Stuff to Do

Dine and Shop Til You Drop to Welcome Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year is one of the most celebrated holidays around the world, a time when families gather and celebrate. This year is the Year of the Rat, signifying diligence and thriftiness. Shops and restaurants have gone all out to ensure that you have a lucky and fortune-filled start to the New Year with welcoming events and special menus adding foods symbolizing good fortune.

The Year of the Rat celebrates the return of spring. It’s a festival of unity, a way for friends and family to come together to enjoy traditions that will bring good fortune for the coming year. 2020 celebrates the quick-witted rat as we breathe some optimism into the days ahead. Unlike one-night New Year’s celebrations, Chinese New Year is celebrated for two weeks through February 11 (or even longer in some places) so you have plenty of time to enjoy.

Traditional red lanterns, dragons, wishing trees, lion dances, and, of course, food, mark this important holiday.

Stuff yourself with auspicious foods rich with symbolic meaning to attract good fortune in the coming year.

The sexiest celebrations in New York City happen at Hakkasan. Kicked off by a festive and traditional lion dance on the first evening, the two weeks of the Chinese New Year are filled with special dinners and drinks. For 2020, there is a $98 prix fixe menu (for a minimum of two guests) featuring ingredients traditionally thought to bring luck and good fortune. Dishes have been selected for the cultural significance of their ingredients and their ability to portend good fortune.

Highlights of the menu include golden treasure pockets with abalone and wild mushrooms, a delicately fried dumpling decorated with gold leaf. The shape of the dumpling resembles a money bag which symbolizes the arrival of wealth in the New Year, and the color gold represents riches. Scallops with taro mousseline and brown butter black bean sauce feature Maine king scallops, a prized ingredient denoting new opportunities and successes on the horizon. Also on the menu are yu sheng salad, a fish salad with cured Scottish salmon and plum sauce, portending a bountiful year ahead; and baked salt crusted chicken, a modern spin on a chicken dish from the Ming dynasty that symbolizes luck, playing off the pronunciation of the word chicken in Chinese which sounds like luck.

Hakkasan will also offer a signature cocktail Cheng Zi made with Diplomático Mantuano rum, chili-infused Velvet Falernum, mandarin and chocolate sherbet. The mandarin is a lucky ingredient representing prosperity and fortune, making the cocktail the perfect complement to a festive Lunar New Year meal. Oranges are traditionally given during the New Year to symbolize good luck, happiness and abundance.

A sweet finish with more lucky oranges is the indulgent Lucky Jie, a dessert with salted caramel ganache, mandarin, chili and cocoa that is presented as a Chinese knot to signify good fortune. Chinese knotting is an intricate and historic art form where fabrics are woven into a varying of shapes denoting blessings and wishes for the year ahead.

Throughout Lunar New Year, interiors of Hakkasan locations will be adorned with red wishing ribbons featuring the lucky Chinese knot. The red color of the wishing ribbons symbolizes joy and good luck, creating an auspicious environment for guests to dine in. Guests are additionally invited to write their wishes for the year ahead on the ribbons to be hung on the restaurant’s wooden latticing.

Five other Asian restaurants (and bars) in New York celebrate with special menus:

Little Alley is translated from the Chinese word long tang, the narrow, interconnected alleyways unique to Shanghai that form traditional neighborhoods that co-exist with today’s modern styles. The alleys have long been redolent with aromas of delicious foods, reminding neighbors that everything will be fine as long as you are home.

For Chinese New York, the Murray Hill-based restaurant has a seafood-forward menu with steamed lobster with glass noodles, lobster with ginger scallion, spicy crab, salted duck egg crab, dry-wok prawns, steamed whole fish with chopped chili, blanched clams and stir-fried clams with basil.

At popular Atoboy in the Flatiron District, Chef Junghyun ‘JP’ Park utilizes Korean flavors and traditional Korean techniques with seasonal American ingredients to create a menu inspired by Korean banchan, small plates served with cooked rice. For Chinese New Year, both a regular and prix fixe menu are offered along with a traditional tteokguk, a Korean rice cake soup.

