NYC Events,”Only the Best” (12/18) + Today’s Featured Pub (Greenwich Village)

“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.

For future NYC Events, check the tab above:  NYC Events-December”
It’s the most comprehensive list of top events this month that you will find anywhere.
Carefully curated from “Only the Best” NYC event info on the the web, it’s a simply superb resource that will help you plan your NYC visit all over town, all through the month.

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Have time for only one NYC Event today? Do this:

ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER (through Dec. 30).
at New York City Center / 7:30PM, $30+
“This troupe continues its run at City Center with its “Three Visionaries” program, opening on Friday. It spotlights dances created by the artistic directors who have presided over the company since its formation in 1958: Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison and Robert Battle. From Jamison, the artistic director emerita, are excerpts from “Divining” and “Forgotten Time.” Battle, its current artistic director, offers “Mass” and “Ella,” and from Ailey, its founder, there are the classics “Cry” and “Revelations.” Another program pick is “Timeless Ailey” (on Saturday), a presentation of rarely seen Ailey dances, including “Pas de Duke” and “The Lark Ascending.” Both are gems.” (NYT-Gia Kourlas)

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7 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>> La Traviata
>> Pentatonix
>> CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
>> Annaleigh Ashford
>> Kenny Barron Trio
>> Norm Lewis: Nutcracker Cool
>> Steve Ross: Here’s to Us–– Festive Songs of Love and Friendship
Continuing Events
>> Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
>> New York City Ballet / “The Nutcracker”
>> Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes

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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

La Traviata (next Dec.22, 1PM)
The Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera House / 7:30PM, $20+
“Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts Michael Mayer’s richly textured new production, featuring a dazzling 18th-century setting that changes with the seasons. Soprano Diana Damrau plays the tragic heroine, Violetta, and tenor Juan Diego Flórez returns to the Met for the first time in five seasons to sing the role of Alfredo, Violetta’s hapless lover. Baritone Quinn Kelsey is Alfredo’s father, Germont, who destroys their love. Later performances feature Anita Hartig, Stephen Costello, Artur Ruciński, and Plácido Domingo.”

Pentatonix (Dec.18-20; Dec. 22)
Beacon Theatre, Broadway at 74th St./ 8PM, $65+
“The a-cappella group Pentatonix knows all about holiday cheer. Their first Christmas project, released in 2014, remains their highest-selling album, with their festive 2016 collection not far behind. In keeping with the tradition, this year’s “Christmas Is Here” runs the gamut of classics and pop-culture favorites, including a gorgeous cover of “When You Believe,” featuring Maren Morris, and an altogether jolly (and orchestral) version of “Jingle Bells.” The Grammy-winning quintet is nothing if not keenly aware of the unique and reliable power of a cappella to channel the energy of the season.” (Briana Younger, NewYorker)

CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
at Alice Tully Hall / 7:30PM, $75+
“The society’s annual performances of Bach’s “Brandenburg” Concerts are a particularly beloved festive favorite. Notable instrumentalists this year include the flutist Adam Walker, a principal at the London Symphony, and the oboist James Austin Smith, of the International Contemporary Ensemble.” (NYT- David Allen)

Annaleigh Ashford
Live From Lincoln Center presents Stars in Concert
Appel Room, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall / 7:30,+9:30PM, $55+
“Described as “luminous” and “a sly comic genius” (New York Times), Broadway favorite Annaleigh Ashford has thrilled audiences in Sunday in the Park with George, Kinky Boots, and You Can’t Take It With You, for which she won a Tony Award. She also earned television fame with critically acclaimed turns on Masters of Sex and American Crime Story. For this special one-night engagement, Ashford lends her stunning vocals and comic verve to the gorgeous Appel Room, bringing ebullience and warmth to a New York winter evening.”

Kenny Barron Trio (Dec.18-23)
Village Vanguard /
“In 2001, the pianist Kenny Barron and the violinist Regina Carter released “Freefall,” a duet recording that found these two unleashed virtuosos romping through a program of standards and open improvisation. Carter, in a less intimate but equally stimulating setting, joins Barron’s immaculately crafted trio, featuring the bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa and the drummer Johnathan Blake.” (Steve Futterman, NewYorker)

Norm Lewis: Nutcracker Cool (thru Dec.22)
Feinstein’s/54 Below / 7PM, $75+
“Who says nice guys finish last? Broadway leading man Norm Lewis exudes amiability, but that hasn’t stoppped him from a long career that has included stints in Porgy and Bess, Les Misérables, Side Show and Chicago; in 2014, he became the first African-American to play the Phantom on Broadway. In his annual Christmas set at Feinstein’s/54 Below, he welcomes audiences to enjoy holiday favorites, warmed by the hearth of his voice.” (TONY)

Steve Ross: Here’s to Us–– Festive Songs of Love and Friendship
Birdland / 7PM, $40
“Ross uses his polish and comic timing to conjure a vanished world of cultivated manners and deftly witty lyrics, but with a wistfulness that gives his work a moving third dimension. In his latest return to Birdland, he shares songs that celebrate human connection, including selections from his latest album, It’s Almost Christmas Eve.” (TONY)

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Smart Stuff / Other NYC Events
(Lectures/Discussions, Book Talks, Film, Classes, Food & Drink, Other)

More Smart Stuff coming soon.

