As a photojournalist and journalist, my work regularly appears in Woman Around Town as well as other online publications, including NYCitywoman and The Transition Network New York News. All the stories, below, were reported, written and photographed by me, with the exception of Zuccotti Park, which was written by another journalist around my photographs.
Sel et Poivre – Neighborhood Restaurant for Everyone
The disappearance of small family businesses in New York – especially restaurants on the Upper East Side — has recently accelerated. Rents have soared and unless a restaurateur owns the building, he/she eventually departs. Just this week, Mon Petit Café, on Lexington Avenue, closed due to “sky high rent.” So it’s a double pleasure to toast the food, atmosphere and longevity of a neighborhood French restaurant just up the street from Mon Petit Café — Sel et Poivre — a family-run French bistro on Lexington Avenue. This June it will celebrate its 28th Anniversary: same family (husband and wife team, Christian and Pamela Schienle); same location, and same daily specials. Remarkably, it’s also open seven days a week, as well. Christian Schienle Sel et Poivre is a cozy, reasonably priced watering-hole for Upper Eastsiders who enjoy consuming a well-prepared meal at a table with a bit of elbow room, in a quiet dining room only punctuated by the sound of conversation and clinking glasses. But of course, it’s the food that’s the main draw and the restaurant continues to live up to the timeless standards of classic Bistro dishes – from Skate with lemon and capers and Frog Legs to [...]
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Huge Women’s March in New York City
A larger than expected crowd estimated at 400,000 jammed midtown on Saturday as they wound their way along 42nd Street and up to Trump Tower to participate in NYC’s Women’s March. New Yorkers found a way, through one of the city’s largest peaceful demonstrations, to make their diverse voices heard. A flotilla of pink hats in an ocean of women, men, children and – this is New York – celebrities turned out. Despite the morning chill, the vibe was warm and welcoming. The mood was upbeat. Camaraderie reigned. The event was exhilarating and, for some, reminiscent of the early days of the feminist movement in the 1970s. Whoopie Goldberg in Pink Hat Little Girl in Pink Hat Rosie Perez, feisty, as always, welcomed a host of prominent people to the podium, including: Katherine Siemionko, who launched The Women’s March in New York; Cynthia Nixon and, from across the pond, Dame Helen Mirren, who took the subway to the March and declared, echoing JFK, “Today, I am a New Yorker.” Rosie Perez Katherine Siemionko Cynthia Nixon Helen Mirren Chirlane McCray Also gathered near the United Nations, where the March started, were Chirlane McCray, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s eloquent wife, State Senators [...]
We were looking for a good “shoulder-season” fare for a long weekend away from the hot, humid, noisy and gridlocked city. Also, for a place neither of us had been to before. So, like Monopoly players, without much forethought, we landed on Portland, Maine, less than an hour away on a Jet Blue flight. We assumed it would be less packed with visitors than in summer. Eastern Promenade Wrong! After booking our flights we discovered it was almost impossible to find a hotel room. September, it turns out, is wedding month in Portland. Also, huge cruise ships disgorge passengers almost every day and foodies up and down the East Coast head to Portland which – who knew? – is a magnet for serious restaurants and serious eaters. In short, until about Christmas or before the snows of winter arrive, the joint is jumping. Happily, however, through booking.com, we found a hotel, Hampton Inn, perfectly located near the waterfront and, better yet, around the corner from most of the best restaurants in the city. It exceeded our expectations (with an ample buffet breakfast, friendly staff and adjacent Brew Pub), as did Portland itself. Cruise Ship Lobster is to Maine as Broadway [...]
Block Island’s Wind Turbines – Objects of Beauty
Offshore wind farms have been bitterly opposed by residents of Cape Cod and Nantucket, among others. My question is why? After having lived for a week in view of five wind turbines three miles off the shore of Block Island – the first wind farm in the U.S. — I am baffled by the “not in my backyard” reaction. Because not only do they make ecological, environmental and economic sense, but the turbines themselves are visually beautifully, gorgeous pieces of immense sculpture that, depending on the light, subtly change shape, form, mood, and yes, power. Interestingly, too, according to an exhibition at Block Island’s Historical Society, during the process of laying down the turbines’ power lines, archeologists have uncovered “projectile points” dating from between 4,000 and 6,000 B.C. That is when Block Island was still linked to the mainland. Gradually, the rate of sea level rise began to decrease and the top of that landmass – Block Island – emerged, no longer connected to the mainland. Carbon-dated recovered remains from shell heaps (or middens) around today’s Great Salt Pond indicate that from 500 B.C. on, the Island was inhabited by year round settlements of the Manisses tribe. Natives dined on [...]
Dominique Bistro on Christopher Street
New York is changing so rapidly – often for the worse – that I’m no longer surprised, after returning from a short vacation, to find half the restaurants in my neighborhood have gone out of business, and whole blocks torn down to make way for high-rise development. But sometimes there are happy surprises. Such was the case the other day when I was on my way from the 7th Avenue subway to a French restaurant on Christopher Street. There, across from Greenwich Village’s historic Stonewall Inn, was a formerly rundown triangle of park transformed into a beautifully landscaped urban oasis. Amazingly, the Stonewall National Monument, as it is now called, is America’s first LGBT national park. It was so designated by President Obama just two months ago (June 24, 2016). So check out the Park (off 7th Avenue), before or after your visit to Dominique Bistro (DB), which is located on the corner of Christopher and Gay Streets. Interior of Restaurant If any part of New York is like Paris it’s the West Village, with its small boutiques and low-rise brownstones. Dominique Bistro, inspired by and named after its Chef, Dominique Pepe, offers classic bistro food in a comfortable and [...]