In Chinatown, LUCKYRICE celebrates the Lunar New Year in style with an epic Cocktail Feast on January 28 at stylish Chinese Tuxedo and its “no photos,” bar Peachy’s. This historic venue once housed a Chinese theatre in the late 1800s and the theatricality continues to this day both upstairs and downstairs. Specially created cocktails featuring Remy Martin and delicious bites, each symbolic of the auspiciousness of the New Year, will be served. Tempting menu specials include the fried golden tuxedo money bag dumpling with chicken corn and the duck “long life” chow mein noodles with roasted duck sauce.

For a quick getaway from the city, Modern-Chinese Goosefeather in Tarrytown, New York highlights Executive Chef Dale Talde’s Hudson Valley take on Hong Kong fare with noodles, Cantonese barbecue and dumplings.The name for Goosefeather is taken from an ancient Chinese proverb dating to the Tang Dynasty which embodies the idea of thoughtful gift-giving. For Chinese New Year week, Goosefeather will offer its regular menu plus specials including prosperity salad of hamachi, cucumbers, radish, pickled wood ear mushrooms, Asian pear, pomelo and golden beets with a citrus-Chinese mustard dressing; longevity noodles with minced chicken, watercress and black bean; cooked whole redfish with black vinegar; and crispy sweet rice with citrus and whipped honey.

Shoppers can participate in a Chinese tradition to celebrate the Year of the Rat

The USA Luxury Shopping Consortium has planned an array of special events and experiences for visitors to New York.

The 5th Annual Madison Avenue Lunar New Year event kicks off on February 1 with a centuries-old tradition by installing wishing trees along Madison Avenue between East 63rd and East 64st Streets. Visitors can place a ribbon with their wish on a branch at the tree on 63rd Street to receive a traditional red envelope with a gift certificate from a participating Madison Avenue store.

A Tale of Two Epochs: Romeo & Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona & Brooklyn

Oh, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? In the case of Romeo & Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona & Brooklyn, it all depends. That is, it depends on whether you’re looking to reality to find the answer to the question, or to the fantasy created as an extended reality in this new hilarious off-Broadway show. The best answer is to suspend belief altogether and go with the flow. That’s really what this quirky, fun romp is all about.

The musical is one long exercise in romance.  At the beginning, Romeo is a character in a cheesy version of the traditional Shakespearean play, attended by a Brooklyn couple on a date. Brooklyn Girl is markedly affected by the story, while Brooklyn Guy — who could have been plucked right out of Saturday Night Fever or Grease — has other ideas. He doesn’t quite understand the emotional reaction that’s now limiting his after-date possibilities.  How does he rectify this?  By creating a second Romeo tale, one in which Romeo and Juliet are not dead at the end of the story, but are transported instead to a different reality where a different outcome is possible.

Therein lies the plotline, the extended fantastical tale of the very-much-alive Romeo who meets his revived Juliet (or so he thinks) and transcends time and geography to pursue her. Where the story goes is a tale of hilarity, confusion, and misunderstood and mistaken identities – in effect, a modern-day Montague and Capulet feud with a much sunnier ending.

En route from Brooklyn to Verona and back to Brooklyn, you’ll meet an assortment of stereotypical and atypical Brooklyn characters: a Bobby Darren lookalike, two warring mob patriarchs, a foul-mouthed bride-to-be and her best friend, two men vying for the attention of the beautiful  “Juliet,” a thug at-the-ready, and a dance teacher-priest-dressmaker-florist rolled into one. Costumed by Joseph Shrope and Fabio Toblini, even Romeo sheds his Veronese garb and goes full-on Brooklyn. Action and dialogue are all played out with an over-the-top Brooklyn accent in which Shakespearean English is replaced by a fuggedaboutit version, and the refinement of Italy’s La Scala and Verona disintegrate into scenes with Sal in his underwear and Bernadette in a bow-bedecked wedding dress.  If Shakespeare could have re-imagined his oeuvre as an exercise in camp, he couldn’t have done it any better.

