Today’s Fab 5+ > SATURDAY / FEB. 20, 2016
“We search the internet everyday looking for the very best of What’s Happening, primarily on Manhattan’s WestSide, so that you don’t have to.” We make it as easy as 1-2-3.
(click on links for more complete event info.)
Have time for only one event today? Do this:
The Bronx Brewery, 856 E136th St./ 7:30PM, $50
“You’ve heard about Jonah Reider — the Columbia student who operates a pop-up restaurant out of his dorm room. Thus far, it’s been hard to get a seat at his campus venture, but for one night only, he’ll be serving up dinner at the Bronx Brewery. The meal will include a tasting of pale ales paired with each of the menu’s four courses. Additionally, the event will feature unique lighting and sound designed to enhance the senses during the dining experience. Tickets are $50 per person; reserve them here.” (VillageVoice)
OK, so this is definitely not Manhattan’s WestSide, but it is too good to pass up.I met the brewmaster some time ago, before there was even a brewery. He’s a professional and enthusiastic about his beer, which by the way is quite good. As a Bronx guy myself, I’m looking forward to tonight’s special dinner.
Music, Dance, Performing Arts
Seu Jorge (most nights thru Feb 28)
Blue Note, 131 W3rd St./8 +10:30PM, $55 @bar-$85, (2nd show always an easier ticket)
“This Brazilian singer, guitarist, and actor grew up as Jorge Mário da Silva in Belford Roxo, a favela outside Rio. After his brother was killed, in 1990, in a battle between favelados and the police, Jorge decided to become a musician, a choice that prompted his uncle to kick him out of the house. Despite the hardship of living on the street, Jorge persisted in honing his nascent talents, especially his supple baritone voice and lyrical nylon-string-guitar playing.
His big break came when he was cast as Knockout Ned in “City of God,” a searing Oscar-nominated portrait of favela life that was followed by a role as a Bowie-singing Brazilian sailor in Wes Anderson’s film “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.” Jorge’s magical, melancholy Portuguese interpretations of hits like “Changes” and “Space Oddity” earned high praise from their creator, as well as giving Jorge an American beachhead. For this two-week run, he’ll sail through harmonically adventurous, playful originals and covers shaped by samba, bossa nova, and other Brazilian styles.” (NewYorker)
Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo: Cinderella (LAST DAY)
New York City Center, 131W55th St./ 8PM, $50+
“Monaco’s national ballet company visits New York to celebrate its 30th anniversary with a performance of artistic director Jean-Christophe Maillot’s unsentimental take on the Cinderella story, in which Ella’s late mother plays a prominent role. The piece is set to music by Prokofiev, and features a set by Ernest Pignon-Ernest.” (TONY)
Smart Stuff / Other
(Lectures, Discussions, Book Talks, Literary Readings, Classes, Food & Drink, Other)
New York City Beer Week (Feb.19 – 28)
“This year, the festivities kick off with an Opening Bash Cruise on February 20, offering unlimited food and drink samplings for $85. “We were trying to find an iconic spot to do the opening party,” Taylor notes. “We were looking at places like the Met, and they’re expensive and only available at night.” For more flexibility, they decided to take to the sea. “There’s nothing more iconic than the Manhattan skyline. I love boats, and they’re heated.” (VillageVoice)
Tour the Off-Limits Woolworth Building with Untapped Cities
Woolworth Building, / 4PM – 5PM , $45
“The Woolworth Building is one of New York City’s most famous off-limits landmarks. Though its Byzantine, cathedral-like interior of glass tesserae and marble is landmarked, security concerns after 9/11 rendered it closed to only those that worked in the skyscraper, once the tallest in the world.
Since 2013, Untapped Cities has worked with Woolworth Tours, a company founded by Helen Post Curry, the great-grand daughter of the building’s architect, Cass Gilbert, to curate tours of the building lobby and basement level specifically tailored for Untapped Cities. They’ve made a big update to provide even more behind-the-scenes access than before.” (untappedcities.com)
and how about some hot chocolate?
City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival (thru Feb.28)
City Bakery, 3 W18th St./ opens 7:30AM, $
“Regress to childhood with skillfully concocted mugs of hot chocolate courtesy of this downtown canteen. Owner-mastermind Maury Rubin will serve a different flavor of his intoxicating cocoa every day during February.” (TONY)
+ Saturday’s FREE events
These events did not quite make the cut for today’s Fab 5
but they are worthy, and they are FREE.
>Jewish Museum – FREE all day
>Concert / Orchestral works by Gershwin, Schubert, and more; Sharp Theater @ Juilliard School, 7:30PM
>Yumi Ito @ Caffe Vivaldi, 8:15PM
Many consider NYCity the Jazz capital of the world. Here are my favorite Jazz clubs, all on Manhattan’s WestSide. Check out who’s playing tonight:
Village Vanguard – 178 7th ave. South, — villagevanguard.com / 212-255-4037
Blue Note – 131 W3rd St. nr 6th ave. — bluenotejazz.com / 212-475-8592
55 Bar – 55 Christopher St. nr 7th ave. South — 55bar.com / 212-929-9883
Outside Greenwich Village:
Dizzy’s Club – Broadway @ 60th St. — jazz.org/dizzys / 212-258-9595
Birdland – 315 W44th St.(btw 8/9 ave) — birdlandjazz.com / 212-581-3080
Smoke Jazz Club – 2751 Broadway, nr.106th St. — smokejazz.com / 212-864-6662
♦ Before making final plans, we suggest you call the venue to confirm ticket availability, dates and times, as schedules are subject to change.