Vicenza: An Unexpected Jewel
Part 1 – The City Top photo: Basilica Palladiana & Piazza Dei Signori In travel, as in life, it’s the unexpected surprises that stand out and capture the heart in a way that expected highlights rarely do. On a recent trip to Venice and Verona, I added, at the last minute – due to the recommendation of both a cousin who lives in Venice and a New York architect – the small town of Vicenza, about which I knew next to nothing, except that it was midway between the two other cities, home of 16th century architect Andrea Palladio, and easy to access by Italy’s excellent railroad system. Girl and Boy with Umbrella Corso Andrea Palladio It was love at first sight, even on a grey, drizzly afternoon when few people were on the street or perhaps because — in sharp contrast to Verona (wall to wall tourists) –few people were on the street. Within an hour’s stroll, I realized that Vicenza had everything I seek when traveling, authenticity, beauty and breathtaking architecture, all waiting to be captured by my camera. (I never worry about eating well in Italy. It’s a given.) By the time I’d unpacked, the sun had [...]
Danny Lyon: Politically Engaged Photographer
Photographer, filmmaker and writer Danny Lyon (born 1942), a New Yorker, born and raised in Queens, whose father was the ophthalmologist to Alfred Stieglitz, is the focus of the Whitney’s first photography exhibition in its new, downtown location. Danny Lyon: Message to the Future, organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, where it will open at the de Young Museum in November, is also the first full career retrospective of his work, including 175 photographs, previously unseen 16mm film footage made inside Texas prisons, vintage prints and personal photo albums. Arrest of Taylor Washington, Atlanta, 1963 Cover of SNCC Brochure Lyon hitchhiked to the segregated South in 1962, while still a student at the University of Chicago. So powerful was Lyon’s work of the Civil Rights movement that James Forman, executive director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), recruited Lyon to be the organization’s first official photographer. His images were used in posters, brochures and leaflets to raise money and recruit workers. “Is He Protecting You?” Image taken at the University of Mississippi in 1962 and reproduced as a poster in 1963 by SNCC Echoing war photographer Robert Capa, who said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, [...]
Manus x Machina: Poetic Possibilities of the Machine at the Met
Working against the myth that couture is “hand made” while “machine made” is prêt –à-porter or, basically, for the masses — not on the same level of imagination, craft, refinement and price — Andrew Bolton has fashioned an exhibition that proves otherwise. What follows are particular standouts, in an exhibition that is, as usual, a knockout, although the quasi-religious music wafting through is, to my mind, a bit pretentious. It’s clear, from this exhbition, that machines and all forms of technology are simply additional mechanisms through which designers can now weave their magic Miyake Design Studio, Flying Saucer Dress 1994 Alexander McQueen (Sarah Burton), 2012 Alexander McQueen (Sarah Burton), 2012 House of Dior (Raf Simons), 2015 Thom Browne, 2013 Pierre Cardin , 1968 Comme des Garcons (Junya Watanabe), 2000-2001 Noa Raviv, 2014 Thierry Mugler, 1990-91 Halston, 1970 Wedding Ensemble, Karl Lagerfeld, 2013 Close up of Wedding Ensemble Embroidered Train Opening photo: Iris Van Herpen 2012 Photos by Eleanor Foa Dienstag
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Up on the Met’s Roof: Icon of American Culture By British Artist
Leave it to a British artist, the ebullient Cornelia Parker, to create and install on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s roof an American icon that celebrates and comments on a unique emblem of our architecture, art and culture. Cornelia Parker, artist Barn Side There are layers of references in Parker’s visual conceit – America’s red barn, Edward Hopper’s paintings of barns and Victorian mansions with mansard roofs, as well as American gothic via Hitchcock in Psycho. Add to that the museum roof with its spectacular New York skyline, “a gift to any artist,” said Parker at Monday’s press preview, and, voilà, we have many of the elements that inspired her. Back of Barn However, the title of Parker’s piece, “Transitional Object,” deepens her intent. It’s a psychoanalytic term for toys, such as teddy bears, that help children, as she put it, “wean off their mother, though some get stuck in that phase.” One might almost call it an aesthetic fetish. However you interpret this piece, it sticks in one’s eye and mind, and plays off the steel and concrete skyline in a vibrant way. Looking up at Barn from Central Park The house, built with materials from three different barns, [...]
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Nai Tapas Bar: An Undiscovered Gem
Amazing meals sometimes come in unexpected places. That was certainly the case the other evening at Nai, an unassuming looking restaurant on 1st Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets, a neighborhood whose mix of old and new landmarks makes it one of the most fascinating in New York. Around the corner is Veniero, one of New York’s oldest Italian bakeries and cafes. On the west side of 1st Avenue is Momofuko, a hot destination for foodies. And across the street from Momofuko is Nai, a Tapas place that’s a neighborhood favorite, seeking to attract a larger audience. Restaurateur/Chef Ruben Rodriguez Restaurateur/Executive Chef Ruben Rodriguez is young, only 32, but comes from a Spanish family of restaurateurs. His menu offers a mix of traditional tapas from Galicia — including recipes from his mother (Nai) and grandmother – and innovative tapas – some molecular, some Asian-inspired – and very much his own creation. Wine Director, David Martinez Nai also carries a wide range of craft beers, predominantly Spanish wines and home-made sangrias that co-owner and wine director, David Martinez, pairs expertly with each dish. His wine and beer choices were amazing. To accompany our first courses, for example, he poured a beer [...]
Sophisticated Comfort Food at Copper Kettle Kitchen
The Upper East Side has a restaurant problem. Rents are so high that few new mid-price high-quality restaurants can afford to open and survive. So we have a succession of decent but unexceptional — mostly ethnic – eateries or places with large and noisy bars that appeal to post-college twenty-somethings who increasingly populate the less fancy blocks of the UES. For a brief time, pushing against the tide, chef/owner Joseph D’Angelo opened a serious Italian restaurant, Spigolo, that earned two stars in the New York Times, and brought grown up diners a menu that was inventive and sophisticated at prices that did not break the bank. Inevitably, perhaps, as business slowed during the recession, it moved from the low eighties on Second Avenue to the high seventies and, in 2015, gave up the ghost and closed. Now, the same team that brought us Spigolo has opened Copper Kettle Kitchen (in Spigolo’s old quarters), based on an altogether different concept and formula. Casual and homey. Grazing and sharing. Farm to Table. Comfort food. These are the operative terms used to describe the menu which is divided into Dips, Flats, Greens & Grains, Daily Presses (Sandwiches), Comforts (Small Plates) and Features for Two plus [...]
