BELLA LUNA on the upper west side is a traditional Italian restaurant offering comfort food with a wonderful wine and beer menu in a cozy warm setting. Great food at affordable prices is what sets Bella Luna apart with classic Italian pasta dishes averaging at $14 bucks.
Quality ingredients are used in all the dishes, we enjoyed the Caprese Salad and the thinly sliced Beef Carpaccio as appetizers. For the main course the shrimp scampi with linguini was a generous portion of tastiness and the grilled salmon with roasted potatoes was light and moist and is a good dish for someone looking for a healthier alternative.
Dessert was a traditional tiramisu which we paired with a yummy dessert wine. A three course prix-fix menu is available mon-fri until 6pm for just $22.
This Valentines Day or another day, Bella Luna is a great choice for an enjoyable meal. Call (212) 877-2257 for reservations.
BELLA LUNA: 574 Columbus Avenue. New York, NY 10024
27 Morton in the west village brings classic cuisine from Central & Eastern Europe to New York City. Russian staples like borscht, pierogi, blintze are on the menu. German and Hungarian options abound with Bratwurst, Schnitzels, German style potato salad, and homemade lingonberries.
For the table we highly recommend the house assorted appetizer board. The selection is massive with a signature selection of meats and cheeses paired with mkhali, grilled and pickled vegetables, liverwurst spreads with fresh breads. The specialty dessert of the house is the apple strudel with ice cream.
There is a very nice wine menu with several regional wines available and an impressive beer and ale menu both bottled and on draft.
27 Morton: 27 1/2 Morton Street, New York, NY 10014 (212) 929-4339
Oscar Wilde has a rich history in NYC. The space began as a prohibition enforcement headquarters in 1919 and remained that way until the end of prohibition. It then housed several firms until Oscar Wilde settled in as a bar/restaurant that pays homage to the Irish Playwright.
This Valentines Day Oscar Wilde is serving a $75 Prix-Fixe menu in the dining room. Options include house specialties like the seared scallops, Angus skirt steak or the oven braised coconut chicken. Appetizers include the mushroom soup, gem lettuce salad or home-made foil gras artichoke hearts. Dessert is a choice of Fantastic Chocolate or the Destruction of Lemon Tart & Raspberries.
The atmosphere is lively and jovial, come enjoy the longest bar in New York City with a multitude of drink options and tasty fare.
Oscar Wilde NYC: 45 west 27th street New York, NY 10001 (212) 213-3066
Lamano serves Spanish tapas and moderately priced cocktails in an intimate setting. Restaurateur Jorge Guzman who also co-owns popular Mexican restaurants Black Ant, Ofrenda, and Temerario recently opened his third location of Lamano in Hell’s Kitchen. This location is the largest space. It is sleek with low lighting and walls adorned with artwork by Joan Miro.
We enjoyed The Gambas Al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp), Papas Bravas (Baked Potatoes, salsa brava, aioli) and the Paella De Mariscos(Seafood Paella). We paired the meal with a red Sangria.
Lamano: 688 10th avenue New York, NY 10019 (646) 559-0989
New Year’s Resolution: Getaway To Cabo San Lucas for The Ultimate Girlfriends Getaway at Pueblo Bonito Resorts
When the holidays come to an end and the winter blues set in, there is nothing better than a dreamy girlfriends getaway at Pueblo Bonito Resorts.
Five luxe resorts scattered around Cabo San Lucas offer all-inclusive luxury in a variety of price points, all with chic comfortable and sleek accommodations, tons of activities and dining options and oh yeah indulgent spa services.
The Ultimate Girlfriends Getaway Package offers you and your besties, or mom and sisters 3 nights in an ocean view room, all inclusive food and drink, a private chef for one special dinner, an upgraded dinner option at an exclusive restaurant, we chose La Frida, and it was fantastic. There is also a VIP tequila and Mezcal tasting, a guided tour of the Quivira Market, a massage on the beach and a paddle boarding tour to the Arch plus a 25% discount at the Armonia Spa.
If luxury is the goal then an add- on to the package will give you 24 hour butler service, think reserved cabana seats with margaritas served at a moments notice. A Hook’ n Cook beach experience, a sunset cocktail cruise, and a butler guided shopping tour of downtown Cabo San Lucas.
Each of the Pueblo Bonito Resorts have their own personality and vibe. Pueblo Bonito Rose and Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos are located directly on Medano Beach, the only swimmable white sand beach in Cabo San Lucas. Sister properties separated by a beachfront bridge, guests can use each others facilities and restaurants. Close proximity to downtown Cabo San Lucas makes these resorts perfect for guests who would like to relax onsite and go explore the area as well.
Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach is located high above Cabo San Lucas on a secluded bluff, with gorgeous ocean views. The resort offers a private beach, a rooftop pool with private cabanas and exclusive access to The Quivira Golf Course, a Jack Nicklaus signature designed course. Elevated dining options at Sunset Beach are many with our favorites being La Frida, Tazuna, and the Quivira Clubhouse. Guests can also enjoy 24 hour suite service.
Pueblo Bonito Pacifica is located on a secluded beach within the exclusive residential neighborhood of Quivira. An adults only property, this romantic resort is a haven for honeymooners and a perfect spot for a destination wedding. This premium 201 suite resort gives guests use of the sister properties and offers free shuttles.
