. The venue itself is a WWII vintage aircraft carrier. The flight deck is home to a host of assorted US, Israeli, North Vietnamese et al fighters, trainers, helicopters, stealth recon things and so on. You can wander through the various bridges and decks. It is now home to the Space Shuttle Enterprise which is watched over by a showcase of Spock and Kirk memorabilia. The mid-deck is the size of, well, the largest aircraft hanger you can imagine. It has all sort of exhibits, but about a third of it is devoted to a vast assortment of flight simulators. Adults $33, kids $24, US military and veterans free (with ID)
New York City Fire Museum, 278 Spring Street New York. The museum is crowded with fire engines from various time periods, firefighter suits and equipment. The walls are completely covered with paintings and photographs. It is located in Manhattan’s hip SoHo area.
New York Transit Museum, Boerum Place & Schermerhorn Street Downtown Brooklyn. A well-presented historical survey of the New York City Transit System. A great museum for kids
South Street Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton St., New York. Explore the decks and cabins of six historic ships, see exhibitions of maritime art and artifacts, discover New York’s archaeological heritage. Journey through the area’s stone-paved streets as well as the little shops all along he way.
Botanic Gardens and Zoos
The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, 1000 Washington Ave, Brooklyn. Themed areas include a Japanese garden, a rock garden (which has flowers as well as rocks, unlike Zen rock gardens), a rose garden and a native flora garden. There is also a cherry tree lined lawn which visitors are officially allowed to sit on, and a conservatory where various ecosystems, tropical, desert, aquatic, are recreated in greenhouses. Next to the Brooklyn Museum and a truly wonderful garden.
New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx. One of the oldest and largest botanical gardens in the world, The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is a museum of plants and a National Historic Landmark with 250 acres of gorgeous grounds, 47 gardens and plant collections.
The Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Blvd, Bronx. One of the largest zoos in the United States by area and is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States by area, comprising 265 acres of park lands and naturalistic habitats separated by the Bronx River. Across E. Fordom Road from the NY Botanical Gardens with which it shares Bronx Park.
The Coney Island Aquarium, 602 Surf Ave, Brooklyn. The oldest continually operating aquarium in the United States, located on the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Coney Island. It has fish, but is not Sea World. Don’t expect too much, but fun for kids.
Also, make sure to peruse the lists on the web sites listed at the top of this section if you have specific interests. NYC has other museums which cover movies, TV/Radio, sex, military history (at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, for example) and almost every other topic you can imagine.
New York Sources
Eclectic Mixture of Stores:
B&H Photo Video – 920 9th Avenue (corner E.34th Street). New York, N.Y. 10001
Possibly the most widely varied reseller of audio, video and computer equipment in the United States. Many items are on display to be compared and prices are reasonable. One of the better places for tourists to buy electronics.
Kerekes – 6103 15th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11219
Commercial bakery and restaurant equipment supplier. Also sells retail
Kaufman Shoe Repair Supplies – 346 Lafayette Street, New York, N.Y. 212-777-1700 (closes at 2PM)
Large variety of leathers and tools in what used to be NYC’s leather district. (Last of its kind)
Grand Sterling – 49-21 13th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11219 also 1207 Avenue J, Brooklyn, NY 11230
Wide variety of sterling silver Hebraica
Campbell Raw Press – 925 Bergen Street #408, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11238
Bookbinding and letterpress printing
Cyber on U – 824 Avenue U, Brooklyn, NY 11223. MUST contact first for appointment by SMS/text to (718) 696-7055
Competent, honest and reasonably priced repairs of phones, tablets and laptops.
AMS Auto Doctor – 2965 86th Street, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11223. Gary: 718-975-8000, Alex: 718-891-6626
Competent automobile repairs. Less dishonest than many
Veteran’s Chair Caning – 442 10th Avenue, at W. 35th Street, New York, N.Y. 10001 212-564-4560
Repair of hand and machine chair caning.
Worthwhile Restaurants in Brooklyn New York
After more than 100 years, Peter Luger Steak House is still the top when it comes to porterhouses. Cash only and expensive, to boot, it’s at 178 Broadway, Williamsburg Brooklyn
A Taste of Katz’s, 1 Dekalb Ave (Located in: Dekalb Market Hall), Downtown Brooklyn, NY 11201
Massive Jewish deli sandwiches from an outpost of the famed Katz’s on the Lower East Side (not kosher)
Gottlieb’s” at 352 Roebling in Williamsburg Brooklyn is one of NYC’s last true kosher deli
Essen NY Deli, 1359 Coney Island Ave in Midwood Brooklyn is another old-fashioned kosher deli.
The Mile End Deli at 97 Hoyt Street in Downtown Brooklyn serves great smoked meat sandwiches
Mable’s Smokehouse at 44 Berry Street Williamsburg Brooklyn is a fun roadhouse offering “Brooklyn-style” barbecue
Fette Sau at 354 Metropolitan Avenue Williamsburg Brooklyn, serves dry-rub BBQ and wood-smoked meats
St. Anselm, at 355 Metropolitan Avenue Williamsburg Brooklyn, serves wood-grilled steak, chops and whole trout.
Hometown at 454 Van Brunt Street in Red Hook Brooklyn, a honky-tonk with mouthwatering beef ribs, brisket and smoked meats.
