Sant Ambroeus SoHo Has the Chicest Plates in All NYC

Photos: Courtesy of Sant Ambroeus

The simultaneously compact/packed wall of plates at Sant Ambroeus on Lafayette Street are just the beginning of general manager Alireza Niroomand‘s plan for redecoration. Niroomand has commissioned influencers, fashionistas, artists–all Sant Ambroeus groupies–to partake in a sort of culinary art collective.

You can’t take your eyes off the wall. Where to look? Donald Robertson‘s signature lips, or Brian Atwood‘s gem-adorned fancy plate? And that’s just a small selection. Other contributors include Leandra Medine (The Man Repeller), Deer Dana, and Edward Enninful. Looking will have to suffice because these plates are not for eating off of or taking home. But that’s okay–it just means a couple extra visits to the SoHo hotspot might be in order.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASimon Doonan and Jonathan Adler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABrian Atwood

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAurelie Bidermann

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEdward Enninful

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADonald Robertson

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACurtis Kulig

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAndre Saraiva

Super Saturday in the Hamptons: I Missed Kelly Ripa

I missed Kelly Ripa. After driving nearly three hours to a large field in Southampton with my best friend and a bag of trail mix to attend Super Saturday, I missed the most revered guest at the Hampton’s most charitable annual summer event.

Super Saturday is what it says it is: it’s a Super event on a day called Saturday where celebrities (like Kelly Ripa, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member (and Paris Hilton’s aunt) Kyle Richards, and Tiffani Thiessen) and a bunch of very charitable folk descend upon a lawn and shop, eat, and mingle for several hours—and then tweet about it later.

The best part. Well, wait, there are two parts:

1. Top designer clothes are sold at heavily discounted prices, à la Loehmann’s. Sant Ambroeus caters.

2. All the money raised via luxury raffle, expensive entry tickets, and on-site spending benefits the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. This year, Super Saturday raised $3.6 million. 

But anyway, back to the main point: I missed Kelly Ripa. Most likely because I was too busy eating my second plate of Sant Ambroeus bow-tie pasta and/or surveying the line for psychic readings with Betsy Wahmann and/or devouring a corn husk.

The downside was that a lot of the designer clothes, such as Free People, alice + olivia, Diane von Furstenberg, and Intermix, nearly sold out within the first hour, and by hour we mean “ the secret hour,” when the people with VIP tickets were able to get into the tent at noon—60 minutes before everyone else—and snatch up all the really good clothes, leaving the ordinary guests with the not-as-good-but-still-fashionable clothes.

But that’s okay, because what’s one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure or whatever. Just when I thought I couldn’t find anything to buy amid the soggy, muggy weather in the middle of this field—I did. Hanging on a rack at the Junk Food booth was the perfect t-shirt: a bright blue Batman t-shirt.

And suddenly, all of my cares faded away. Like the fact that it was raining and we were going to drive back in it. Or that we were probably going to have stop at a gas station bathroom to pee on the way. Or that we ran out of trail mix. But most of all, I didn’t mind that I missed Kelly Ripa. And that made my Saturday a lot more super.

What Can You Afford At Frieze Art Fair?

The New York art world exists in little pockets across the city.

There are the galleries in Chelsea, the museums along Fifth Avenue, the studios dotting Bushwick and now, the art fair that ate Randall’s Island.

That’s right, it’s Frieze, the American version of the British art spectacle (born from a magazine of the same name) that has artsy types from curators to performance weirdoes to—the horror!—regular people gearing up to cross the East River and check out what the fair, opening its inaugural U.S. appearance today with 180 exhibitors has to offer.

According to Amanda Sharp, who created the fair with Michael Slotover, it’s going to be as big as possible. Literally.

“We actually can’t build a bigger fair on that site—it’s built to its maximum size from year one,” she told ArtSpace. “It’s quite a shock when you walk out there and realize quite how big it is, but then I feel very comfortable with it because I know that the quality of the galleries is so strong.”

Indeed, galleries from blue-chip galleries like Gagosian and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise will be showing off their wares—and likely attracting some serious collectors. But what’s in it for those of us who aren’t looking to drop a year’s salary on a doodle?

Food. Namely stands from NYC favorites like Roberta’s, The Fat Radish, Frankies Spuntino, The Standard Biergarten and Sant Ambroeus as well as a mess of food trucks. And also culture!

