Parm Battery Park Is Now Open!

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Starting in what seems like forever ago but was really just right at the tail end of 2009, Rich Torrisi, Mario Carbone and Jeff Zalaznick have transformed the look and feel (and taste!) of fine dining in this town. First there was the tasting menu at Torrisi Italian Specialties, and then, in succession, several insanely expensive but much-loved restaurants such as Carbone, ZZ's Clam Bar, Dirty French and, most recently (and slightly less pricey-ly), the lovely "coastal Italian" Santina underneath the High Line and right next door to the new Whitney. All of these are too rich for my blood, but the trio's Major Food Group have made a noteworthy exception to their high-end strategy, the excellent Parm, whose first location was on Mulberry Street, the second on the Upper West Side (which is still packed nightly), and now, finally, the third has opened in Brookfield Plaza in Battery Park City. This is terrific news for everyone who lives here, everyone who works here, everyone who comes to see lots of movies here.

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Summer Streets 2015: Party on Park Avenue Starts This Saturday!

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Although every year I wish they'd ban cars from all city streets for the whole summer (just kidding. kind of.) I am always grateful when I hear that the now-traditional Summer Streets is returning for yet another season. That's right, for three consecutive Saturdays starting this weekend, August 1, almost seven miles of one of Manhattan's widest and most famous thoroughfares will be designated pedestrian- and bicycle-only, with tons of family-orientated activities at major rest areas all along the route. Plus, the big news: there's going to be a GIANT WATER SLIDE. If you're in town on any of these Saturdays, I urge you to get up and out early and take full advantage of the occasion. It's one of my favorite August events, always more fun than I expect it to be, and a terrific opportunity to meet your neighbors and laugh and chat with your fellow citizens of this wonderful city. Here is everything you need to know…    

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The Best Of The Best At The Brooklyn Museum

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The Sneaker show may be getting all the hype as *the* summer exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, but remember: this is a big place! In addition to an impressive, usually pretty empty-of-tourists permanent collection of works from ancient Egypt to 21st-century Brooklyn (they call these "Long-Term Installations", and they are filled with strange and beautiful things), the museum is also hosting a number of other exhibitions this summer-into-early-fall, all of which combined are more than worth a trip out there on the 2/3 train. I did my best to cover it all last weekend, and found a lot of crowd-pleasing fun, a couple of big surprises, and a stunningly sad and moving piece just to keep things real. Here are my thoughts on it all…  

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Belle Reve Brings A Party And Great Food To Tribeca

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The northern reaches of Tribeca, that semi-barren zone just below Canal Street, has long been the site of the neighborhood's rowdier side, where bar and restaurant patrons can spill out onto nearly-empty (especially in the summer!) streets and get a little feel for the freedom this whole part of town used to grant its nighttime visitors. Have a blast! Go a little crazy! No one's watching! And while many of the establishments in this vicinity have seemingly been around forever (Nancy Whiskey Pub, Tribeca Tavern, that old bad-behavior icon Odeon), a new place just opened in February on the prime corner of Church and Walker that, both aesthetically and attitude-wise, seems like it fits right in. It's called Belle Reve, and if you like to have fun while eating some top-quality bar-ish food, this is the next spot you need to check out around here.       

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Top Five Best NYC Waterfront Bars

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 As a setting for recreation and relaxation (and eating and drinking), the long and varied waterfront of New York City has been embraced in recent years as never before. Hudson River Park on the west side, running all the way from Battery Park City to Inwood; the East River Esplanade bringing new life to the recently residential South Street Seaport area; the enormous, extremely popular Brooklyn Bridge Park, which may have surpassed the big inland parks (Central, Prospect) this season in terms of community activities and events; Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, home of the landmarked Pepsi sign and nifty private nooks… all of this is new to the city in the last decade or so. And all of which is to say: excellent, there's been an enormous amount of development on the water; now where can get a drink? Here's a good start… 

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The Rise of Sneaker Culture at Brooklyn Museum

