#SCBDReview: @RestauranThalia; a #NYC Theatre District Restaurant Worth Going To

scbdreviewThalia (New York, Ny)

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Thalia is located on Eighth Avenue in New York. It looks like it would be a small place but in fact it is not. The ceilings are high. The bar is outstanding with a lounge area with couches. Then it opens up to the dining area. The dining room has different levels of seating and a huge glass wall that has all the wine on display that they offer.

My boyfriend and I came here for lunch and got reservations through Open Table. We were greeted and seated. Our table was cute against a column, a perfect size. We started off with water and ordering a drink. I got a mojito and Rick got a Stoli and Diet Coke. The mojito was so fresh and out of this world. It was made really well, and was so refreshing. I am very picky with my drinks, so this one was an A plus. They serve sushi and American food, such a great variety of healthy and fresh foods. The foods vary from Salads to burgers, vegetarian dishes to ravioli, and Mac and Cheese to Rancheros.

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We started off with a Fantastic Sushi roll; this was tuna, salmon, yellowtail, soy bean paper, avocado, cucumber, tobiko, and wasabi mayo. It was so fresh tasting and good, it was also fresh made. It was soft and full of wonderful flavor, definitely a high grade fish.

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Next, we ordered raw oysters, my favorite kind, the Kumomoto. We only got a half dozen, these also tasted so fresh. They did not have any fishy or salty taste and no grit or sand in them.

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Then for our main dish, I ordered a special salad and it was so delicious. It was outstanding and came served like a piece of art. The dressing was so creamy, but not too rich. The lettuce was fresh and crisp. The inside was filled with quinoa. I would order this again in a heartbeat, it was full of so many different flavors to combine as a great lunch. It was very filling too, even though it sounds like it wouldn’t be.

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Rick ordered the Tuna Burger, and wow was this outstanding as well. This Tuna burger included sriracha wasabi mayo and Asian slaw. He ordered it rare. This was another fresh pick, tasting amazing. It was tender and tasted like it just came from the fish market. No taste of fishy or chewy, just pure fish with amazing spicy mayo on top. This came with a side of French fries, but he opted for a salad.

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We were going to hold off on the desserts, everything sounded so delicious thought. Our waitress told us that they wanted to give us a desert on the house. So we opted for the Crème Brule. As with all the food, it was delicious! I cannot wait to go back here again, I recommend it. A great stop for lunch, dinner, or some apps in the City! The staff was fabulous and so welcoming, the atmosphere was perfect, and the food is outstanding.

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www.restaurantthalia.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thalia-Restaurant/166098956738842

https://twitter.com/RestauranThalia

#SCBDReview: Classic French Cuisine on the #UES .@SelEtPoivreNYC

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If you find yourself on the Upper East Side craving French fare, look no further than Sel et Poivre. Owner/Chef Christian Schienle prepares classic French bistro dishes with a refined, updated flair.

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Our first dish that came out was celery root remoulade with red beets. It was great to cleanse our appetite. Next, came out Red Pepper Bisque that didn’t have any cream in it. It was full of flavor, I really loved it!

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Next came out entrees to try. Out of all we tried, my two favorites were the Duck a L’orange with wild rice and the Aged New York Sirloin with their famous Poivre Sauce. They both were cooked to perfection, I was in heaven. Our dishes came served with boiled potatoes and spinach and those did not disappoint either. Last, dessert came out, we tasted the chocolate lava cake and creme brulee. I loved the chocolate lava cake. It was delish!

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They have a great wine selection and the food is great, I’d highly recommend it!

 

*Disclaimer: The PR team paid for my meal. I was not required to write about these experiences and my opinions are my own and unbiased.*

#SCBDReview: .@VictorsCafe – A Delicious Cuban Institution in #NYC

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If you haven’t been to Victor’s Cuban Cafe & Lounge in New York, I advise you RUN there, now! Founded by Victor Del Corral in 1963, with the help of his wife, Eloina Ruiz de Ugarrio, Victor’s Café has become a patch in the quilt of New York City. An immigrant from Cuba, Victor worked tirelessly until he realized his dream of opening a restaurant in NYC at Victor’s original location on Columbus Avenue and 71st Street.

