NYC Events,”Only the Best” (08/03) + 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:  “August NYC Events”
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.
OR to make your own after dinner plans TONIGHT, see the tab above;  “LiveMusic.”


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

John Pizzarelli: A Tribute to Benny Goodman w/ Special Guest Ken Peplowski
Birdland / 8:30PM, +11PM, $40-$50
“John Pizzarelli charms audiences with his warmth, sense of humor, and musical chops. Through his multi-faceted career as a jazz guitarist, vocalist and bandleader, the son of the legendary New Jersey native guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, has become one of the most recognizable faces and voices in contemporary jazz for his interpretations of classic standards, romantic ballads and the cool jazz flavor he brings to his performances and recordings

Ken Peplowski has recorded approximately 50 CDs as a soloist, and close to 400 as a sideman – some of the artists he’s performed/recorded with include Charlie Byrd, Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney, Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops, Hank Jones, Peggy Lee, Bill Charlap, Woody Allen, Benny Goodman, and Madonna. He travels at least half of every year, playing clubs, concert halls, colleges, and pops concerts.”


7 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>> An Evening of Stand-Up Comedy: Roy Wood Jr., Ronny Chieng, Julio Torres, Maeve Higgins, and more

>> Ben Wolfe Quintet featuring Randy Brecker and Warren Wolf
>> Avishai Cohen Trio
>> Hong Kong Dragon Boat Race
>> NYAFAIR • TriBeCa’s Contemporary Art Fair

You may want to look at previous days posts for events that continue through today.


Music, Dance, Performing Art

An Evening of Stand-Up Comedy: Roy Wood Jr., Ronny Chieng, Julio Torres, Maeve Higgins, and more
Catch a comedy show without a drink minimum
Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center / 7:30PM, FREE
“Lincoln Center’s “Out of Doors” festival brings the city’s best talent out of the theater and under the stars — on Saturday night, they’re hosting a free stand-up comedy show at the Guggenheim Bandshell in Damrosch Park. Headlined by Roy Wood, Jr., the show also features The Daily Show’s Ronny Chieng and Saturday Night Live’s Julio Torres, fresh off his first season of HBO’s beautiful, weird Los Espookys. It’s a big venue for a stand-up, but the lineup has more than enough star power to command the stage.” (thrillist)

at the Jazz Gallery / 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.; $25-$35
“Here’s a two-for-one deal for fans of masterful jazz guitar. With an ore-like tone and a deep sense of assurance, Bernstein, 51, refers back to classic jazz guitar influences like Grant Green and Pat Martino. Hekselman, 36, owes a lot to the more nebulous tone of Kurt Rosenwinkel, though he has a knack for playful misdirection and blues inflection that gives him an identity of his own. Occasionally Bernstein and Hekselman come together in a quartet, sparring over jazz standards. For this date they are joined by the bassist Ben Street and the drummer Eric McPherson.” (NYT-GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO)

BOY BLUE (Aug. 1-3)
at Gerald W. Lynch Theater / 7:30 p.m.; $45
“This East London hip-hop group, last seen at the 2018 White Light Festival, returns to Lincoln Center for an encore of its acclaimed political and virtuosic “Blak Whyte Gray.” Presented this time by the Mostly Mozart Festival, the company explores themes of oppression, identity and transcendence. Michael Asante (also known as Mikey J) is credited with creative direction and music, while Kenrick Sandy (who goes by H2O) is the piece’s choreographer.” (NYT-Gia Kourlas)

Ben Wolfe Quintet featuring Randy Brecker and Warren Wolf (Aug.1-4)
Dizzy’s Club / 7:30PM, +9:30PM, $40
Ben Wolfe is a bassist and composer who “swings with authority,” according to Wynton Marsalis.Wolfe’s annual return to Dizzy’s Club is always an anticipated occasion, and his shows this year will be extra special, serving as a combined birthday and album release celebration. From August 1–4, Wolfe will give audiences exclusive access to his upcoming album, Fatherhood, set for release on August 30.

Special guests include trumpet icon Randy Brecker (8/1-8/3), a six-time Grammy Award winner as a bandleader, and Warren Wolf, one of the leading voices on the vibraphone and protégé of the all-time great Bobby Hutcherson. The entire lineup is outstanding, and anyone interested in contemporary jazz should make sure to catch at least one of these sets.”