Newcomers to off-Broadway Nikita Burshteyn (Romeo), Anna Kostakis (Bernadette), Michael Notardonato (Dino Del Canto/Brooklyn Guy) and Ari Raskin (Donna/Brooklyn Girl) shine in the show , along with veterans Judy McLane (Mamma Mia, Kiss of the Spider Woman), Zach Schanne (City of Light), Carlos Lopez (Man of La Mancha, Grease)and Viet Vo (Carousel, Evita) as Camille Penza, Tito Titone ,Sal Penza and Lips with winning vocals that soar in light opera motif. Think Gilbert and Sullivan meets the Mafia with a dash of Puccini and Volare. Lyrics by Mark Saltzman are set to songs derived from classic Italian music. Throw in some Guys and Dolls, a few malapropisms, spot-on characterizations and adept staging and you have the makings of two hours of spoofy fun.

Tickets are available through February 16 at the Mezzanine Theatre at A.R.T./NY, 502 West 53rd Street.  The play was produced by Amas Musical Theatre, a performing arts pioneer in promoting  diversity and multi-ethnic casting, currently serving as a not-for-profit laboratory for new musicals.  www.art-newyork.org. www.amasmusical.org

Get Your Tickets Now! It’s a Laugh a Second at Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation at the York Theatre Company

Run, don’t walk to The York Theatre Company to see Gerard Alessandrini’s latest rendition of Forbidden Broadway, this time called Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation. It’s indeed next generation, advancing the beloved show from its 1982 roots to a new version that gives it a 2020 vision. This is a show that will leave you breathless with laughter as well as breathless in general as you try to keep track of all the Broadway  shows (and some TV series) lampooned here. It’s like trying to tally up the song snippets included in Moulin Rouge, but this time mashed up into 90 minutes of Broadway parody.

Opening with a familiar shout out to Merrily We Roll Along which closed quickly after its premiere and the brilliantly choreographed “God I Wanna See it 2019” spoofing Chorus Line’s impassioned opener “ I Hope I Get It,” Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation introduces the Broadway scene of today.  Prepare yourself for a rollicking journey through the plays and musicals presently on Broadway as well as an insightful dissection of everything that could be considered less-than-perfect on the stage.

Take, for instance, the show’s mockery of the current obsession with jukebox shows or with turning old movies into musicals and you’ll get the idea. There’s a spin-the-wheel segment called “It’s Got to Be a Musical” where Hal Prince’s Broadway roulette wheel lands on any number of novels or movies and turns them into instant musicals. It kind of reminds you of “Something Rotten” where the Bottom brothers devise a brilliant plan to save their acting company by producing a musical. Has Broadway found its salvation by turning everything into a musical? You can draw your own conclusion after watching.

Five performers and one accompanist (Fred Barton) bring Alessandrini’s ingenious lyrics to life enhanced by masterful creative direction by James Morgan, costumes by Dustin Cross and choreography by Gerry McIntyre

Immanuel Houston is instantly recognizable as André De Shields in Hadestown, extolling the New York subway train as the train to the underworld. Chris Collins-Pisano, a visual body double for Jake Gyllenhaal, plays a mean Danny Burstein in Moulin Rouge! as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda in that little show you’ve heard about, Hamilton. The two female performers, Jenny Lee Stern and Aline Mayagoitia, are skilled chameleons who portray Bette Midler and Bernadette Peters as well as characters in shows like The Ferryman (Aunt Maggie and Caitlin) and Sweet Charity with believable exaggeration. In a tour de force performance belying his age, 13-year-old Joshua Turchin, the youngest performer ever in a Forbidden Broadway show, wows as Dorothy Michaels from Tootsie and Ben Platt from Dear Evan Hansen.  And those are just a few of the scene-stealing performances that you’ll see.

I laughed and guffawed through the entire show, nodding in non-vocal acquiescence to some very insidery comments about theater today as well as the lifestyles of stars well-known from the Great White Way. But it really doesn’t matter if you’re not familiar with all of the shows parodied, as most of the stars will be recognizable and a good number of the songs, including many classic Broadway show tunes, will have you pondering, “Which show is that from?”

Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation also takes a stab at some of the Broadway-themed shows and personalities that have appeared on TV of late, like Fosse/Verdon with stars Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell or Billy Porter’s cross-dressing appearances on multiple talk shows. How do you feel about the move into movies by stars playing stars like Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland? There’s no equivocation here.

