Where To Break Your New Year’s Resolutions in NYC

As kids, it was pretty easy to break things, whether it was your bones, your grandma’s vase, or that ceramic dish sitting on the living room shelf. As adults (or something like it), we expand our repertoire with the steady breaking of our New Year’s resolutions, which generally happens somewhere between their announcement and the second week of the year. But before I provide all of the best places in NYC to break these resolutions, let me first take a moment to commend us for even trying to resolve and better ourselves in the first place. (moment of silence). Alright, now let’s get to it.

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London Opening: Del Mercato

The Italo-mania of the English dates at least to the 18th Century Grand Tour, and, if recent trends are any indication, won’t end any time soon. Take, for example, the recent opening of Del Mercato in London, something not unlike the Eataly concept that has so won the hearts of NYC Italophiles.

An extension of the already far-reaching epicurean playground that is Vinopolis, this new culinary destination features the casual Trattoria, serving classics like grilled tomino cheese and tagliatelle with wild boar ragu, the Panificio for fresh baked breads and pizza by the slice, the Del Mercato Bar offering authentic standing service for a caffe, prosecco or aperitivo, and the 70-seat Del Mercato Ristorante for a more lingering dining experience. Interiors are invitingly rustic-modern.

THIS WEEKEND: Your NYC Holiday Event Itinerary

It’s the beginning of December, which means now marks the time we transform into mushy, gushy, "oh my gosh! twinkling lights! I like Christmas cookies!" New Yorkers. And as we metamorphosize, it’s best we stick with like-minded events and like-minded people. So we’ve gathered this weekend’s top holiday events in NYC. Eat, drink, watch santa slasher movies, watch competitive jump-ropers – but please, make sure you’re your cynical, picky, self-deprecating self next year. No one likes an overtly emotional and sensitive New Yorker. 

FRIDAY THE 30TH:

  •  With the 55’ Bryant Park Christmas tree just lit this week, now is the perfect time to grab a decadent hot chocolate from one of the holiday shops, and marvel at the wonder that is spruce trees and colored lights. When you’re done, have some spicy salmon and eel rolls at what is considered one of the best sushi spots in Manhattan: Sushi Yasuda.
  • Santa slasher movies – they do exist. And Nitehawk Cinema honors the best of ‘em at its midnight screening of Silent Night, Deadly Night, the 1984 film where a toy-store Santa Clause goes on a rampage and axes people to death. Temper the crushing of your jolly Santa visions with a spiked hot bourbon cider and pretzel-crusted Nitehawk chocolate bar. 12:15am, $11. Also playing Saturday the 1st. All the details here.

SATURDAY THE 1ST:

  • Can’t decide which version of A Christmas Carol is your favorite? See them all at The Paley Center’s Christmas Carols: A Scrooge Mash-Up, where the classic story will be told using clips from a variety of versions starring Patrick Stewart, Mr. Magoo, and the animated casts of The Flinstones and Bugs Bunny. After, sit down to a cheese plate and rich mac ‘n’ cheese at our favorite Midtown West nook: cheese and wine cafe Casellula2pm show, $5-$10. Running till Dec. 31st. All the details here.

SUNDAY THE 2ND:

  • Jump-roping game Double Dutch gets festive and competitive at its 21st Annual Double Dutch Holiday Classic performance at the legendary Apollo Theater, where international students compete in one of the world’s largest jump roping contests. Expect lots of jumping, sweat, and tears, all to the tune of holiday music. 1pm-4pm, $22. All the details here.
  • Get toasty as Brooklyn’s famous pizza spot Roberta’s gets crafty with its Third Annual Beer Masters Winter Classic at Greenpoint bar Warsaw, which is just a fancy title for “massive beer competition.” Twelve teams of pros from Eataly, Bushwick bar Tutu’s, and more face-off in beer games like beer pong and ten-legged races, all inspired by the ’06 boozy comedy film Beerfest. The best part: three-dollar Roberta’s slices and beers from Warsaw are making an appearance allll day. 1pm-10pm, FREE. All the details here.