♦ NYCity, with a population of 8.5 million, had a record 58 million visitors last year and was TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2015. Quality shows draw crowds.
Try to reserve seats in advance, even if just on day of performance.
A PremierPub and 3 Good Eating Places – Greenwich Village
Caffe Vivaldi / 32 Jones Street (btw. Bleecker St./W4th St.)
Café Vivaldi is a classic, intimate club located in Greenwich Village on Jones Street, the street featured on the cover of Bob Dylan’s second album, “Freewheelin’. ”
Each night Ishrat, the long time proprietor and impresario, carefully curates and schedules an eclectic series of musicians. You can often see him at his table in the corner, hard at work reviewing music videos and listening to cd demos on his laptop, scouting out future bookings. Musicians come from all over to play and sing in a club in Greenwich Village. Some are local New Yorkers, others are just passing through, in town for a few days.
There is a small bar, seating maybe 10. It’s close to the stage and I find it’s a perfect spot to sip a glass of red wine while listening to the music. The room itself has the performance area at one end and a cozy fireplace at the other. The performance area here is small, dominated by a large black Yamaha Grand piano. Tables are bunched together and most people at the tables are eating lite meals or sampling the wonderful desserts.
There is also a good selection of fairly priced wines, but you are here because of the music. You can never be quite sure what you’re going to find, and that’s half the charm of this place. It’s not a home run every night, but many nights it’s pretty special.
I remember the night I saw the most talented bossa nova group, just in from San Paulo. As I listened, I wondered if there was any better music playing anywhere else in New York City that night. And at Caffé Vivaldi there is never a cover charge. Their recently redesigned web site does give you a better idea of the type of music playing each night.
At one time Greenwich Village was filled with clubs just like this, but times change. Real estate interests have impacted the village, and not for the better. Even Caffé Vivaldi had a rough time recently, when a new landlord raised the rent exorbitantly. Fortunately, Ishrat has built a loyal following over the years, and a fund raiser and slightly more reasonable rent has kept Café Vivaldi in business.
When Woody Allen and Al Pacino wanted to make movies featuring the timeless quality of Greenwich Village they came to Vivaldi. It’s important that we keep this special place alive, for if we lose Cafe Vivaldi, NYCity will have lost a piece of it’s soul.
Phone #: (212) 691-7538
Hours: Music generally 7:30PM – 11PM, but varies
Subway: #1 to Christopher St.
Walk 1 blk S. on 7th ave S. to Bleecker St., 1 blk left on Bleecker to Jones St., 50 yards left on Jones St. to Caffe V.
“Pub” is used in it’s broadest sense – bars, bar/restaurants, jazz clubs, wine bars, tapas bars, craft beer bars, dive bars, cocktail lounges, and of course, pubs – just about anyplace you can get a drink without a cover charge
If you have a fave premier pub or good eating place on Manhattan’s WestSide let us all know about it – leave a comment.
3 Good Eating places
It’s not difficult to find a place to eat in Manhattan.
Finding a good, inexpensive place to eat is a bit harder.
Here are a few of my faves in this neighborhood:
Fish – 280 Bleecker St. (just a bit S. of 7th ave South)
This was an easy pick – the best raw bar special in town. $9 gets you 6 of the freshest oysters or clams + a glass of wine or beer. Don’t know how they can do it, but I tell everyone I know about this place. And it’s located right in the heart of some of the best no cover music in town.
Bleecker Street Pizza – 69 7th ave S. (corner of Bleecker St.)
The place is tiny and not much to look at, but this is one good slice. They like to brag that they have been voted “Best pizza in NY” 3 years in a row by the Food Network. I believe them. I would have voted for them.
Num Pang – 21 E 12th St. (btw. University Place/5th ave.)
This is a Cambodian banh mi sandwich shop that kept me well fed while I was in class nearby recently. It’s cramped, even for NYCity, but usually there is room up the spiral staircase to sit down and eat. In good weather carry your sandwich a few blocks to Union Square park. You may have to wait a few minutes, because everything is freshly made, but it’s worth it. Can you believe – an unheard of 26 food rating by Zagat.
“3 Good Eating places” focuses on a quick bite, what I call “Fine Fast Food – NYCity Style”
This covers a wide range of food – the traditional pizza, burgers, & hot dogs; but also food trucks & carts, soup & sandwiches, picnic fixins’, raw bars & lobster rolls, bbq, vegetarian, falafel, ramen, chopped salad & salad bars. No reservations needed.
NYCity is the most diverse and interesting place to find a meal anywhere in the world. With more than 24 thousand eating establishments you might welcome some advice.
◊ For all my picks of 54 Good Eating places, and essays on my favorite 18 PremierPubs in 9 Neighborhoods on Manhattan’s WestSide, order a copy of my e-book:
“Eating and Drinking on NYCity’s WestSide” ($4.99, available Spring 2016).
◊ Order before May 31, 2016 and receive a bonus – 27 of my favorite casual dining places with free Wi-Fi.
This week’s fave and FREE NYCity AppS:
An enormous base of NYCity user reviews (2.1 million) provides the widest coverage of hotels (468), restaurants (12,645) and things to do (yes, 3,246). Have a specific question? Then try one of Trip Advisor’s forums. Just remember that with all those reviews you have to try to find the consistency among the comments, and ignore the outliers.
Instantly locate restaurants near you with open reservations and then place a reservation right from your iOS device. A great interface and the ability to see a menu from the restaurant you’re interested in makes this my go to restaurant reservation app.
Need to catch your #1,2,3 subway to attend an event? Use the Subway Time app from the MTA to find out when the next train arrives at your station. The MTA also has Bus Time info available on their mobile website.