What do long marriages, Ryan Seacrest and the best pizza in America have to do with one another?

IMG_6070

This past week the cover article in New York Magazine was about marriage, which got me thinking about the fact that one of my favorite couples (my brother and sister in law) will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary this week. This picture above is of the four of us (in the distant past) on the beach in Rhode Island. The article has lots of nuggets of wisdom. I especially liked this quote, “Because there is nothing more divine than being able to say, out loud, “Today, I am really, truly at my worst,” knowing that it won’t make your spouse run for the hills. My husband has seen my worst before. We both know that our worst is likely to get worse from here. Somehow that feels like grace.”

The article is a complete invasion of privacy. I think you’ll like it.

Have you ever wanted to get tickets to see a live TV show in NYC like Late Night With Seth Meyers or Live With Kelly and Ryan or GMA Strahan & Sara? My friend Wendy clued me on how to get tickets, and it worked! I’m happy to share it with my readers. All you need to do is create a profile on this site (with as much info as possible – make sure to add your picture), find a day on the calendar (within the next 30 days) that isn’t sold out, and request tickets – for free! It worked for me the first time. My tickets said to arrive before 9:30 and we arrived 9 and were able to get seats on the main floor. I took my friend Lisa, and we had a fun morning.

IMG_5959

After the show, we were starving. We stopped into David Chang’s Bang Bar in the Time Warner building. Their Korean flatbread sandwiches are delicious and the perfect thing to eat outside while enjoying the beautiful weather.

At 53, I know the skills I have, the ones I want to have, and the ones I don’t and never will. This self-knowledge was never more evident than my attempt Wednesday night to “Escape the Room” at a birthday party for my dear friend Lisa M. It’s just amazing to me to watch how other people’s minds work.

My girlfriends are becoming Grandmas, and it is so fun to watch! I got to facetime with Libby and Little Joanie this week, and I turned in to complete mush. Babies will do that.IMG_6002

Saturday, mid-morning, a flock of Jardines converged at my youngest daughter Annie’s apartment in Philadelphia. We came by plane, train, and bus. Annie watched us as we approached, which I found very 2019.

map

The highlight of the Philly 15 hour trip (besides seeing my kids, natch) was by far our experience at Pizzeria Beddia. I’ve been waiting for years to eat Joe Beddia’s pizza, ever since the June 2015 issue of Bon Appetite Magazine naming it the BEST PIZZA IN AMERICA. It’s not that I’m a pizza fanatic. It’s that in the article, Joe mentions his “pizza epiphany” and he and I share that epiphany. It happened circa 2009 (for both of us, but not at the same time) when we first sat down at the ten-seat counter at Savoy – a tiny pizza place in Azabujuban in Tokyo, Japan. It was a game changer for him and me. So his place in Philly has always been on my TO DO list. But I hate to wait. I could never see myself waiting for hours outside for a pie, and at that time, that is what you needed to do to eat his food. AND THEN IT CLOSED. But thankfully it was because he was coming back bigger and better than ever. He opened his new, fabulous restaurant (with seats and a full bar) a few weeks ago. He takes reservations, they are fully booked for a few weeks, but they do keep tables open for walk-ins. The restaurant has an open kitchen surrounded by glass, and we were very fortunate to get the table in front of Joe as he threw the dough!

IMG_6022

I asked our waitress to tell Joe that we were here because we love Savoy too. Ten minutes later he was hanging out at our table, and we were exchanging all our favorite Japanese spots in Tokyo and NYC. He was the sweetest, most humble guy ever. He told us about a new restaurant called Hiroki that was opening up on the same block, and after dinner, he walked us over there to show us.

And the pizza. OMG. Wait, back it up. You need to get all the little starters. The salads are phenomenal – the sausage, the gigantic white beans in lemon and olive oil. It was all amazing. And the pizzas… we ordered four – all different. Watch out for the angry pizza – it’s spicy but so good. We finished the meal with a few different soft serves. Thanks, Joe!

It was a pizza dream.