Where To Eat Post-Hurricane Sandy

Now that the city is trying to get back in the swing of things after Frankenstorm, restaurants too are reopening their shuttered doors to diners sick of chowing on canned beans and tortilla chips. But not every eatery is in on the game, for some, Sandy was one guest they could have done without.

First up, the scenic River Café, which, while the view is lovely from its waterside vantage, proved devastating during the storm. The estimated damage is in the millions, and owner Buzzy O’Keeffe said it would be weeks, even months, until they are able to open again. The Huffington Post has a detailed slide show of the spoils.

Speaking of spoils, the food that went bad when the power outage in Manhattan was another causality. Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali’s six restaurants were all shut down, including Del Posto, Eataly, and Babbo. The food loss on that hit—around $50,000. Secretly, I was glad the Waterfront Ale House in Kips Bay lost power, since, in my selfish brain, that meant my boyfriend who is the sous chef there couldn’t work. But, since owner Sam Barbieri has a Brooklyn Heights location to schlep the food to, the boy will be cooking up a nicer, more people-friendly storm there today, which means you can go eat there, too.

Don’t expect to be hitting up Red Hook’s Fort Defiance, Red Hook Lobster Pound, or Brooklyn Ice House. Unfortunately, that area was beat pretty hard. DUMBO also received damage as long-standing Bubby’s is hurting today, as well as newcomer Governor, which won’t be opening any time soon and a rep reported they estimate there is $200,000 in damages.

Now, the good news. While there were plenty of Sandy casualties, and power remains out in some neighborhoods, many places are up and running. Both New York Magazine’s Grub Street and Eater NY have maps and updated lists of open restaurants. Also, I know for a fact bars and eateries in Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy, and Prospect Heights are all fine and serving. If you are in Queens, or can get to Queens, Studio Square is open and advertising its available space for any post-apocalyptic parties you might need/want to have.  

And while we are on the subject of parties, it is Halloween (even if the authorities say they postponed it), so work off some of that cabin fever and celebrate. Personally, since I am stuck in Brooklyn, I plan on making the trek to Williamsburg for a little spooky skeeball and canned beer at Full Circle Bar, after that, wherever the non-threatening wind will take me. 

London Opening: Old Bengal Warehouse

Taking a cue from Eataly and Todd English’s Food Hall at the Plaza Hotel in New York, D&D–those purveyors of so many posh London restaurants–go a little populist in the cavernous 18th Century East India Company warehouse with the opening of Old Bengal Warehouse. Where once were spice traders, now there are peddlers of sundry approachable culinary delights.

Within its walls are the casual seafood destination The Fish Market, the contemporary carnivore’s delight New Street Grill (pictured), The Old Bengal Bar serving classic cocktails, and the aptly-named New Street Wine Shop. The space has an epic, industrial feel, with commissioned works from the nearby Hoxton Art Gallery. Afterwards, nip down the road to the 3 South Place Bar at D&D’s also new South Place Hotel, for a bit more saucy East London nightlife. 

Three Italian Newcomers Hit The Big Apple

The pizzeria. The trattoria. The ristorante. In New York, there’s no shortage of Italian cuisine, which forces these restaurants to do something different to stand out from the pack. Newcomers Pranzo, Fratelli La Bufala, and Rafele are out to one-up the competition with authentic Italian recipes and original cooking methods.

Eataly’s lunch-only Pranzo is freshly open in chef Lidia Bastianich’s la scuola di Eataly classroom. The changing prix-fixe menu offers a gamut of regional Italian cuisines. An open kitchen lets you watch Lidia herself make at least one of the dishes, Food Network-style.
 
The international Fratelli La Bufala chain is an authentic Italian institution that has finally come to NYC. They specialize in personal-sized pizzas featuring Mozzarella di Bufala Campana cheese. The Irpina pie gets earthy with additions of ham, mushrooms, and bufala cream.
 