Nathan’s Famous at 1310 Surf Avenue in Coney Island (dates from the early 1900’s and is the flagship of a chain), Their hot dogs are a legend.
The River Café, located on a barge at Fulton’s Landing in DUMBO is likely Brooklyn’s fanciest (and possibly most expensive) restaurant. Reserve ahead for a table with a river view of the bridges to Manhattan. It is the sister restaurant of the Water club in Manhattan.
Buttermilk Channel , at 524 Court Street in Carroll Gardens Brooklyn, serves American comfort food (like the best fried chicken with cheddar waffles).
Vinegar Hill House at 72 Hudson Avenue in Vinegar Hill Brooklyn, serves seasonal New American cooking in a cozy salvaged décor resembling a Victorian saloon with a garden. Its menu includes a memorable chicken liver mousse and cavatelli with wild mushroom bolognese.
Five Leaves at 18 Bedford Avenue Greenpoint Brooklyn is new wave, New American fare restaurant with an Aussie accent.
Gage & Tollner at 372 Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn, offers elegant American dishes in one of Brooklyn’s timeless restaurant which opened its doors in 1879 and recently reopened – very expensive.
Pies ‘n’ Thighs at 166 S 4th Street in Williamsburg Brooklyn is a Southern style place featuring fried chicken and banana cream pie etc.
The Commodore , at 366 Metropolitan Avenue Williamsburg Brooklyn, is a dive bar with good music, a chill vibe, hot chicken sandwiches and cheeseburgers.
Sister restaurants Peaches (393 Lewis Avenue) and Peaches Hothouse (415 Tomkins Avenue) both in Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn, produce urban takes on Southern comfort food
Runner & Stone at 285 3rd Avenue in Gowanus Brooklyn, crafts peerless American seasonal dishes, breads and pastries.
Fort Defiance at 347 Van Brunt Street in Red Hook Brooklyn, for seasonal American fare and intelligent takes on cocktails and bar food (may be temporarily closed for COVID)
Maison Premiere at 298 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg Brooklyn is a New Orleans styled aphrodisiacal for oysters and absinthe drinks (fairly expensive)
Greenpoint Fish & Lobster at 114 Nassau Avenue in Greenpoint Brooklyn, for seafood.
Littleneck at 288 3rd Avenue in Gowanus Brooklyn, with its lobster rolls and raw bar, reimagines the Cape Cod clam shack
The Red Hook Lobster Pound at 284 Van Brunt Street in Red Hook Brooklyn, serves up comforting seafood like stuffed lobster rolls, lobster mac and cheese and beer-battered fish and chips.
Nick’s Lobster House at 2777 Flatbush Avenue in the Marine Park area of Brooklyn serves fresh fish, lobster and raw bar.
Nostro Ristorante Italiano – 710 5th Avenue, Park Slope Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215 929-337-7053
Nice neighborhood family-owned place with weekday lunch specials
Noodle Pudding – 38 Henry Street, Brooklyn Heights Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201
Good Italian place with large portions. Cash only and no reservations, so come early.
Ortabello – 6401 Bay Parkway, Bensonhurst Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204
Small hole in the wall. Outstanding “red sauce” Italian restaurant. Portions are for (at least) two people. Reservations are mandatory or come very early. Open 3-8:30 Wed-Sun
Al di Là at 248 5th Avenue in Park Slope Brooklyn is a go-to Intimate Italian trattoria for date nights (expensive).
Bamonte’s is a semi-expensive red sauce Italian restaurant in Williamsburg since 1900 unbeatable for linguine with clam sauce at 32 Wither’s Street
Frankies 457 Spuntino at 457 Court Street in Carroll Gardens Brooklyn which serves masterful house-made pasta and inventive salads.
Defonte’s at 379 Columbia Street near the Brooklyn Waterfront has been serving monster-size Italian hero sandwiches since 1920.
Ferdinando’s Focacceria, at 151 Union Street in Carroll Gardens, has been serving Sicilian-style moderately priced food since 1904.
Totonno’s 1524 Neptune Avenue in Coney Island Brooklyn, looks like a bit of a dive, but makes great pizza. Tread gently as the chef can be Brooklyn’s equivalent of Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi”
Roberta’s at 261 Moore Street in Bushwick Brooklyn is celebrated for its pizza and garden-fresh vegetables
Saraghina at 350 Lewis Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn, serves brick-oven pizzas, seasonal salads and fresh pastas.
Emily at 919 Fulton Street in Clinton Hill Brooklyn, serves thin-crust, wood-oven pizzas and a great, dry-aged burger.
Paulie Gee’s at 60 Greenpoint Avenue in Greenpoint is among the best of Brooklyn’s current generation of pizzerias.
Grimaldi’s Pizza at 1 Front Street in DUMBO makes a good pizza, but is usually too crowded with tourists to bother waiting for. .
L&B Spumoni Gardens, at 2725 86th Street in Gravesend, is a popular place, especially for its Sicilian pizzas. Not a bad place to go for lunch if you are nearby, but not worth making a special trip to eat there.
Di Fara at 1424 Avenue M in Midwood, is not bad for a neighborhood pizza place, but its rise to stardom is absolutely not worth the price they’ll charge for a pretty average pizza (despite the long lines due to being mentioned in some