A half-day ticket will run $25, and considering art lovers can take a relatively inexpensive ferry across the river to check out the fair – in a spot most New Yorkers rarely visit, nonetheless – a rare opportunity to see world-class art, travel by boat and eat artisan pizza with some of the city’s wealthiest collectors suddenly seems like a deal.

Broadway’s ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’: Talking to Matthew Broderick and More

Perhaps it should be called That Show With the Legendary Music or simply Nice Work If You Can Get (Tickets). Because although previews for Broadway’s newest musical Nice Work If You Can Get It have just begun, the soaring demand for this 1920s-era bootlegger-meets-playboy show is apparent: seats are already selling out. And why not? With music written by the venerable George and  Ira Gershwin, Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara in the starring roles, and Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall and bookwriter Joe DiPietro crafting the show, Nice Work is more than just nice. It’s brilliant. Here, Matthew Broderick, Joe DiPietro, and Kelli O’Hara share what makes this show one hot ticket. 

How do you prepare for your role as Jimmy, the wealthy playboy?
Matthew Broderick: I watch a million old movies, but I do that anyway. When there’s a 1930s movie on TCM, I tell myself its “research” and watch it. I also had back surgery—that was part of getting ready actually. But other than that, I don’t know how to prepare. I know how to watch movies and get surgery.

How has it been learning Kathleen Marshall’s dance moves?
MB: It’s been hard, but really, really fun. She’s really patient, and all the other dancers are so good. I can grab any one of them and ask, “What is this?” and they’ll show me. And even when I’m on stage, they can tell if I’m veering off and I’ll feel a little push. I’m getting there.  

It looks like you are. There a lot of musical comedies on Broadway; what do you think makes this one unique?
MB: Well, me. And Kelli O’Hara. We’re really a comedy that has songs in it, I think. It feels like a comedy play that just happens to have the best songs in the industry.  

If you could play hooky and take the day off from rehearsals, what would you do for the day? What spots would you go to?
MB: Ohhh, I see—Wrigley Field and all that crapola. I would probably just walk around the house. I don’t need to do a lot on a day off. I love a day off. I would go to the Hudson River and take a nice walk with my good friend Victor Garber. We’d get a nice cappuccino at Sant Ambroeus on West 4th and Perry and then we might stroll over to, what’s the one on 12th and W. 4th. The place on the corner? We often eat there.

Smorgas?
MB:
 No, it’s across the street. And I don’t mean the lesbian bar. (laughs) We don’t go there!  

Café Cluny.
MB:
 Yes. Great breakfasts.  

nice work broderick

How did you come up with the concept for the show?
Joe DiPietro: I was approached by the Gershwin estate, and they wanted to develop a new musical comedy. They gave me an old 1927 musical called Okay, and they said, “Take the germ of this idea of the show, do whatever you want, and pick any song you want from the Gershwin song catalogue.” So I did that; I took this old show and I made up my own characters and took the situation, but I completely re-wrote the plot. I researched the songs and tried to put together all the songs in a really delightful way.

Is it strange not having all the writers present?
JD: It’s interesting. We joke that I’m the only living writer on this show. It does, in a very weird way, feel like George and Ira are my collaborators. I was just trying to do well by them, really write something that I hoped if they walked in the room they’d be thrilled with. So that’s my metaphysical way of saying I did try to collaborate with them.

Are there any lyric changes?
JD: The lyrics are exactly as Ira wrote them.

What has been the greatest challenge in writing book for this show? It can be a pretty thankless job. They always say, “You don’t notice the book when it’s good.”
JD: Yes. Bookwriters always say, “When your show’s a hit, you get ignored. When the show’s a flop, you get blamed.” I think the hardest thing is writing backwards. It’s preexisting songs, so you have to write characters that, when they sing these songs, their language matches the language of the lyrics and the music. So sometimes you have to fit a round peg in a square hole. But the music was so good and I love this era of comedy and style of 1920s jazz-age stories and comedies.

Nice Work If You Can Get It

So are you always trying to find a way to write this in the most pithy way?
JD: Writing a book is oddly like writing a screenplay. You can’t just have long scenes of dialogue. In a play, you can have long scenes of dialogue where you delve into the character. But in musicals, especially this musical where you have these archetypal characters, you want them to come in and the audience to love them. And that’s part of the delight of it and that’s part of the challenge.