Choreography, performances and costumes all have their moment over the theatrical coals.  Alessandrini spares nothing and has a keen eye for pointing out the lunacy of much that has captured popular attention. If Broadway’s dissolution into jukebox musicals has you pining for the Broadway musicals of yore, you’ll immediately relate to several of the skits with some shows positioned as thinly veiled remakes of each other. If the tone of a various type of play – in particular, Irish theater – has you weeping from the very first line delivered, you’ll laugh instead when you see how this is treated by Forbidden Broadway. Perhaps the most hilarious spoof is that of Fiddler on the Roof’s recent remount in Yiddish, with the rhetorical question, do we no longer need to understand theater but just conceptualize it? “Brush Up Your Yiddish” indeed. Cole Porter must be rolling in his grave. As must Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein in theirs… you’ll see what I mean.

I don’t want to give too much away as a good part of the momentum is the build from one hilarious spoof to the next, often with an unexpected change-up of songs midstream that circles and reverts, catching you off-guard with the brilliance of Alesandrini’s lyrics, the vocals and the character impersonations. Rest assured, however, that the current lineup of hits and flops on Broadway have all been skewered here. The show is very much of the moment in that regard, but as the writer notes at one point, Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation, like all Broadway, “stands on the shoulders of the last generation” so you’ll see much of the past reflected as well.

Given all the hilarity, it is indeed sad that this show runs only for a month. The brilliant writer and performers should have their day in the sun, or, at least, on-stage. I can only hope for a transfer of this show to another theater should the space at the York not be available past February 16. Tickets , www.yorktheatre.org, 212-935-5820. York Theatre Company, Citicorp Building, entrance on 54th Street just East of Lexington Avenue, New York City.

All photos by Carol Rosegg.

You Still Have Time to See the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden

You have just one more week to see The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, and this year you can get closer to it than ever because of the show’s layout in a new space while the Palm Dome is undergoing restoration. The 28th version of the Holiday Train Show® at The New York Botanical Garden showcases Central Park, the most popular urban park in America, along with some of the city’s favorite landmarks. The beloved holiday event continues through January 26 and is a don’t-miss for architecture fans, city fans and train fans of all ages.

Central Park, designed in 1858 by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, occupies not only the middle of Manhattan but also a special place in the hearts of New Yorkers and in the American imagination. Visited by more people than any other urban park in the United States, it has been featured in hundreds of movies. Perhaps even more important, Olmsted and Vaux’s “Greensward Plan” inspired cities across the country to set aside large open spaces as public parks. A striking feature of their design was the wide variety of buildings and architectural elements they included to complement the natural setting.

The miniature Central Park wonderland at the Holiday Train Show is made of natural materials including birch bark, lotus ponds, twigs, stems, fruit, seeds, fungus, pine cones, acorns and cinnamon sticks with mind-boggling creations of buildings, bridges, landscapes and train tracks, artistically crafted by founding visionary Paul Busse’s team at Applied Imagination. Model trains zip through an enchanting display of more than 175 New York landmarks.

New replicas of Central Park’s iconic architectural features include Belvedere Castle, the Dairy, the Old Bandstand, the Angel of the Waters sculpture atop the Bethesda Fountain, and two graceful pedestrian bridges. You’ll also see famous New York buildings that are either adjacent to the park or just inside it including the Plaza Hotel, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Rose Center for Earth and Space, part of the American Museum of Natural History.

In addition to the Central Park area, emphasis this year is on representing buildings that haven’t been highlighted in previous displays or in other ways in the city. Painstakingly recreated from old photos and records, many buildings long gone from the city’s landscape are presented. It warrants considerable time to ruminate on New York past and the architectural wonders that have been replaced by today’s skyscrapers and you’ll have a chance to view them virtually side-by-side with the city’s newest icons like The Oculus, looking almost like a mini-bug with its winged architecture. Plan on spending at least two hours to thoroughly enjoy the displays of each borough, the iconic city buildings, and watch the trains meandering throughout the exhibit.

