Bike Ride to Roberta's in Bushwick

There are places in New York that you start to hear rumbles about, then they are splashed all over restaurant pages in the Post, Daily News, Times, and blogs, people like Anthony Bourdain tweet about it, then the wait times exceed 3 hours which of course makes the "cool factor" seem even higher. Oh, and the Clintons hosted a fundraiser here too. For me, there isn't much I'd wait 3 hours for, which is why I had avoided Roberta's up until now. Plus, it was in Bushwick, Brooklyn, a neighborhood I don't really frequent but is one of those changing areas where something cool always seems to be opening.

On Easter Sunday, after a proper Upper East Side church service and breakfast with our wonderful friends, we decided to break out our bikes for the first time in months and bike to Bushwick. The ride, when combined with a visit to Fort Greene, ended up being 14 miles round-trip, and was relatively flat most of the time, except for the Williamsburg Bridge. You really see New York when bike riding, and how the neighborhoods quickly change. We rode through everything from sketchy areas, perfect brownstone streets, and gritty urban sprawl.

And there, after passing factory after factory (no wonder the smell of wontons wafted through the air), there was Roberta's. The pizzas were perfect - thin, crispy crust charred to perfection, and the ideal ratio of cheese to sauce. The vibe - casual, edgy, Good People all around. Plus, we saw a hipster walking his cat when we left (read this for the full story and photo...hilarious). The verdict? Roberta's is worth the journey, and is right near a subway stop if you don't want to bike it! 

Now if only I could score a reservation for Blanca next door...

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

L&B Spumoni Gardens - Brooklyn's Famous Sicilian Slice

I'm working on some huge projects right now, and excited to share more with you all soon. Days have been starting early and ending late, usually with my laptop in bed at midnight. The glamorous life of a travel writer and freelancer! But I am loving almost every minute - so I know I am doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I always make time to explore new corners of New York or else I get very grumpy. 

I love the debate of New York pizza about best slices, best pies, and best pizza ambiance. But one place comes up time and again when it comes to the Sicilian slice - the Bensonhurst, Brooklyn landmark L&B Spumoni Gardens. It has been open since 1939 and feels like old, classic Brooklyn, a feeling that seems to be disappearing from so many places.

The signature square Sicilian pie is the best I've had, but I loved feeling like a pizza pilgrim, trekking out on the subway, and walking to this spot. Plus we witnessed a giant fiery fight about a parking space as we left - very New York!

 

Day Trip: Mamaroneck, New York

This day trip wasn't about gourmet food shops, farm tours, or chic little restaurant finds. This day trip was about following in the footsteps of my larger-than-life Italian grandfather, who would occasionally pick up Sicilian pizzas from Sal's Pizzeria in Mamaroneck, NY on his way home to his family, including my mom, in Stamford, CT in the mid-60's.

My brother and I took the train out to Mamaroneck, met my aunt, and we went to experience the pizza our family loved. Sal's is known for their Sicilian slice but I'd go out again for a slice of salad pizza, covered in lightly dressed chopped lettuce.  Mamaroneck's main street is a throwback to the 60s itself, with old Italian bakeries, bookstores, and a classic movie theater. If I had grown up in Mamaroneck, I would gone on first dates at Sal's followed by a movie and dessert at the ice cream parlor.

Sal's

Big with Tom Hanks is one of my all-time favorite movies so we continued on the nostalgia path and drove out to Rye Playland, a couple exits away, to see where the ending of the movie was filmed. It's where Tom Hanks' character finally finds the Zoltar machine that will turn him into a kid again.  I cry EVERY time I watch it.

Rye Playland Boardwalk