Dining options range from friendly poolside fare and libations to the Peninsula Restaurant offering local Bajan flavors in an a elegant and romantic setting. Siempre is a gourmet restaurant that fuses Mediterranean and Mexican Cuisine with healthy options available.
The Armonia Spa, named among the three best spas in Mexico & Central America a few years ago by Conde Nast Traveler. The full-service spa offers wellness treatments, massage therapies, we chose the beach massage and we highly recommend it! There is also a state of the art fitness center, hair salon, and a wet area.
The Towers at Pacifica are the newest and most luxe addition to the resort. A resort within a resort, the 47 rooms and suites all offer ocean views with private terraces with six suites offering private plunge pools and offer the most discerning traveler, the opulent 3200 square foot Presidential Suite. All the rooms include a private butler and an oceanfront VIP lounge open only to Towers guests. This time of year the lounge, outfitted with binoculars is a perfect spot to view Whales frolicking in the Pacific.
Montecristo Estates at Pueblo Bonito brings the Villa Life to an all-inclusive resort. 3 bedroom Villas measuring 2800 square foot feature spacious living areas with fireplaces, bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, full kitchens with top of the line appliances and Oceanview outdoor spaces with infinity pools and hot tubs. The villas can comfortably sleep 10 making them the perfect choice for large families, transgenerational travel and of course An Ultimate Girlfriends Getaway!
Guests can enjoy unparalleled privacy with the convenience of amenities found at the sister Pueblo Bonito Resorts. Guests of Montecristo have unlimited use of all the neighboring resorts and the Quivira golf course.
To Book Your Ultimate Girlfriend Getaway Click Here: Pueblo Bonito and pack your bags to Paradise.
Bottino NYC is located in the artsy neighborhood of West Chelsea filled with art galleries and art installations. For over 20 years Bottino has been offering contemporary Italian cuisine in a cozy warm environment.
Recently renovated and updated the genuinely friendly staff serves up homemade pastas, creamy burrata, and a massive portion of tender lamb chops. There are wonderful seafood dishes as well along with a diverse wine and cocktail menu.
Bottino is now taking reservations for their New Year’s Eve Celebration with a three course meal, early seating starting at just $75 dollars, with a welcome glass of champagne included. Tax and Gratuity extra. Click here to book: Bottino NYC
Mizu near Union Square has a motto that quality sushi should be available whether you dine in, take out or get your meal delivered at an affordable price. Using the highest quality ingredients the fish is super fresh. Guests can dine ala carte or choose an Omakase dining experience.
We tried and enjoyed the shrimp shumai, tuna tartar, black cod, sirloin steak and of course a sushi platter filled with sushi, sashimi, classic and specialty rolls. The ramen bowls are flavorful and loaded with fresh ingredients.
The vibe at Mizu is lively with families, couples and friends enjoying a night of great food and drink.
TGA NYC is an American Modern cuisine restaurant with lots of seafood, meats, and comfort food options. The salmon Crudo and the jumbo crab cake were delicious as was the Filet & Shrimp and the Fresh Grilled Salmon. There is a sports bar menu with New Orleans wings, nachos, homemade flat bread pizzas, loaded Mac n cheese and lots of other options.
The Back Alley Beer Garden is the perfect space for a private holiday party with a retractable roof for an indoor/outdoor experience any time of year.
During the holidays the bar scene is lively and the location is in the heart of midtown just blocks away from Times Square and Madison Square Garden.
As a lover of Indian Food we found Chola NY quite special because of the elevated coastal Indian menu. The charming upper east side eatery serves up fresh seafood hard to find at a traditional Indian restaurant.
Our favorite dishes were the Lobster Ghee Roast(Lobster Masala) the Crab Butter Pepper Masala and the Jhinga Butter Masala Shrimp. We also loved the Lasoni Gobi (Cauliflower), Onion Bhaji (Crispy Onion Fritters), and Dhabewali Murgh Tikka (Grilled Chicken Bites in a lemon sauce).
Open for lunch and dinner with a daily unlimited lunch buffet, Chola is a yummy experience not to be missed.
Manhattan’s East Village is currently one of the trendiest neighborhood in Manhattan. The Black Ant NYC brings an authentic modern Mexican restaurant with a focus on regional dishes and ingredients uniquely sourced in Mexico.
Adventurous diners must try the Black Ant Guacamole and the Chapulines, Grasshoppers, shishito peppers, avocado with queso fresco. We opted for the grilled mahi-mahi and the juicy roasted chicken. We really enjoyed the mango margaritas. There is a huge tequila and mezcal menu to experience.
Recently opened Aqua Boil Cajun Seafood House in Hell’s Kitchen makes us very happy!!! We love authentic cajun seafood and quality ones were hard to find in NYC until now. Focused on seafood boils, the “Get Messy” motto is encouraged at the restaurant. We tried and loved everything.
The King Crab legs were juicy and tender, as were the snow crab legs and the lobster. All the boils come with corn and potatoes and a choice of sauce: garlic butter, lemon pepper, Cajun Mix with a variety of spice levels.
The cocktail menu has a nautical theme with names like Beach Bum, Under The Sea, Poseidon’s rate and more.
Last month The 169,116 Gross Ton Norwegian Encore made its debut in NYC and we got a first peek, along with other media, influencers, travel agents, company executives and VIP guests. A Breakaway Plus Class Ship, the last of the four being built in this class, her sister ships are Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Joy, and Norwegian Bliss.