Train lovers will enjoy more than 25 G-scale model trains and trolleys that hum along nearly a half-mile of track past re-creations of iconic sites from all five boroughs of New York City, the Hudson River Valley, and other locations in New York State. American steam engines, streetcars from the late 1800s, and modern freight and passenger trains travel underneath overhead trestles, through tunnels, across rustic bridges, and past waterfalls that cascade into flowing creeks. Thomas the Tank Engine™ and other beloved trains disguised as large colorful insects add additional fun to the displays.

The New York Botanical Garden is a museum of plants located in the Bronx. The Holiday Train Show is very busy, so buy your timed tickets in advance at www.nybg.org .  The New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York.

Pack Up Your Appetites – New York City’s January 2020 Restaurant Week is Back

Yes, it’s back! It’s time to fête the return of New York City’s most beloved dining extravaganza: Restaurant Week.

Dining out is a must-do activity in a city obsessed with finding new restaurants and being “in the know” when it comes to ferreting out the hottest trends, rising chef stars, and cuisines making their intro into this “melting pot” city. We love diversity and Restaurant Week gives you the chance to dip your finger, or at least your taste buds, into some 34 distinctive cuisines. Add these dates into your calendar now: January 21 – February 9 for the 28th New York City Restaurant Week; now is the time to enjoy the fall and winter bounty, especially the local vegetables that add to the seasons’ hearty (and creative) dishes. The next restaurant week won’t be until July (July 20-August 16).

Riverpark's Urban Garden

This year’s Restaurant Week offers up more than 350 restaurants in 45 diverse neighborhoods, each offering a prix fixe menu for a two-course $26 lunch or a three-course $42 dinner or both with locations throughout the five boroughs. (Note that restaurants that are gratuity-inclusive such as Blue Smoke, Maialino, Manhatta, Marta and Untitled have menus for $31 and $50).

Reservations go quickly, so jump on OpenTable or call the restaurant to book your table now. That, and choosing which restaurants to try out, are the trickiest part of this exercise.

To help you sort through the many restaurants offering special menus and Woodford Reserve Specials, I’ve selected ten that are especially interesting with a sample of their menu offerings.  You can find the full list at https://www.nycgo.com/restaurant-week.

ATRIO Wine Bar and Restaurant

Downtown at the Conrad Hotel in Battery Park City, ATRIO Wine Bar and Restaurant celebrates the fall season with a medley of burrata with roasted beet puree and honey-balsamic glazed kale sprouts; tuna tartare with roasted squash, avocado, green apples and pomegranate seeds; and vegetarian-friendly roasted cauliflower with a garlicky Romesco sauce and za’atar spice. Dessert choices are white chocolate and raspberry bread pudding adorned with crème anglaise or a berry compote-drizzled New York cheesecake.

Bagatelle NYC

Just north, Bagatelle NYC in the Meatpacking District has put together a selection of its signature menu items along with new dishes. Homemade Parisian gnocchi in a black truffle sauce, crispy branzino in tempura with a mayonaisey gribiche sauce, and braised beef shank with caramelized carrot purée are popular mains on the menu for Restaurant Week. You’ll be glad the prix fixe includes dessert, as Bagatelle’s French specialties Baba au Rhum and Paris Brest should not be missed.

Gaby Brasserie Française

Feeling especially culture-minded and hungry? Enjoy a taste of Paris at Sofitel New York’s charming Gaby Brasserie Française near the Theater District. Executive Chef Robert Hohmann is serving French faves like Croque Madame and duck Bolognese for brunch, Alaskan cod for lunch, and boeuf Rossini for dinner. The restaurant’s location just east of Duffy Square is perfect for a pre-theater (or post-theater) meal.

Porter House Bar and Grill

If Lincoln Center or Jazz at Lincoln Center are your destination, you might want to reserve a table at Porter House Bar and Grilll in the Time Warner Center. There you can enjoy Michael Lomonaco’s standout ML’s Caesar Salad followed by roast Lancaster chicken with mushroom pan roast; garganelli Bolognese; or Faroe Island salmon with fennel confit, roasted carrots and a  za’atar spice crust.