Have fun. Be bold.

The Slog, The Catastrophe, Is Life

IMG_5472

I didn’t come up with the title to this blog; I borrowed it from the last line of the New York Time’s March 13th review of Catastrophe’s final season (binge it on Amazon now). It felt particularly poignant this week. Life is filled with many small catastrophes, and all we can do is to keep moving forward, hopefully taking lessons with us through the slog. The picture above was from the New York Time’s Talk I was lucky to attend Monday night. I’m a huge fan of the show, and I’m sad that it ended. If you haven’t indulged, there are only 4 short seasons, and I highly, highly recommend them.

One of my new doctors is on Canal Street, which gave me an excellent reason to check out Canal Street Market. Among noisy street hawkers and NYC souvenirs, you’ll find this oasis of calm. Half the space is small vendors selling everything from sake to luxuries, and the other half is food – all with an Asian slant. I was so thrilled to find Joe’s Steam Rice Roll as it has been on my “to eat” list for a while. I ordered Joe’s signature with the works and drizzled hot sauce on top.

Wednesday I took a tour of the Richard Avedon Foundation, a place I could easily have walked by and never knew was there. But thanks to the Ex-Expat group in NYC I spent two hours learning more about the prolific photographer who shot everyone who was anyone, and lots of everyday people in between. When asked of the director of the foundation if Dick was nice, he answered, “Dick was engaged. I wouldn’t say he was nice.”


There are many reasons to visit Bushwick, Brooklyn; one is the the Bushwick Collective, and another is Roberta’s Pizza. The Bushwick Collective event is in June, but you need not wait to see incredible street art. The entire neighborhood is an outdoor art gallery and changes often. I went on a walking tour with Ronnit, who I thought was an excellent guide. Half of the tour was spent in small galleries with up and coming artists, and the other half was outside. I’d been to Bushwick on another tour and didn’t enjoy the guide as much as I enjoyed Ronnit. She gives you just the right amount of insight but leaves you to explore and inquire on your own. And with Roberta’s, unlike at night, you can walk right in and sit down for lunch.

Friday night Tom and I attended the first night of previews for Burn This with Adam Driver and Keri Russell. I was so excited for this show and wanted it to be good, as I am a huge fan of both actors and thought the chemistry between them could be really intense. Driver has already been on Broadway, but this was Russell’s debut. Before giving my honest opinion (and what do I know anyway), I will remind you that it was the FIRST night of previews, and I’m sure some of the nerves and the kinks will get worked out before it opens officially on April 16th.

The show seems dated, and all the “chemistry” takes place off-stage, so it’s difficult to imagine them together. The play starts slow, and Driver doesn’t appear for quite some time, but when he does there is electricity. He is a man on fire, and you can’t wait to see what he will say or do next. For that reason alone, I say buy a ticket. And I have high hopes that Keri picks up her Broadway ball and starts running.

We sat a few rows behind Keri’s partner, Matthew Rhys, who was a doll. He spoke to everyone around him before the show, and at intermission, and posed for lots of fan photos. He looks a lot more relaxed than his days on The Americans.

 

IMG_5556

If you are interested, I wrote an article I posted on Linkedin about how I think the scales of college admissions can be un-tipped. Working in the field has given me a birds-eye view into its inherent inequities, and I have a few ideas about how to fix them.

Saturday was such a spring tease. I am more than ready for the real thing.

Have fun. Be bold.

IMG_5572

Food For Thought

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 4.26.23 PM

I didn’t know Tony Bourdain personally, but since 2013, I spent a good deal of time talking about him, as he was the Patron Saint of Bronx Academy of Letters a small school in the Bronx where I’ve spent the past five years volunteering on their Advisory Board. Tony, as everyone called him at BAL, was the source of our fundraising. Each year, he’d gather the best chefs in NYC to come and cook for the lucky attendees of our “Food for Thought” Chef Tasting. Our school was even featured in one of his No Reservations episodes about the Bronx, which Vulture named as one of his 15 best shows.