This ship is modern, with contemporary decor, super high -tech features and surpasses amenities found at top notch land based resorts. Even the most discerning traveler will be truly satisfied with the gracious accommodations, plethora of dining options and first rate entertainment.
The activities are endless and are good for every age group. The aqua park offers thrilling rides, never before offered at sea. There is a little kids section that mimics the big park. Laser tag is played on a course where players have the option to shoot at the go-karts as they whisk by.
The most fun was was had on the go-kart track. The longest go -kart track at sea, the bi-level coarse allows guests to drive 30mph, with the winner posted at the end of the race. The Galaxy Pavillion has awesome virtual reality games, rides, and an escape room.
Along with dozens of unique bars and lounges the ship offers broadway entertainment that is on par with shows on Broadway. We saw the fantastic Choir of Man and the award winning Kinky Boots during our time onboard. The sprawling casino has the latest games for the most exciting gaming possibilities at sea !
Dining is a huge part of cruising. With 27 dining venues on board there is something for everyone. The included main restaurants and buffets offer top quality cuisine with themed days and nights.
The seafood buffet was an outrageous smorgasbord of lobster, crab, raw bar and every other variety of seafood to fulfill any seafood lover’s fantasy. The specialty restaurants like Like Le Bistro and Onda at Scarpetta, an outpost of NYC critically acclaimed Italian Restaurant, run by the world famous LDV Hospitality, offer an elevated dining experience onboard.
The Encore has a vast variety of accommodations to choose from. Single travelers can enjoy their solo quarters, with no double occupancy supplement. Whether guests choose the most economical inside stateroom or the lavish Haven suite, the decor is elegant and understated, with soothing nautical colors and modern amenities like USB charging stations and flat screen smart tv’s.
The Haven is the ultimate cruising experience. A mega yacht experience within the walls of a huge dynamic cruise ship. Luxe suites, a private all-weather pool with retractable roof, private restaurant, bar and butler services. Open the gates and all the activities await and when privacy and peace are desired, enter the keyed Haven area on the top decks for exclusivity.
Norwegian Encore offers 7 day cruises to The Eastern Caribbean until April 2020. She will then move to NYC on April 22nd for Bermuda, Canada, and New England Itineraries. She will move back to Miami in December 2020 and offer Western Caribbean itineraries through April 2021. Book Here: ncl.com
The new Ichiran USA in Times Square serves up Tonkotsu Ramen bowls, considered to be the most authentic and highest quality noodles. Born in Hakata, Japan the epicenter of the tonkotsu movement the eatery created the five original elements of tonkotsu ramen: Original Spicy Red Sauce, Aromatic Tonkotsu Broth, Solo Dining Booth, Order form and the Kae-Dama Ordering System.
The Times Square location has individual booths that can be opened up to dine with a partner. The no tipping and order form system allows an on the go dining experience for work lunches and casual dinners.
The menu is very simple with the classic tonkotsu ramen bowl as the centerpiece. Optional chashu, scallions, mushrooms, soft boiled eggs and white rice can added to the order.
The Ramen Bowls were simple, delicious, and very flavorful.
LEYLA is a new Mediterranean brasserie on the Upper West Side that serves upscale Turkish cuisine infused with mediterranean ingredients and recipes. Lots of seafood is on the menu. We started with the Branzino Crudo, which was light, fresh and full of flavor. The Karides Guvec, Shrimps with bell pepper, cherry tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms was our favorite. For meat lovers the slow cooked Rib-Eye pide was rich and satisfying.
There are many lamb dishes on the menu that we are told are guest favorites with The Leyla Lamb Burger being the most popular. We opted for the Branzino entree with caramelized onion, pickled za’atar. and green olives.
The atmosphere is festive and there was a wait for a table the night we went. Reservations are highly recommended and the visit well worth it for a fun night out, a romantic evening or a special occasion.
Plado Tasting Bar in the East Village is a cozy tapas bar with an international menu. The dishes are meant to be shared, the portions are quite good as far as tapas go. There is a large variety of tapas from the sea, garden and butcher as well as charcuterie options.
The Wagyu Carpaccio, Short Rib and Strip Steak were my meat loving companions favorites. I enjoyed The Tiger Shrimp, Baked Razor Clams, Paella, and creamy burrata salad. The wine menu is expansive and the staff can create a wine pairing experience. The Sangria was light, fruity and delicious!
8SIA NYC is a brand new Asian food hall that opened up in the heart of midtown near Grand Central Terminal. Five Vendors give fast food a new meaning serving Asian street food market cuisine in one comfy location. Rice-On specializes in sushi rolls and bowls. Yaso Noodle Bar showcases Shanghainese street food with with a selection of pan fried baos, noodles, soup dumplings, and much more. Curry 42 offers Southeast-Asian fare particularly from Malaysia and Thailand that centers around curry as the main ingredient. The restaurant will serve three signature curries in the bowls, Classic Thai Green Curry, Pua’s Yellow Curry, and Panang Red Curry.
Pasta Eater is a new Italian eatery near Union Square that features a casual homey decor and the freshest Italian homemade pasta. Owned by Chef Giusto Priola, who started his career as the owner of “Cacio e Pepe”,hence their most popular pasta dish. The menu steers heavily on pasta dishes with a large variety of salads and starters from the sea and land.
We enjoyed the Bruscetta, Tuna Tartare, Pan Seared Meatballs and Quinoa and Shrimp salad to start followed by the Troccoli Pasta with Lobster, Cacio e Pepe, Grilled Branzino and the Rib-Eye Steak. We finished our meal with a creamy cheesecake topped withy Nutella and Pistachio.
