As some of you already know, I spent 6 months in New York City in 2009 – from January to July (with a month break in April).
I’ve been living in the Upper West Side first, then in the Lower East Side. I worked for 3 months, then took a 3 months photography course. In the meantime I explored every single inch of the city – all neighborhoods!
I was not a tourist there – but of course I visited the “classic” touristic landmarks too – so I’ll tell you about some personal discoveries and suggestions, and leave out the conventional destinations. Of course I cannot talk about every single thing the City has to offer, but I consider this as a list of things I’d do again if I went back there, and suggest to all the people asking for advice on the City.
In this first chapter I’ll talk about how to get there, accommodation, and food.
Ok. Ready? Let’s go!
- Getting to New York City
No matter where you land – JFK, LGA or EWR – the best way to get to your destination in NYC is Supershuttle, especially if you have a lot of luggage (you don’t want to ride an overcrowded subway with 3 suitcase and a backpack) or if you travel in the night or very early in the morning. It’s a shared shuttle service. I used it many times and was always satisfied. It will cost you around $25 (a taxi will cost $45 – $80 depending on the airport, plus tip). They even have an iPhone app!
I should skip hotels but I understand not everybody is going to spend 6 months there, so just for a few days I’d suggest:
Fancy accommodation: these two hotels have always aroused my curiosity – the Dream Hotel in Midtown (just next to Brodway’s theatre area) and the Gershwin Hotel with its bizarre facade (in the Flatiron District).
If you wish to stay longer, the one and only Craigslist is the website where you’ll find the right studio, apartment or room you are looking for! I lived in 3 different houses and I found all of them on Craigslist, in just a few days.
Of course I’ll start with Italian food. I’m Italian so yes, I’m picky, but I’m sure you’ll agree with me!
Pizza in the East Village: Luzzo – real Italian pizza. This pizzeria is run by Italians, it’s always packed, but it’s well worth waiting!
Italian restaurant in NoHo: Bianca – run by Italians. Don’t miss Stracciatella Tiramisù, Straccetti di Carne, Gnocco Fritto. Always packed especially in the week end – be ready to queue, but expect a great dinner!
Italian restaurant in Nolita: Emporio – Lovely area, lovely restaurant. Been there several times and every single thing I ordered was just delicious. They serve excellent oven-baked pizza too. Don’t miss it!
Italian Roman Osteria in West Village: Lupa Osteria Romana. Great typical Roman food, great wine… do I need to say more?
Hand made pasta in the East Village: FRANK. Huge servings, delicious daily pasta specials. I just had a quick glance at the website and my mouth is watering.
Italian restaurant in the Upper West Side: Regional. The menu features a dish from each Italian region. Loved the first courses.
Japanese in the East Village: May Place – not the best sushi in NYC but great for value: you get a 50% discount if you spend at least $15. And by saying it’s not the best sushi in NYC I don’t mean it’s bad, I never had bad sushi in the City.
Best Japanese imho, Upper West Side: Yuki Sushi – my favourite one. Never packed (a plus for me).
If you are into cinema: Katz’s Delicatessen in the Lower East Side, featured in “Where Harry met Sally” (the famous fake orgasm scene takes place here), “Donnie Brasco” and “Across the Universe”. Cafe Lalo in the Upper West Side, where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan met “You’ve got Mail” – 100 different kinds of cake… just sayin’.
Bagels lovers? Absolute Bagels in the Upper West Side. I heart bagels. This may be a little out of the way, but consider stopping here for a snack on your way to/from Harlem Gospel, The Bronx or Columbia University!
Up for a day on the Museum Mile? Uva in the Upper East Side – Wine bar and super nifty food.
Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown: Nha Trang One. Super cheap, no frills, super good. Don’t miss Pho soups and avocado/pineapple Sinh To shakes! I still miss them.
Crèpes in the Lower East Side: Creperie – Pricey, but worth it once in a while. I’ve been living in Ludlow Street for 2 months so this was one of my favourite places. Delicious!
Italian Piadina in the Lower East Side: Piada – Run by Italians, authentic Italian cold cuts etc. The slogan says it all: “Simply good”. Simply recommended!
Last but not least – Asian Dumplings in the East Village – Dumpling Man in St Mark’s Place – Different kinds of dumplings made to order. I haven’t seen anything like that before! Love the area, love the place. Taste the difference!
Well, I guess I can stop here for now! I could go on and on writing for hours…
NEXT on my’ ultimate guide to NYC life: the perfect breakfast, where to go for a drink (cooooool venues!), shopping, museums, brunch, VIP watching, Broadway theatres, photography courses, the 5 neighborhoods, free time… and more.
If you have questions about New York please ask. I’ll be more than happy to help!