A Night Out In DUMBO

With legends like the River Café and Grimaldi’s still packed, the closing of family-favorite Bubby’s, and the arrival of bakery One Girl Cookies and a massive carousel, DUMBO is a neighborhood transformed. Its age is found in its cobblestone streets, its youth in the people it attracts, and its timelessness in its brilliant views. As a former DUMBO resident myself, I’ve watched it evolve from an area without a Starbucks, to the arts and beauty capital of Brooklyn, with stars like Anne Hathaway and Uma Thurman moving in. So it is with much love that I recommend this week’s neighborhood itinerary: a night out in DUMBO.

Stop 1: Have a homemade pasta dinner at Bevacco.

Skip nearby Noodle Pudding and come here. This classy and romantic Italian spot nestled in Brooklyn Heights does one thing better than any other place in New York: it makes it so you don’t have to go to Italy. Every pasta dish at Bevacco has a texture that’s thick, homemade, fresh, and riddled with garlic, seafood, and marinara in a light, yet indulgent way. Hit signature dishes include the asparagus avocado salad with hard-boiled egg, the branzino with spinach and pink peppercorn sauce, and the crispy and sensational bucatini aglio e oglio with toasted garlic and thick al fresco, homemade pasta. Complete the Bevacco experience with their cream-filled Il Bombolone doughnut, and you’ll be back for brunch the next day – guaranteed.

Stop 2: See Mies Julie  at St. Ann’s Warehouse.

Have you ever been quieted and invigorated at the same time? Have you ever seen a show, and thought to yourself, “Did I really just see what I just saw?” This coming Sunday, the off-Broadway play Mies Julie – a post-apartheid drama about a night-in-the-life of a black farm laborer and his “master’s” daughter –  performs its last show at St. Ann’s Warehouse, which means you have only seven opportunities left to have a theatrical experience in Brooklyn that rivals anything in midtown.

Stop 3. Grab a drink at reBar.

This neighboring indie and intimate gastropub theatre is home to a savory French toast bursting with brie cheese batter and egg, over a dozen beers on tap, and an award-winning cinema that presents new indie movies and panels every weekend. And reBar’s theatre, known as reRun, serves homemade, hot pretzels you can eat while you’re watching the movie. I know, it’s like heaven. In Brooklyn. 

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Celebrate the First Day of Spring with Free Macarons!

Can this day get any better? Just when we thought it was enough that spring has finally started and 70 degree days are becoming the norm, a bunch of French bakeries have decided that today is also “Macaron Day,” and they’ll be handing out FREE samples of the colorful, circular morsels!

Organized by macaron master François Payard, today marks the third annual Macaron Day in NYC, which essentially means that the spring version of trick-or-treating can commence: stop by any –or all- of the 16 participating bakeries and mention “Macaron NYC Day” for a free almond and egg white cookie fille with decadent buttercream.
 
 
Of the bakeries that are participating, here are our neighborhood favorites:
 
Battery Park and SoHo: François Payard Bakery
West Village: Bosie Tea Parlor
Financial District, Upper East Side, Midtown West: Le Maison du Chocolat
Upper West Side: Bouchon Bakery
 
Each participating shop has Macaron Cards you can add stickers to; the more bakeries you stop at, the more you’ll fill up your card. When your card is complete, you can redeem it at Francois Payard Bakery West Houston for a FREE 12-piece box of macarons.
 
See? Hard work does pay off, so keep hustlin’.

Industry Insiders: Amy Rosenberg, Miami’s Music of the Heart

Don’t tell Amy Rosenberg that Miami’s not a capital of culture. Rosenberg is the founder of the Overtown Music Project, a nonprofit that seeks to revive the musical traditions of Miami’s downtrodden Overtown neighborhood, once the artistic heart of the city’s African American population. Leaving behind her former life as a lawyer, Rosenberg now dedicates her time to curating major events that feature musicians from Overtown and beyond in an effort to rekindle the spirit of an area that was once considered the “Harlem of the South.”

