Incognito Bistro Puts a Fresh Scottish Spin on Italian Favorites

incognito nyc italian bistro

Is Incognito the only Scottish-Italian restaurant in Manhattan? That's what I kept wondering while I gleefully made my way through nearly a third of the Incognito NYC menu the other night, a grateful guest of Chef Paolo Montana and his partner Adriana Moretti. Chef Montana is a native Scot who learned and sharpened his considerable skill in one of Glasgow's finest Italian restaurants (apparently there's a sizable Italian community in that city) before landing in New York, where he ran the kitchen for a decade in a Chelsea Italian spot. Then two summers ago Montana and Moretti (who's also Scotch-Italian) opened Incognito, and recently amplified their dual heritage on the menu, adding a "Scottish Corner" to the festivities. It's a move that, after gorging myself silly, I heartily approve. 

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Are These Contenders For The Best New Burgers In NYC?

The Golden Age of NYC burgers continues forward with a pair of terrific entries into what is shaping up to be a hotly contested Best New Burgers 2015 race. It still amazes and gratifies me how many spots serve up crave-worthy burgers these days. Time was that the dish was little more than thrown-together menu "escape hatch" for picky eaters at any sort of mid-priced restaurant, and most of your other burger options were either of the local diner variety (don't get me wrong: some of which were, and still are, great) or fast food (no thanks always). Not today, when any burger aficionado worth his or her salt can reel off a dozen or more truly great places all over the city. Anyway, enough reminiscing: here are my two recent favorites, both of which are in neighborhoods–western Soho; the West Village–in which you are likely to find yourself, and, if you're like me, probably hungry, as you go about your NYC adventuring.

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Food Wonderland Le District Opens in Battery Park City

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With the massive Hudson Eats now completely filled with vendors (Northern Tiger and its first-rate noodles snagged the final spot this spring), does Battery Park City's Brookfield Place really need more places to eat? Well, yeah, sure… especially if you're talking about Le District, the sprawling "Eataly but with French food" market/restaurant/wine bar/cafe complex which opened last month on the ground floor right off the Winter Palace and, after a staggered start, is now operating at full capacity. The look of the place is kind of contemporary-industrial, with concrete floors, raw metal details, and low ceilings throughout the marketplace, with a more fancy vibe within the main restaurant and bar area. The legions of staffers and servers behind the counters and roaming the floor are helpful, friendly, and efficient. And though prices are high–I noticed several items right off the bat that were many dollars more than what they cost at nearby Whole Foods–the quality level of the fresh foods at Le District seems to be equally so, and will likely be appreciated by BPC locals looking for last-minute hors d'oeuvres or a nice piece of meat or fish to cook for dinner.

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Your Last Minute Guide to Frieze NYC Art Fair Weekend

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It might not get as much publicity (nor as much high-end art-world money mayhem) as March's Armory Art Fair and its many attendant satellites, but the Frieze Art Fair, now in its fourth spring here in New York City, may even be more fun, with more interesting art, that anything that goes on over at the piers these days. And this despite its seemingly isolated Randall's Island location! Or maybe that's why Frieze, to me, has become the more exciting annual adventure these days, because it almost feel like a day trip, like you're really going somewhere, especially if you take the ferry over? And if you don't have time this weekend to commit to Frieze (or if you want to see even more art!), two additional fairs are also setting up shop, the brash Select NYC, held in Chelsea; and the funky NADA, near the South Street Seaport. Here's a quick look at what you can expect…       

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Your Guide to the Best of NYC’s Free Outdoor Summer Movies

nyc-free-summer-movies-2015-brooklyn-bridge-parkLike everything else in this town that involves large crowds and corporate-sponsored fun in public spaces, the free summer movie festival season has exploded these past few years, with established series drawing more people than ever and new ones gaining an instant following. And although most of these series seem to me to show the same couple dozen movies every year (Jurassic Park, Top Gun, Jaws, Back to the Future, Die Hard, Ghostbusters… yup they're all playing again somewhere in the city this summer), there are also enough newish titles on the collective slates (Frozen! Big Hero 6! American Hustle! uh…. Snarknado 2?!) to keep things interesting. Anyway, most of these have the same basic logistics–get there early, bring food, don't expect absolute quiet, enjoy the communal aspect of the thing–but here's a quick look at most of what's going on this season…

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The New Downtown Whitney Is a Spectacular Success

