Happy July 4th weekend to everyone! This week our edition will feature our usual NYC recommendations combined with some Hamptons/Fire Island spots in case you are leaving Manhattan for some extra beach and sun time. Enjoy!
Lilia New York: Lilia restaurant, located in Williamsburg, has one of the best Italian meals in all of New York! They have wood fired seafood, hand crafted pastas, classic Italian cocktails, and a great atmosphere that creates the perfect casual dining experience. A reservation here is usually hard to come by, but because of the holiday weekend we recommend getting there early and just walking in! Get ready to dig into some carbs because you must order one of these pasta dishes when you go. First, we recommend the Goat Cheese Filled Tortellini, which (as you can probably imagine) are little cheesy bites of heaven! Next, we recommend the Mafaldini Pasta. It has pink peppercorn and Parmesan cheese; so delicious! The best part of Lilia is the dishes are so tasty but so simple! Nothing on the menu has anything with more than three or four ingredients. Press from the New York Times, Zagat, Huffington Post, and Eater love this place, and we definitely do too!
-321 Ice Cream Shop: -321º Ice Cream Shop is a 10 minute walk from Lilia. You might be surprised that when you make your first order; your friendly server won’t be reaching into an ice cream tub. Instead, you will see an ice cream making process like no other! Your favorite flavor will be transformed from a liquid into a delicious, creamy ice cream right in front of your eyes. All with a blast of liquid nitrogen! The ice cream base and liquid nitrogen are combined in a mixer. Once the nitrogen freezes the ice cream base to -321º, what emerges is a creamy, frozen custard-like creation with flavors much more intense than plain old ice cream! We got the s’mores flavor which had chocolate ice cream, chunks of graham cracker, and mini marshmallows, topped with giant torched marshmallows and some whipped cream. I don’t think you can possibly go wrong with a combination like that! BUT, right now they also have their “Nitro Cup”-an ideal way to beat the heat since it is literally smoking with cool air while you eat it!
Fhitting Room: Fhitting Room is an upscale boutique fitness studio delivering high intensity workouts in small classes. It brings together the energy and motivation of an awesome group exercise class with the personal attention of one-on-one training. Everything about this studio is great: the workouts, the trainers, the amenities, and especially the space. The bright neon green and black decor will catch your eye as soon you walk in! The instructors here really take the time to help you on your form and explain every part of the workout so you are not confused during any part of the routine. The other people in my class were friendly and not too intense (which I crave when I try studios for the first time!).
ABCV: ABCV is an excellent addition to the ABC restaurant group (and about a 5 minute walk from Fhitting Room). I added this to the Summer Friday section because it’s not open for lunch on the weekends. ABCV has quickly escalated as the go-to place for high quality vegetarian meals in the Gramercy/Union Square area. The restaurant is quite large and has a contemporary feel with its all white walls, planter hangings, neon sculptures, and open kitchen surrounded by glass so you can watch your yummy food being made. Everything feels healthy and fresh, yet filling. The bar offers an excellent selection of juices, teas ,and other beverages. The lemon tea in particular was so refreshing, we even wanted to take one to-go after we finished our meal! The food menu has an impressive variety of vegetarian choices including noodles, rice dishes, salads, and even a dosa. We may have ordered too much food for 2 people, (they recommend 6 dishes, but 4 would have been enough) but at least now we can share our favorites! In order, I highly recommend the green chickpea hummus, market vegetable chopped salad, avocado dosa, and the half roasted cauliflower. The cauliflower, in particular, blew us away! It’s charred on the outside, yet soft on the inside, extremely flavorful, and comes with an amazing turmeric sauce on top. The waitress saw us debating over a couple of items (everything sounded so delicious) and brought us the avocado lettuce cups as well so we could be sure to try everything we wanted. Even though I recommend the above, after looking around the restaurant at the dishes on everyone’s tables, it doesn’t really seem like you can go wrong! The service was great, the food was on point, and I basically want to eat there everyday!
Chloe’s Fruit: Chloe’s Fruit is a staple in the Union Square neighborhood (and about a 3-minute walk from ABCV). This is because it’s delicious, intensely fruity, and creamy without the cream! Chloe’s created the all-natural alternative to both the artificial ingredients of frozen yogurt, and the fat and dairy of ice cream. The frozen yogurt and ice pops available are made from fruit, water, and a touch of organic cane sugar- that’s it! Since we were so full from lunch, it was nice to have something after that wasn’t very heavy. I think all of their flavors (which change daily) taste good, but this time I went for a banana ice pop dipped in chocolate and topped with sprinkles! The ice pop isn’t too sweet and doesn’t melt quickly because there are no preservatives. The best part though is it’s truly delicious! This is the best guilt-free dessert place in New York City!
Saturday/Sunday AWAY from New York City!
The Hamptons: The Hamptons is a two-hour train or car ride from the city! In just those couple of hours you are transported to a world of some of the best beaches, farms, restaurants, and outdoor activities in all of New York.