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Rocco Steakhouse – Great Steak Served with a Warm Welcome
If lineage is everything in steak houses – and it is – Rocco descends from royalty. It all goes back to Peter Luger, New York’s legendary steak house (actually in Brooklyn) which opened in 1887, when Williamsburg was a German neighborhood and not even slightly hip. Peter Luger’s former headwaiter begat Wolfgang’s. And two of Wolfgang’s co-owners plus its Executive Chef begat Rocco, Manhattan’s newest steakhouse in fashionable NoMad land. It opened five months ago. Which is why a friend and I, courtesy of Rocco, were at the restaurant. We were eager to discover whether the treasured secrets of cooking and serving fine dry-aged steaks had been passed to another generation. Steakhouse menus don’t change very much. For decades they have been a form of male-bonding comfort food, with wives and girlfriends relegated to second place. They boast great seafood appetizers, a limited array of soups and salads, about ten versions of prime beef, some fish and chicken for the ladies, classic sides – like creamed spinach – and a limited selection of calorie-busting deserts. The Bar The Bar Dining Room What has changed is the increasing presence of affluent working women as welcomed and pampered customers. This was apparent [...]
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Great Steak Served with a Warm Welcome appeared first on Woman Around Town.
The Malt House – A Surprisingly Good American Tavern You Can Afford
The next time you are in the NYU area and crave a great hamburger, a glass of beer and other American munchies (chicken wings, onion rings, etc.), stop by The Malt House. You won’t be disappointed. The Malt House Exterior The Malt House Interior Opened by two Brits four years ago –and so successful that a two-floor second branch opened in the Financial District eight months ago — The Malt House serves the kind of American comfort food that goes with sports nights, meeting friends after work or over the weekend for brunch. Chef Armando Avilla hails from STK and 5 Napkin Burger, and he’s put together an enticing menu. Onion Rings Cheese Curds Chicken Wings At a recent press tasting the outstanding appetizers were the Battered Onion Rings with a wonderful bacon flavor ($11). It was hard to stop scarfing them down. The only reason I stopped was to try the amazing Panko fried Cheddar Cheese Curds ($11). Instead of landing with a thud, as some cheese curds often due, they were light and airy and went down like butter. Only my fear of cholesterol overload kept me from mainlining them. The ample portion of spicy BFG Wings (Baked [...]
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A Surprisingly Good American Tavern You Can Afford appeared first on Woman Around Town.
The Malt House – A Surprisingly Good American Tavern You Can Afford
The next time you are in the NYU area and crave a great hamburger, a glass of beer and other American munchies (chicken wings, onion rings, etc.), stop by The Malt House. You won’t be disappointed. The Malt House Exterior The Malt House Interior Opened by two Irishmen four years ago –and so successful that a two-floor second branch opened in the Financial District eight months ago — The Malt House serves the kind of American comfort food that goes with sports nights, meeting friends after work or over the weekend for brunch. Chef Armando Avila hails from STK and 5 Napkin Burger, and he’s put together an enticing menu. Onion Rings Cheese Curds Chicken Wings At a recent press tasting the outstanding appetizers were the Battered Onion Rings with a wonderful bacon flavor ($11). It was hard to stop scarfing them down. The only reason I stopped was to try the amazing Panko fried Cheddar Cheese Curds ($11). Instead of landing with a thud, as some cheese curds often due, they were light and airy and went down like butter. Only my fear of cholesterol overload kept me from mainlining them. The ample portion of spicy BFG Wings (Baked [...]
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Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer
If you find yourself in Boston during the next two months, don’t miss a splendid exhibition, now at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA): Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer. There are no plans for it to travel in the U.S., so this is your only chance. The exhibition not only brings together 75 extraordinary 17th century Dutch paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Hals, Steen, de Hooch and others, many never before seen in the U.S., but views them through the fascinating lens of social class – upper, middle and lower – then groups them thematically within each class. Themes include “Women at Work,” “Nobles and Aspiring Nobles,” “Regents and Wealthy Merchants,” etc. This curatorial device works. It forces us to look closely at each painting and to reflect more broadly on the culture of 17th Century Holland as depicted in these canvasses. That culture included the possibility of upward mobility, the creation of paintings for the open market, and the surprising diversity of roles for women at every level of society. Street Musicians at the Door As exhibition curator Ronni Baer notes, “These carefully selected paintings allow us to glimpse the ways rank and status [...]
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Elegance is Never Out of Date
In these depressing times, with Paris under siege, this exhibition will remind you of beautiful, chic Paris, and why French women, in particular, are still the embodiment of elegance and style. In the 1950s, when Richard Avedon photographed Jacqueline De Ribes, then in her mid-twenties, France was still the capital of fashion, food, film, literature and culture. And Vicomtesse Jacqueline De Ribes was already recognized as the epitome of French style, one of those impossibly elegant – yet modern – beauties, like Audrey Hepburn, whose swan neck, refined profile and couture clothes were familiar to fashionistas on both sides of the Atlantic. (Top: Portrait by Richard Avedon, 1955) Portrait by Richard Avedon (1962) William Klein Photo in Vogue, 1967 Jacqueline De Ribes is now in her eighties, still active, still elegant, and still a class act. Sensitive to the tragic events in Paris, she decided to cancel her attendance at the opening of this exhibition. She felt it would appear unseemly to celebrate at a time of such deep sadness in France. But she sent her gratitude to her friends at the Met, and her hope that “the exhibition will represent the joy associated with the freedom of creation.” Harold Korda, Curator of [...]
Surprising Sicily: Part Five – Palermo
Palermo, the capital of Sicily, has been the vital heart of the Island since the 9th Century. Its architecture, neighborhoods, people, art and food are a fusion of cultures and styles — Arabic, Baroque, Norman, Hebraic, and African – as generations of invaders have come, ruled, and ultimately been ejected. (Top: Cathedral of Palermo) It’s a beautifully situated port city, surrounded by dramatic mountains, dotted with lovely parks, graceful piazzas, and broad boulevards, and is home to some knockout ancient treasures. It’s a bustling, wealthy, modern city, as well, which is perfectly clear as one drives through its prosperous outer ring towards its historic center. Despite the city’s many attractions, many people think of Palermo as a fairly scary place, Mafia dominated, with extremes of poverty, high crime, and dark alleyways. In the back of my mind, that’s what I expected, perhaps because of all those post-World War II histories that emphasized how Mafia boss Lucky Luciano was taken out of a U.S. prison and brought over to Palermo to help smooth the way for the Allied invasion. There may have been some truth to that point of view in the 1950s and 60s but, happily, times have changed. Most surprising, [...]