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In 1980, the now iconic restaurant moved to its spacious new quarters at 236 West 52nd Street (near Broadway), where it has continued to capture the hearts of New Yorkers, theater-goers, and a creative cast of regulars including Barbara Walters, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, and Brett Ratner. The attached Cuba Lounge hosts a lively bar scene with live music in the evenings, serving colorful tapas and deliciously crafted cocktails.

The restaurant itself is divided into three spacious dining rooms, accented with warm lighting, colorful Cuban art and lofty sky-lit ceilings.  The Cuba Lounge is intimate and warm, featuring a tapas menu and a variety of traditional Cuban cocktails such as Mojitos and Sangria.

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When I came in, with two other bloggers we sat at a table in the corner with a perfect few of the space. It’s a gorgeous space, perfect for a business meeting or celebration. Our waiter came by and took our cocktail order. I decided to get La Coqueta ($12) which had Fords gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, wild strawberry puree, topped with Prosseco. It was a delicious, definitely a cocktail I’d get again. We were then sent out a few appetizers to try, everything was delicious, it was actually hard to pick a favorite. One of the appetizers that stood out was the 1492 Aperitivo Cubano ($29) which was an assortment of classic Cuban appetizers. It was nice mix of different Cuban classics for the three of us to try. The dish is made for two but can definitely serve 3-4, what a deal? I am a ceviche lover so the ceviche de pargo ($14) was also a favorite of mine! I’m getting hungry thinking about it.

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Just a heads up, all entrees come served with rice and black beans and can be substituted if you’d like another side dish but trust me, you won’t. The rice & black beans they serve are some of the best I’ve tasted and I’m Colombian. All the dishes they brought out were amazing, they brought out the famous, Ropa Vieja ($25), Churrasco con Chimichurri ($29), and Lechon Asado ($26). My favorites were the Churrasco and Ropa Vieja. They were cooked to perfection and full of flavor.

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Last, dessert came out and it was phenomenal. I grew up eating arroz con leche (rice pudding) and the rice pudding did not disappoint. It was delicious and perfect with a cappuccino. We tried three desserts but that one made me feel like I was home.

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If you’re looking for something different, whether you just want to join friends for amazing food and well-crafted cocktails or are celebrating a holiday or anniversary I highly recommend Victor’s, it’ll change your life!

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#SCBDReview: Soho’s KittiChai and NYC Restaurant Week

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Every year I try to get a group of friends together to try out a new restaurant for NYC restaurant week. The past few times our plans had fallen through, but this year I was determined to get into the city. There are a lot of opinions on this twice yearly tradition of restaurant week. There are those who hate their favorite spots being flushed with newcomers and most likely one time diners. Others think the entire ”promotion” is a rip off because smaller portions are often served and items that aren’t on the regular menu are presented (Those who have worked in the industry will understand this most likely means items will cut costs, are about to go bad, in excess, or they want the diner to be a guinea pig for a new idea). But there are also the people (like me) who see it as an opportunity (and excuse!) to try out restaurants they might not otherwise be able to afford on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, my first 2 choices for restaurants to try out for this occasion were booked up for the day we chose to go out on within a day of the menus being posted online (The Marrow and Perilla-Harold Dieterle’s restaurants). I scanned through the participating list for other places that were on my to-do list (When you don’t live in the city it’s harder to make a dent in this list…it seems to just grows). I settled on Kittichai in Soho. It is an upscale Thai restaurant with some eclectic and contemporary flare.

The décor was eye catching with brilliantly lit vases with flowers in them, a large pond with floating candles in the center of the dining room, and wooden accents to tone down the bright lights of the other decor. It was a perfect symmetry of light and dark.

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We noticed that the menu not only had the $38 restaurant week Pre-Fixe menu but, it also featured 2 other pre-selected menu’s (for slightly higher prices) to choose from as well. Each menu had a $15 wine pairing option for your 3 courses. We stuck with the restaurant week menu but did add on the 3 course wine pairing (you can’t beat $15…but I will admit they were half glasses). We also threw in some side dishes to split with our table.

