Stuff to Do

AllNY.com's look at things to do in NYC written by New Yorkers for New Yorkers and serious New York tourists.


Off-Broadway Week: 2-for-1 Tickets Starting September 24 on Sale Now

Off-Broadway fans will love NYC & Company’s 10th Off-Broadway Week, from September 24 through October 7.  Tickets are now on sale at 2-for -1 pricing for 38 productions. If you’ve never seen an Off-Broadway show, this is the time to try out something new. Theater in NYC is much more than blockbuster musicals and long-running plays on Broadway – there’s much to love about the creative productions often set in much smaller, more intimate theaters. And the values are terrific.

Some of the shows offered include critically acclaimed musical Avenue Q, formerly on Broadway, Drunk Shakespeare, revivals of Jersey Boys and Smokey Joe’s Café, and fan favorites Gazillion Bubble Show, Puffs and STOMP.

All tickets are subject to availability, so hurry to purchase yours now. Tickets for the 10th NYC Off-Broadway Week can be purchased now at nycgo.com/off-broadway-week.

The 38 shows participating in NYC Off-Broadway Week Fall 2018 are:

  • Apologia
  • Avenue Q
  • Because I Could Not Stop: An Encounter with Emily Dickinson
  • Blue Man Group
  • The Book of Merman
  • Desperate Measures
  • Drunk Shakespeare
  • El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba
  • Final Follies
  • Gazillion Bubble Show
  • Gloria: A Life
  • I Was Most Alive with You
  • The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking
  • India Pale Ale
  • Jersey Boys
  • The Marvelous Wonderettes
  • Midnight at The Never Get
  • Monday Night Magic
  • Naked Boys Singing
  • NEWSical The Musical
  • Neurosis: A Musical That Gets in Your Head
  • On Beckett
  • Perfect Crime
  • Popcorn Falls
  • Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic
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The Weather Is Great: Let’s Dine Outdoors in NYC

They’re promising that the temperature will drop in the next day or two. So? It’s time to score a seat at some of the best outdoor dining options in New York City. These seats are notoriously the hardest to book, so don’t delay. We can still enjoy dining al fresco at least until early November.

Akrotiri (29-20 30th Avenue, Astoria, NY, (718) 726-2447, www.akrotiritaverna.com)

Escape the chaos of Manhattan and take the N or W train to Astoria’s hottest Greek restaurant, Akrotiri. The 45-seat outdoor area in front of the Queens restaurant is the perfect place for serious people-watching while enjoying dishes by Chef Nicholas Poulmentis, a Greek native who studied at Le Cordon Bleu. I suggest his modern take on traditional Greek taramosalata, which he infuses here with herring roe, truffles and squid ink; or the popular goggizes, goat cheese pasta in aji amarillo beurre blanc topped with Brazilian lobster and Mangalitsa bacon. Take in the warm temperatures while sipping on a glass of Greek wine from their extensive list of organic and natural wines.

The Cannibal (113 East 29th Street, NYC, (212) 685-5585, cannibalnyc.com)

For those scorching “Indian summer” days when it’s just too hot to sit outside, spend your time in The Cannibal’s enclosed beer garden instead. The space is decorated with communal-style tables and backyard greenery so you’ll feel like you’re sitting outdoors even though you’re staying cool inside. Dine in the hidden backyard and indulge in meat-centric dishes like The Royalton Burger with dry-aged Wagyu beef, beef heart, malted bacon jam, smoked tomato, Vermont cheddar and frisee. Don’t worry, though, the name belies the restaurant’s farm and veggie orientation as well.

DaDong (3 Bryant Park, NYC, (212) 355-9600, dadongny.com)

Relax under DaDong’s second-floor wooden pergolas and take in the views of the Bryant Park and Theater District while drinking and dining on the Garden Terrace. The expansive 150-seat terrace features an outdoor bar, dining and lounge space, serving as a veritable oasis in midtown Manhattan. You can cool down with a frosé cocktail and chilled oysters on the half shell from the Raw Bar. A tranquil reflecting pool is at the center of the terrace, surrounded by potted plants and water sculptures by Chinese artist Zheng Lu. If you’re looking for a quieter evening, head to the Chef’s Tasting Floor on the third level, where you can dine al fresco in DaDong’s intimate balcony while enjoying a special multi-course Chinese feast with distinctive wine and tea pairings.