The restaurant is currently BYOB as they wait on their liquor license, when they will offer a full wine, beer and cocktail menu.
GBK Productions Celebrating Gifting Lounge was once again the place for celebs and media attending the New York City Wine and Food Festival (NYCWFF) to relax in-between food events, cooking demos, and panels.
During the 2 day event at The Parker Hotel in NYC, dozens of the world’s most famous chefs, celebrities, and more came together to enjoy great food, drinks, and the year’s hottest gifts & trips.
A few of the chefs who attendance included Andrew Zimmerman, Scott Conant, Adam Richman, Alex Brightman, Casey Webb, Michael Lomonaco, Richard Blais, Sarah Steffan, Scott Tacinelli, Angie Rito, Ario Cecchini, Josh Capone, Marc Forgione, and many more. The celeb cities in attendance included Whoopi Goldberg, Melissa Roxburgh & J.R Ramirez from NBC’s Manifest, Sofia Pernas, Erich Bergen from Madam Secretary, Felix Solis from Ozark, Ana Noguiera from Hightown, Lawrence Gillard Jr. from The Deuce and What Not To Wear Host Stacy London.
The travel brands in attendance gifted the celebs and selected press trips by Sailrock Resorts in Turks & Caicos, FitFarm in Tennessee, Raiwasa Private Resort in Fiji, and Palace Resorts in Cancun.
Other brands included Aragon watches, Fortune & Frame Jewelry, Warthers Cutlery, RAK Porcelain, Brachs Candy and Topo Chico Mineral Water who hand delivered cases of water for us to taste. We approve!
The Viva Belize Collection is a group of eco-friendly, luxury hotels located deep in the rainforest of Belize and on the shores of Hopkins, Belize, a quaint unspoiled town filled with colorful architecture, lively eateries and bars, some with music and weekly concerts.
Our first stop was at the Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge, set on hundreds of acres of lush greenery, overlooking the river, with onsite wildlife, a place to really escape and getaway from it all. There are no TV’s in the rooms, wifi is available in the lobby and restaurant only. There is a total of 31 rooms and suites, designed with sustainable materials, organic design and are chic and comfortable.
The large heated pool is surrounded by lush foliage, with food and beverage service available. The main restaurant serves local fare with farm to table ingredients, sourced from the onsite garden. The cozy bar serves up beer, wine, and cocktails while guests enjoy the nature around them.
As the official base camp for National Geographic Expeditions in Belize, the concierge desk arranges adventures for guests ranging from ziplining, wildlife tours, cave exploring, and bird watching.
Located about 90 minutes from Belize International Airport, the lodge can arrange transportation to and from the resort.
After a few very peaceful and tranquil days it was time to hit the beach. We highly recommend combining 2 resorts to experience the beautiful nature and the beauty of the beaches that Belize has to offer.
Almond Beach Resort at Jaguar Reef is an intimate 12 room beachfront resort set on a 5 mile white sand beach. Located within a trio of hotels all part of the Viva Belize collection, Jaguar Reef and the Colonial are right next door. A heated infinity pool and hot tub is just steps away, as is an onsite spa, restaurant and bar.
A short walk on the beach there is a pier with a bar, room for relaxation and sunbathing, a rope swing and a platform for diving into the clear waters.
The Barrier Reef just off Belize’s coast is legendary for amazing snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities. The resort arranges a wide choice of snorkeling adventures ranging from a half day snorkeling excursion to diving at the world famous Blue Hole. A professional captain supplies all the equipment, provides expert safety and area knowledge to maximize the customer experience. On our adventure we saw schools of colorful fish, sting rays and nurse sharks!
Us Weekly’s Most Stylish New Yorkers Event to Honor Fashion’s Fiercest During New York Fashion Week #NYFW
Fashion Week in NYC is a whirlwind of shows, parties, dinner and late night affairs. Attended by fashionistas, celebrities, influencers, models and the media.
Us Weekly held its annual Most Stylish Event for New York Fashion Week at NYC’s brand new Cathedrale at The Moxy East Village. The 15th annual Red Carpet event is a NYFW staple welcoming some of the most fashionable and famous New Yorkers.
This year’s event celebrated 15 icons in the world of Fashion. The list includes Chris Benz, DJ Pamela Tick, Micaela Erlanger, Nam Vo, Violett Beane, Jennifer Fisher, Cara Santana, Cipriana Quann, Sara Haines, La La Anthony, Army Brook Sharp, Lil’ Kim, Deborah Roberts, and Ice-Tea and Coco.
The guests at the soiree enjoyed delicacies created by the Cathedrale kitchen with specialty cocktails and interactive activations by sponsors Biore, Smirnoff and Chapstick.
Celebrities spotted on the red carpet included 13 reasons why actress Amy Hargreaves, Marc John Jeffries of Power, Michelle Collins, Rachel Lindsey of the Bachelorette, Model Ralph Souffrant, Laura Pieri, Eva Gutowski, Designer Jennifer Fisher, Stylist Micaela Erlanger, RHONJ Melissa & Joe Gorda, Margaret Josephs, Jackie Goldschneider, Danielle Staub & Haley Hasselhoff, Antoine Bethea of The New York Giants, Greg Bello, Amy Herman of Million Dollar Listing, Luann De Lesseps, Designer Ramy Brook Sharp, Model Yasmine Petty, Actress Genevieve Angelson, RHOD Cary Deuber, Kary Brittingham, D’Andra Simmons & Cameron Wescott, Mariah Lynn of Love & Hip Hop New York, Actor Andy Carl with wife Orfeh Carl, Nick Young and more…………..
