Must-Visit: Franny's in Brooklyn

As Adam Platt declared in New York Magazine's Where To Eat 2013, "Brooklyn's Ascension is Official." I hop on the subway to Brooklyn more and more to try restaurants, coffee shops, shops and parks. There is so much going on and it's changing every minute. Recently, we went to Franny's to try their pizza. I read they were changing locations in March and wanted to experience the original before they moved to bigger digs. Everything I read and heard was "They don't take reservations. You'll wait forever." Expecting to wait two hours minimum, we arrived at 6:45 p.m. on a Monday night and were immediately seated. Within 1/2 hour, it was crazy busy. Franny's is proud to utilize renewable energy and eco-friendly products like cleaning supplies and recycled paper. But you don't see that when you go in - just a laid-back, lively Brooklyn crowd and fantastic pizzas. The clam pie is the one to try - it was recently featured on Barefoot Contessa when Ina Garten went to Franny's to make it.

Franny's brick oven

Things I Love About Providence, Rhode Island


This Black Friday day trip from our Thanksgiving festivities in Portsmouth, RI, began because I have been wanting to eat at Al Forno in Providence for at least ten years.  Al Forno put Rhode Island on the foodie map over 30 years ago and is credited with creating the grilled pizza. 

That's reason enough.  But Providence is also one of the coolest city gems of New England with quaint sense-of-place architecture, great pubs and walks.  Much of it feel like a mini Boston without the traffic.  On one side of the river is Brown University and College Hill. I've now visited all the Ivy Leagues and Brown has the best small-town campus feel with red brick buildings and small tree-lined quads.  On the other side of the river is downtown Providence, with a revitalized waterfront, Providence Place Mall, the commanding marble State House, the convention center, and Providence College.

You should either walk the mile length of Benefit Street near Brown yourself, or take a guided walk. It has one of America's highest concentrations of colonial architecture, with gorgeous 18th & 19th-century homes.

Historic Homes Line Benefit Street

Providence was only 30 minutes from my aunt and uncle's house in Portsmouth, so it was a really easy day trip. We absolutely loved Al Forno and I bought the owners' first cookbook, Cucina Simpatica, one of Ina Garten's favorites (Yes I love the Barefoot Contessa. Love.).  

Al Forno Tip: We arrived at 5:30 p.m. and was told there was going to be a 2-hour wait.  Felt like we were back in New York! We ended up eating at the downstairs bar but you can also call ahead to get an idea of the wait time, they will put your name on the list, and you can arrive closer to that time.  Reservations are only for 6 people or more. 

Al Forno in ProvidenceGrilled pizza & brussels sprouts at Al Forno

1. & 2. Thayer Street is the main shopping & eating street next to Brown's campus.  Definitely worth a stroll if you're near campus, and you can pop into the Brown bookstore.  

3. Near Brown, Providence has a ton of these gorgeous older New England homes. This white beauty was my favorite. 

4. Looking across the river at College Hill from the State House. 

The Rhode Island State HouseOld churches dot the streets of ProvidenceOn Brown University's campus

Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) & Her Favorite Hotels

I came across an older article from Town & Country featuring a Q&A with my favorite celebrity chef, Ina Garten.  She talks about her favorite flowers, restaurants, destinations, must-haves, stores, tableware and of course, HOTELS!

I've been to The Peninsula Beverly Hills and agree that it's one of the best city hotels, an oasis in the middle of L.A.

A few travel-related highlights from the interview:

Favorite Urban Hotel: "The Peninsula Beverly Hills. When you return, they embroider your name on your pillow."

Favorite Countryside Hotel: "The Splendido, in Portofino, Italy. You order a Campari at sunset on the terrace, overlooking the harbor, and they bring you little silver bowls of olives and potato chips."

Favorite Weekend Destination: "I live in my favorite weekend place, East Hampton."

City to Visit: "Paris! Jeffrey and I love it so much that we bought an apartment there."

Favorite Casual Restaurants: "The 1770 House, in East Hampton. I go there so often I have a corner table in the tavern. It's home cooking in an incredible restaurant. And Taste in New York."

Dream Trip: "For our twenty-fifth anniversary, Jeffrey took me on a garden tour of the Cotswolds. Heaven!"

Cultural Experience: "The Boulevard Raspail organic market, in Paris, on Sundays."

Museum: "The Rodin in Paris. I love the sculpture and gardens."

Favorite Foreign Restaurant: "Lunch at L'Atelier, Joel Rubuchon's restaurant in Paris. All we need are two seats at the counter, but you can never get in, which makes it even more special when you can!"

Restaurants for a Big Night Out: "The Four Seasons Restaurant and Cafe Boulud, both in New York City."

Travel Must-Haves: "I always take my lighter-than-air Hermes blanket and my Loro Piana cashmere eyeshades."

A Place She's Never Been to That She Would Like to Visit: "Greece. I love Greek food."