Merakia (5 West 21st Street, NYC, 212 380-1950, merakia.com)

Newly re-opened, Flatiron’s Greek Steakhouse, Merakia is a destination for superb wining, dining and people watching. The doors that line the front of the restaurant open out into the street so you can enjoy an indoor-outdoor dining experience. Be sure to try Merakia’s signature keftedes and spit-roasted lamb. If you’re not familiar with Greek wines, this is the place to experiment – the wine list is expansive.

Zen Taco (522 Columbus Avenue, NYC, (212) 787-3473, zentacousa.com)

It’s always summer where Latin meets Asian fare at Zen Taco. Sit outdoors and pretend you’re on the Riviera Maya while you sample fusion dishes including signature tacos, noodles and bowls. Popsicle-inspired Poptail cocktails keep the summer momentum going like the Strawberry Fressada, a strawberry lemonade Popsicle in a glass of tequila and strawberry liqueur. Or have a Peach Sangria, a sangria popsicle in a glass of peach liqueur.

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It’s Broadway Week! Time for Two-for-one Broadway Tickets and Great Eats

Broadway Week, from September 3-16, lets you buy two-for-one tickets to 24 of Broadway’s hottest shows. Several of the shows are already sold out, but some of the hottest ones available include SpongeBob SquarePants (catch it before it closes this month), My Fair Lady (at Lincoln Center), The Play That Goes Wrong (hilarious British farce), Tony-award winner Once on This Island, Waitress and family-fave Wicked. https://www.nycgo.com/broadway-week

There are many places where you can dine near the theaters, but here are some of my favorites for both family and date-night dining.

Sen Sakana (28 West 44th Street, 212-221-9560)

New York City’s first modern Nikkei restaurant is set in an expansive two-level restaurant closer to the Sixth Avenue theaters. Offering a four-course prix-fixe menu from 5pm-6:30pm Monday through Saturday and all day Sunday, Sen Sakana invites you to start with either chicken or miso soup; select an appetizer from a list including house-crafted tofu, Japanese chicken curry empanadas, spicy tuna maki and Black Feather chicken wings (my personal favorite). For the main course, Chicken Nanban is a must-order as well as the sushi combination plate or ton katsu. The restaurant has an extensive craft cocktail menu including a variety of sakes and piscos, complementing the mix of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine served, along with a global list of wines. The perfect ending? Sen Sakana’s unusual ice creams.

Green Fig (570 Tenth Avenue, 646-449-7790)

A short walk from the Broadway theaters, Green Fig in the Yotel has a beautiful outdoor rooftop and indoor space for dining on Mediterranean fare. The menu features dishes such as fried cauliflower, flatbreads, kebabs and salads. The terrace also has a new grill where you can order grilled watermelon steak (it’s amazing), burgers, hot dogs and more. Refreshing cocktails like The Purple Bee, a gin, lemon juice and honey-lavender syrup potion; and the Watermelon Moonlight made with watermelon, ruby red moonshine and lemon juice are popular choices. Take a few minutes to check out the cabaret entertainment line-up at Green Room 42 on the same floor as the main dining room.

Carmine’s (200 West 44th Street, 212-221-3800)

Legendary Carmine’s Italian Restaurant is the go-to for family dining. Known for their large portions, Carmine’s serves all dishes family-style including meatballs, chicken parmigiana, and gluten-free and regular pastas, and veal dishes. Just as huge and every bit as popular is their enormous Titanic ice cream sundae for dessert. Plan to bring your appetites and enjoy! Carmine’s is close to most of the Broadway theaters as well – perfect for kids!

Virgil’s (152 West 44th Street, 212-921-9494)

Sister restaurant to Carmine’s and also set in the center of Times Square, Virgil’s specializes in real BBQ with Southern (and Midwest) flavors. All Virgil’s meats are slow cooked over indirect heat for maximum tenderness and flavor. Around-the-country favorites include Memphis-style pork spare ribs, Texas beef brisket, Carolina pulled pork and Kansas City fried chicken. For the kids, place mats for coloring and a special menu will keep them satisfied before their Broadway experience.

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SummerStage Brings Free Concerts to New York City

SummerStage is a largely free outdoor concert and performing arts series scheduled in 18 parks throughout New York City during the five summer months (through September).

The end of August shows are particularly exciting and will have you on your feet with rhythms, dance, and music befitting the hot “dog days” of summer.