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I started with a cocktail before our wine flight began. It was a salted plum brandy with vanilla essence and orange peel. It reminded me of a whiskey sour. It had a great balance of sweet and tart.

I chose the Wild Mushroom Dumplings for my appetizer course. The dumplings were just slightly crispy and they came with a soy coconut foam sauce that I could have licked the platter trying not to waste any. Needless to say, I enjoyed it. I also tried the Hot and Sour Seafood Soup, the Duck Confit Salad, and the Crispy Rock Shrimp. ALL of them were delicious…but I thought my dumplings took the cake on that course. The wine selected for the appetizers was a Riesling. It is not usually my favorite varietal however; I thought it paired nicely to offset the heavy spices that were in each of the dishes.

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For my main course I chose the Braised Pork Cheek that paired with spiced palm sugar braise, truffle powder, and steamed buns. Whoa. These pork buns were awesome! I didn’t even want to share (Luckily 3 of the 5 of us ordered this dish so I didn’t have to share too much!). I nibbled on the Crispy Branzino and Chili-Smoked Hanger Steak from my dining companions as well. This place really understands how to pack in flavors. Our side dishes included the Roti with a Peanut Curry dipping sauce, Charred Cauliflower (SO good!), Stir-fried Jasmine Rice with Sausage and Cashews, and Stir-Fried Vegetables with Garlic and Ginger Soy Sauce. The wine presented for the main dishes was a Pinot Noir. It was light and fruity but a bit forgettable.

The portions were smaller so I was able to try everything on the table and still have room for dessert. I went for the Black Cardamom Lava Cake with Thai Basil Ice Cream. I love chocolate and the lava cake was a hit. However; I want to highlight how refreshingly good the Thai Basil Ice Cream was. I always wonder if the trend to put savory flavors into ice cream will work. This one did. It ended my dinner on a high note. Our pairing for the dessert was a sparkling wine. It was perfect for a cheers with good friends over the great meal we had just indulged in.

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This meal truly blew me away. I do have to admit that you are a bit fooled by the low price tag of $38. You can’t help but be suckered into drinks and side dishes so our bill was a lot heftier than that original price tag. But I do not intend to become a one and done customer at Kittichai. I can’t wait to go back and try more of what they have to offer.

SCBDEventRecap: @PEDALNYC 2nd Anniversary Party

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When it comes to fitness, anyone who knows me will describe my outlook in one word: obsessed. Naturally, when I got the opportunity to attend PEDAL NYC’s 2nd anniversary party, I was ecstatic. PEDAL stands for “Physical Excellence Delivered Around Life,” but they’re not just referring to how they can change your body and your life. The PEDAL facility is divided into two rooms: the SpinBin and the Catalyst. The SpinBin is a room of cycles where you can get your spin on and sweat your butt off and the Catalyst sports TRX (suspension bodyweight training), Sandbells, Kettlebells, as well as plyometrics equipment for the ultimate burn.

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When I arrived at PEDAL NYC, I was welcomed warmly. Mr. Ray, a known fitness expert and co-owner, met me at the door with a smile and gave me a tour of the facility. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in state of the art equipment and knowledgeable staff. After my tour, I took a glass of wine and a plate of snacks and started mingling. Everyone around me was REALLY fit, but it was clear upon meeting and talking with some of the instructors and members that PEDAL NYC offers a lot more than intense workouts. The sense of community at PEDAL NYC is unparalleled by any fitness group that I have seen in a long time. I heard numerous stories from people who had tried other gyms, but couldn’t imagine anything after joining PEDAL NYC. As I made my rounds and thanked everyone for such an awesome evening, I was met with a challenge: come back next week for Sibling Smackdown with instructors JD and Lauren. I happily obliged.

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While I consider myself to be in excellent shape, nothing could have prepared me for my first class (and I ran a Spartan Race). The class took place in the Catalyst, and was 45-minutes of pure adrenaline. Between the heart-pumping soundtrack and the hilarious commentary from the instructors, the time flew by and I had a great time. Be aware, that while I had a great time, I sweat A LOT. The best aspect of the class was the support I got from the other members. Everyone was positive, enthusiastic, and the vibe was really incredible. The workout was tough (really tough), but

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the feeling I had when I was finished didn’t even compare.