Named after chef/owner Raffaele Ronca, the West Village’s Rafele serves Neapolitan fare with an emphasis on local ingredients. The imported wood-burning brick oven and rotisserie pump out specialties, like porchetta and stuffed quail. The wood is tweaked with various liquors – another way of layering in flavor beyond New York’s Italian every day.

BlackBook Staff Picks: Dining, Drinking, Shopping, & Staying

Here at BlackBook, we pay a lot of attention to where to where people go out. The latest and greatest bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels, are always on our radar. So why not flip the frame and let you see where we go out? Here’s a periodically updated, exhaustive list of hotspots currently favored by everyone at BlackBook, from the mighty bosses down to the humble interns, from the charming local lounges around the corner to the jet-setting temples of luxe living.

THE ACCESS NETWORK COMPANY

EDITORIAL

ART

FASHION & BEAUTY

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES & MARKETING

TECHNOLOGY

  • Senior Software Engineer, Bryan Packman Tom & Jerry’s (NYC)
  • Mobile Production Manager Sunde Johnson Brooklyn Industries (NYC)
  • Lead Mobile Architect Joseph Russell Big Bar (NYC)
  • Mobile Developer Wyeth Shamp, Brooklyn Bowl (NYC)
  • Senior Systems Engineer, Dan Simon Europa (NYC)
  • Senior Product Design Manager, Gwen Heimburg Sugar Sweet Sunshine (NYC)

Publisher at Large, John F. McDonald, Saxon + Parole (NYC)

BlackBook Magazine Founder, Evanly Schindler, A Voce Columbus (NYC)

Startup Social: Fortnighter @ Above Allen

Why doesn’t anyone launch a startup in a dive bar? Is every startup really best represented by a fancy hotel bar? Granted, Fortnighter — a place to order custom-written travel itineraries for $100 and up — is best represented by a fancy hotel bar. In this case, it’s Above Allen at the Thompson LES hotel. I double-checked whether it really cost a hundred dollars to get anything from this site. It does.

On Fortnighter, which soft-launched three weeks ago, you fill out a questionnaire with sliders, checklists, and open text boxes about the types of restaurants, hotels, and activities you want. Then the site picks a travel writer from their network to write you a custom itinerary. One of the co-founders, Justin Kalifowitz, claims they’d already gotten feedback from users saying they got so much for their hundred bucks or two, they felt like they should have paid much more.

I don’t understand this. I do not understand the concept of feeling you have underpaid for information. I didn’t understand it in college when I paid $200 per world-unlocking textbook, and I sure as hell don’t understand it this week, when I freaked the fuck out at a one-hour Wikipedia downtime. My free information was NOT AVAILABLE. I complained on Twitter.

But the real sign you’re smart is knowing how many people are richer and dumber. Or, hell, just richer and busier. At some point it must actually make sense to hire a writer to custom-assemble an itinerary, right?

I never much thought about the economics of this until a stint I did at Gridskipper (then edited by BlackBook’s current editor) around 2007. At the time, Gridskipper was Gawker Media’s travel blog, aimed at jetsetters and written by poor freelancers. The reviews were thus either unhelpful, lies, or revealed the writers’ poor financial habits. Most opinions were stolen from Yelp reviews.

What a perfect moment in the great media switch. At one point, it made sense to pay someone to go on a trip just so they could write about that trip for others. But now you can ask people who went on the trip anyway to write up the experience for free.

So why do it any other way? Why hire writers for custom projects? To make people feel special? That’s probably why you hold a party in a fancy hotel bar, right? Because the guests wouldn’t normally just head to a hotel roof and pay $12 a drink, but you’ve bought out the bar for the first two hours?