Tony was a big fan of BAL, and each year as he spoke at our benefit, he would credit his teachers for his love of reading and writing. He knew how important a good education was for future success. Yesterday, there was mention of Tony’s love and support for our school on social media and sites like cnn.com. Yesterday, online donations to our school came in all day in Tony’s name. It is a real tribute to how much people loved him.

This week, with everything that happened, I found myself drinking and eating more than I usually would. I have a feeling I wasn’t alone. Here are some highlights:

Rooftop cocktails at Broken Shaker and almost everything on the menu at Simon and the Whale in Gramercy.

Pizza from a Roberta’s alum, Negroni slushies, and bocce at Bocce inside Union Square Park!

A spicy Merguez sausage sandwich stuffed pita at Cafe Mogador on Saint Mark’s.

IMG_0157

Brunch at Pilot in Brooklyn on Pier 6 with lobster rolls, home fries with caviar and lots of rose – thanks Jacqueline and Dan for the rec.

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 5.09.13 PM

And then linner which included hot dogs, fries and more rose at Island Oyster due to a happy ferry mishap (mishaps when you are an empty nester turn into spontaneous fun!)

Getting into the white jeans tomorrow might be a problem.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

Old School

IMG_9778

Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again,” but that doesn’t apply to people from Rhode Island. Tom and I went back to Providence this weekend for his 30th reunion from Brown. Tom was not only a student at Brown, but he was a townie too, having grown up in Providence, which added another dimension to our walk down memory lane. What was so striking, was how much has remained the same in the capital of the smallest state in the union. From Antonelli’s poultry shop where Tom plucked feathers from chickens as a part-time job – at the age of 10, to the thick crust Caserta pizza, and the thin crust Al Forno’s, to the incredible Italian specialities on Federal Hill, and Andreas’ Greek restaurant on Thayer Street, nothing had changed.

Brown reunions are celebrated along with graduation, turning the entire city of Providence (which isn’t that large to begin with) Brown. They throw an incredible party, called Campus Dance, turning the green into a ballroom, a tradition started in the 1860’s! The event draws crowds up to 15,000 with attire ranging from shorts and t-shirts to tuxedos and top hats. They always have a big jazz band, and the entire green is lit with hundreds of paper lanterns. The last one I attended was in 1993 and one of the highlights was seeing JFK, Jr. and his date, Daryl Hannah.

IMG_9867

Instead of getting a hotel room 30 minutes outside of Providence (every room in town was booked), we decided to opt for an Airbnboat. When I reserved it way back in September, I thought how fun it might be, but when the time came to wheel my suitcase down the dock ramp, I started to question my decision. Tom, of course, was thrilled. I immediately popped three Bonine.

IMG_9781

Turns out, sleeping on a houseboat is fantastic. I haven’t slept better in years. This was my view brushing my teeth. Not a bad way to wake up.

IMG_9936

We even entertained a few old friends for sips and snacks.

84578A26-EB60-4EE6-9A80-1A5705B6BB9D

The weather changed from a blazing 90 degrees to 55 and pouring. We thought about leaving early and heading home, but we sort of got attached to the little houseboat. It was pretty cozy bundled up under the covers watching Lost in Space while the boat gently rocked, and the rain pelted the windows. I was actually a little sad to leave Monday morning.

IMG_9949

Our waiter at brunch said, “Providence is just like Boston, just friendlier and less expensive.” I’m not from Boston, so I can’t compare. But I think Providence is actually like nowhere else. I’m glad I get to call it my home-by-marriage. It’s a pretty special place, and they make some pretty awesome people.

Here’s a link to the houseboat.

Some not to miss spots while in Providence:

Al Forno

Milk Money

RISD Art Museum

For old school pizza that hasn’t changed since 1953 Caserta Pizza

Italian specialty shop like no other (sit and have a coffee with the locals while your sandwich is made): Venda Ravioli

Breakfast at Brickway on Wickenden (we went twice).