West Side Story is commonly regarded as the musical with the most economical book.
JD: Oh yes. You can’t put all the information about a character into a scene because the song has to say some of that. I don’t want to write the love scene because I want the song to express that. The emotion always needs to primarily be expressed in the song. You need to write up to that and, hopefully, you can enjoy the lead-up to that.

Do you have a nice collaboration going? Does Kathleen give you feedback?
JD: Kathleen is a genius and is incredibly easy to work with. I feel like she can tell me anything and I can tell her anything. She always has good ideas. And she does musicals. When you’re working on a musical, if you’re director doesn’t know musicals, you’re in trouble. There’s a lot of ways a musical can teeter, and a director is one of the big ways. Whenever she says something to me, I always listen and think about it because I know she’s onto something.

What about Memphis? Do you see it becoming a movie?
JD: We recently celebrated our thousandth performance. I think it’ll be a movie, yes, and I’ll believe it when it happens cause Hollywood is its own crazy world and I don’t really understand or know too much about that. But it sounds like it will be put in that pipeline shortly.

You’ve worked with Kathleen Marshall on Broadway several times, in shows like Anything Goes, The Pajama Game, and Follies. How does it feel to work with her again?
Kelli O’Hara: I feel really comfortable with Kathleen. Obviously we’ve worked together several times and we’re good friends, and I think with that you’ve got the freedom to ask for help and say what you feel and build something together and trust, as opposed to feeling like I’m trying to impress her or I don’t want to disappoint her. It’s a very comfortable room between the two of us to do the things we need to do for this. That’s very important because sometimes you lose steps when you worry about the things that don’t matter. So knowing her as well as I do and having had success with her in the past, we just feel good about each other.

How would you classify this show?
KO: I remember when I did South Pacific, people saying “They don’t write them like this anymore. They write new ones that either comment on the way they used to be written or don’t have some of the elements that make it like they used to be written.” This is trying to take all of that—what started musical theatre and musical comedy off in the first place—and make them for a 2012 audience. So not it’s like, “Oh, great, there’s another one that’s being written now.” It’s poignant and timeless for today’s audience. It’s not a revival. The subject matter is set in a certain period, but we have contemporary jokes since the bookwriter is alive; he can write things that are timely. What you have is something that you may have been searching for: you didn’t want a revival, you wanted a new show. That’s what this is. You wanted one of those old shows, but you wanted it to be new. That’s what this is. 

Between rehearsals for this show, what’s a favorite restaurant you’ve been doing to? 
KO: Oooh, that’s a good question. I have so many. Last night I went to this new place on 49th street called Lillie’s. it’s huge and open and the décor in there and the Irish pub food is so fantastic. They’ve got one by Union Square too.

Kelli O'Hara

Nightlife Try Outs: Ricardo Garcia’s Banker-Cum-Nightlifer Itinerary

It’s a Thursday night and I’m uptown at Lavo surveying the scene: there’s Irina Shayk; hoards of other models that I can’t really see because Irina Shayk’s image has just been permanently etched into my retina; decent looking women; not-so-decent-looking women, who sleep with promoters and staff to prove they can be useful. For every ten of these women, there’s one graying, dapper, monied man, to whom they cling. I’m in the corner guzzling drinks and contemplating why every man with half (an empty) brain doesn’t feel compelled to drop whatever else he’s got going on to do this “daddy” routine. Then memory takes me back to one man who did. I’ve seen Ricardo Garcia at just about every event I’ve gone to in the last three years. In the early days, he’d have to leave relatively early – 2am – to be fresh for the next day’s work investing something into something else. He was always either just drunk enough to approach every girl in the room, or just nice enough. Camera in hand, he’d ask to take everyone’s picture—usually pretty girls in droves—and aim to find them on Facebook the next day in order to tag them. Oldest game in the book, I’d say, but he was shrewdly doing it to build up his connections in the nightlife arena. Now he’s a full-time nighttime kind of guy, running an events and branding company, all thanks to this early “daddy” routine. Smart guy. Here’s what his nightlife looks like, now that he doesn’t have finance stuff to worry about.

