Manducatis (LIC): Mangia Monday

Manducatis LIC

  • Why it’s worth it: From the outside, Manducatis doesn’t even look like a restaurant, but as you will learn, you don’t go here for a trendy or romantic vibe; you go here for the pasta and the history.
  • Vibe/layout: The front room contains a bar and looks more like a rec room with a bunch of boxes than a restaurant; however, the rest of this ‘straunt feels like one big living room, complete with lace curtains, houseplants and a wood-burning fireplace. This ‘straunt has been hosting curators, sculptors and painters from P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center for over 30 years. Usually a place would frame photos of famous/favorite customers on the wall; however, in Manducatis’ case, the reverse happened: P.S. 1 exhibited 11 candid black-and-white photographs of the Cerbone couple taken by Howard Gross.
  • Ideal meal: Ricotta gnocchi with pesto or red sauce and mozzarella ($18)
  • The story:  Operated since 1977 and owned by Italian immigrants, Vincenzo and Ida Cerbone and now their son, Anthony, Manducatis is as unique as it gets. Ida, the cook, learned her skills in Italy and makes her gnocchi with ricotta, not potato. The food comes out on large plates that bear the black-and-white childhood photograph of chef and co-owner, Ida. When the Cerbones got married, Vincenzo had the plates made, so customers are essentially eating off of the Cerbones’ wedding dishes. Talk about a personal touch.
  • ‘Straunt tip: Check out a Moma PS1 Warm Up party, then head to Manducatis for a bite to eat and then to Dutch Kills, the speakeasy down the street, for a drink.
  • Address: Long Island City, 13-27 Jackson Ave (47th & Jackson)
  • Prices: $18

Manducatis on Urbanspoon

Mulberry Project (Little Italy): Speakeasy

Mulberry Project Little Italy Speakeasy

  • Getting in: On a strip of Little Italy mostly known for its red-sauce Italian ‘straunts and cannoli vendors, The Mulberry Project hides from sight, behind a recessed red door below street level. Reservations for the backyard are recommended and on weekends a doorman will stand outside past 10pm.
  • Vibe/layout: This speakeasy is stylish without being pretentious. The interior is small, long and narrow with a few choice black leather booths along one wall and bright red metal bar stools at the bar. The bright crimson mural created by Kurtis Kulig (aka LoveMe at the Ace Hotel) highlights the speakeasy’s focal point, the bar, transforming it into a “stage” for cocktail craftsmanship. The dim lighting and color scheme, along with the industrial lamps dangling from the low ceiling, illuminate the energy and focus of this speakeasy: cocktails. In the summer, the back graffiti-decorated garden and patio is open (and is AMAZING).
  • Drinks: Order a custom-crafted cocktail. Period. I chose the ingredients of my drink from the chalkboard menu, my poison, desired flavors (sweet, spicy, sour, etc) and a selection of fresh fruit, et voila! My vodka-based mango cocktail with a bit of fizz was delicious! The combinations will vary from day-to-day and bartender to bartender, but the cocktails are all beautifully executed.
  • F.Y.I.: A collection of nightlife all-stars (Milk & Honey, Boom Boom Room, Surf Lodge, Bagatelle, RdV) reinvented their cocktails, menu and decor with this speakeasy.
  • Address: Little Italy, 149 Mulberry St (Mulberry & Grand)
  • Prices: Cocktails are around $15

The Mulberry Project on Urbanspoon

Chop-Shop (Chelsea)

Chop-Shop

  • Why it’s worth it: Chop-Shop, a Chinese/Southeast Asian restaurant, is a hidden gem in Chelsea, that is perfect for an early evening, post-gallery or pre-sunset on the High Line.
  • Vibe/layout: The decor of the cozy indoor portion of this ‘straunt is minimalist white, with the vibe low-key and inviting. The back of this ‘straunt opens up into an intimate garden patio with fairy string lights wrapped around tree branches (perfect for a date or gathering with close friends).
  • Ideal meal: Pan fried pork dumplings ($8) & spicy drunken noodle ($14)
  • F.Y.I.: This ‘straunt is unique such that there are no “starters” or “entrees;” there is just a list of dishes and their prices, all of which are amazing.
  • ‘Straunt tip: Check out the Kobra mural on 25th & 10th and then head to Chop-Shop for a delicious dinner!
  • Address: Chelsea, 254 10th Ave (corner of 25th St)
  • Prices: $7-$16