The Morgan Library & Museum - Morgan Cafe

On the East Side, the glass-enclosed Morgan Café at The Morgan Library & Museum will be showcasing its dining collaboration with Chef Tom Colicchio during Restaurant Week. The two-course lunch menu includes a choice of The Pierpont Salad (named for J, Pierpont Morgan), hamachi crudo, or celeriac soup to start followed by ricotta gnocchi, Chatham cod, or hanger steak with Swiss chard, fingerling potatoes, bone marrow, white anchovies and salsa verde.

Riverpark

For a second treat from Tom Colicchio, book a table at Riverpark where the seasonal and ingredient-driven menu incorporates produce from its own urban farm (overlooking the FDR Drive). The Restaurant Week menu features signature dishes as well as new items. For starters choose the kale salad with mustard greens, roasted squash, pumpkin seeds, ricotta salata and cranberry vinaigrette. Housemade zucca pasta is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes and is served with pumpkin ragu, basil-dusted delicata squash and a variety of dried basil including Thai, blue spice and lemon basil. Meat lovers can enjoy another favorite, smoked brisket enhanced with broccoli rabe purée, garlic confit and smashed potatoes.

Felidia

Restaurant legend Lidia Bastianich is the draw at Felidia, and Restaurant Week is a good chance to sample some of her acclaimed Italian cuisine. For lunch, appetizers include a choice of bean, squash and chestnut soup; salmone affumicato made with house smoked salmon pastrami and egg potato salad; or Lidia’s penne with gran biscotto ham and creamy tomato sauce. For a main, you’ll have a choice of salmon with potato, spinach and mustard sauce; Lidia’s rigatoni with spicy tomato sauce, housemade ricotta and rosemary; or thinly sliced braised wagyu beef and polenta. Come hungry as you’ll want to indulge in homemade gelato, panna cotta or tiramisu for dessert.

Zuma New York

An exciting choice if you’re in the mood for Japanese is the lunchtime Restaurant Week menu at midtown’s Zuma New York. With an innovative spin on contemporary Japanese cuisine, the sceney izakaya-style restaurant adds ingredients hand-picked and sourced from small farms across Japan by Head Chef Oliver Lange and features an extensive sake pairing menu. Restaurant Week dishes include salmon tartare with ponzu and mustard miso, spicy fried tofu with avocado and Japanese herbs, and black cod marinated in Saikyo miso.

Queensyard

Now that the holiday crowds have disappeared, it’s a good time to explore what’s happening at Hudson Yards.  Located on the fourth floor of the new shopping mall, queensyard is offering both lunch and dinner Restaurant Week menus with comfort food-oriented dishes like delicata squash with shaved Brussels sprouts and smoked chestnut salad; and Green Circle chicken consommé with Jerusalem artichoke doughnuts and pickled enoki If it’s cold outside, the English muffin burger or Hunter’s Pie made with duck, pheasant and rabbit will hit the spot. Desserts like sticky toffee pudding add a sweet finish.

Rahi

Don’t eat meat? There are Restaurant Week menus just for you at Rahi in the West Village. Indian food lovers can choose from starters like flavorful gunpowder aloo and Dahi chili paneer. For a main, vegetarian and fish dishes include pumpkin coconut curry and three mango cod. If you love Indian but prefer a meat dish, try Rahi’s signature banana leaf chicken, a juicy bone-in chicken leg served with Basmati rice.

Still Haven’t Found a Place for NYE in NYC? The Big Apple Has Lots of Choices

The Big Apple is a place to celebrate diversity of people, diversity of cultures and diversity of experiences.  Keeping that in mind, New York City offers a panoply of evening experiences so you can choose the type of New Year’s Eve to call your own: staying at home in your apartment or hotel room, attending an elaborate party, enjoying a luxe dinner, or finding a venue that puts you in the center of NYC’s proprietary grand fête, the Ball Drop in Times Square. If you’ve found yourself without a place to go, it’s not too late to book these wonderful options that will get you out and about as you start the new decade. Remember, New Year’s Eve lore says that where you are and who you meet first on New Year’s Eve set the stage for the year ahead. So, if you’ve already gotten rid of those bad memories at Good Riddance Day in Times Square and you’re prepared to put your New Year’s resolutions into play, kick off the future with a special night to say goodbye to the past and move forward with wonderful memories.

