A couple of times a year, I make it into NYC for a few days of friends, food, wine, and shopping. It also gives me a chance to experience life briefly as a local in one of the many neighborhoods that make up the City. This time I found a perfect airbnb location in the West Village, which provided an ideal base for dinners and visits with friends Jeremy, Dan and Charisse, and Jan, while also walking 4-5 miles a day.
The first night Jeremy and I finally ate at Mario Batali’s Babbo Restaurant. I felt very lucky to get a table in prime time that evening, and the restaurant lived up to its exalted reputation. I could not resist the seafood specialties like octopus and sardines, nor the excellent Sicilian wine.
That afternoon, after arriving in the city on the Limoliner bus, I wandered around the neighborhood looking for a late lunch/snack. The streets were full of visual character, so I snapped several shots, and then I found a tiny but very tasty Israeli falafel shop, Taim. I had stumbled upon a real gem and enjoyed the falafel sandwich considerably.
The next day I visited Jan in Brooklyn, then returned to Manhattan to shop at BuonItalia, and had the pleasure of meeting Dan and Charisse for dinner at an outstanding Greek restaurant, Snack Taverna, back in the West Village. We shared some dishes and ordered others just for ourselves. My favorites included the Saganaki — made with kefalotyri cheese dusted in flour and sautéed, some braised greens with lemon, and grilled Portobello mushrooms. They also had the Estate Argyros Assyrtiko from Santorini, my favorite wine from the best producer on the island. The newly-betrothed couple looked great and were lots of fun, as always.
Two more meals – one dinner and lunch the next day — completed the trip. Jan suggested an old-style, unassuming, but totally authentic Campania restaurant in NoLita: Balloto. Charisse was traveling so Dan joined me, and we feasted on the Neapolitan food, under the watchful eye of the passionate and genuine owner, Emilio.
Don’t worry; the Chicken Parmesan was for Dan.
For my last lunch I walked a few blocks from the apartment to eat at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market restaurant in the Meatpacking District. I had two dishes: Spicy Mushroom Noodles and Wok-Seared Sriracha-Spiked Rainbow Chard. Extremely flavorful and satisfyingly spicy, they made a fine lunch along with a glass of Albarino.
Now you know why I love New York, especially in small quantities.