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The only thing keeping me from joining myself is my location. Fortunately, PEDAL is coming to Hoboken soon.

#SCBDExclusive Interview with Kenny Santucci: Health & Fitness

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Kenny and I.

Sipping his skim mocha and chatting at Joe’s Coffee Shop in New York, MTV’s The Challenge, Kenny Santucci, 30, spoke softly about his journey being overweight as a teen. You would never guess this guy could possibly be self-conscious, even at 6’1 and around 190 pounds!

“I still see myself the way I used to be sometimes,” Santucci noted. “So, I always have to stay in great shape and look my best or I feel like shit.”

Around ages 13-14, Santucci began really looking in the mirror and evaluating his appearance and decided he was unhappy with himself. He began wanting to eat and look better.

“I really got into health and fitness at 16 and found CrossFit at 28,” said Kenny.

Santucci is a Head Coach at CrossFit GSP in Rochelle park, New Jersey where he assists people with feeling more confident and good about their appearance and themselves.

According to Kenny, the first thing you see when you walk into his gym is “Change happens here.” Those words stuck with me as I took the time to focus on his words and the way he talked about CrossFit. With passion in his eyes, he went onto say how much he’s seen people progress from unconfident individuals into feeling comfortable in their own skin and it made me believe how much of an impact CrossFit has been on this man’s life.

“It’s a fun environment where you cheer louder for the last place guy,” said Kenny.

People may see CrossFit as a tough and intense workout, but what  they miss is the family and social togetherness side of it, which Kenny explained to me.

As for the health & fitness side, Santucci mentioned these tips he lives by, “Try and stay away from bread and pastas and never ever eat fast food and soda because they are so bad for you.”

At the end of our hour-long heart-to-heart, he shared with me how much he’s fallen in love with CrossFit, the surroundings and helping people. As for feeling motivated, Kenny has those “lazy days” too where he needs to push himself to work out. But, do you know what he does?

“I tell myself how good I’ll feel after.”

So, try to stay positive and healthy this year, folks!

 

chai.

 

#SCBDReview: Tea in Wondeland – Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter 2

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My boyfriend works in the city, one day his mom and I decided to meet him for lunch in the Upper East Side, New York City. We came across Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter 2 in the Upper East Side, on 64th street between Lexington Avenue and 3rd Street. We walked into a cute store front tucked away and into an Alice in Wonderland inspired restaurant café.

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Our wait was about ten minutes, due to wanting to sit upstairs. There are two levels. The downstairs area is small with a nice amount of tables and includes includes the main lobby area with a counter and host desk.

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Upstairs was so cute with Alice in Wonderland themed decorations all over the place; including large butterflies and paintings, tall ceilings, and tea cups all over.

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We started with ordering a pot of tea. The restaurant offers a deal where customers can order a pot of tea for three cups and two scones. Between the three of us, we have several cups of the tea- it was plenty. We decided to order one of their house specialties, called Herbal Detox Blend. This was a special blend of Alfalfa, dandelion, nettle bush, plantain, red clover and mint. It was light and smooth and tasted divine. I also decided to try one of their specialty Mar-Tea-Ni drinks. I got a Peach Bellini. It is infused with Peach Tea and Prosecco. All of the mixed drinks they offered sounded so good, and this one was excellent. It tasted fresh and refreshing. On a note with this drink and the service, I accidentally spilled this when I got it after taking a few sips, and the staff graciously came over and replaced it with a new one since it was pretty full when it happened. They have such great service and are so generous.

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After we received our tea, I got the cup of soup I ordered. It was an Artichoke soup. It had artichoke, mixed vegetables in a chicken broth. I love artichoke, but now I have a new favorite way to eat it. The broth made the artichoke so soft and smooth, it was so tasty. The flavors all mixed together to create a delicious soup. They always have different soups each day, so it is exciting to try another on a future visit. The soup also came with homemade rosemary focaccia bread. This tasted so good alone or mixed in with the broth of the soup.