Good Riddance Day

New York City is Never Lacking When it Comes to Parties

Plado Tasting Bar

Lively Plado Tasting Bar in the East Village is perfect for a friends-and-family gathering with its shared plates menu. The new Mediterranean-focused tapas restaurant invites you to a Festo de Tapas, brought to you by charming Chef German Rizzo. Come hungry as you’ll enjoy a set menu of 10 selections including wagyu carpaccio with truffles and pecorino,  taro gnocchi and lobster ravioli. The two three-hour seatings also include unlimited beer, wine and sangria. If you’re there when the clock strikes twelve, there’s a midnight toast and party favors.  https://www.pladonyc.com/

Zuma

If a Midtown location is easier for a meet-up with your friends, Zuma has a New Year’s Eve soirée that will keep everyone dancing.  . Set in the restaurant’s swanky second-floor lounge, adorned for NYE with a flashy red carpet and balloon-covered ceiling, the party kicks off with a welcome glass of Champagne and geisha dancers to get you moving. Then the creativity is up to you as you pose for pictures in the NYE-themed photobooth and dance the night away to Zuma’s resident DJ. Handcrafted seasonal cocktails, a midnight Champagne toast and viewing of the ball drop are part of the festivities. You can choose to have dinner, too, with omakase menu choices in the main dining room before the party. Contemporary Japanese dishes like lobster tempura with spicy ponzu and wasabi; thinly sliced sea bass sashimi with yuzu, truffle and salmon roe; and wagyu tataki with ponzu and fresh white truffles are special choices for the evening. https://zumarestaurant.com/locations/new-york/

Cote - Credit: Gary He

For New Year’s Eve, Michelin-starred Korean steakhouse Cote has a prix fixe dinner starting with caviar-adorned “steak and eggs,” followed by seven different cuts of steak, noodles with A5 Japanese wagyu and other festive dishes prepared by Chef David Shim. The meal includes a Champagne toast as well as a giant Champagne tower pour at midnight.  The party continues downstairs at Cote’s cocktail lounge Undercote. There, it’s a throwback to the 80s with a Miami’s Vice-themed event. The evening includes a premium open bar with themed cocktails by Sondre Kasin, an array of special snacks, a Champagne toast at midnight and a DJ set. Dress your Miami Vice best with pastels, structured shoulders, sequins, cutout dresses, white suits and belted waistlines and get ready to dance to DJ music.  https://www.cotenyc.com/

NIGHT MUSIC

Vegans aren’t left out on New Year’s Eve at NIGHT MUSIC in the East Village with all-vegan Indian-inspired cuisine by Ravi DeRossi. From 6pm-10pm guests can enjoy a four-course dinner with a Champagne toast. After that, the restaurant transforms into a cocktail party with an open bar.  www.nightmusicny.com/

HUSO - Marky’s Caviar

For a luxe celebration where caviar is synonymous with New Year’s Eve rather than with party hats and noisemakers, you’ll want to reserve a seat at HUSO, the caviar bar hidden behind a velvet curtain at Marky’s Caviar retail store on Madison Avenue. New Year’s Eve diners will be treated to caviar service of Beluga di Venezia, Russian Royal Osetra and private stock Sevruga; canapés; a demi bottle of Champagne; and an eight-course caviar-filled tasting menu from Eleven Madison Park alumnus Chef Buddha Lo. https://www.markyscaviar.com/

I Want to Be Somewhere Where I Can See the Ball Drop, or Maybe the Fireworks

If the thought of joining the millions of people who fill the outdoor corrals around Times Square  makes you recoil in horror, there are ways to see the ball drop in comfort, albeit for a price.