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Name: Ricardo Antonio Garcia Professional Resume: I am a former Merger & Acquisitions Financier that now owns and operates Red Hot-PR, a New York and London based PR firm concentrating on brand building, event planning, promotions, talent management, photo production, public relations, entertainment financing, and media coverage. I also founded Red Hot-Society, which is an online weekly fashion, entertainment, and events newsletter covering various social activities and featuring only the direct scene without the “fluff.” New York Nightlife in a Word: It used to be “Champagne Bollinger.” Now it’s more Patron.

City Loves: Lunch spot: Sant Ambroeus. Both locations in the city and Southampton. • Dinner spot: South Gate in the Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South. • Nightlife trend: The Box has been a four-year trend for me • Drink of choice: Star Vodka by Charles Ferri, on the rocks with a lime twist. • Meal of choice: Filet Mignon with potato mash and Saint Émilion • Group of people to bump into: Doesn’t matter, as long as they are good looking.

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City GripesNightlife trend you loathe: SL and Provocateur, and other places where the nouveau bourgeoisie congregate in their wannabe nouveau riche style and demeanor. • Drink: I never understood “infused” liquors. • Meal: I am not a fan of curry. • Group of people to bump into: Anyone who thinks they are royalty because they made few bucks lately, or obtained some exposure via media, reality TV, or some other vessel.

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His HotspotsMonday: La Zarza, cozy and a nice looking crowd, great music. •Tuesday: La Vie for a hookah and vodka, then some private event invite usually pops up elsewhere. •Wednesday: Mari Vanna for early cocktails/dinner then late night loft party or private event. •Thursday: Le Cirque for pre cocktails/dinner then CV Lounge late night. •Friday: Dinner at De Santos, cocktails after at The Lion, then avoiding the B and T crowd, so perhaps a local bar late night, or a private house party in Nantucket or Southampton, if it’s the summer months. •Saturday: Dinner and drinks local—walking distance: Travertine, Freeman’s, or Madame Geneva. Usually, there’s too much B and T to make it a “night,” unless I’m in Nantucket or Southampton for a house party. •Sunday: Charbon for a burger and wine, Union Square Lounge for their Brazilian Model Party, and maybe cocktails at Café Habana.

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Every night: I like the Crosby Bar in the Crosby Street Hotel. •Wouldn’t be caught dead here: Abe & Arthur’s, Avenue, The Collective, SL, Provocateur, and Pacha. •For special occasions: Bemelmans Bar for piano jazz, or Café Carlyle for Woody Allen’s band on Mondays. • Brunch is usually: The Odeon.

Your Summer Guide to Staying Healthy

The only place with more judgmental glares than Manhattan, is the Hamptons, and they go beyond the disapproving looks you get when you opt for that third scoop of Sant Ambroeus pistachio ice cream. While there’s no quick fix solution to turning your Masda into a Maserati or your Hampton Bay weekend shack into a Gin Lane mansion, with Memorial Weekend around the corner, gear up with these beauty finds and, at the very least, you can wow with your toned tummy and beauty know-how, though you may want to be careful in whose company you bring up your recent butt facial.

When transitioning your bod away from couch potato status, the best place to start is with Mama Mio’s Bootcamp Kits. Don’t be intimidated by the name–these aren’t your local Sports Club LA cardio-pumped Bootcamps. Each kit comes equipped with two or three products (think circulation-promoting hip & thigh cream), to tackle that extra jiggle in your tummy, butt, or boob area along with easy to follow three-to-four minute targeted workouts. Unfortunately, as nice as it would be if we could rely on the likes of non-FDA-approved, Kardashian-endorsed QuickTrim, for quicker or more dramatic results, there’s no way around the fact that some additional form of exertion will be required.

Thankfully, a NASA engineer-turned sneaker aficionado spent 18 months perfecting a sneaker technology, found in the EasyTone, that has been proven in independent university lab tests to help wearers generate up to 28% more butt muscle activation compared to an ordinary sneaker. The EasyTone was conceived as a walking sneaker and it incorporates balance pods into the shoe soles to achieve its effect. There’s also a running version, RunTone, to help tone butt/leg muscles via a similarly pod-accented sole that mimics the resistance you experience from running on sand. Alternatively, Terra Plana’s EVO is a lightweight shoe designed to mimic the feeling of running barefoot. While it doesn’t promise any extra calorie burn, its lightweight, breathable design makes running a decidedly more pleasurable experience.