Photos below by Greg Pace:
Amylos Taverna is not your typical greek restaurant in a neighborhood known for greek eateries. The creative menu aims to elevate the dining experience and the decor is more Flatiron or Chelsea than Astoria, not that there is anything wrong with Astoria. The fresh fish display is artfully done and the bar is modern and chic. The service was very friendly and attentive. We loved the watermelon salad, which is perfect for summer. The whole fish, deboned, and the King Prawns were as fresh as can be. The typical greek spreads and the greek salad were delicious. The specialty cocktails were light and flavorful as were the desserts.
Located at 33-19 Broadway Astoria, NY amylos.com (718) 215-0228
Senso Unico in Sunnyside Queens is a quick 15 minute ride from midtown Manhattan. Chef Vincenzo and wife Laura opened this charming Italian trattoria about a year and a half ago. The neighborhood is growing quickly and the foodie scene is making a mark in the area. We loved the flatbread menu, the rib-eye carpaccio, the cuoppo, and the traditional calamaratta al frutti di mare.
Located 43-04 47th avenue Sunnyside, Queens 11104 (347) 662-6101 sensounicorestaurant.com
Roasted Masala is less than a year old and is already gaining steam for offering high end Indian Cuisine on the Upper West Side. Offering sit down service as well as takeout, the prices are affordable and the portions are large and can be shared. The location is perfect for Columbia University students, staff, and visiting family. Our favorites were the lasooni gobi (crispy cauliflower), the butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, and the saffron shrimp. The staff was extremely attentive and accommodating.
Located at 914 Columbus ave. between 104th and 105th street. New York, NY (917) 388-3586
Citrico Brooklyn in Brooklyn Heights offers truly authentic Mexican fare from the Central and Southern States of Mexico, not the typical Northern Tex-Mex New Yorkers are used to. Yes, even grasshoppers, appear on the menu! The dishes are infused with citrus, as the name suggests. The citrus and passionfruit margaritas are delicious. The ceviche with added citrus is very different and tasty as is the guacamole topped with fresh pomegranate. The “Elote” Mexican corn is served fresh with cotija cheese, chipotle mayo and chili powder. The Pollo en Mole must be tried, served in their homemade sauce with rice & beans.
Located at 681 Washington Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11238 (347) 955-4519 citricobrooklyn.com
Ayada Thai- Chelsea Market is the newest outpost of the Elmhurst, Queens based restaurant opened over 11 years ago. The new location is inside the very robust and popular Chelsea Market in the meatpacking district. The menu ranges from chive dumplings, noodles of every kind, spicy tom yum soup to fried Whole Red Snapper. The fried chicken wings in a sweet chili sauce were fantastic.
Located at 75 Ninth Avenue, Inside Chelsea Market New York, NY ayadathai.com
Coarse NYC is a very different and interesting dining experience. Chef Vincent Chirico does all the thinking for the guests with a spontaneous 7 course menu, paired with wines chosen by him and his staff for $99. Heavily seafood based but can be adjusted for dietary restrictions or preferences. We really enjoyed the hamachi and avocado, the seared sea scallops and the burrata ravioli.
Located at 306 west 13th street New York, NY (646) 896-1404
On the Adriatic Sea lies the town Mola di Bari. Located in the region of Apulia or Puglia known for hundreds of miles of coastline, vineyards, olive trees, agriculture, white washed buildings and the famous aquaviva onion.
The Teatro Pubblico Pugliese consortium, made up of local authorities, politicians, and tourism experts from the Puglia region focuses on promoting Puglia’s cultural, historic, and culinary offerings.
Officials from Croatia, which lies opposite Bari on the Adriatic are also involved in promoting the region through meetings, workshops, and in our case interviews with both local and international journalists.
The climate in Puglia creates optimal conditions for farming, agriculture, and wine making. Fresh seafood, particularly octopus are ubiquitous to the region and are served raw.
The term “Il Crudo Barese” was coined in the region and is very different from what the westerner thinks Crudo means. A tradition that dates back many centuries, fresh catches are served, raw moments after being pulled from the sea.
On our journey we were joined by Ornella Fado, an Italian/American hostess, creator and producer of Brindiamo, a show on Amazon Prime that showcases Italian Cuisine and Culture both in New York and abroad.
Chef Pasquale Martinelli, born in Mola Di Bari, has been cooking traditional Puglian cuisine since 1990, after graduating from the IPSAR Institute. A firm believer in using only the best ingredients from the region and implementing them to create authentic dishes, along with the art of hospitality.
His future project is the launch of Alloro Private Culinary Concierge, A private chef and hospitality company based in New York. His mission is to craft menus for guests following the Mediterranean diet, using ingredients imported fresh from Puglia and cooking them on premises, private homes and yachts.
Chef Martinelli is working on setting up a gala dinner for 100 guests on a yacht cruising around Manhattan serving a 5 course menu highlighting artisan small production cheeses, semola, wines, Extra Virgin Olive Oil directly from Puglia.
The Puglia region offers visitors a vast choice of adventures.