Surprising Sicily: Part Four – Villa Romana del Casale
One of the unexpected lessons of travel is discovering how much of what we think of as “modern” is actually as old as civilization itself. So, for example, if you think today’s mania for lifting weights and going to the gym is something new, think again! (Top: Mosaic from early 4th Century Roman Villa) Mosaic of Elephant, Sailor and Dolphin As one of the exquisite mosaics from a 4th Century Roman Villa (Villa Romana del Casale) stunningly shows, women of wealth and leisure were toning their bodies, in bikinis, no less, centuries ago. Equally remarkable, artists – reputedly from North Africa – were capturing the lifestyles of the rich and famous – hunting scenes, children’s games, nautical travel, animals, birds, flowers, etc. – in three-dimensional mosaics on the floors of a vast series of buildings, perhaps a country house or hunting lodge, belonging to a wealthy and important Roman. The villa, south west of Piazza Amerina, was in use until a 12th Century mudslide covered and preserved it all. Only in 1950 was it discovered and did excavations – still ongoing — begin. The quality of these mosaics and the insight they provide into upper class Roman life – which in [...]
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Surprising Sicily: Part Three – The Southeast
Noto Over the centuries, Sicily has suffered from innumerable natural disasters, including devastating earthquakes. One in particular, the earthquake of 1693, flattened a number of towns and villages in southwest Sicily. Paradoxically, it resulted in rebuilt villages of great beauty whose architects embraced the then fashionable and impressive Baroque style. (Top: The Duomo and Piazza del Municipo) The Duomo Porta Reale Palazza Ducezio Via Nicolaci and Monte Verginie Church Palazzo Villadorata with Balconies and Sculpted Buttresses Church Exterior Church Interior Balcony for Nuns Noto is perhaps the most bedazzlingly Baroque city of all. In fact, with its broad, car free main street – Corso Vittorio Emanuele – which one enters via the monumental Porta Reale, it feels a bit like a stage set for an Italian opera. The Corso is lined with one splendid palace, church, monastery, nunnery and municipal building after another, culminating in the over-the-top, twin-towered Duomo, completed in 1776. In scale and drama, it’s the city’s piece de resistance, and not soon forgotten. Ragusa Approaching Ragusa Ragusa Ibla Viewed from Above, Next to 15th Century Church, Santa Maria della Scala Ragusa Rooftops Piazza del Duomo, San Giorgio Church Also decimated by [...]
Surprising Sicily: Part Two – Siracusa
Layers of Siracusa’s two-and-a-half-thousand-year history are visible in its rich architecture and archeological remains. Our first stop, on an exceedingly hot morning in mid-September, was the city’s famous Archeological Park. For me, its top attraction was the beautifully situated Greek Theatre where it is said that Aeschylus attended performances of his own plays, and theatergoers perched on the top benches could see the sea. Greek Theater from Above Temple of Apollo in Ortigia View of Fish & Produce Market However, most of the ancient city is situated on the island of Ortigia, linked to the mainland by several bridges. It’s now the charming heart of old Siracusa, with narrow alleyways, cafes, restaurants and shops, as well as significant remnants of ancient visitors, ranging from Archimedes, (287- 212 B.C.), famous mathematician and scientist of ancient Greece, to the Temple of Apollo. There is also a tiny Jewish Quarter, with an intact, underground Mikvah. Piazza Archimedes Piazza del Duomo Interior of Catholic Church with Greek Columns Ortigia Street Ortigia Alleyway Anchoring Piazza Archimedes, lined with restored medieval buildings, is a graceful 20th Century fountain, depicting nymph Arethusa (the symbol of Ortigia.). And presiding over the large and beautiful Piazza del Duomo is [...]
Surprising Sicily: Part One – East Sicily and the Ionian Coast
Eleanor Foa Dienstag recently spent two weeks touring Sicily. This is the first part of her series, this time covering East Sicily and the Ionian Coast. For decades, what have we thought of when we thought about Sicily? Barren earth; old women dressed in black; Mafiosi; unemployment; an impenetrable Italian dialect, and an almost medieval village way of life. (Top photo: Mt. Etna – Viewed from Fiumefreddo) Recently, we’ve been hearing about another Sicily, a land of villas and vineyards, with UNESCO-designated archeological sites, Baroque churches; sandy beaches, a unique cuisine, agriturism resorts, attracting everyone from back packers to sophisticated travelers. I wanted to go. Preferring not to join a large group or drive myself, my friend Anne and I hired a car/driver/guide via Handy Sicily, on the Internet, and set out on a journey of 11 days and 10 nights, enough time to almost circle the Island, with important detours to its interior. Paolo Mortellaro A girl could get used to a car and driver. It was the best decision we made. We were in good hands with Paolo Mortellaro, who took us on a stress-free journey whose highlights we are still happily recollecting. Almost everything I’d imagined about Sicily was [...]
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Byblos – Lebanese in NoMad
In this constantly changing city, very few Manhattan neighborhoods have changed as rapidly as what is now called NoMad (north of Madison Square Park), especially around 29th Street west of Madison Avenue. Once a district of low rent retail and wholesale businesses, it’s in the midst of a dramatic revival, with new hotels, condos and restaurants attracting a young, hip, affluent crowd. It may still be a bit dingy around the edges, but not for long. Interior – Bar Among the many fine places to dine is Byblos, a large, seriously Lebanese restaurant that moved, in 2012, from Murray Hill, where it flourished for 20 years. It’s open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Saturday evening is Lebanese Night, which means live music and belly dancing from 9:30 on. The kitchen is presided over by Restaurateur/Chef Sabeh Kachouch, and the front of the house by his wife, Sonia, a welcoming presence. Olives, Radishes, etc. Waiter Pouring Water with a Flourish Interior of Restaurant If you love mezze – and who doesn’t – the ones whipped up at Byblos are as good as they get. Just the mezze alone would make a perfect lunch or light dinner, as well [...]