Step it up an extra notch by adding Polar’s FT 60 into the mix. The heart rate monitor helps you create a training program based on your personal goals, while giving you feedback, as hard as it is to face at times, on how effectively you’re training (intensity level, calories from fat burned…). If all else fails, you’d be surprised at the difference replacing those greasy Lays with some Bear Naked Granola could make.

To that end, if you’re one of many who get hives at the mere though of scheduling gym-time, Shatobu was designed under the premise of “workout you wear.” The compression hosiery has built-in bands that create extra resistance when you engage in your everyday activities resulting in an average of 12% more calories burned. Similarly, you can find temporary solace with Spanx’s compression swimwear which boasts strategically placed ruffles and color-blocked designs for the ultimate in trompe l’oeil beachwear. And, for when you’ve nabbed yourself a summer fling, throw on Yummie Tummie’s Baby Doll. It shapes and camouflages the mid-section without sacrificing comfort or sexiness-appeal.

Once in shape (or at least fashionably sucked in), tackle your body and face’s texture via Clarisonic’s latest system, the Plus, which comes with both a face and a body brush. The device is nothing short of a miracle worker for tackling blemishes (including pesky sweat-induced bumps), and it will leave your skin noticeably smoother after just a single use–trust that you’ll be using this gadget so often that having it engraved might not be as useless of an idea as it initially seems. Post cleansing, slather on some lotions and potions from Mario Badescu, An Oprah and Gwyneth Paltrow-approved line, you can get customized-to-your-skin-type samples gratis when you fill out their online skin analysis.

For those so pale that the only thing they ever got from sitting out in the sun is a burn, Modelco’s SunSponge is ergonomically designed to reach even those hard-to-reach back areas. Just remember that while having more skin than usual exposed makes applying extra make-up tempting, unless you want your face melting in public it’s best to keep it to a minimum. Protect your outer layer via iS Clinical’s SPF 20 Powder Sunscreen, which comes in translucent and medium shades. Besides color and shine, it’ll give your skin protection that’s so comprehensive even those whose skin has recently undergone some nips and tucks can use it. Plus its powder/brush application system makes it perfect for travel.

Heading South, it goes without saying that summer inevitably entails some form of below-the-belt care for women, unbeknownst to many however, that very necessary act can result in bikini area discoloration, scarring, and hyper-pigmentation, all of which are treated (along with acne, age spots, and rough skin), by Completely Bare’s Bikini/Bum Facial. Equally as important is your extremities. Tweezerman’s Sole Mates Dual Sided Foot File combines a stainless steel micro‐file for buffing with a nickel finishing file, held together via a magnetic design that incorporates a no-mess, easy-to-empty compartment and built-in anti‐microbial protection to revive your nails from their snow boot hibernation. Post filing, top off your nails with Revlon’s Scented Nail Polishes. Available through the summer, the limited edition scents include “Beach,” “Ocean Breeze,” and “Peach Smoothie.”

Lastly, because summer inevitably entails blunders like mistaking your moisturizer for your sunscreen, don’t forget to keep a Talking Intelligent First Aid Kit, which comes stocked with care packs to treat everything from bites and stings to CPR and burns, each of which have corresponding audio guides.

Where Celebs Go Out: Mena Suvari, Selma Blair, Olivia Palermo

Mena Suvari at the Zac Posen for Target shopping party: “Sushi at Nobu.” ● Ginnifer Goodwin:Candle 79 here. Madeleine Bistro in L.A.” ● Selma Blair: “I love the Savoy and I love Minetta Tavern.” ● Zac Posen: “My favorite restaurant Kai, just closed in New York. And I’m very saddened about Takashimaya. I love Casa Lever has the best steak and great pasta. It’s really good Italian.”