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After finishing the soup, we were served our sandwiches and scones. All of our meals came with an option of fries or salad, so we all got a salad. The dressing that came with the salad was a ginger Soy dressing. This dressing was light but unfortunately they put only a small amount on the salad. I personally would have liked more, but it was so good. I ordered the Grilled Veggie Sandwich. This included Portobello mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, onion, and tomatoes with goat cheese on pumpernickel. It included pesto which I opted to have it on the side. I usually am not a fan of pesto, but I tried this with this sandwich and it blended beautifully. The vegetables tasted so fresh and they were cooked perfectly. I loved having it paired with pumpernickel bread. I realized that too many places don’t use pumpernickel bread, it is under used.

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My boyfriend’s mother ordered the Lapsang Souchong Smoked Chicken Breast Sandwich. This was a smoked chicken breast on seven grain bread with granny smith apples and an herbed goat cheese. This sandwich was our least favorite. It was on the drier side. It needed something more to make the dry bread and chicken more moist, possibly a dressing. It was still very delicious though and would recommend it with an additional dressing.

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My boyfriend got the Croque Madame sandwich and added smoked grilled chicken to it. This sandwich was delicious, it was a heavier sandwich. The cheese made it a bit greasy. On this sandwich was grilled gruyere with mayonnaise and whole grain mustard. It was on golden raisin semolina bread. This did have a lot of taste but was very filling.

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Finally, we finished with our scones. I chose the Pumpkin Scone with a caramel glaze and my boyfriend chose the original buttermilk scone. They were served with clotted cream and a jam. The pumpkin scone was my favorite. It was so moist and rich. It tasted so fresh. The caramel on top made it sweeter, but it was not a sickening sweet, but instead a very enjoyable sweet. It went well with the last of our hot tea. I would highly recommend this. My boyfriend and his mom enjoyed the original one the most, they said they loved how flakey and moist it was, at the same time. It broke apart but was not too dry. I do have to say it was one of the best original scones I have had.

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I found out that they have three different restaurants, each called a different Chapter. I am excited to visit these other ones in the future and see the difference between them. They offer so much more than we had too. Other deserts, cakes, more drinks, so many teas, and salads and sandwiches of all kinds. The food was fabulous, servers were super nice and alert, and the atmosphere is like no other. Highly recommend this and I will be back in the future to enjoy another afternoon tea with friends.

Tea Cup

 

http://alicesteacup.com/

https://www.facebook.com/alicesteacup

#SCBDReview: Show Goes On at Circo

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There’s a circus in Manhattan and involves an adorable Venetian man who told The Dentist that he better be nice to me OR ELSE, followed by a sly wink and a coy smile. This isn’t a bar joke. This is true life at Circo in midtown Manhattan. I grew up eating at Circo, an Italian midtown staple located on 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue, right across from the famous New York City Center. I grew up knowing the friendly Venetian man named Bruno. Knowing just how wonderfully cheeky Bruno is, I wanted to go there as a last resort with The Dentist.

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I wanted to try something new. I wanted to broaden my horizons. When The Dentist told me he wanted something Italian, I wanted to be adventurous and step outside of my childhood comfort zone of Circo. I walked to 56th Street in order to try Basso56. I knew full well that I was walking in at primetime Manhattan dinner hours on a Friday night without reservations. Alas, Basso56 would not have a free table for another hour and a half. I tried Patsy’s right next door since they proudly display photos of famous celebrities who ate there. I wanted to join in on that club, but they, too, were full for another hour and a half.

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I sighed, knowing full well that Circo for Friday night Italian food it was. Bruno welcomed The Dentist and I with open arms, without a reservation. We had a lovely booth-style table and a kind lady checked in my trench coat for me. Circo is like your friendly neighborhood Italian restaurant, if your kind of neighborhood is midtown Manhattan. The food is always fresh, delicious, and made with Venetian love. It’s been consistently scrumptious for the past seven years that I’ve been going there.

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The Dentist had a great time at Circo. I asked him for his objective opinion of the restaurant, considering I grew up there eating Ravioli Di Mamma Egi and homemade gelati e sorbetti because they make their own gelato and sorbet ice cream over there. They even have a gelato cart outside of the restaurant. The Dentist was extremely entertained by the rotating figurines on top the restaurant since the theme of Circo is the circus. The bread basket alone was enough to keep him coming back for more. Perhaps, it was fate that the other two Italian restaurants I wanted to try that evening were fully booked. At least I knew that even with no reservations, The Dentist and I fit in perfectly with the classy neighborhood company at Circo.