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

 

Dermaplane: The Muffin of Beauty Secrets

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 1.31.41 PM

Muffins allow us to eat cake at breakfast without guilt. It’s the same idea with dermaplaning. I can have my face shaved without admitting that I shave my face. I’ve been dermaplaning since I lived in Japan – Japanese women have been shaving for years, and they have the most beautiful skin I’ve ever seen. When I mention this beauty secret to friends, they’re perplexed. Almost no one I know in New York has ever done it. I go to Wynter at Bare Beauty about once a month, and I walk out without any facial hair and a layer of dead skin removed. I highly recommend it.

Another fun Japanese find is my recent discovery of a Spanail location in Soho! Spanail has over 70 locations in Japan, and they are the absolute best in nail art and gel nails. And the service is very Japanese. They take their time, and you never feel like you are being rushed out the door. And, you can get sushi nails, so there’s a reason to go!

IMG_8784

You might notice that the look of the blog has changed since last week, and that’s because many readers have been asking for a way to quickly search for specific info. It’s still a work in progress, but at least you can now click on a specific category, or do a general search at the top of the blog. I hope you find it easier to navigate.

Last week’s blog on pizza was my most read blog EVER (times five!) Pizza will have to be a continuing feature at #emptynestnyc. I did have one of the best pizzas I had in a long time last week at Rubirosa if you go, get the vodka pie. I had friends in from Tokyo last week, and we celebrated an 18th birthday. This celebration was an all-day affair and included milkshakes at Black Tap,

IMG_8550

shopping in Nolita on Prince Street between the Bowery and Lafayette; my favorite block in NYC for small boutique shopping. Make sure you include side streets like Mott and Mulberry off of Prince. An entire day could be spent winding up and down this neighborhood.

We had a hilarious night at the Drag show LIPS.

IMG_8633

It’s the perfect place to celebrate a birthday with women. However, if you can book just for the show, I would skip the dinner. From there we took the birthday girl to sing karaoke at our favorite neighborhood spot Karaoke17.  The night ended with birthday cake and french fries at L’Express a decent French brasserie that is open 24/7. It’s a great place to have in your late night repertoire.

Last Saturday, when it felt like spring might be here, Tom and I went out to Brooklyn for an unplanned brunch. We had a destination – Williamsburg, but no place in mind. We ended up at Fette Sau a bbq shack in an old auto body shop. It’s been open for over ten years, and it’s not surprising. Great food, indoor/outdoor dining, with a full bar. Afterwards, we walked over to Milkbar for birthday cake shakes and chocolate pretzel soft serve, and ended the afternoon shopping for junk at Mother of Junk.

 

On Sunday, our nest was FULL for Easter dinner with our kids and their friends. I made a delicious lamb shoulder that I bought at the butcher at Eataly  and slowly roasted in the oven for seven hours, and served it with spinach pies I found at International Grocery.

Even though it’s April, it still feels like winter. I stand in my closet each morning, looking longingly at my cute skirts, and flats, wondering when I can put away the sweaters and turtlenecks, and drop all my boots off at Romano Cobbler.

Hopefully, next week’s blog will have some signs of springtime.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

Ask Cozy…

IMG_8571

Growing up in New York in the 80’s, pizza had a name; Ray, Ben or John. It was the budding of NYC’s reputation as the pizza capital of the world, and it was really good pizza. Flash forward to 2018, and the reputation still holds strong, but the landscape has changed significantly. Ask any New Yorker where to get the best pizza, and you’ll get a different answer from every one of them. That’s why, when I need to know where to go, I ask Cozy.

Most people know Cozy from Cozys Cuts for Kids the only place in NYC to get your kid’s hair cut -including the offspring of New York’s most famous celebs. But what people might not know is that Cozy spends a good amount of her weekends, seeking out the next best pie or slice. She generously shares her research with my readers today. Here are some excerpts from our interview. Enjoy!

New York is the gastronomical center of the planet. Why Pizza?

My family’s quest to find the best pizza in NY began very innocently when my kids were little, as a fun family outing that we would all enjoy. Gradually, it developed into a passion/obsession.