La Sirene: French Bistro Fare at Its Best
For reasons that elude me, the city is drowning in moderately priced Italian restaurants while French restaurants of the same ilk continue to diminish. Fortunately, there are a few hardy souls still striving to bring us classic French bistro fare, among them restaurateur/chef Didier Pawlicki, a whirling dervish who manages and does a lot of the cooking in three small restaurants (presumably with still reasonable rents) in the East Village and Soho. He commutes between them on his motorcycle. Chef Pawlicki La Sirene, at the corner of Varick and Broome (near The Film Forum), is celebrating its eighth year in business, and dinner there will tell you why it continues to succeed when so many others fail. The food is wonderful, authentic, home made and portions are generous. It may not be in your neighborhood but it’s my definition of a great, unpretentious neighborhood bistro, a place you can take a date, meet friends or share dinner with colleagues (as a long table of women were doing the night we were there). At a recent press dinner we each ordered what we wanted off the menu, then shared and sampled each other’s dishes. Cheese Tartlet Country Paté Our appetizers were [...]
The Stones of Block Island
When I travel, I don’t spend a lot of time with guidebooks that tell me, in painstaking detail, what monuments and cathedrals to visit or how to best arrange my days. I like to be surprised. Of course, I run the risk of missing “must see” places, but I prefer having my eyes on the new sights and sounds around me rather than in a book or on a cell phone. Given my studious avoidance of touristy facts, I had no idea what to expect when I was invited to stay on Block Island for a few days before the July 4th weekend. It’s the least well known of the three islands – Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket being the other two – within driving (and ferry) distance of New York City. National Hotel from Harbor It turns out that Block Island itself is tiny – about 10 square miles – shaped a bit like a pork chop, with fewer than 1,000 year-round residents. But, as I discovered, the Island offers all the beaches, bike rides, hiking trails, fishing, sailing, and tourist amenities of its larger cousins. Victorian Houses A Visitor Center is just steps from where ferries dock, as are [...]
Ponty Bistro: French-African Restaurant Worth Seeking Out
If you love French food – with imaginative, African spices – then it’s definitely worth seeking out Ponty Bistro, in the Gramercy Park area. The...
Ponty Bistro: French-African Restaurant Worth a Visit
If you love French food – with imaginative, African spices – then it’s definitely worth seeking out Ponty Bistro, in the Gramercy Park area. The...
Western Fantasies of China in Fashion & Art
We have come to expect visual fireworks from Andrew Bolton, Curator of the Anna Wintour Costume Institute, and this year’s extravaganza is no exception. China:...
New York Landmarks, Past and Present
New York City has gone through convulsions of building construction and destruction since it’s earliest days as an American seaport and commercial capital. Even Walt...
Easter Bonnets on Parade
A sure sign of Spring is New York City’s one-and-only Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue. While some New Yorkers were reluctant to give up their...
Balzem Restaurant: Mediterranean in Little Italy
“And tell me what street, compares with Mott Street in July?” Line from the 1925 popular song, “Manhattan” by Lorenz Hart & Richard Rogers When I...
Two New Exhibitions at the Met: From Pre-Modern Native Indian Art to Post-Modern Photography
A breathtakingly beautiful exhibition of North American Plains Indian art recently opened at the Met. Adena Pipe, 1st Century BC Many of the 130 pieces...
Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographs of India and Burma From the 1850s
It’s exceedingly rare to come across a new – and virtually unknown – master photographer who, when photography was in its infancy, produced an outstanding...
Hebrew Illumination For Our Time: The Art of Barbara Wolff
You Renew the Face of the Earth from Psalm 104. The Morgan Library and Museum, well known for its collection of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts,...
Le Village: French Petit Bistro
Restaurants change with the times. Table Verte, which I enthusiastically reviewed when it first opened as a French Vegetarian Bistro about a year ago (see...
Mr. Turner – The Beauty of Art Juxtaposed with the Reality of Life
If you want to see a film whose every frame is as beautifully composed as a painting, go see British Director Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner....
From Dresner’s to Flight
As neighborhoods change, so do neighborhood restaurants. A recent example in my neighborhood has been the closing of Dresner’s, a beloved UES establishment whose low...
Cooper Hewitt Museum Reopens
Cooper Hewitt is back and New Yorkers will be thrilled with the results. Closed for three years, while its East 91st Street Carnegie Mansion home...
The Imitation Game – Breaking the Code
The Imitation Game, if nothing else, confirms the enormous talent of the British actor, Benedict Cumberbatch. Not only is he a compelling performer but someone...
Asymmetric: A Morality Tale Wrapped in a Spy Thriller
If you love Homeland, then you will love Asymmetric. In this play, we are plunked down in the midst of a fast-paced drama about four...
Genesis: Salgado at ICP
The International Center of Photography (ICP), conveniently located at Sixth Avenue and 43rd Street, is moving down to Noho, near the New Museum, for the usual...
Exquisite Early Photographs of Yosemite
Reproductions on this site – or anywhere else – cannot do justice to the 36 photographs of Yosemite Valley created by self-taught photographer – who...
Leaf Peeping – And Much More – In Door County, Wisconsin
Recently, I went leaf peeping in an unexpected place for a New Yorker, Door County, Wisconsin, a 70-mile thumb of land that juts out into...
Spiegel: Israeli-Moroccan Restaurant
Shmulik Avital, an Israeli whose parents are Moroccan, is one of those people who turns his fantasies into reality. For example, a passionate motorcycle rider,...
Pride – Two Unlikely Groups Unite for a Cause
Pride, a British drama-comedy, is the feel-good movie of the Fall. It opens in New York September 26. If you liked, The Full Monty and...
Charles James: Beyond Fashion at the Met
After a ribbon cutting by Michelle Obama to open the renovated Costume Institute, now named the Anna Wintour Costume Center, a none-too-happy press corps, unaccustomed...
Roof Garden “Pavilion” at the Met
This year’s site-specific rooftop installation is a graceful structure – curved steel and two-way mirrored glass – that is both transparent and also reflects visitors...