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Continuing Events

So much going on in this town over the holidays. Too many events & performances to list here. For a much fuller list, expanding every day, check out the tab above: “Holidays.”

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
Midtown Manhattan’s winter wonderland.
Bryant Park (btw 5th/6th Ave. @42nd St.) / shops to 8PM, rink to 10PM
Enjoy the Holiday Shops, The Lodge by Urbanspace, and The Rink, the centerpiece of Winter Village and New York City’s only free admission ice skating rink.
The Holiday Shops are open through January 2, 2019.

The Rink
This 17,000 square foot rink features free admission ice skating, high quality rental skates, and free skating shows, special events, and activities.
​October 27, 2018 – March 3, 2019
Daily, 8am-10pm (Rink hours are weather permitting and Rink may be closed for events – check here)
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New York City Ballet / “The Nutcracker” (Through Dec. 30)
NYS Theater, Lincoln Center / various times, $40

“New York City Ballet continues performances of its acclaimed 1954 production that would melt the Scroogiest of hearts. The elaborate staging includes a one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a 12 feet to 41 feet and an 85-pound, nine-feet wide Mother Ginger. The ballet highlights dozens of talented and adorable children from the School of American Ballet, but the star of the show isn’t just one dancer but a bevy of Snowflakes. Their waltz — full of beauty and daring — will take your breath away. ” (NYT-Gia Kourlas)
212-496-0600, nycballet.com

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Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes  (Nov.09- Jan.01)
Radio City Music Hall / various times, $46+
“There’s more great precision dancing than ever in the show’s current edition, which was revamped in 2007 and tweaked again this year. Glamorously outfitted in a series of eye-popping costumes, the Rockettes perform on a double-decker bus, a sparkly staircase and a snowy forest and enact a lightning-fast version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Not to worry: They’re still doing the classic “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” number, too. Each scene is enhanced by video backdrops displayed on one of the world’s largest LED screens.”

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♦ Before making final plans, we suggest you call the venue to confirm ticket availability, plus dates and times, as schedules are subject to change.
♦ NYCity, with a population of  8.6 million, had a record 63 million visitors last year and was TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2018 – awesome! BUT quality shows draw crowds. Try to reserve seats for these top NYC events in advance, even if just earlier on the day of performance.

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Bonus NYC Events – Music Venues:
So much fine live music every night in this town. These are my favorite non jazz music venues on Manhattan’s WestSide. Hit the Hot Link and check out who’s playing tonight:

City Winery – 155 Varick St., citywinery.com, 212-608-0555
Joe’s Pub @ Public Theater – 425 Lafayette St., joespub.com, 212-967-7555
Beacon Theatre – 2124 Broadway @ 74th St., beacontheatre.com, 212-465-6500
Town Hall – 123 W43rd St. (btw 6/7), thetownhall.org, 212-997-6661
Le Poisson Rouge – 158 Bleecker St., lepoissonrouge.com, 212-505-3474
Sony Hall – 235 W 46th St. (btw 7/8), sonyhall.com, 212-997-5123
and one more, not exactly WestSide:
Bowery Ballroom – 6 Delancey St. boweryballroom.com

For a comprehensive list of the best places to hear All Types of Live Music in Manhattan see the tab above “LiveMusic.”

Special Mention:
Caffe Vivaldi – 32 Jones St. nr Bleecker St. caffevivaldi.com, 212-691-7538
a classic, old jazz club in the Village, Caffe V often surprises with a wonderfully eclectic lineup. It’s my favorite spot for an evening of listening discovery and enjoyment.

Alas, Caffe V is no more, another victim of a rapacious NYC landlord. Owner Ishrat fought the good fight and Caffe V will be sorely missed.

See Below.
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NYCity Vacation Travel Guide Video (Expedia):
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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’. ”

maxresdefaultEach 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.

CAFFE VIVALDI HAS CLOSED,  JUNE 23 WAS THE FINAL NIGHT. VERY SAD.
I HAVE LEFT THIS REVIEW ON MY SITE AS A KIND OF MEMORIAL.
As reported in the “Gothamist”:
“Caffe Vivaldi, one of the last bohemian bastions of the West Village, is set to close this weekend. During its 35 years on Jones Street, the casual cafe won the hearts of locals and celebs alike, including Oscar Isaac, Bette Midler, and Al Pacino.

Despite that friendly communal atmosphere, the owners ultimately struggled to survive under their notorious vulture landlord Steve Croman, who they say waged a harassment campaign against the restaurant, and eventually tripled their rent.”

Website: http://caffevivaldi.com/
Phone #: (212) 691-7538
Hours: Music generally 7:30PM – 11PM, but varies
Lunch/Dinner 11AM-on
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.
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“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.
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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.

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“3 Good Eating places” focuses on a quick bite, what I call “Fine Fast Food – NYCity Style”
No reservations needed.
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NYCity is the most diverse and interesting place to find a meal anywhere in the world. With more than 24,000 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 2019).
◊ Order before MAY 31, 2019 and receive a bonus – 27 of my favorite casual dining places with free Wi-Fi.

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