Speaking of pizza on the planet, where did you eat the best pizza outside of New York?

In a tiny restaurant in the old town of Marbella, Spain. I would give anything to find out the name of that restaurant.

Are you an extra-cheese girl?

Not at all

What do you think of the honey on pizza trend?

I’m ok with it, when done right. I think Pizza Loves Emily in Brooklyn has perfected it.

Square vs. Round?

It totally depends on where. For example, if you go to Prince Street Pizza you have to get the “spicy square,” it’s their specialty. But if you go to Joe’s Pizza , the regular slice is what it’s all about.

Do you ever order the white option?

It’s not usually my first choice, but Rubirosa does it right. Their vodka pie is amazing too.

Wood burning vs. gas oven?

I don’t really pay attention to the oven, just the pizza.

Let’s get down to what readers really want to know…

Favorite NYC spots? 

Rubirosa  Incredible pizza, pastas, salads and more. Get the vodka pie (see above pic). Hard to score a reservation, but worth planning ahead. Walk-in wait can be really long, so I always reserve in advance.

Joe’s Pizza  Old school pizza by the slice. Some consider it to be one of the very best slices in the city. It’s definitely up there.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 1.02.35 PM

Prince Street Pizza  Old school, but here you must get the spicy square, which has the most out of this world pepperoni. Trust me on this one.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 1.04.54 PM

Artichoke Pizza  This is pretty old school, though here you should get the namesake-artichoke pizza, which is thick and hearty, yet not overly filling as it appears.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 1.06.13 PM.png

Emily Loves Pizza  I couldn’t have been happier when this Brooklyn spot opened in NYC. This is definitely in my top 3. This is farm to table pizza, with incredibly creative combinations using the freshest ingredients. And, despite the fact that this is all about pizza, I would be at fault if I didn’t insist that you get the burger too. We usually get one to split, as an appetizer. Also, their salads and veggies are fresh off the farm and fantastic.

Patsy’s Original in East Harlem  -The pizza at their original Harlem spot is totally different from the other Patsy’s you see around the city. This restaurant (and they have a take-out shop next door) is like stepping back in time. It’s a giant restaurant with red & white checked table cloths and old school Italian waiters. The pizza here is the thinnest crust pizza you’ve ever had, and light like clouds. The sauce and cheese is the real deal here. Secret tip- they have a party room if you want to have an old school bash!

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 1.08.53 PM.png

Favorite borough spots?

Di Fara   This is the mothership of all pizza. This is #1, hands down. This is old-school, pizza by the slice (but you would never, ever order anything less than a pie). The debate in my family over which is better here- round or square- lives on. They are both off the charts! This is a tiny little dumpy pizza place, where you can expect to wait on line for minimum of an hour, but it’s worth every minute. When you finally get up to the counter and see the owner, Dom DeMarco cutting fresh basil on every handmade pie he’s made, you know it’s worth it.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 1.00.43 PM.png

L & B Spumoni  I love this place. Hard to describe because it’s different than all the rest. They have upside down pizza, meaning the sauce is on top of the cheese, and here you get the square pie. What I love about this pizza is that it’s so light, which is unusual for a square pie. Also, the ingredients they use are top notch. The best time to go is in the spring or fall and sit outside at the picnic tables. Wait time can be long if you go prime time, but worth it.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 1.09.37 PM

Ignazio’s   a hidden gem. This is old school pizza in a restaurant setting. I love the meatball or pepperoni pizza here, either square or round. I can never decide so we always get both. Surprisingly, the salads taste like they are fresh off the farm and there’s always an interesting selection. Look for the owner Louis, he’s the hippy hanging out at the bar.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 1.10.36 PM.png

Emmy Squared  This is the Detroit style pizza offshoot of Emily (see above), and I adore this place. As mentioned previously, they have mastered the honey pizza, along with all different amazing combinations. My fave is the Roni. They serve the burger here too, but only downstairs.

