(Partially) Unplugged and fully Re-connected.
I’m sure you’re all as excited as I am that it is finally summertime in New York! As a pause from the frenetic activity of the city and work, I am happy to share a slightly different newsletter this quarter, for sometimes it is in disconnecting that we find ourselves connecting the most.
Nearly five years ago, with the weight of the recession still upon us, my husband and I decided to stop waiting for the perfect time to travel with our two kids, and just get up and go. Travel had always been an integral part of my family life, and vacations are still the most vivid memories of my childhood. My parents were both academics, and we were fortunate to have several unspoiled summer months every year to take off and explore. But with my oldest daughter already more than halfway to college I was hit with the realization that my own kids might miss out on some very vital experiences.
When I told my husband we needed to get away I think he assumed I meant send the kids to the grandparents and book a room for the weekend at Mohonk Mountain House, but I was looking for more. I wanted the four of us to reconnect as a family. Like most things that are worthwhile, we had to simply commit to it, and, thus, our annual travel tradition was born. The rules are simple, because there is only one: It has to be a place we have not yet visited together as a family. No repeats allowed. We book apartments instead of hotels because it affords us the ability to live like quasi-locals. Over the years, the tradition has evolved. My kids pick something they want to explore each day of the trip, and at dinner each night we ask each other about our favorite parts of the day. Then, on the last day of the vacation, we choose our destination for the coming year.
Behind each day of scenic Instagram posts are, in fact, moments when things are admittedly messy, where patience wears thin and tempers flare. Over the years what I have learned is that the perfect trip doesn’t mean everything went flawlessly; instead it suggests we forced ourselves out of our daily routines and rid ourselves of everyday distractions. In doing so, I am reminded of what really matters: the connection that exists among my family, only further strengthened through experiencing something new together.
This year we were fortunate enough to visit the picturesque and insanely winding Amalfi Coast in southwestern Italy. It’s known for its awe-inspiring landscape and fresh, high quality food. Among my favorites: the abundance and variety of daily caught seafood and the otherworldly tomatoes (rich volcanic soil has its advantages – thank you Mount Vesuvius!). In this volume I’ll give you a few suggestions on where you can experience the best of the Amalfi Coast right here in New York, along with some other great spots to visit in the five boroughs if you choose to engage in a little local day-trip excitement in between summer getaways.
p.s. If you are really in need of a real estate fix this summer, please feel free to check out my latest thoughts in this month’s Real Deal market report.
The Amalfi Coast in NYC
This small, stunning region of Italy is a fantastic place to find some of the world’s best anchovies, lobster and other seafood, while the local grove purveyors proudly produce exceptional lemons, which are then often turned into a distinct, sweet and sour liqueur named “lemoncello.” Here are a few places you can find Amalfi Coast-inspired fare in NYC:
This seasonal Italian restaurant, either the Manhattan spot on Hudson Street or the Brooklyn locale on Court Street, sports a casual atmosphere even though they take their fresh food mighty seriously. Bring your friends and indulge in their Aperol Cooler—a lemoncello-based cocktail that serves six.
Originally started in Brooklyn, this Neapolitan-style pizzeria fast became a city favorite, and has spawned several locations internationally. Keep it simple and go for the margherita pizza.
If you’d like to take a little trip across the East River, try the Franny’s Pizzeria incarnation of the anchovy pie. Franny’s version is made with garlic, oregano, crushed chile de arbol, capers, salt-packed anchovies, and even some lemon juice. The restaurant recently made their recipe available online, so you don’t even have to travel.
This West Village restaurant’s specialty is seafood, and they offer a lobster spaghetti dish that is also frequently mentioned on some of the city’s best-of lists. The unique sauce is a perfectly concocted blend of spices, tomatoes, and crema—not too heavy or spicy. Chow.com also has the recipe, so you can give it a try yourself.
A coastal Italian restaurant right here in the city, Santina, which recently opened on Washington Street in the West Village, features many fine plates of food you’ll find on the Amalfi Coast, with a particular focus on vegetables and fish. Start with their artichokes and grapes, try the spaghetti blue crab, and complete the meal with lobster Catalan and a side of grilled mushrooms.
Celebrity chef Mario Batali is opening an Amalfi-Coast-inspired restaurant within Chelsea’s Maritime Hotel. Though it hasn't opened its doors just yet, a couple of sneak peeks have surfaced online. Restaurants in Positano will inspire the décor here, and the food selections will focus on crudo, whole fish, and more seafood.
Four Family-Friendly Summer Daytrips in NYC
One of the great things about New York is that you can feel like you've traveled great distances without going very far at all. Pack your things and bring the kids on one of these four daytrip adventures within the five boroughs.
The outdoors reigns supreme in the northernmost borough. Of course there's the expansive Bronx Zoo—a must-see for any child. The lush New York Botanical Gardens is another gorgeous destination. Pack the frisbee and soccer ball and head to Pelham Bay Park on the water, and see all the attractions of City Island. Then take in a game at Yankee Stadium, but not of the baseball variety. Check out some soccer during the inaugural season of NYCFC, who recently signed Italian star Andrea Pirlo (recently dubbed the “ultimate hipster footballer”). He’ll fit right in here and will make his debut in the Bronx in the coming weeks, just following Frank Lampard of Chelsea fame, who began his time with the newest MLS franchise on July 12th. The games are a blast.
Hop across the East River to Long Island City and take in the incredible bridge and skyline views from the waterfront. Choose among music on the water in LIC, movies at Astoria Park, Smorgasburg pop ups, or the Socrates Sculpture Park, which has great art installations, views, and a green market of its own. Feeling adventurous? Take the subway to the Queens Zoo, the Queens Botanical Gardens, the Hall of Science, and to Downtown Flushing for authentic Asian cuisine. On your way back west, shop the boutiques on Austin Street.
I’m not sure if anything can exist on Manhattan island and be characterized as “off-the-beaten-path,” but there are certainly some lesser-known attractions that are at least less well known. The Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side, for one, exists within a late 19th Century tenement building, and provides an eye-opening look into the challenging history of New York’s immigrants and workers who helped make the city what it is today. The Sea Glass Carousel is set to open in Battery Park late this summer, providing patrons with a simulated gliding trip underwater in New York Harbor. Head about as far uptown as one can go and enjoy a day of hiking at Inwood Hill Park next to a sprawling waterfront with its own small forest. See the wildlife of Fort Tryon Park—a green space designed by the man behind Yosemite National Park—and the art exhibitions at the nearby Cloisters Museum and Gardens.