Only at some point the open bar ends, and you get to watch people decide whether they care enough about you and your company to pay the $12, or watch some BlackBook freelancer order a seltzer water and see if he blinks when he gets charged $5 (though you don’t have to watch to see if he bitches about the cost to your other guests, because that never doesn’t happen).

The party was friendly but ultimately like all other startup parties: serial startup consultants Rex Sorgatz and Rachel Sklar showed up, as did several members of the ad agency Barbarian Group — where Colin Nagy, one of Fortnighter’s founders, also works. All four founders — Nagy, Kalifowitz, Noah Brier and Alex Basek, who I want to make clear are lovely, smart, confident but self-effacing young men — are just moonlighting with this thing (though one hopes to turn it into a full-time job). Justin and Noah were surprised to find I’d just asked my way into the party; everyone else attending was a friend or a friend’s plus-one, which probably proves that the same ten people are doing everything in New York startup-land.

They handed out sample itineraries at the party. And, well, they read like typical guidebooks. The New York sample is broken down into destinations, which seems less helpful than the walking tours in a Lonely Planet. A sample paragraph:

Take a breather back at the hotel before contemplating your evening out, or relax at the smash-hit Eataly, the sprawling, many-splendored Italian food hall brought to the U.S. by Mario Batali and his partner Joe Bastianich. From reasonably-priced wines and great salumi downstairs to the fantastic new beer garden up top, you can’t really go wrong for a fun happy hour. Mind the locals wielding shopping baskets as weapons. (200 Fifth Ave.)

I’ll ignore the quality of the writing, because it’s a travel book, not a short story. But most of that info is in a free Zagat article from March, except for the beer garden and which floor the salumi’s on. Public travel sites, blogs, Wikitravel, and Yelp make most any paid travel guide ridiculous. My girlfriend planned an entire trip to Switzerland by asking questions of locals and previous travelers on TripAdvisor. Buy a $30 travel guide just to have an easy-to-browse physical anchor, but anything more seems unhelpful, until these custom guides actually get individual. Of course, that logic won’t kill this startup any more than the logic of free seltzer water.

Startup Social evaluates new tech and media startups based on their party-throwing prowess.

(Photo: Maya Baratz)

Where Celebs Go Out: Mario Batali, Mayor Bloomberg, Danielle Staub

Mario Batali at the opening of Eataly: My favorite places to eat are generally downtown in the Village: Pearl Oyster Bar, Spotted Pig, Grand Sichuan. My favorite thing to eat is anything anyone else makes! Da Silvano has an octopus salad and octopus grill that’s really beautiful. ● Mayor Mike Bloomberg at the opening of Eataly: There are 20,000 restaurants in New York City, and I try to eat at every single one of them. ● Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: wd-50, and in Brooklyn, Pacifico, the Mexican restaurant on Pacific St.

Drew Nieporent at Travel + Leisure‘s World’s Best Awards party: Restaurants that are owned my friends—Jean Georges, Daniel, Mario Batali, the usual suspects. And El Bulli in Barcelona. My favorite dish is anything that Mark Ladner makes at Del Posto. ● Bethenny Frankel at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: Trump Soho, Abe & Arthur’s, STK. ● Johnny Weir at GLAAD Summer Rooftop Party: Cipriani Downtown has the most amazing vanilla meringue cake. ● Tinsley Mortimer at her handbag launch party at Samantha Thavasa: Avenue and the Biergarten at the StandardBryan Greenberg at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: The corn, the tacos, and the margaritas at La Esquina. ● Danielle Staub at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: Cafeteria for the little sliders, the mac and cheese. For dessert, their Everything But the Kitchen Sink. ● Lamar Odom at G-Shock’s Shock the World launch party: Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. ● Mick Rock at the Marc Ecko Cut & Sew fall collection launch party: Kenmare. ● Richie Rich at the Marc Ecko Cut & Sew fall collection launch party: At the The Lion, the champagne’s my favorite. I like the atmosphere and the food’s amazing. The energy’s amazing at the Boom Room Room.