According to your profile for Ocean Drive, you are both an attorney and an environmentalist; how do you feel they are connected?
Wow, what a great question! I’m going to have to think about that for a second…!  Well, in truth, I don’t practice law anymore. I practiced for a little bit of time, but I found that my true calling was in the non-profit, and it’s been five years in doing so, so far. I just feel more capable, it’s more sustainable, no chair-people involved.
 
Do you feel you get more out of working with non-profit organizations?
Oh, absolutely. It’s definitely more fulfilling.  And it’s like, everyday if I have an idea, I can just go for it.  I mean, law school was certainly good for me in that I learned how to approach certain things and do those things the right way – it is great to have that sort of background.  Personally though, [with non-profit] it’s so much more enriching.
 
And you are currently developing a think tank for the Overtown Music Project, could you expand more on that?
Well, yes and no; that’s for another non-profit project, but let me give you a little back story on each. I am the director of an organization called the Overtown Music Project in which we do all sorts of events that showcase the history of Overtown itself, a neighborhood that was once called the Harlem of the South. It was where big acts performed, such as Ella Fitzgerald. For a while after, time passed, the area became shuttered, and it was full of vacant loft areas and space. It kind of became a shadow of what it was, and so what we’re doing is trying to bring it back to its music residencies. Like this past fall, we had an event called EPIC at a place called LIV at the Fountainbleu Hotel, and we had all these big bands there and Talib Kweli performed with an 18 piece orchestra.
 
What are you looking to expand for OMP in 20212?  What projects are on the horizon?
Definitely more music residencies, and right now we are working with the University of Miami to create a music program and hopefully more universities in the future. We definitely want other interesting inputs as well and we’re working on a lot of mixing and mashing with performances throughout this upcoming year, with the formats of contemporary music and hip-hop acts.  
 
You seem to have a particular interest in the history of Miami and its music connections.  Miami is often stereotyped as being a place with not a lot of culture, and seems like you are definitely trying to change that perception. Why is that?
Well, I do think that Miami does have a short memory span and we’re a city that’s really into the new, but we are still developing. For me personally, I’m drawn to Overtown for personal reasons. My grandfather was a Holocaust survivor and eventually he ended up moving his family [for better opportunities]. He had a business partner as well, and they soon worked for Diana Ross. And growing up, I was exposed to just amazing music. Motown, blues, jazz, funk, soul.  My family would also host these Friday night dinners and they would have every person imaginable present at the table. And so, three years ago while I was in Overtown, I had this creepy moment I guess you can call it (laughs). I just had this epiphany that as a tribute to my grandfather I would make it back to this area.
 
You have this strong connection to Miami.  At first glance, especially when visiting, it’s just such a different environment, which you notice quickly when you’re from the east coast for example. Is it more than its glossy appearance?
Yeah, I mean, there is depth here. You just have to seek it. I think that we as a city are coming into our own, becoming more of an established city. Another purpose of OMP is to bring people together. Our last event was the most racially age-diverse crowd that I’ve ever been to, and definitely for Miami. It was, like, from 21 to 81. Black, white, Latin, Asian, you name it, which I think was reflective of Miami and that’s really important to us.
 
You definitely do see a collage of people like that in Miami. It’s not just one "type" of person.
Yeah, when I was in Pennsylvania, there were no people of color in the area, and we were one of two Jewish families in the neighborhood. I don’t remember seeing a person of color until I was about eight years old. Diversity is good though. It’s good to have a mix. It’s just better that way.
 
Do you ever work outside of Miami for your non-profit projects?
No, but we are trying to figure out how to build a bridge between Harlem and Miami; that’s a goal for us, for sure. We just need a strategy. Like with Overtown, we would like to figure out how to connect the two because they are both so heavy with music history.
 
Photo Courtesy of Liam Crotty