Roberta’s  Hipster pizza in a hipster location with a hipster clientele. Also available at Urban Space.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 1.11.12 PM

New Park Pizza  Old school, by the slice. Queens. Good if you are going to the airport.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 1.11.53 PM

Zero Otto Nove  Old school Arthur Avenue restaurant, Bronx. Expect to wait- no reservations. Get the pasta of the day in the foil while you are there.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 1.12.39 PM

Is there a place that has ruined you for all other pizza?

Nope, love them all.

* These are just MY favorites SO FAR. I still have a great list of others to try- that’s the beauty of it!

Thanks so much Cozy!!! Readers –  now that you have a pizza to-do list, keep an eye out for Cozy! And if you have a favorite pizza place, please share it here! We can add it to Cozy’s future pizza jaunts!

CozyFriedmanCat&Jack1

 

 

 

Snowboots and Sunscreen: Spring in NYC

IMG_8517

The week started with lunch on Monday at La Mercerie a retail restaurant in Soho created by the team behind Le Coucou (my favorite restaurant in NYC). I went with two friends who are home stagers, who love all things design related. It was packed with fashionable diners, the food was good (but don’t come hungry as the portions are small), but the star was the bottle of rose we drank. It was delicious and very reasonable. The home store selections were fabulous, but the prices were so high they were almost laughable. I’m not sure who will shop here, but it’s fun to walk around after you eat.

On our walk back up town, we stopped in Canadian clothing store, Oak and Fort. The clothes are fashion-forward, reasonably priced and age appropriate for empty nesters. That night, Tom and I went to the Nets game at the Barclays Center – our tickets, purchased from our seat filler club Play by Play were $4.50.

On Tuesday, I went on a yummy walking tour in Astoria with Angelis from In Food We Trust. I’d been on another one of his tours at the MET, and this one was just as good.  His tour begins at 2 pm and includes a ridiculous amount of food. If you go, make sure you skip lunch first.

And then Wednesday, the first day of spring, we got pounded with snow, again. Walking the empty snow-filled streets, I was amazed to see many stores closed due to the snow. Thankfully, Breads Bakery was open, and it was my luck they’d just introduced their matzoh ball soup, special for Passover. It was the perfect thing to eat on a snowy day. IMG_8478

I had a hilarious late Friday lunch at Marta with my friend Kim Berns the stand-up comedian. The restaurant is located in the Redbury Hotel and was jammed. It’s a great place to meet up with friends when you are looking for a casual place in midtown. The location is officially in NoMad, but it’s a quick walk from Grand Central.

Saturday I participated in my first march ever together with hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. I’m not a fan of crowds and stay away from packed concerts and festivals, but I felt spurred to action. Marching with Tokyo friends and our daughters, I was so happy to be there, and my intrinsic fear melted away.

IMG_8522

From the march, we went to The Affordable Art Fair. If I had more empty walls, I would have had a big shopping day. The creativity was off the charts. The stormtrooper/Buddha was for sale, as were virtual bookshelves and chairs made from the metal tops on champagne bottles.

After all our walking, we were thirsty and stopped in to Beechers Handmade Cheese for happy hour (which is a daily event at Beechers). Wine and a cheese plate were exactly what was needed. Each piece of cheese was paired with a different add-on, from dark chocolate to candied walnuts.

IMG_8523

Saturday night we took our two NYC kids to Pinch Chinese in Soho. We had four seats at the bar, and we ate our way through the menu from the fabulous soup dumplings to the ribs. pork belly, whole sea bass, ma po tofu, string beans with pork, and wagyu fried rice (two orders). The food was so good. I was happy to find a new spot in Soho, as I feel the restaurant selection has been limited lately.  IMG_8527

 

After dinner, there were drinks at Reservoir Bar, a great place to watch the Elite 8. And then late night, on the walk home, we ducked into the AMC theater on 19th street and walked into the last showing of Love, Simon (using our Movie Pass tickets of course!)

Being an empty nester in NYC allows for spontaneity – something that hasn’t been a part of our lives for a very long time. It feels good!

Have fun. Be bold.