W New York-Times Square

W New York-Times Square has a NYE-dedicated space to keep you warm and comfy. In the hotel’s neon-lit Living Room Bar you can cuddle up in a private indoor cabana with bottle service, an open bar, midnight Champagne toast, live screening of the ball drop and live DJ music. The festivities start at 6pm continuing well into the new decade. You can still step outside to watch the ball drop in the cold air, or just stay inside and enjoy the privileged setting. The price is $2,250 to reserve a cabana for up to six guests. General admission tickets are available for less and include the four-hour open bar, party favors and a Champagne toast at midnight. Stay inside – you’ll be able to pick up leftover confetti on the streets when you leave.  https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/nycwh-w-new-york-times-square/

701 West - Credit Liz Clayman

For superlative views of the ball drop this New Year’s Eve, check out the extravagant celebration at 701 West, Michelin-starred Chef John Fraser’s fine dining jewel at The Times Square EDITION Hotel. The restaurant on the hotel’s eleventh floor is hosting a glamorous, black-tie bash unlike any other in town. Most of the details are a mystery so prepare for anything! Welcome cocktails and canapés in the Salon cocktail lounge set the tone before a six-course dinner, with selections such as eel with upland cress and foie pressé with kumquat mostarda and brioche. A wine pairing by Advanced Sommelier Amy Racine accompanies each course. There’s also a five-hour open bar with a curated wine and cocktail list. But, here’s the best part: you’ll get an exclusive view of the Ball Drop from the heart of the action – the location and specific details will only be revealed to guests that evening.  And, of course, there’s a Champagne toast. Throughout the evening, you can look upon Duffy Square, the northern part of Times Square, from your lofty perch on the outdoor terrace.  Your ticket also includes entry to the hotel’s Paradise Club dance party starting at 8pm. Tickets are $1200 per guest.  https://www.701westnyc.com

For something more casual but still with views of the city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, check out the celebrations at these two Times Square restaurants and one within sight of the city’s fireworks.

Dos Caminos Times Square

Ring in 2020 in the heart of Times Square with a special fiesta at Dos Caminos Times Square with an open bar, live DJ, party favors and a Mexican dinner menu. The margarita-filled party goes from 7pm to 1am with delicious desserts to add a sweet touch before New Year’s including mini churro ice cream sandwiches, Mexican hot chocolate shooters, mini tres leches cake and mini coconut key lime pie. Yum! https://www.doscaminos.com/nye-timessquare/

Blue Fin

Seafood lovers should head to Blue Fin in Times Square where the restaurant’s New Year’s Eve bash includes an open bar, a menu of Blue Fin favorites, raw bar and sushi, live entertainment and party favors. Arrive starting at 7pm and stay until 2am. To celebrate 2020 in style, VIP tickets are also available which include bottle service, private servers and more.  Tickets:  https://www.bluefinnyc.com

Estuary

If you’d rather be in Brooklyn, Estuary in Brooklyn Bridge Park brings you a fireworks-filled celebration with live music. Michelin-starred chef Danny Brown will offer the likes of chestnut ravioli, foie gras terrine, duck breast à l’orange and tournedos Rossini as part of the dreamy New Year’s Eve menu. As midnight approaches, resident pastry chef Christophe Toury will serve his version of a ball drop, a chocolate dome accompanied by a Grand Finale surprise. From the waterfront eatery, you’ll have a view of the New York Harbor fireworks while you listen to live music.  https://www.estuarybrooklyn.com/

The 2020 Year Celebration Means a Look Back to the Parties of the Roaring 20s

Brooklyn Cider House - Taproom

Get your flapper dresses and newsboy hats ready for the last night of 2019 at Brooklyn Cider House where the Taproom transforms into a 1920s speakeasy. While it coincides with the 100th anniversary of Prohibition (which started in January of 1920), this Roaring 20s celebration will NOT be dry. From 10pm to 2am, guests will enjoy an open bar with the Cider House’s signature ciders, beers on tap, well drinks and specialty cocktails. There will also be open barrels for unlimited cider catching, three DJs, screening of the ball drop, and a Champagne tower toast. You can nibble your way through the evening with party bites or book a dinner-and-party combination. https://www.brooklynciderhouse.com

Valerie

Midtown West’s Gatsby-Golden Era restaurant Valerie will go all out with their Prohibition-themed Roaring Twenties Centennial party with dining, four hours of bottomless cocktails and a midnight Champagne toast. Entertainment by magician Devonte Rosero and a live six-piece jazz band will keep you in the mood from 9:30pm-1:30am and set the stage for posing  in front of a vintage car with a cocktail from the restaurant’s signature Gin & Tonic cart. All guests will leave the party with a bag of favors to ring in the 2020 new year!  https://www.valerienewyorkcity.com/

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