I leave you with this food for thought quote by my boy, Drake:

“I’d much rather sit here in silence
I send all my money to banks in the islands and eat with Italians, I do”

Cheers! Say “ciao” to Bruno for me.

 

LINKS

CIRCO MAIN WEBSITE                                                                    http://www.circonyc.com/index.html

HEY NEW YORKERS! THEY DELEIVER TOO                               https://www.delivery.com/nyc/circo

TWEET CIRCO AND SIGNORE BRUNO AT @CIRCORESTAURANT

 

 

 

 

#SCBDReview: Arte Around the Corner in the UWS

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The Upper West Side is one of the places in Manhattan where I feel at home. After living and studying in Italy for three months, I began to yearn for a small and quiet café that reminded me of the lifestyle I used to lead. Arte Around the Corner, on 73rd Street and Columbus Avenue, became this café for me. There is a Starbucks right across the street from Arte, but Arte is what gives this part of the UWS character. My table of choice during the unbearable winter months is the one tucked neatly into the corner and facing the street. During the spring and summer, I venture out onto the street tables and sip a cappuccino as I watch the taxis go by on Columbus Avenue.

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The best part about Arte is that they are open all day from 7:00 in the morning until 11:00 at night, similar to the way a traditional Italian café would be open back in Italia. The café is perfect for a cappuccino in the morning, an espresso—which comes from Antica Tosatura Triestina—and panino at lunch, or a glass of wine with antipasto for relaxing in the evening. Everything about this café reminds me of my time in Europe, including the 80s new wave music they play like it’s 1988 all over again.

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Arte is extremely casual and has that eclectic café feel. The furniture does not match perfectly, so it is certainly far from a cookie cutter, mass-appealing Dunkin’ Donuts. The couches and the wooden tables and chairs seem to go together, giving it that vibe that says: come on in. You’re home. Stay a while. Listen to Depeche Mode like the good ol’ days.

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I highly suggest making a stop to this UWS gem if you’re looking to have some piece of mind away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Arte reminds me to stop and appreciate the beauty of life, along with the delicious simplicity of a well-brewed cup of coffee. Arte also reminds me that there are few things as delightfully entertaining as people watching in a café. In the words of Ben Whishaw, “The most amazing thing is when you find yourself watching someone in the cafe or something doing something weird. It’s amazing what people do, isn’t it, when you just look at them, when you take the time to look.” Cheers! Now enjoy your cup of coffee and pretty people perusing on the UWS. (#PPP. Let’s pretend that’s a thing.)

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CONTACT

FACEBOOK          https://www.facebook.com/aatcnyc/info

PHONE                 (212) 875-2195

#SCBDEventRecap: New York Craft Beer Fest 2013 – Winter Harvest!

scbdeventrecap

This past fall we had the great pleasure of returning to Lexington Armory for the New York Craft Beer Festival – Winter Harvest.

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This year had

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the return of many amazing breweries, many from the New York area.

The festival also featured great food venders. The Morris Truck toted amazing grilled cheese and spicy tomato soup.

This festival we had the privilege of attending a very informative seminar on using beer in specialty cocktails and the world of bitters. Several talented bartenders showed the merits of using beer as a base, as well as covering some great beer/bitters pairings.

My favorite brewery was the 16 Mile Brewery. This brewery, based in Georgetown, DE, had quite the selection of their wonderful beers. We were able to try the Responders Ale (American Session), and the Harvest Ale (Southern English Brown Ale).

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My favorite beer by far was Widmer Brothers Brrrbon. This amazing ale is brewed in bourbon barrels. It brings the wonderful taste of bourbon into an extremely drinkable dark ale. It brings a unique competitive edge to the world of craft beer with it’s bourbon twist.

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Stay tuned for more information about The New York Craft Beer Best Spring Seasonal event! Get your tickets here: http://nyccraftbeerfest.com/tix

HURRY! The early bird tix are selling out quick!

Here’s a few extra pics we took!

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