View of the terraces at the Downtown WhitneyIt's definitely the cultural event of the season, and probably the year, the opening of the new downtown Whitney Museum of American Art, moving from their Upper East Side home of nearly 50 years to the gleaming new building hard by the West Side Highway in the Meatpacking District. As an event in 21st-century New York City, the opening of the new Whitney is significant for many reasons, from the obvious–even in this town of non-stop change, it's rare indeed to get an new major museum–to the broader historical implications, as it in many ways cements the years-long movement of Manhattan's cultural heart downtown. Located at the southern end of the High Line, it also puts an exclamation point on the astonishing transformation of this part of town, which in a decade or two has pretty much been completely remade from an industrial area with a lively (and seedy) nightlife scene, to a residential, bridge-and-tunnel, tourist destination. Just amazing. None of which would matter much if the new building turned out to be flop, but fortunately for everyone, the opposite is true. The new downtown Whitney is a resounding success, for casual art enthusiasts, for the inevitable hordes of tourists, and for hardcore museum geeks alike. 

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NYC Best Meaty Eats: Great Steaks In Brooklyn

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South Williamsburg has long been a hot spot for people who like to eat really, really good meat. There's the pioneering steak house Peter Luger, of course, which has been around, in one form another, since the late-1800s and has topped Zagat's "Best Steakhouse" list for 30 years in a row. There's the pioneering BBQ joint Fette Sau, slinging its 'cue out of old auto-body repair shop at the end of driveway (which also serves as the outdoor seating area) and was schooling us about the intense pleasure of smoked meat years before the likes of Mighty Quinn's, Briskettown, and Hill Country joined the fray. There's the pioneering fried chicken spot Pies n' Thighs, which used to feed the faithful in the mid-aughts from an almost literal hole-in-the-wall beneath the Williamsburg Bridge. And though the neighborhood has changed enormously in the past few years, the first-rate meat-restaurant tradition seems to be hanging strong. Witness: the open-fire steak house St. Anselm on Metropolitan (across the street from its sister Fette Sau); and the self-explanatory Meat Hook Sandwich Shop on Lorimer, which shows that the best butchers in NYC also know how to make you an amazing lunch.    

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Best Ways to Celebrate National Bike Month in NYC

Best Ways To Celebrate National Bike MonthAnything that helps promote or increase the use of bicycles in this beautiful city of ours is just fine by me, so although I'm usually pretty skeptical about made-up "holidays" like Wisconsin Waffle Week or whatever, this one seems worth getting excited about. That's right, the upcoming month of May has once again been designated as National Bike Month—-this has been a thing since 1956!–which means it's an excellent time to reiterate all of the benefits of biking. Namely: biking in NYC is healthy for you, personally; it's an extremely efficient way to get around town (especially for short trips and especially especially for going crosstown); it eases crowding on subways and buses; it's a lot cheaper and way more fun that driving, or hailing a cab, or summoning Uber; it releases zero greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. To help celebrate all of these wonderful things for you and your city, here are few cycling-related events and such going on around town, both this month and every month.     

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Teresita Fernández’s Fata Morgana Glows In Madison Square Park

Teresita Fernandez Fata Morgana, in Madison Square ParkThe curators at the Madison Square Park Conservancy cultural arm, Mad. Sq. Art, have over the past five years or given us probably the most consistently interesting and engaging series of public art works as any group or space anywhere in New York City. From Jamie Plensa's Echo (that was the big white head) to Ivan Navarro's secretly neon-lit water towers This Land Is Your Land; from Paula Hayes's steampunkish Gazing Globes to Orly Genger's Red Blue and Yellow undulating rope walls; from Tony Cragg's giant, dynamic Walks of Life sculptures to Antony Gormley's menacing/protective figures of his Event Horizon piece, looming on the surrounding buildings… again and again, Madison Square Park makes room for compelling works of art. The latest installation is one of Mad. Sq. Art's most ambitious–and, subsequently, most controversial–pieces yet, a "tree-canopy" of mirrors leaves covering the main pathways surrounding the center lawn, Fata Morgana by Tersita Fernandez.

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What Are The Newest Rides And Attractions At Coney Island?

Wonder Wheel at Coney Island

Frigid temps last week notwithstanding (what WAS that, by the way??), with May on the horizon it seems like it's really time to get your summer-bucket-list game on. For me, both when my kids were little and right up until now, hitting the amusement parks along the Coney Island boardwalk is always a seasonal NYC must-do. And this month's the perfect time to go, because all the rides are up and running every weekend (they all go full-time starting on Memorial Day weekend and then through Labor Day), and it's warm but not hot, but because most folks are still in school-mode, the crowds are extremely manageable. Like, when I went last weekend? You could walk right up to any ride and get on, virtually no lines for anything anywhere.  

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