Patricia Field:Il Buco, around the corner from my house. Agnanti is a Greek restaurant out in Astoria. There are some very good Japanese restaurants that I love on East 43rd Street, between 2nd and 3rd. There’s a great saki bar there called Sakagura. Next door, there’s a really good Japanese barbecue, and across the street, one of the best sushi restaurants in the city.” ● Joe Zee: “Minetta Tavern. But my old standby restaurant for the last 15 years is Bar Pitti. ● Olivia Palermo:Indochine.” ● Theodora Richards: “At the moment, it’s Sant Ambroeus, down on the west side. The mille-feuilles—I don’t know how to pronounce the French word for a thousand leaves—but the dessert, this pastry thing, is phenomenal, my new favorite.” ● Alek Wek: “Let’s say like Nobu downtown in Tribeca or Schillers, on the Lower East Side.” ● Kate Gosselin: @ the Discovery Channel’s 2010-11 Upfront reception. “I’m afraid if I tell because it’ll ruin my spots, and then I can’t go there anymore because the paparazzi will get me! I’m just kidding. You caught me off guard. In New York, I love Le Colonial

Where Celebs Go Out: Hugh Jackman, Parker Posey, Reshma Shetty

At the premiere of City Island:

● ANDY GARCIA – “In New York there are so many great restaurants. There’s an old one I’ve gone here for many years that I like to visit, just out of nostalgia. It’s a very good restaurant. It’s called Il Vagabondo. It has a bocce court in it. It’s just a very picturesque place; very, good food. Cipriani’s. There’s a new one called Nino’s. Scalinatella — a lot of Italian restaurants, you can tell. I always pop my head into Victor’s Cafe. And then, I’ve got to have a Gray’s Papaya hot dog here.” Any plans to visit Cuba? “Oh, I dream about visiting Cuba every day. But some people have to leave there first.” ● HUGH JACKMAN – “I’m a real junkie for Jean-Georges Vongerichten. I love his cooking. I just went to his place up in The Mark, and I was lucky enough to go to his new restaurant down at ABC Carpet and Home — all organic, every ingredient’s within an 100-mile radius. The food is just unbelievable there, so … Any special dish? Chicken. He told me his secret: brine. You got to brine your chicken.” ● VERA WANG –“I like Morimoto, and I like Bar Masa, and I love the new Mark Hotel, and Sant Ambroeus, uptown and downtown, Mr. Chow’s. I go out to eat a lot — you can tell.”

● SANDRA BERNHARD – “I love Cookshop, which is downtown. I love BLT Fish, one of my favorite restaurants. Babbo. Of course, I love 2nd Avenue Deli. I’m very into trying to eat locally, sustainably grown food. I’m doing more and more cooking at home because of my daughter. And I’ve always eaten very balanced and healthy, but, to me, it’s about really preserving the environment, as well.” ● ZOE KRAVITZ –Five Leaves in Brooklyn, in Greenpoint. Delicious.” ● PARKER POSEY – “I’m trying to give a good recommendation for something. Mary’s Fish Camp.” ● DOMINIK GARCIA-LORIDO – “Oh, wow! I’m, like, so not a club person anymore. I’m pretty much a homebody. I live in L.A., so … I like more dive bars and chill spots where you can hear good music. I don’t like really sceney places. I don’t like where you have to dress up. I’m more, have a beer and chill; watch a game. I have to give a shout-out to the guy I work for, as a waitress. I still work there. It’s a lounge in Studio City, California, called Next Door Tapas. It’s attached to an Italian restaurant, La Loggia. It’s a really chill, tapas bar in the Valley. It’s got good drinks and good food.” ● STEVEN STRAIT –The Smile on Bond Street — really, really cool place; a little coffee shop that’s got great food, great coffee; really relaxed, cool place. I grew up here, but I don’t live here anymore. I love staying at the Chelsea Hotel. It’s got so much character; really, amazing history; inspiring place. It’s really kept to its roots. The city’s expanded around it. It’s really held firm. I appreciate that.” ● RESHMA SHETTY – “My favorite restaurant, at the moment, is Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar. I love that place. Bar-wise, the Russian Vodka Room does a mean apple martini. And they have a fabulous happy hour: $5, 4-6.” ● GRAHAM PHILLIPS – “One thing that’s been fun is that I’ve noticed is that all the best pizzerias are in Brooklyn, and I used to never really go to Brooklyn, but now that the show [The Good Wife] films in Brooklyn, I’ve been going to all these pizzerias. I have a list on my phone. Someone sent it to me. I’ve just been trying to check ’em all off my list. Joe’s Pizza, Bleecker and Carmine, unbelievable! Di Fara, Brooklyn, Avenue J — I tried that. That was unbelievable! I also tried Grimaldi’s. And they were all unbelievable. They’re all in the same genre of this authentic New York pizza, but they all have their little twist to it.”