Da Marcella – Affordable Taverna in Greenwich Village
The place is tiny (46 people), the food delicious, the location midway between my two favorite downtown art movie houses (Film Forum and Angelika), and...
Postcards from Central Park
New Yorkers, and visitors from around the world, swarmed Central Park this weekend, finally released from winter coats and indoor pursuits. Nature, a bit late this...
The AIPAD Photography Show, New York
For collectors, students, museum goers, and lovers of photography, the annual AIPAD show, at the Park Avenue Armory for the next four days, is always...
The Math Museum Is Fun!
I never liked math; I’ve never been good at math, but I love New York’s year-old National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath). I’ve been there twice...
Macy’s Secret Garden
For two weeks in the spring, Macy’s ground floor is turned into a flower show attracting flower lovers from near and far. Although the show...
Spring Break in Rural Texas? Yes, Texas!
Part II Brenham, heart of the Bluebonnet region and County Seat, is the best place to start your tour of the area, whether it’s picking...
Buddhi Thapa: A New York Immigrant’s Life (and Death) -Dear Readers: Step Up and Make A Difference
We are a city of immigrants. We come here to escape poverty and political repression, to make a better life for ourselves, our families, our...
New American Cuisine With A New Orleans Accent
East midtown is chockablock with restaurants, but it’s hard to find really good food – for lunch or dinner — at reasonable prices in a...
Dazzling Contemporary Jewelry at the Met
If you like your jewelry over-the-top, the Met has just the exhibition for you: Jewels by Jar. It’s the first show focused on a contemporary...
Graphic Comics as a Serious Art Form
Art Spiegelman, whose parents survived Auschwitz, but whose mother later committed suicide, grew up in Queens, New York. As a young boy he fell in...
William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time
William Kentridge, born, raised and still living in Johannesburg, is a visual artist and man of ideas. As a white, anti-apartheid South African, his art...
Two Point Oh – Love in the Time of Technology
Two Point Oh, by Jeffrey Jackson, is a truly fascinating play, tailor made for the Information Technology world we live in, yet very much an...
Tradition and Innovation in the East Village
If you are in the East Village, looking for a good plate of pasta accompanied by a first-rate bottle of Italian wine, you might want...
Textiles Tell Tales
Remember how we were taught about Christopher Columbus and the drive to find new routes to spices in the East? Well, it seems that all...
Why We Left Brooklyn
The theme isn’t all that new: one half of a couple, in this case Jason, hasn’t “made it” in New York and is leaving for...
Incognito – Italian-Scottish Bistro?
Yes – Italian Scottish. And as odd as that sounds, If you allow yourself to be initially guided in your menu choices by Paolo Montana...
The MasalaWala: A New Destination Restaurant For Indian Food Lovers
A terrific little Indian restaurant, far from the madding crowd of East 6th Street, has popped up on the trendy Lower East Side, on Essex Street,...
A Hip Art Museum in Downtown Chicago
Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) Tucked away near Water Tower Place in downtown Chicago (opening photo) – between North Lake Shore Drive and the John...
A Potpourri of Paris Parks
Paris parks look and feel remarkably different from New York City’s parks. More formal and floral, they are often integrated into front and back courtyards...
Paris Parks: A Walk on the Green Side
Parks reflect the soul of a culture. So while Parisians are mired in angst about their economy, unemployment, taxes and role in the world, as...
Gradisca – Italian Dining in the West Village
New York is a tough restaurant town, but some restaurants quietly keep on going because their food is great, their service warm and their prices...
Edward Hopper: More Surrealist than Realist
For those who came of age in mid-century America, Hopper was – and remains — emblematic of the Whitney’s role as the leading museum of...
The Brooklyn Museum – Two Not to Be Missed Exhibits
For those who have never been to The Brooklyn Museum – as well as devoted visitors — two world-class exhibitions are now on view through...
Andanada: Modern Spanish Dining Near Lincoln Center
Andanada has a lot going for it. Its location – near Lincoln Center, where there are never enough good dining choices at reasonable prices. Its...
Punk Never Dies
The Costume Institute has done it again – fashioned an exhibition that is stunning, full of fun and glamour, and one that will undoubtedly be...
Photography and the American Civil War: The Camera Went Everywhere
War is hell, and this somber exhibition of the first war to be visually documented and conveyed to the public by the camera, then a...
Bill Brandt: Shadow & Light
For those interested in the history of photography, Bill Brandt: Shadow & Light is a fascinating show that just opened at MoMA. Billed as a...
The Extraordinary in the Ordinary: James Nares’ Video, Street
An unusual new video, Street, just acquired by the Met, is on view in the main gallery of the Museum’s Drawings, Prints and Photographs Galleries....
East Village Gem: A French Vegetarian Bistro
Remember that wonderful advertisement whose tag line was, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s Rye?” It came to mind as I dined...
A Guaranteed Hit at the Met
When I worked in book publishing, the classic joke was that a surefire hit was simple – just publish a book called Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog....
Oficina Latina Restaurant: Pan American Culinary Highway
Cozy, funky and mellow are how I would describe Oficina Latina, a surprising Nolita bistro, whose outstanding food at affordable prices reflects the best of...
Grand Central’s Centennial – A Sight to Behold
As most New Yorkers know, Grand Central Station was saved from demolition through a well-orchestrated preservation campaign led by the Municipal Art Society, and Jacqueline...
History Comes Vividly Back
Curators, scholars and historians love nothing more than coming upon a treasure trove of never-before-seen materials by a significant figure in their field. Happily, two...
Thalassa: Tribeca Standout
Thalassa, tucked into three levels of an historic Tribeca building, just down the street from Nobu, totally transcends its “modern Greek seafood” label. Yes, pristine...
New American Cuisine in a Landmarked Townhouse
De Santos restaurant is housed in a charming, Landmarked, mid-19th Century West Village townhouse with a rakish history. The building has always been a gathering place...
To launch the 7th Annual Latin American Cultural Week in NYC (November 9 – 19), an unusual and rousing all-female multi-media music and dance program,...