Tate’s Bake Shop: Tate’s Bake Shop (as in your favorite Tate’s cookies from the supermarket) is located in South Hampton. Everything there is great, but you must get their ice cream sandwich which is prepared with two Tate’s cookies, vanilla ice cream, and half-dipped in chocolate sauce!
Espresso Sag Harbor: Espresso is a tiny to-go only sandwich shop in Sag Harbor. Located right by the lighthouse and bay, it’s easy to miss! However, do not MISS this if you are close by for the weekend. Even though the Hamptons is full of gourmet shops, Espresso is my favorite sandwich in the entire world (and if you’ve been reading your weekend plans, that means a lot). No matter what combination you get it’s going to be good, but my personal favorite is their fresh turkey with mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes on their homemade focaccia bread. Make sure to ask for EXTRA “house dressing”, because even though they won’t tell me what’s in it, it makes the entire meal.
The Dan Flavin Art Institute: You might recognize the name Dan Flavin from an exhibit that was once in the Meatpacking District. This artist is most well known for integrating neon lights in all his installations. If the weather isn’t great and you need a fun activity to do, you can visit this renovated firehouse full of Flavin’s work. Here, there is a permanent installation of nine works in fluorescent light created by the artist between 1963 and 1981 and an additional gallery with changing exhibitions.
Montauk Dunes: In case you’ve had enough time on the beach or just want to get your body moving, the Walking Dunes trail in Montauk is perfect. Walking Dunes Trail is a 2.7-mile loop located near Montauk. It’s primarily used for hiking, walking and nature trips, but it also offers the most gorgeous scenic views of the ocean. The views from some parts of the hikes are the best I have seen in the East Coast! The trail is accessible year-round and is great for all hiking skill levels, so go on out there and be one with nature!
Kayaking Rentals: Main Beach offers the best selection of kayak rentals in the Hamptons, Montauk, and Eastern Long Island. We tried their Georgica Pond Kayak rental and it was so much fun! They get you set up with your life jackets, kayaks, and give you some quick directions. The ponds are so calm so you don’t have to worry about this activity being too strenuous! Also, you can make it all the way out to the ocean or just stay close to enjoy the beautiful nature, scenery, and incredible homes.
Wolffer Wine Stand: Wolffer Wine Stand is open from 5pm-sunset on Friday’s & Saturday’s, Memorial Day to Labor Day. If I had to pick the best part of summer, this would be it. In a different part of the winery (in Montauk Highway) you can experience Hamptons living in all its beauty! Bring a blanket and enjoy wines by the glass or bottle, (purchasing Summer in a Bottle here is a must!) cheese and charcuterie plates, and an expansive vineyard sunset view.
Best Bars: Bocce, Matthews, and Maguire’s are the top three to hit during your stay here. Always end your night at Maguire’s because after a night of dancing to Pop2K hits, you’ll love hanging out on the outdoor patio right on the water. Also, always carry some cash with you because each bar charges approximately $5 cover when you enter!
Town Pizza: COLD CHEESE PIZZA! After a night out, go to Town Pizza for the essential late night summer meal. A hot slice of pizza topped with cold, fresh shredded mozzarella. INSIDER TIP: Whether you get a pie or a slice, get the cold cheese ON THE SIDE because if they put it on top of a warm slice, it won’t stay cold (and that’s the best part!).
Rachel’s Bake Shop: Rachel’s Bake Shop is famous for their coffee cake. Grab a piece with your iced coffee in the morning before you head the beach and you're ALL SET! We also recommend you take a few slices home with you. Your coworkers will thank you!
No work and staying in NYC? Some extra activities you may enjoy!
Morimoto Sushi & Sake Sunset Sail on America: Time to set sail with the finest sushi in New York City! This light dinner sail features sushi from renowned Chef Morimoto and cool, refreshing assorted sakes served on the decks of the America 2.0 ship! Tickets are a bit pricey but include your dinner, drinks, and ride. The menu features a sushi sampling of 9 sushi pieces and 1 roll served in 2 platings, then paired with 4 sake flights! Classic Harbor Line and Morimoto have taken special steps to ensure the sushi is served in the freshest means possible for this event. The food is prepared just minutes before boarding, stored in special coolers, and served within the first hour of your sail. Along the way you will see views of the skyline, Battery Park, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. This is only available on Monday Nights in the summer, so I would book it soon to have the best relaxing summer evening!
July 4th Fireworks at Northern Territory: Seeing fireworks on July 4th in New York City can be a bit tricky. Some of the main parks and areas with the best views get insanely crowded and become not enjoyable on your day off. At Northern Territory (a rooftop bar in Brooklyn) you can celebrate America's birthday a much better way! A $60 entry fee gets you access to one of the best views of the Macy's Fireworks and drink specials on frozen cocktails and Jello shots. We recommend getting there earlier in the day to secure your spot and buying a ticket ahead of time!
As always, feedback on our plans is welcomed AND encouraged. If you have been to any of these places and agree, disagree, or just want to share please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear your opinions!