The week of August 21 scheduling includes a screening of “Mr. Gaga,” the story of choreographer Ohad Naharin and his signature movement language developed during his tenure as artistic director of contemporary dance powerhouse Batsheva Dance Company. Starting this film-oriented evening on August 22 will be a performance by GALLIM, whose artistic director, Andrea Miller, was a Batsheva company member and is now forging her own path with her Brooklyn-based company. The program begins at 6pm and is free. Central Park, Rumsey Playfield, enter at 72nd Street.  For more information, visit https://cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage/.

Eddie Palmieri

On Sunday night, August 26, the tempo kicks up salsa-style with a free concert from salsero Tony Vega and Grammy Award-winning Latin jazz band leader Eddie Palmieri, who will be performing with his band La Perfecta. While bleacher seating is available at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park (enter on 72nd Street, off Fifth Avenue), you’ll want to be on your feet closer to the stage to dance to the rhythms of this amazing musical group. The show starts at 6pm. Refreshments are available.

One of the most anticipated events in New York City also happens this week, the 26th edition of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, which runs from August 24 through August 26, with free concerts, panel discussions and workshops. There will be live performances in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, near where Parker worked, and in Tompkins Square Park, near where Parker lived. (Note the house near East 10th Street with the Charlie Parker plaque on it). This year’s highlights include a celebration of Charles Tolliver’s Paper Man with Jack DeJohnetteGary BartzBuster WilliamsMonty Alexander and the Harlem Kingston Express; and a special commission with trumpeter Adam O’FarrillImmanuel Wilkins, and Joel Ross.  Shows in Marcus Garvey Park are scheduled for Friday August 24 at 7pm, Saturday August 25 at 3pm, and Sunday August 26 at 3pm.  All concerts are free.

Many of the shows are benefits and the City Parks Foundation depends on contributions to keep this wonderful free series alive for all to enjoy.

https://cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage/

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An Insider’s Guide to Broadway and Off-Broadway: What to See, What to Do, Where to Eat

No visit to New York City is complete without sampling two things: theater and restaurants. You may consider yourself a world traveler, and you may have dabbled in international cuisine and some touring shows, but nothing compares to the bright lights and shiny plates of the Big Apple.

A trip down Manhattan’s Great White Way offers up a confusing and varied selection of musicals and plays, some veteran productions that are now crisscrossing the US and others seen only in Manhattan.  My advice is to skip “Kinky Boots” and “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” (you’ve probably already seen them this year), or “Phantom of the Opera” (it’s now in its 31st  year on Broadway) and go for the newer shows that theater divas rave about.

I Want to Hear Some Singing

Come from Away

Among musicals, two should be on your “don’t miss” list. “Come from Away,” a 100-minute jewel box of a show, wins the hearts of theatergoers every performance with its touchingly humanitarian story of travelers stranded outside of the US in the days following 9/11. Cast members play multiple roles, the songs are memorable, and the story strikes a chord. The equally captivating “Dear Evan Hansen” is a narrative about a topic that resonates with many families. Written by director Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen will have you remembering just how important musicals can be in building awareness of difficult topics. TONY winners “Once on This Island” (best musical revival, 2018) and “The Band’s Visit” (best new musical, 2018) should also be on your go-to list. For a night of pure fun, “Mean Girls” does the trick.

But Drama is What I Prefer

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

It’s filled with magic and the characters that you love, so don’t delay in sourcing a ticket to “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the two-part spectacular that was an enormous hit in the West End and is currently wowing audiences on Broadway. It’s a drama that the entire family will appreciate, especially if they’ve read all the books.  Do you love farce?  Then you absolutely have to see “The Play That Goes Wrong,” another British import that will have you laughing until your sides hurt.  Seriously.  You may want to see it twice, just to catch all the lines that you miss in this rapid-fire silly show.

There’s More to Broadway than Broadway

Jersey Boys

Off-Broadway refers to a number of smaller theaters located minutes away from traditional Broadway houses or in other parts of the city. The shows in these alternative venues may have stripped-down sets or may function as tryout spaces for future Broadway runs. This is where current Broadway mega-hits like “Hamilton” and “The Band’s Visit” started, and, if you see a director, story or cast member that appeals, it’s a great chance to explore. It’s also the place where larger-scale, popular Broadway shows sometimes return for a second incarnation. If you loved “Avenue Q,” “Jersey Boys,” or “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,”  here’s a chance to see them again, refreshed.

Off-Broadway shows usually have limited runs and are announced periodically. Check online for performances at the Public Theater, Signature Theatre, Atlantic Theater Company and Vineyard Theatre among others to see what’s playing when you plan to visit. Then check the reviews – it’s good to experiment!

So, Where Should We Eat?