We visited the “Grotte di Castellana”, one of the most important attractions in Puglia. Located at the entrance of the Itria Valley, neighboring villages Alberobello and Polignano a Mare, these natural caves began forming 90 million years ago and to date have welcomed over 15 million guests. The tours through the caves offer splendid views through this natural wonder and can be short or long depending on the visitors preference.
The village of Alberobello, high in the hills in Puglia is a UNESCO world heritage site. Known for it’s “trulli”, whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs. The best way to experience the town is with a walking tour. A guide explains the history of the area, the significance of the architecture, and brings you inside these homes and introduces you to local artisans.
Polignano a Mare is our favorite area of Puglia. Limestone Cliffs lead to crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea, where beach life is sizzling. Cafes and bars line the town and folks sunbathe on the rocks or on the beach below. We are coming back!
Hamptons Roundup 7/20/19 Hamptons Happening @WaxmanCancer and South Fork Natural History Museum 30th Anniversary Gala @SOFO
Last weekend a couple of our favorite events of the summer happened in the Hamptons. The 15th Annual” Hamptons Happening” honored luminaries in cuisine and raised over $440,000 to benefit The Samuel Waxman Cancer Foundation.
This year’s theme was “Tour de Cuisine”, guests enjoyed tastings from over 25 food, wine, and spirit purveyors representing some of the favorite culinary destinations around the world. There were delicacies from Columbia, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, and the United States.
The band, titled Pat Farrell and The Cold Spring Harbor Band did a Billy Joel Tribute Show that rocked and had guests dancing in the big tent.
The South Fork Natural History Museum (SOFO) 30th Anniversary Gala Celebrated the Wonder of The Wild, Marking 30 Years of Nature, Education & Exploration Empowering Families to become responsible Stewards of our Planet.
The evening began with a VIP cocktail party on the lawn featuring acclaimed chefs from The Bell & Anchor, Bostwicks Clambakes & Catering, Calissa Hamptons, Canal Cafe, Centro, East Hampton Grill, Grace & Grit, Montauk Shellfish Company, Page at 63 Main, Saaz Restaurant and the Southampton Social Club.
A buffet dinner catered by Elegant Affairs followed under the tent with an honoree presentation and a live auction featuring once in a lifetime trips to Belize and Madagascar, private dinners donated by Elegant Affairs, a yacht outing provided by Charles Charters and a stay at Villa Bella Vita in Turks & Caicos, and a shark tagging expedition in Nantucket with the at-sea lab MV OCEARCH.
Rolls Royce offered test drives to all the guests of their newest and most luxurious vehicles.
The King and Prince Resort is a true gem of a vacation getaway. Located on St. Simon’s Island, a charming southern barrier island off the coast of Georgia, known for it’s beaches, rich history and numerous PGA golf courses.
A member of The Historic Hotels of America, the hotel has a storied past with many prominent guests who have called the resort home while on St. Simon’s Island. The resort has been thoughtfully updated with modern amenities while retaining it’s authentic southern charm with mediterranean architecture and southern decor throughout.
The accommodations range from resort view rooms to luxury villas suitable for large families and the most discerning travelers. The resort is also pet friendly with rooms specially allocated for our fur babies.
Amenities include multiple outdoor pools, 2 tennis courts, massage therapy, outdoor yoga and of course golf. The hotel’s restaurant ECHO offers oceanfront dining and cocktails and is the only official oceanfront dining venue on the island.
The fare at ECHO is American with a focus on seafood and the use of local ingredients. We enjoyed several meals at ECHO with breakfast being a favorite of ours. Lots of options from traditional to healthy with yummy smoothies to start off the day on the right foot.
At some point guests have to leave the resort to explore the island. Below is a list of our recommendations for where to eat, what to see and where to explore. This is only a small portion of what St. Simon’s has to offer and we look forward to returning to explore more!
- Lighthouse Trolley Tours run by Cap Fendig, a seventh generation resident of the island and a true expert on all things St. Simons. They offer trolley tours of the island, ghost tours, dolphin cruises and can be booked for private charters and special occasions.
- St. Simon’s Lighthouse Museum is a must visit to learn about the history of the lighthouse and it’s importance to St. Simon’s, then climb the stairs for amazing views of the ocean and surrounding islands.
- Gnat’s Landing offers American fare and drinks in a casual setting and is kid friendly. Try the Gnat’s famous slaw bowls! Come football season Gnat’s is the place to be.
- Georgia Sea Grill offers the freshest seafood on the island in an elegant and sophisticated setting. Perfect for a romantic dinner or a special occasion.
- Southern Soul BBQ is the most famous BBQ restaurant on the island having won several awards for its delicious slow- cooked meats and true southern style.
When we used to think about Pittsburgh, PA we would imagine a city that was a center for heavy industry, steel mills, but those days are long gone. These days the city is clean, green, focused on sustainability, filled with warm people, a vibrant food scene, artist community and of- course lots of professional sports teams.
Recently voted America’s “Most Livable City, Pittsburgh has many affordable housing options, premium healthcare facilities and top notch universities including Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh. As a matter of fact, the city is so tech savvy, second only to Silicone Valley, that is has been dubbed Silicone Valley of the East. On occasion, one can witness a self driving car whiz by, being tested as commissioned by Uber and Lyft, etc.