Chop-Shop on Urbanspoon

Freemans (LES): Brunch

Freemans

  • Why it’s worth it: Freemans is a cute brunch spot hidden at the end of an alley, serving up homey food in a cozy and unique atmosphere. If you’re looking for a spot to take a party larger than 6, look no further.
  • Vibe/layout: This spacious ‘straunt has two cocktail bars and plenty of seating, but is a collection of intimate smaller rooms with taxidermy, artfully nicked floors and fairy string lights. All of these accessories set the tone for this ‘straunt’s rustic homey feel.
  • Ideal meal: Any/all of the following: Hot artichoke dip with crisp bread ($13), bacon, fried egg & cheddar cheese on a buttermilk biscuit ($11) or five cheese macaroni ($14)
  • Address: LES, 191 Chrystie St (at the end of Freeman’s Alley)
  • Price: $6-$14

Freemans on Urbanspoon

Rosemary’s (West Village): Mangia Monday

rosemary's

  • Why it’s worth it: Rosemary’s is perfect for catching up with friends and/or family. This ‘straunt takes pride in its rooftop garden, which sources many of its fresh ingredients featured on the menu, and its chef, Wade Moises, who studied under Mario Batali (at Babbo and Lupa).
  • Vibe/Layout: This barn-like ‘straunt boasts a large open floor plan packed with rustic tables, industrial bulb chandeliers, greenery and oversized windows. Festive strings of lights dangle from the exposed rafters and give this ‘straunt it’s airy, tasteful and modern decor. The ‘straunt has a large bar area in the back and is scattered with communal tables and circular dining tables in the front.
  • Ideal Meal: Bucatini pesto rosso ($13)
  • Straunt tip: Grab a bite to eat here and then head to Big Gay Ice Cream down the block for some amazing ice cream.
  • F.Y.I.: Rosemary’s is named after the owner’s, Carlos Suarez’s (also owner of Bobo), mother. The ‘straunt is outfitted in mirror frames built from vintage farm equipment, tabletops constructed from the floors of an old bicycle factory and lanterns rescued from a municipal building in France.
  • Address: West Village, 18 Greenwich Ave (W 10th St)
  • Prices: $6-$26

Rosemary's on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar: Love at first bite

Because Steve Aoki loves cake, and in honor of his announcement of a free concert on September 30th in NYC, we wanted to share the spot that served us the best piece of cake in all of NYC… Momofuku Milk Bar.

momofuku milk bar

  • Why it’s worth it: Take one bite of the crack or candy bar pie and it’s love at first bite.
  • Vibe/Layout: Grab your cake and go!
  • Ideal meal: Crack pie & candy bar pie (all slices are $5.50 each)
    • Don’t worry, the crack pie contains no crack, just butter, heavy cream, brown sugar and a little corn flour.
    • The candy bar pie has toffee, house made nougat and a chocolate cookie crust. Plus, it’s topped with mini pretzels!
  • Address:
  • Prices:$5.50 a slice, $44 a pie

Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Schiller’s Liquor Bar (LES)

Schiller's Liquor Bar LES American

  • Why it’s worth it: Schiller’s Liquor Bar is a casual neighborhood American ‘straunt, perfect for rowdy or friendly group dinners or lunches.
  • Vibe/Layout: This ‘straunt’s dining room has floor to ceiling windows open to the street and a large and curvy bar for dining or drinking. The walls are tiled like subway stations, smudged and cracked perfectly, and mirrors are placed along some of the walls to elicit this ‘straunt’s collaboration between a pub, bistro, trattoria, tapas bar and diner.
  • Ideal meal: Macaroni & Cheese with bacon ($11); my co-eater loved the Eggs Norwegian ($15)
  • F.Y.I.: The owner, Keith McNally, published the Schiller’s Liquor Bar Cocktail Collection, a series of four books of recipes from Schiller’s Liquor Bar. The collection includes books on the following topics: classic cocktails, artisanal updates, seasonal drinks and the bartender’s handbook.
  • Straunt tip: If you’re into boutique men’s clothing shops (skate shop-esque), then check out the hidden Alife Rivington Club (buzz for entry) across the street from this ‘straunt.
  • Address: Lower East Side, 131 Rivington St (Corner of Norfolk & Rivington)
  • Prices: $4-$26

Schiller's Liquor Bar on Urbanspoon