Last month, just a few days before Halloween, I took a quick trip to New York. After an all-day photoshoot at DCA, I hopped in my car and drove the 4hrs to NY to surprise my friend Alyssa last minute, who was there to attend Lewis Howes' private book release party.
Originally I had planned on arriving in time to surprise her in person as the party was ending, but timing between my photoshoot and her party evolving into an afterparty (I should have seen that coming) meant that plan didn't exactly fall together. A bit past midnight I ended up calling her from her lower Manhattan hotel lobby to ask, "where the hell are you?!?," stunning her explaining that I was just five blocks from her party, and get into the room to drop my stuff off. At about 1AM I finally caught up with her in Chinatown, and we searched for about an hour for a place to eat that was open (that wasn't a bar - all the bars' kitchens were of course closed). In doing this, we found that Little Italy was already decked out in Christmas decor, before Halloween mind you. Chinatown also had their lights up, but they weren't turned on.
We finally found a deli 3 blocks from the hotel, grabbed food, and brought it back to the hotel before collapsing from exhaustion.
The next day was our exploration day. This was just like every other NYC trip I've been on - an overnighter that only allows you to see or do a few select things. This time was different because we were exploring NY in a hurricane though. It rained all day, in bands of varying intensity.
I decided to start our day by going to brunch at a place in Greenwich Village I love. On the way there, we passed a quaint little corner bookstore. Often mistaken for, but not the same as, the completely fictional "Shop Around the Corner" in "You've Got Mail," Three Lives & Co. keeps the corner bookstore tradition alive in Greenwich Village.
Gottino is an Italian wine bar in Greenwich Village that serves brunch and dinner. Alyssa (speaking in Italian) happened to order the same thing I got the last time I visited Gottino several years ago, and I instantly went for the smoked salmon, because you *have* to when you see that on the menu. This is a place where it's not just accepted, but encouraged, to enjoy a glass of wine with breakfast (maybe the Italians are on to something?). I do hope they stick around for many more years to come.
Our next stop was to the National September 11th Memorial, as every previous time I've been to New York it has been either under construction, or only open to family of victims; this was the first trip I've been since it's opened to the general public, so it was all but required that we visit.
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is so important; it deserves its own post. Look for that part of our trip on the next blog entry. That also means this post is going to be significantly shorter, since that was the majority of our trip.
Because of the rain, it would have been completely pointless to try and do anything like Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building (two places I've been to but not up). I did however happen across the Flatiron Building completely by accident - a building I've always wanted to see, but have never looked up to actually find where it is. It was really quite something. Another day, with more time, I'd like to see it from all sides.
As with every trip to New York I've had thus far, time has been short. It wasn't long before I had to get Alyssa to the Port Authority Bus Terminal so she could catch her ride back home to Rhode Island. This is actually the only photo of us in NY, just moments before she hopped on her bus. Somewhat ironically, halfway back to Providence, her bus got hit by a falling tree branch (this WAS during a hurricane, remember), breaking the windshield and stranding everyone on board for almost 2 hours.
Since I drove, and could at that point basically do anything I wanted without time constraint, after a little coffee break and regroup I decided to hop back on the train downtown to the World Trade Center - Alyssa and I had only seen the memorial earlier since there wasn't enough time to see the museum before having to get her to her bus. I chose to see the 9/11 Museum; not only is this something I have wanted to visit for years, but it was fitting to do so after seeing the Memorial for the first time. You'll see that in the next blog post.
By time I finished the 9/11 Museum, I was starting to feel worn out, it was dark and I knew I should soon hit the road, but I also knew the Holland Tunnel was jammed with rush hour traffic. I also knew I was hungry. I had a hunch that I should head uptown to Greenwich Village (where I dropped my car) and find a place to eat before hitting the road - roaming until a place popped out at me turned out to be a happy hunch.
It didn't take long. I happened upon John's of Bleecker Street; a pizzaria that has been open since 1929. No Slices. No reservations. No credit cards. Definitely the best pizza in Greenwich Village; possibly the best in all of Manhattan. My gut knows a good place when it sees one - I'd never heard of you before, but John, you had a new fan as soon as I sat down in the booth.
Now, isn't that the most amazing pizza you've ever seen? Pepperoni, onions, and ricotta. All mine. Gimme.
I drove the leftovers back home, eating them about five hours later upon my arrival.
A block from picking up my car I spotted this place across the street. Certainly curious, but I wanted to hit the road, was too lazy to cross the street, and most of wall was stuffed from the pizza :-) Check out their website - their menu page is pretty awesome (roll over the flavors). Their storefront seems to be a cross between The Color Run and The Squatty Potty.
My drive home was through the tail end of the hurricane we'd endured all day. It was mostly rain, so it was slow, and I took several extended breaks along the way, but at least there was no traffic at 2 and 3 AM. And the pump guys at the New Jersey gas station loved my car; one of them was a fellow G37 driver. "Man, this ride is *clean*!"