Health and Wellness is at the forefront of life in Pittsburgh. Planned green spaces designed for outdoor recreation and exercise are everywhere. Food choices are many and it seems that vegetarian and vegan restaurants are popping up in many of the 90 neighborhoods.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a 15 acre mecca of gardens, seasonal flower shows and exhibits. The focus and research is on sustainability and the effects of plant life on our environment. Exotic plants abound including orchids and bonsai trees. Summer camps and year round learning possibilities available for children.
The Fairmont Pittsburgh opened in 2010 and has led the way to offer luxurious and certified “Green” accommodations for business and leisure travelers. Located in the heart of downtown, the “LEED” certified gold level property serves delicious American fare at FL.2, cocktails & jazz at Andy’s wine bar, a spa and health club, plus lots of meeting space and weddings. The gorgeous grand ballroom can hold a wedding of up to 450 guests and the hotel staff can help orchestrate the perfect wedding of any size.
Where to EAT in Pittsburgh:
The Vandal, a trendy locally owned restaurant in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Locally sourced, farm to table seasonal cuisine and is BYOB.
Gluten Free Goat, A neighborhood cafe in Garfield. Gluten Free fare, fresh bread, pastries, breakfast & lunch options plus new dinner menu.
Legume Bistro, Located in the Oakland neighborhood. Ingredient focused restaurant with the freshest seafood and meats sourced locally from Western, PA.
The Porch, Located on the University of Pittsburgh campus, lively atmosphere, seasonal menu, casual cafeteria style eatery.
Apteka, Contemporary restaurant known for its vegan Eastern European Fare. Favorite dishes include vegan pierogis and potato pancakes!
FL.2, On the second floor of the Fairmont Pittsburgh. Modern American cuisine with a huge breakfast menu. Elegant space, carefully created dishes using the finest ingredients.
Primanti Bros, Iconic Pittsburgh Sandwich shop, huge portions. A must try for any visitor to Pittsburgh.
Things To Do in Pittsburgh:
Ride The Duquesne Incline From Mount Washington ride the century old cable car opened in 1877. Visit the museum, check out the gift shop and the views are amazing.
Visit The Love Pittsburgh Shop : Located on Mount Washington the store showcases local makers, artists, and craftsmen. Walk out with unique one of kind gifts. Owned and run by women entrepreneurs.
Peace, Love and Zen Spa: Visit this popular spa in the East Liberty neighborhood offering a variety of services. Our favorite was the ultra relaxing and healing Himalayan Salt Cave.
Walk The Burgh Tours: Walk through Pittsburgh with knowledgable, friendly and experienced tour guides. See the sights and learn the history.
Other sites to visit: Market Square, Point State Park, The Andy Warhol Museum, Mattress Factory Museum, National Aviary, Heinz History Center
The Mia Wagner salon is located on an exclusive block at 15 west 55th street occupying the second floor of the Domenico Vacca retail store and club. Husband and Wife team Gary and Kelly Wagner, who hail from careers at Frederic Fekkai, are known for their expertise in color, balayage, and styling.
Colorist Joseph Velez did a single process on me as well as lighter hilites and balayage to freshen my look and get my hair ready for summer. He followed up with a deep conditioning treatment and a terrific blowout.
The salon is full service with hair, facial, waxing, and nail services as well as a traditional barber shop located on the other side of the salon.
Mia Wagner Salon 15 west 55th street New York, NY 10019 (212) 651-0312
The Taste of The Upper West Side is a 2 night affair starting with “Summer In The City” on Friday night. Several restaurants made their Taste of UWS debut with tastings from Fish on The Fly, Friedman’s Restaurant, Melba’s Restaurant, Big Gay Ice Cream, Miznon, Mokum, Mojo Desserts, Solomon & Kuff and Tacombi Upper West Side. Event favorites such as 5 Napkin Burger, Shake Shack, Bodrum, Gabriela’s Restaurant & Kitchen, Playa Betty’s, Olma Restaurant & Bar, Sarabeth’s and much more offered their popular dishes and guests were treated to signature cocktails, beers, wines, and desserts.
The main event is Saturday Night’s “Best of The West”. The event began with an hour long VIP hour for guests to sample the elevated cuisine in a quieter more exclusive environment. Some of the restaurants present were Elea, Tavern on The Green, Lincoln Center Kitchen, RedFarm, Calle Ocho, The Mermaid Inn, Shake Shack, Boulevard Seafood Company, Burke & Wills, Carmine’s, Magnolia Bakery, Orwashers Bakery, and Insomnia Cookies. There was a dedicated mixology section sponsored by Park West Village Apartments, where one of a kind craft cocktails were created by 67 Orange Street, Da Capo, Manhattan Cricket Club, Maison Pickle, Nobody Told Me Cocktail Club, Tiki Chick, and Tito’s Vodka.
Project Orange Music provided the musical entertainment and had guests dancing to their tunes, much needed to burn off all that yummy
Shun Lee West is the sister restaurant to the original and very popular Shun Lee Palace on the upper east side. Across the street from Lincoln Center the pre-theatre crowd can get their food and drink on with authentic chinese cuisine in an elegant setting.
We dined on some classic favorites and specialties including their famous general Tso’s chicken, Crispy Whole Sea Bass, Grand Marnier Prawns, Fried Rice and Bok Choy. We paired our meal with a classic Mai- Tai, made with premium rums.
Shun Lee West is very family friendly and a go to for a special dining experience on the upper west side. The eatery is pricey but the portions are large and can be shared.