If the show has an early curtain (7pm instead of 8pm), or a runtime of 90 minutes (instead of 2 ½ hours), you’re probably safe dining after the show. If the thought of eating at 10pm after a longish play makes you queasy, then consider one of the quicker pre-theater options that locals enjoy instead of the overcrowded (and bland) choices that fill Times Square.

Obao

My recommendation is to head to the small, ethnic restaurants on Ninth Avenue.  Give yourself an extra 10 minutes to walk from the theater to these, and you won’t be disappointed.  From 42nd Street to the low 50s, an array of ethnic options offers authentic international dining, the antithesis to Epcot Center. Among the many Thai restaurants, two-story Obao is a standout, offering reasonably priced pan-Asian choices in a casual setting with quick, attentive service. Nearby upscale Marseilles satisfies with lovely French cuisine in a pretty room – the bouillabaisse is an instant ticket to the South of France. Italian Bocca di Bacco will please any oenophile. Other choices are the aptly named Turkish Cuisine and Five Napkin Burger for terrific Istanbul and American dining.

Food halls are the rage in Manhattan, with one of the newest located in the Theater District. Atop the Row NYC hotel, City Kitchen is an upscale version with a carefully curated variety of stalls. Here, local favorites like Luke’s Lobster (lobster rolls), Whitmans New York (cheesesteaks), and Gabriela’s Taqueria (tacos) let you create a smorgasbord of quick-food choices. Grab a seat in the picnic-like area, eat as quickly or as slowly as you’d like, and then mosey off to your show.

The Marshall

After the curtain falls and you’ve gotten an autograph by the stage door, you can continue stargazing by heading to after-show cast favorites like Joe Allen’s, Orso and The Marshall. Or descend the staircase to subterranean Sake Bar Hagi, an izakaya hideout of the photographer set.

Three Ways to Score the Least Expensive Seats

The TKTS booth at 47th Street in Times Square offers deeply discounted tickets for same-day shows, starting at 10am (matinee days), or 2pm (Tuesday) or 3pm (rest of the week).  Other TKTS locations in Brooklyn, at the South Street Seaport and at Lincoln Center have shorter lines. Check the hours of operation online. https://tdf.org/nyc/7/TKTS-Overview

Take your chances on where you’ll go with Broadway Roulette. You indicate whether you want a musical or a play, exclude up to six shows that you don’t want to see, and provide your dates. Broadway Roulette selects the show with the best seats.  https://www.broadwayroulette.com/

Book ahead with Today’s Tix, a theater concierge service that has discounted tickets to many shows and delivers them to you outside the theater.  https://www.todaytix.com

The hitch? With these options, you can’t pick your seats.

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Eataly Flatiron’s Manzo and Chef Adam Hill Offer Special Chef Collaborations All Summer

Diners are invited to enjoy a program featuring the best of New York, with local chefs and local producers coming together in a delicious way, courtesy of Manzo located in the everything-Italian-emporium Eataly in Flatiron.  The collaborations also benefit Grow To Learn by GrowNYC, a local charity.  Started in 2017, the highly successful multi-chef dinners, “From New York to New York – Manzo,” will continue through September.

Manzo

Earlier this summer, Chef Fortunato Nicotra from the acclaimed restaurant Felidia treated diners to his exceptional tutto tonno, with tuna prepared three ways: a semicarpaccio tartare, preserved, and tonnato sauce. He also created an exceptional prime beef striploin battutina pounded thin, and served with housemade burrata and heirloom tomatoes. The tutto tonno special was added to Manzo’s menu for the month of July.

In August, Manzo will show off the special menu creation of Chef Ali Larais of The Sosta with her corn agnolotti with an Invincible Summer Farms heirloom tomato pomodoro sauce added to the menu at Manzo. Sosta is an authentic Italian restaurant located between New York City’s Little Italy and NoLiTa neighborhoods.

Chef Ali Laraia

September ‘s guest chef and menu will be announced soon.

The special menus are featured throughout the month with a special cocktail and wine pairing.  A percentage of the proceeds from the dish are donated to the Grow To Learn by GrowNYC, an environmental non-profit that runs a New York City farmers’ market program, builds urban farms and community gardens, and teaches the city about recycling. GrowNYC is active in creating school gardens in each and every public school in New York City that wants one and is currently working with more than 750 schools in all five boroughs.

For information and reservations, contact Manzo, https://www.eataly.com/us_en/stores/nyc-flatiron/nyc-manzo, Eataly, 200 Fifth Avenue, Flatiron District.

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