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If summer is a time when the living is easy–and I firmly agree that we should all at least try to make it so… the thrilling bustle of fall will be with us again soon enough–then the Brooklyn Museum has the perfect way to spend an hour of so on a hot July or August afternoon. That's right, The Rise of Sneaker Culture exhibition may have been mocked by a certain segment of city's cultural elite (nothing new for the Brooklyn Museum, which has a recent history of presenting family-friendly, crowd-pleasing shows to boost attendance and get people in the habit of going to museums, which is, of course, a good thing for everyone), but if you or your kids have any sort of connection to any era of sneaker-hood, from today's most insane new designs to the '80s NBA and hip hop styles to the PF Flyers and OG Pro Keds of my own personal youth, you will no question enjoy this show.

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Seward Johnson’s Sculptures Bring Fun to The Garment District

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This is truly a boom time for public art in New York City, by far the busiest summer that I can ever remember, with crowd-pleasing full-scale exhibitions and whimsical (though still monumental) sculptures on display all over town. From the Park Avenue median to Madison Square Park to Governors Island; from Brooklyn Bridge Park to the High Line to the Coney Island boardwalk (and literally dozens more prime spots), public art has never been more prevalent as we move through our daily lives in this big, beautiful city. The latest entry into this never-too-crowded field is a series of 18 life-sized sculptures of people by the renowned artist Seward Johnson, located on the surprisingly pleasant pedestrian plaza along Broadway in what is still called the Garment District, basically between Herald Square and Times Square. 

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Best Public Swimming Pools in NYC

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WOW it's hot out there! And also down there, on the subway platforms! And right here in my home, because I'm trying to save the planet by not using air conditioning! Yes, high summer is upon us, a time when even the hardiest, least-complain-y of New Yorkers just full-on melt into a puddle of misery. But there is an antidote, even for those of us stuck in town, without a beach house or lake house or even cute-little-creek-out-back house to repair to on weekends or weekdays or at all, namely: the NYC public pool. If you've never tried one, fearing massive crowds and/or less-than-pristine conditions, don't believe the negative hype! There are a number of comfortable and cooling swimming pools all over town and, especially if go during off-times (weekdays rather than weekends; before lunch rather than late afternoon, etc), or special Early Bird and Night Owl Lap Swim times, you may even feel like you're at a suburban country club. Anyway, here's an incomplete look at some of the best public swimming pools in NYC.

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Quick, Casual Bites With Vietnamese Flavor At BONMi

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Despite many advances on the culinary front in recent years, the Upper West Side, packed as it is with people needing good food at decent prices (aka everyone), will always welcome a new quick-bites spot, especially near Lincoln Center. Enter BONMi, a healthy(ish), counter-service, "Vietnamese-inspired" restaurant right across 62nd Street from Damrosch Park. Located as it is at the street level of the Fordham University building, BONMi sees a steady stream of students during the school year, and local families are clearly enjoying the low prices and (mostly) kid-friendly dishes. But what I'm most excited about is having another option for grabbing some dinner before a (casual) show at Lincoln Center (the Out of Doors festival is coming soon), or a movie at either the Elinor Bunin, Walter Reade, or Lincoln Plaza theaters.

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Williamsburg’s Famed Giglio Feast Going On Now Through July 19th

 

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The San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy may be more famous (and bigger, and more jam-packed with sweaty people), but the great Feast of San Paolino Di Nola in Williamsburg–otherwise known as the Giglio Feast–actually predates its Manhattan counterpart by some 40 years! Yup, ever since 1903, 128 years ago, the citizens of this Brooklyn neighborhood (which has obviously gone through numerous changes during that span) have gathered in the streets around the Our Lady of Mount Carmel church to, among other things which I'll get to in a moment, watch dozens of people physically lift and carry the gigantic, hand-carved, wooden Giglio AND the gigantic, hand-carved, wooden boat for a spectacle unlike any other in the city.

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