In Little Italy we had some of the best food yet in New York at a little place called Amici II. Amici apparently translates to “friends” and it was most definitely a very friendly place. It was small and cozy with snapshots wallpapering the dining room. Our server had a very big personality and quickly made friends with every diner, it was perfect! Not to mention the food which – well we cleaned our plates and already picked out what we’ll eat the next time we are in the area. I had the Chicken Marsala & Paul had the Chicken Parmigiana. Each plate came with a side of homemade pasta which we couldn’t stop raving about. We don’t claim to be experts, far from it in fact, but this was just wonderful.
After dinner we made our way over to Ferrara Bakery & Cafe for further indulgence. Ferrara was featured on the “Last Supper” episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Food Network so of course it had to be good and well it exceeded expectations! The place felt very old and yet very well-kept. The dark wood that framed the display case and covered the walls with a shadow box style wainscoting along with the light fixtures and brown/white checkered floor gave Ferrara’s a very antique feel. We went in with the intent of getting the Lobster Tail and some other similar looking pastry ’cause those were the ones mentioned but once I saw the huge selection in what must’ve been a 30 food display case I couldn’t stick to the original plan. On to the food! After drooling over the display case we were seated and ordered Strawberry shortcake, cheesecake, coffee, & hot chocolate! OMG the Strawberry shortcake was unlike others I’ve had in that the strawberries were mixed with whip cream and added as layers in the cake. I couldn’t stop smiling each time I took a bite. The cheesecake was so light and smooth it was hard not to eat all of Paul’s!. The hot chocolate was beautiful and Paul raved about it but I stuck to my coffee which came in a tiny carafe for me to pour myself. I can’t say I was in love with it only because it was stronger than I like but I will have it again.
We set out for SOHO and wandered the streets, window shopped, and took in some amazing artwork. There were a number of galleries but a couple stuck out among the rest. The William Bennett Gallery offered free admission to view pieces by: Picasso, Miro, Warhol, Dali, Calder, & Chagall. I was amazed that it was free and open to the public – talk about an inexpensive way to spend a day. I felt like I could walk out with one because a few were priced just over $2,000. There definitely were several priced much closer to $100,000. A girl can dream. It was quite awe-inspiring to be in the presence of these artists if just for a few moments. We also went into Amazing Gallery which features a very different type of art and artist. There were original story boards and drawings from the Peanuts comic strip, as well as illustrations and animation images from Marvel comics, Disney, and several others.
We of course stopped to eat at a little place where I had a burger but just can’t remember what they were called! What did stand out however was Macbar, a tiny place that sells only mac-n-cheese concoctions made to order with a bevy of mix-ins. We weren’t really hungry but we just HAD to see what the fuss was about. It was very delicious and we are looking forward to going back with empty stomachs.
One of my favorite finds was an eclectic little shop called Lola Star which is actually a Coney Island shop but they set up a temporary “holiday” shop in SOHO and I guess decided to keep the lease a little longer. It was like walking into a shop in SoCo. While in the store we had a chance to chat with the owner Dianna Carlin (aka “Lola Star”), meet her adorable little dog named Shimmer (who seems to hang in the shop with her at all times), Paul helped her with some A/V issues she was having, & I got a new winter cap – definitely going back :). Since meeting her I’ve learned a little more about Lola and her shop and her battle with real estate developers looking to put up condos on the boardwalk. She began “Save Coney Island Organization” and seems to keep busy with multiple shops, a skate rink (which is actually being evicted before they can open for their 3rd season) and her community organization. I love finding these characters in my new city and look forward to more.
As a special gift to me Paul took me to a divine shop called Purl where the staff was friendly and the textiles plentiful. Yarn cubbies flanked the walls, beautifully patterned fabrics were in the back and they also had a great selection of books and accessories. I walked out empty-handed but very happy to have explored.
We had plans to see two of our Texas friends! 1st we met Jennifer and her new fiance Jeremy, who were in town for a romantic weekend for brunch at Penelope in Murray Hill. Penelope felt like a little house on the inside with some bench seating and wooden tables and very tasty fare. At our table alone was: Nutella French Toast, the Farmer’s Market Omelette w/fries, Pumpkin Waffles, & Salmon Wrapped Poached Eggs. The food was delicious but the catching up with an old friend and seeing her happiness first hand was the best – it brought me to tears, (I tried my best to hold them in). We got there at about 10 ’cause we heard the waits could get crazy – sure enough they gave us a 45 minute wait and upon our departure the line looked MUCH longer.
After brunch we walked to Grand Central where we planned on catching a train to Flushing Meadows Corona Park where we were going to see another friend, Noellia perform in her traveling show “Madeline and the Bad Hat.” Once we got to the right stop we were amazed at all the awesome possibility to be found. The train station was flanked by Mets Citi Field to the west & the park on the east. As we wandered we encountered a vast expanse of park land, The National Tennis Center (where the U.S. Open is played) the Queens Museum of Art, the Queens Theater in the Park, the Queens Zoo and some awe-inspiring monuments built for each of the World’s Fairs held there (1939 & 1965) like the Unisphere and the World’s Fair Flagpoles. To be honest our tertiary exploration of the park leaves much left unseen and there is no doubt we’ll return for further inspection. Not many places in the city that I won’t go back to! Once we got our seats and saw the show I was blown away by Noellia’s performance, she raised the caliber of the children’s show and filled the stage with her acting, her dancing and her voice. Let’s just say the girl has some pipes. Again I was brought to tears! Through a mis-communication after the show we got whisked onstage and down to the performer’s dressing room then back up to the front of the house again which was a free tour of the theater! so Yay! We did eventually see our old friend and had a chance for a quick chat before she had to be whisked away. I was happy to hear that in her brief stint at home in NYC she scheduled a day of auditions for after her tour and I’m excited for her next show.
It was a very full and very fun weekend courtesy of my husband.