Industry Insiders: Kimberly Burns, Literary Maven

Sometimes the person who handles the publicity gets to be as noteworthy as the clients she peddles to the public. Enter Kimberly Burns, literary publicist extraordinaire. Mention her name at any literary event or in the hallway of any publishing house and writers cower behind their spectacles — they know getting her to hype their book could land them a coveted spot on the New York Times Bestseller list. In an era when hard copy has evaporated into thin air and settled onto the digital screen like thick condensation, rest assured Burns will make sure that the written word stays in your face.

(‘DiggThis’)How do you go about making a piece of literature something the world wants to know about? I don’t, the authors do, so my job is easy. I’m in the extremely lucky position that I only work with really good writers. They write a good book and all I have to do is call people who I think would be interested and tell them about it. What an easy gig. How’d you get into it? During grad school I was working in a bookstore at night and I realized, “Wow, I enjoy working in the bookstore more than I do anything else.” I starting running an author series at a bookstore in San Francisco. I moved to LA and started to work in film production, which paid a lot of money, but it felt like my brain was turning to mush. So, I called a friend at Knopf’s West Coast office and asked for a job. I loved doing book publicity so I moved to New York to work at Random House. I was a publicist at Random House, Pantheon and the Penguin Press before I set up my own shop in 2003. Who were some of the most exciting authors you represented when you worked at Random House? This is going back a few but Zadie Smith for her book White Teeth because she was at the beginning of a career and you knew it was going to be big. Adam Gopnik for Paris to the Moon, which is one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. He is such a maverick writer and that was his first book. Another one was Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald who was with a smaller publisher before going to Random House. This was going to be his big book and it was, then he died in a car crash two months after it came out, so I feel incredibly lucky to have known him and to have helped turn readers on to his books. What about independently? I work for the PEN American Center, which supports writers and is the world’s oldest literary and human rights organization. They are vigorous in their support of freedom of speech and just genuinely awesome people. I help them with their annual World Voices Festival, which brings 160 writers from around the world to New York, so it’s a great opportunity to see how the world thinks. I worked with Salman Rushdie on his last novel, The Enchantress of Florence. A.M Homes wrote a memoir about being adopted called the The Mistress’s DaughterHardball by Sara Paretsky. How do new writers make it today? It is a very difficult time. I know I sound old school saying this but I think the bookstores and the booksellers really matter. They’re on the frontlines. You go into a bookstore and ask what you should read and the independent booksellers will find you something you love that might actually change your life. I also think word of mouth. That’s what happened with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love. It got a great front-page review by Jennifer Egan in the New York Times Book Review and everybody in the industry and all the literary people were excited, but my understanding is that when women started recommending it to their friends is when it really took off. And then of course, Oprah didn’t hurt. Any big projects coming up? I’m working on a debut novel that will come out in June called The More I Owe You which is about Elizabeth Bishop’s years in Brazil. She went to Brazil for a two-week vacation, fell in love with a woman and ended up staying 17 years. The story is amazing and the writer just writes beautifully. I’m also working on New Yorker writer Marisa Silver’s new collection of short stories. The Story Prize, which celebrates the year’s best collection of short stories, is an upcoming event I’m doing the PR for. The PEN World Voices Festival again this year. And, get this, I just signed on with Natalie Merchant – her new album is free domain poetry she’s set to music. It’s her first album in seven years and the music PR people will take care of her but I’m going to try to help get attention in literary circles. Books that annoy you? What really bums me out is stuff like Sarah Palin’s book. A huge seller like that could have created the opportunity to draw people into bookstores, where they’d hopefully find other books actually worth reading, but then Amazon and Wal-Mart discount it so severely. Why would you go into a bookstore to get it? The other thing that bothers me is that it’s a product. She didn’t even write it. I bet she hasn’t even read it. It’s all that kind of bullshit publishing that really bums me out, makes a lot of noise, and takes attention that could go to read books. I’m also beyond bored with all the talk about E-readers. It’s just another format to read something in. What is inside the books or what is downloaded onto an E reader — that is the important thing to me. In the end I think all people really want is a good story that’s well told. Go-to places in New York? Sant Ambroeus or Soba-Ya for lunch. John the maitre d’ at Babbo is a big reader so I love it there. Commerce and Pearl Oyster Bar and I love Giorgione in SoHo.

Photo: Richard Koek