Shun Lee West 43 west 65th street New York, NY 10023 (212) 595-8895
Bay Gardens Beach Resort and Waters Edge Villas Gros Islet, St. Lucia #BayGardensBeachResort @baygardensbeachresort
Located on Réduit Beach, an expansive white sand beach that is adjacent to Splash Island Water Park, which is complimentary for hotel guests, Bay Gardens Beach Resort is a kid friendly resort that caters to families with spacious guest rooms, a lagoon shaped pool and a kids club. The resort is close to Rodney Bay, which offers a multitude of dining and entertainment options.
The guest rooms and suites are spacious with modern French caribbean decor, resort, pool or ocean views and offer free wifi, mini fridges and tv’s with dvd players.
The resort offers an all-inclusive package for those who want to be cash and hassle free or a European plan for those who want to explore the area and experience the local dining scene. The Hi-Tide Restaurant and Seagrapes Beach Bar offer local and regional delicacies as well as cocktails, a wine list and local beers.
Daily activities include non-motorized water sports, access to the waterpark, motorized waterspouts for a fee and the La Mer spa which offers massages, facials, and much much more.
For the ultimate luxury experience on Rodney Bay Marina, the newest addition to the Bay Garden’s Resort’s portfolio are the Waters Edge Villas these 2 ultra chic four thousand square foot villas feature 4 bedrooms each, living rooms on each floor, private pools overlooking rodney bay marina, Alexa Villa concierge service, exchange privileges between all four Bay Gardens properties, complimentary water park access, unlimited non-motorized water sports, shuttle service, and free wifi.
The villas can be booked for private events and weddings for a truly special experience in beautiful St. Lucia.
Getting to St. Lucia has never been easier with daily service from JFK to Hewanorra International Airport, about an hour and 20 minute drive to the resort. JetBlue has been a long time favorite ours for travel everywhere, especially in the Caribbean because of their convenient schedules, free entertainment, snacks, and wifi when in the coverage area.
Sushi Sushi is located in the heart of the village near Washington Square Park and NYU. A casual eatery with a focus on delivering the freshest seafood, hand selecting premium cuts of Salmon, Tuna, Yellowtail, Eel, Unagi, Striped Bass and much more.
The menu focuses heavily on its sushi roll choices. There are the traditional salmon avocados and spicy tuna rolls, but the signature rolls is what it is all about.
A couple of our favorites and highly recommended are the aptly named Sushi Sushi Roll, spicy crab, avocado topped with salmon, fluke/striped bass, with mango miso sauce and The Spicy Delight Roll, spicy tuna, avocado topped with spicy salmon and tobiko, served with spicy sushi sushi sauce
Dessert sushi is normally not a thing but Sushi Sushi has created some of the most unique and delicious sushi desserts possible. The PB& J roll, peanut butter and jelly on white bread, crust cut off rolled up into a roll. The Banana Nutella with strawberries is also a must try.
Sushi Sushi: 126 Macdougal Street New York, NY 10012 (212) 477-4000
Elysian Fields Cafe is perfectly situated in the heart of Columbia University at 1207 Amsterdam Avenue, between 119th and 120th street. The decor is reminiscent of a comfy country home that will certainly be a warm welcome for students, university staff, visiting parents and locals alike.
Owned by Georgia Dumas and Stavros Aktipis, who have a rich history of owning and running restaurants both in Greece and in the try-state area, they are bringing high quality fresh greek cuisine to the upper west side.
The menu focuses strongly on mezedes, sharing plates. This is a perfect way try several options both hot and cold with your dining partners.
We went for the traditional Tzatziki with pita, followed by the classic greek salad, large portion and can easily be shared with a few. The Salmon Tartare was very fresh and the grilled gulf shrimp “Garides Psites” were buttery and perfect.
For the main course we chose the Faroe Island Salmon served with lemon potatoes, my favorite greek side dish. My dining partner chose the chicken souvlaki platter served with veggies, pita bread and tzatziki.
We paired our meal with greek beers and wines, large choice of alcoholic beverages available as well as a lovely tea selection.
Elysian Fields Cafe 1207 Amsterdam Avenue New York, NY
Tuscany Steakhouse: Midtown’s Newest Steakhouse delivers Prime Aged Steaks & Italian Cuisine @TuscanySteakhouse #TuscanySteakhouse
Opened just over a year ago, Tuscany Steakhouse, formerly known as Nino’s Tuscany Steakhouse, has redecorated and rebranded itself. Arched brick walls, elegant tables and a cozy bar provide a premium dining experience.
The seafood possibilities are endless at Tuscany with the freshest seafood served. We opted for the lobster cocktail, jumbo shrimp cocktail, crab meat cocktail and baked clams oreganata.
Steaks at Tuscany are aged in-house to deliver maximum flavor. We chose to try the Sirloin and the Rib-eye, both simply seasoned and perfectly prepared. A favorite amongst diners is the Porterhouse, which is prepared for 2 people. There are also quite a few Italian specialties including chicken and veal parmesan. The lamb chops, as witnessed by our dining neighbors were a good portion size and juicy. We chose the creamy mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach as our side dishes.
Another guest favorite and ours is the linguine seafood. Filled with shrimp, lobster, clams and calamari served on a bed of linguini in a spicy marinara sauce.
Dessert was a light creamy tiramisu with homemade whip cream and a very indulgent hot fudge sundae. The meal was paired with a lovely and varied wine menu and friendly warm service.
Tuscany Steakhouse 117 west 58th street New York, NY (212) 757-8630 tuscanysteakhouse.com