Fall Is the Best Time to Visit the Farmers’ Market
Fall brings colorful foliage, but it also brings color to local farmers’ markets. There are red apples and tomatoes, orange pumpkins, yellow sunflowers, green beans,...
Season of the Jewish Book: Two Exhibits and One Personal Discovery
Totally by chance (although maybe somebody up there is watching), two exceptional exhibits focusing on collections of rare Hebraic and Jewish Books and Manuscripts are...
FAKING IT: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop
How many ways are there to manipulate a photograph? (And manipulation means that a final image differs from the initial image.) As many ways as...
Craig Ferguson Deconstructs Late Night TV
Craig Ferguson is unlike any other late night comedian on American television, which is one reason his fans adore him. They were out in force...
She Asks the Tough Questions: Christiane Amanpour
This Friday, a dismal day of rain and humidity in New York, a packed audience gathered in an auditorium of The Paley Center on West...
Sofia Wine Bar—Come to Decompress, Enjoy Italian Food, And Perhaps See A Star from SNL
At 7 p.m. on a splendid Monday evening there were literally dozens of half empty restaurants between 50th and 51st Street on Second Avenue. But...
Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years
“After Warhol, Nothing Looks the Same,” is the provocative tagline for the Met’s major Fall show, Regarding Warhol, Sixty Artists, Fifty Years. This thoughtful exhibition...
Designing Nature: The Rimpa Aesthetic in Japanese Art
In terms of sheer beauty, this is a spectacular little exhibition that will doubtless draw fewer visitors than the Warhol show, but should not be...
The Hammer: Part of the Burgeoning Art Scene in L.A.
Small museums have their virtues, especially for travelers who have only a few hours or days to take in the sights between business meetings or...
Mint–Regional Indian Food in a Quiet, Elegant Setting
It’s refreshing to find, on the East Side of Manhattan, a quiet, elegant, affordable midtown restaurant, a place to take clients for lunch or dinner,...
Art on Park Avenue
It’s summer. Take a lunchtime walk. If you’ve got kids, bring them with you. Or invite friends to stroll up Park Avenue between 52nd and...
Móle Cantina: Mexican Family Recipes
Móle opened on the Upper East Side in March and on each of my three visits it has been packed. It’s easy to see why....
A Taste of Lucca
The pasta of Lucca – a walled city in Tuscany — is something special. Mark Bittman of The New York Times said so a number...
Three New Exhibitions at the Met
This Spring, New York’s venerable institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is offering us an array of goodies – in addition to Schaparelli/Prada — to...
Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations
Although Miuccia Prada (born 1949) was not enthusiastic about the idea of comparing and contrasting her ideas and designs with those of another idiosyncratic Italian...
Edouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses
Paris, between World War I and II, was a glorious era for the arts (Proust, Picasso, Matisse, Stravinsky, The Ballet Russes). It was also a...
A Stellar Cast Delivers a Funny, Colorful Take on Retirement
A great comedy is a rare thing of beauty, to be savored like vintage Bordeaux. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy,...
Botanical Garden’s Orchid Show
This is the final weekend of the Bronx Botanical Garden’s spectacular “Orchid Show.” Highlights include Patrick Blanc’s Vertical Gardens — walls of orchids that dazzle...
Easter Parade: A Feast for the Eyes
Last Sunday, the weather was perfect: sunny, blue skies and in the 60′s. Young and old, male, female and in between came out for New...
The Conservancy Garden in Full Bloom
The Conservatory Garden at 105th Street and Fifth Avenue, a six acre formal garden, whose allées of flowering pink and white crabapples are now in...
Battle of the Ages: Federer Versus Murray
You would think that Federer Versus Murray, a Scottish play first performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe about the Swiss Federer and the Scottish Murray...
Mohamed Nasheed: The Island President—A Credible and Moving Voice on Global Warming
Run do not walk to see a brilliant and important new documentary film about a political and ecological hero, Mohamed Nasheed, the recently ousted President...
AIPAD Showcases Photography for Professionals and Fans
This is photography week in New York City. Exhibitors and collectors from Boston to Beijing are in town to participate in The Association of International...
Fiorini—Classic Italian Fare from Lello Arpaia
If you are looking for a calm, grown up midtown restaurant for lunch, after work, a movie or day of shopping, where the food is...
The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso And the Parisian Avant Garde
Ten years in the making, The Steins Collect, a stunning exhibition, not only offers us great paintings by Matisse and Picasso (as well as Bonnard,...
Cindy Sherman: From the 1970s to the Present
Two major exhibitions arrived in New York this week: a retrospective of Cindy Sherman at MoMA and The Steins Collect at the Met. They are,...
Vincent Chirico’s Vai—West Side Newcomer is Hot
The blocks between 79th and 81st Streets on Amsterdam are chockablock with restaurants but few good ones. A newcomer, Vai, whose focus is contemporary Mediterranean...
The Renaissance Portrait: From Donatello to Bellini
It’s hard to over praise this landmark exhibition. It’s so filled with ravishingly beautiful portraits – paintings, drawings, sculpture, manuscript illumination and medallions – by...
Morso—Reasonably Priced Food with a Pedigree
Good news for Upper East Siders: Morso, a new, reasonably priced top-drawer contemporary Italian restaurant with Mediterranean ingredients recently opened, tucked away on the ground...
Welcome to the Neighborhood—Not!
Is there anything more dangerous – or funnier – than self-righteous extremists? Yes, those who live in a gated community, as Alan Ayckbourn deftly demonstrates...
From Rainbows to Sunsets—Jet-Away to La Romana, Dominican Republic
Two-week vacations are so-o-o-o 20th Century. Who has the time? Or the money? Or the patience? Today, it’s “getaways,” especially winter “getaways,” because they give...
Seniors Join the Protest in Zucotti Park
We're Fifty Plus, Don't Mess With Us...
The “New Cuisine” of Mexico’s Colonial CitiesPart III – Chefs Ada Valencia and Monica Solis
Forget everything you think you know about Mexican food—it’s heavy, it’s fried, it’s fattening—and come with me to discover new, sophisticated Mexican cuisine in the...
Diego Rivera Murals for The Museum of Modern Art
What could be more timely in New York City, as the Occupy Wall Street movement grows and expands, than an exhibition of the murals of...