Avishai Cohen Trio (Aug.1-4)
Blue Note, 131 W. 3rd St./ 8PM, +10:30PM, $20-$35
“Avishai Cohen, the Israeli bassist (not the fine Israeli trumpeter of the same name), has been drawing attention as a first-rank instrumentalist since he began associating with Chick Corea, in the late nineties. As a leader of his own small, inquisitive groups, Cohen aligns his superlative gifts with those of topnotch players; here, he reunites with a 2008 trio that featured the pianist Shai Maestro and the drummer Mark Guiliana, two questing improvisers who have since gone on to individual acclaim.” (Steve Futterman, NewYorker)


Smart Stuff / Other NYC EventS

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Race (Aug.3-4)
Attend an ancient dragon festival
Flushing Meadows Park/ 9AM-5PM; FREE
“The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Race — now in its 29th year in New York City — honors the story of Qu Yuan, an exiled poet and activist who drowned himself in 278 B.C. Legend (and the event page) has it that the local fishermen, in an attempt to save the poet, raced into the river, throwing rice into the water as an offering. On the days of the Dragon Boat Festival, you can snack on dumplings, watch over 120 dragon boats race across the lake, and see music and dance performances.” (thrillist)

GD: Great food and drink, especially the bubble tea.

NYAFAIR • TriBeCa’s Contemporary Art Fair (Aug.2-4)
NYA Art Center, 7 Franklin Place / 12-6PM, FREE
“Head downtown to check out this four-day fest that spans the NYA Gallery and features works from more than 100 artists and spanning several types of media.” (amNY)

Continuing Events

“Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival will run from July 10 through August 10, 2019. Harnessing Mozart’s innovative spirit as its inspiration, this edition will feature groundbreaking, multidisciplinary, international productions and acclaimed artists from a variety of genres, introducing the audience to emerging creative voices, commissions and premieres.  The program will include performances from Mark Morris Dance Company, a panel discussion on Mozart’s Magic Flute, a screening of the film The Great Buster: A Celebration, and much more. For a full festival lineup, visit the Mostly Mozart Festival event page.” (

NYC Restaurant Week 2019: Start making your reservations.

“The more than three-week-long promotion featuring two-course lunches ($26) and three-course dinners ($42) at some of the city’s best restaurants is back for its summer edition starting July 22. This time around, the celebration features prix-fixe meals at more than 380 eateries, with deals through Aug. 16.

You can find links to menus and the restaurants involved here, but check out our picks for some of the most enticing deals below.” (amNY)




8/3 Barbra Streisand, Madison Square Garden
8/4 Corinne Bailey Rae, Jose James and more, SummerStage Central Park
8/6 Mac DeMarco, Celerate Brooklyn
8/6 Keane, Bowery Ballroom
8/7 Chuck Leavell, The Gramercy Theatre

♦ 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 65 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.


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.

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.”
“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”
No reservations needed.
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 FALL 2019).
◊ Order before NOV. 30, 2019 and receive a bonus – 27 of my favorite casual dining places with free Wi-Fi.

Bonus: Nifty 9 – Best Cabarets / Piano Bars NYCity
These are my favorite places for an after dinner night on the town – music and drinks.
Hit the Hot Link and check out what’s happening tonight:

Feinstein’s/54 Below – 254 W 54th St.

The Green Room 42 – 570 Tenth Ave.

Don’t Tell Mama – 343 W 46th St.

The Rum House, in the Hotel Edison – 228 W. 47th St.

Laurie Beechman Theatre – 407 W 42nd St.

Marie’s Crisis – 59 Grove St.

The Duplex – 61 Christopher St.

Sid Gold’s Request Room – 165 W 26th St.

Cafe Carlyle, in the Carlyle Hotel – 35 E. 76th St.
This is the only one not located on Manhattan’s WestSide, and it ain’t cheap, but it has some of the finest singers.

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


NYT Theater Reviews – Our theater critics on the plays and musicals currently open in New York City.


NYCity Vacation Travel Guide Video (Expedia):
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