The “New Cuisine” of Mexico’s Colonial Cities: Part II – San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato
Forget everything you think you know about Mexican food – it’s heavy, it’s fried, it’s fattening – and come with me to discover new, sophisticated...
The “New Cuisine” of Mexico:Part I – Mexico City and Queretero
Forget everything you think you know about Mexican food – it’s heavy, it’s fried, it’s fattening – and come with me to discover new, sophisticated...
Stieglitz Reigns at the Met
Didn’t we just see Stieglitz at the Met a year ago? Well, yes and no. We saw Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand, three masters of early 20th...
White and Church—Chef Matteo Boglione’s Masterpiece
Owner/Chef Matteo Boglione, from Florence, is the real deal: a passionate chef turning out amazing northern Italian food — refined and beautifully presented small plates...
William deKooning at MoMA
William deKooning and women belong together like ice cream and hot fudge sauce. In fact, deKooning came to the U.S. in 1926 (stowing away on...
The Select (The Sun Also Rises)
Last year, Elevator Repair Service (ERS) stunned New York theatergoers with a six-hour production, Gatz, a word-for-word dramatization of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby....
Gay Pride Parade—A Joyous Celebration
Sunday’s Gay Pride Parade down Fifth Avenue, following on the heels of New York State’s historic vote, late Friday night, to legalize same-sex marriage......
New York’s “Garden in the Sky” Grows
On opening day of The High Line, Section 2, two women, in particular, were beaming: New York City Planning Director and Chair of the City Planning Commission,......
Intimations of Spring
On the first warm day of Spring, with everyone out on the streets and dulcet breezes blowing, it was pure pleasure to stroll past the Mayor’s hyacinths......
New York in Black and White
For a short time after a fresh snowfall, New York is a masterpiece in black and white. Wrought iron fences hold onto the fluffy white stuff creating beautiful......
Lennon Fans Enjoy a Rockin’ Birthday Celebration
Beatles’ historian, Martin Lewis, a self-confessed “Johnaholic,” hosted a joyful, down-home, rocking birthday concert to celebrate John Lennon’s......
El Barrio—Lively Scene in August
El Barrio on a Saturday in August is a riot of color. Salsa music — recorded and live — is playing on almost every corner. People congregate outside,......
People Watching New York Style
It is the wonderful mix of people — their faces, colors, outfits, attitude, zaniness — that makes New York so special. Walking a New York Street is......
Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917
You don’t have to be an art historian or curator to love this exhibition, although it helps. For passionate Matisse lovers who couldn’t care less about......
Le Périgord—Classic French Food Bliss
Twenty years ago my parents, with refined European palettes of the first order, hosted their 50th wedding anniversary dinner in the private party room......
The Getty: A Beacon Of Culture, L.A.-Style
You don’t have to love art to love The Getty Center in Los Angeles. Although it helps. Yes, it’s a museum with some seriously beautiful paintings and......
Riverside Park—Photographer’s Paradise
What is wonderful about New York is finding so many opportunities to take great photos. Riverside Park on a sunny day provided one possibility after another.......
Governors Island: Open for the Summer—Come Visit!
Want to get away for a day? Spend the day having a picnic, riding bikes, and enjoying a fascinating art exhibit? Then visit Governors Island, the former......
Governors Island Is Changing
Governors Island has just reopened for the summer season. And there is new art to view. So get out your walking shoes, bikes and picnic baskets to enjoy......
Three Museums Focus on Women
Does pouring a lot of money into a show make it better? You can decide by traveling first to the Brooklyn Museum to view “American High Style: Fashioning......
A Tangled Web on the Metropolitan’s Roof
Just in time for the warm weather, the Metropolitan Museum has installed a stunning display—Doug + Mike Starn’s Big Bambú. A jungle gym for adults......
Springtime Blooms in New York
Suddenly, overnight, New York’s street and parks were bursting with blooms. The timing couldn’t have been better. We are so ready for spring flowers. Springtime...
Prowling the Streets with a Camera
“I prowled the streets all day, feeling very strung-up and ready to pounce, determined to ‘trap’ life – to preserve life in the act of living.” Cartier-Bresson......
Here Comes the Sun—Finally!
Spring is our reward for winter, and this year — after a record snowfall in February, and a record rain in March — we treasured our reward more than......
Asphalt Green—An Oasis in Manhattan
The Asphalt Green complex—two buildings linked by a green Super Turf athletic field—is a low-rise oasis amidst the Upper East Side’s high-rise apartment......
William Kentridge at MoMA: Five Themes
I saw my first Kentridge animated film, Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City After Paris, consisting of charcoal hand drawings for projection, over a decade......
At The Crossroads of the World, Never a Dull Moment
Visually, there is never a dull moment in the Times Square area, even at high noon. Instead of flashing lights and theater-goers......
Woman Around Town: Karen Altfest: Money Management
“One of the tough things for women is that they don’t have role models for handling their money,” says Karen Altfest, Principal Advisor and Executive......
Three Exhibits at the Museum of the City of New York
The modest Museum of the City of New York, at 103rd Street and Fifth Avenue, is now running four fabulous shows. Well edited, they consist of: Photographs......
California Dreamin’ on Such a Winter’s Day
There is a reason why the movie business wound up in L.A. It has beautiful light, especially after a cleansing......
Strolling Around the Old-New Lower East Side
New York is a street-photographer’s paradise. Nowhere is the contrast between old and new more evident than......
David Hockney: Paintings 2006-2009
Strolling into a Fifth Avenue or Chelsea gallery on a crisp November day and catching the latest work of world-class artists is one of the great pleasures......
Governors Island: Little-Known Park Treasure
“Who knew it was this close,” said one friend. “Who knew the ferry was free,” said another. “And what a fabulous view of downtown.” Like most......
The High Line-An Architectural Gem
The High Line, which opened June 9 is New York’s ultimate Cinderella—an abandoned West Side railroad line slated for demolition......
The Noho Star—A Neighborhood Place for Everyone
The Noho Star is my favorite neighborhood restaurant, even though it isn’t in my neighborhood. But whenever I go to a downtown......
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