Category Archives: Brooklyn

Mangia! The Brooklyn pizza tour!

by Tara, New York Guest Concierge

pizza5When boarding the bus for the Brooklyn Pizza Tour, I was not sure what else to expect besides getting pizza from two of the best pizzerias in Brooklyn without having to wait in line (which by itself is worth taking the tour!) Our tour guide, Paula, was very entertaining and informative, telling a lot of great stories about the Brooklyn Bridge (and the woman who made it finally happen), the Grimaldi’s pizza feud, sites of attempted mob hits, and other little known facts about Brooklyn.

pizza4The views coming in were wonderful; within the first half hour or so, we passed over the Manhattan Bridge, (which included photo ops for the Brooklyn Bridge), saw work being done on Jim Carrey’s new NYC apartment, and made our first stop into DUMBO where we were able to walk around Brooklyn Bridge Park and take pictures of the beautiful skyline.

We boarded the bus again for Grimaldi’s and Paula showed us a few spots that were used to film major motion pictures. She used the television screens on the bus to show us the movie clips and paused the screen when we approached the exact site. We reached Grimaldi’s to see a long line of people wrapped around the corner and were advised to not make eye contact (a standard NYC rule of thumb). Whenpizzatour1 exiting the bus I could see why. We were able to walk right inside where our tables were waiting, and received their delicious thin crust Margherita pizza within minutes. All of the ingredients are fresh (with the cheese brought in every morning) and are cooked in one of the few coal brick ovens left in the city for about 3 minutes. The basil adds a touch of flavor and color (The colors of the Italian flag!)  They also have a nice selection of bottled sodas; the Black Cherry was popular choice at our table.

After our first pizza stop we learned more about Brooklyn’s pizza history from Paula as we headed toward Bay Ridge and other Brooklyn neighborhoods. She took us past beautiful mansions and brownstones and showed us a few more movie locations complete with scenes (Goodfellas and Annie Hall to name two). We then headed over to our second pizza stop L&B Spumoni Gardens but not without driving along 86th street, location of the opening of Saturday Night Fever, complete with the Bee Gee’s Staying Alive.

pizza2We arrived at our next pizza location, L&B Spumoni Gardens, where we were able to, once again, skip the line. This restaurant was voted to have the best Sicilian pizza in the city by an NYC magazine for so many years in a row that they eventually did away with the contest altogether. L&B were also featured on a Travel Channel favorite, Man vs. Food. Due to the special way they prepare their pizza (you’ll find out how when you take the tour!) it is light, fresh and simply heaven on a plate. I hope my favorite pizzeria in Jersey City, NJ never sees this write up, because I can say L&B has the best Sicilian slices I have ever had. Even as I write this I am contemplating the next time I can go back.

By this point, my friend and I were just about full, but we still had it in us to get a small cup of their spumoni. Spumoni, as I learned on the tour, is a type of Italian ice cream that is typically layered. The Spumoni Gardens’ spumoni consists of vanilla, chocolate and pistachio. I advise, even if you couldn’t eat another bite, to at least ask for a free sample of spumoni (after all L&B’s is famous for it!) It makes for a sweet, refreshing end to your meal.

pizza3Our group then boarded the bus to make one last stop at Coney Island to walk the boardwalk, (no stops at Nathan’s, but then we didn’t need it!) though our tour guide did offer to give subway directions back to the city for those who wished to stay at Coney Island, and walk more of the boardwalk or check out the rides at Luna Park. As we walked the boardwalk, our guide walked among the group to talk to us and answer any questions we had. Once we passed the Cyclone, it was time to board the bus one last time to come back to Manhattan.

During the ride back, Paula played one last video of all the famous actors, musicians and athletes to come from Brooklyn. Just before we entered the tunnel, she put on some Frank Sinatra which felt appropriate as we rode back to NYC relaxed, full, and happy. I highly recommend this tour for anyone who wants to try amazing pizza without waiting in long lines, and also those that may have done most of the Manhattan tours and is looking for something different. This tour definitely has something for everyone; a great neighborhood tour, some movie sites, and of course great pizza.

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Filed under Brooklyn, Further Afield, New York Restaurants, New York Sightseeing, NYC with Kids, Out on the Town

(B) Side – Williamsburg

by Vanessa, New York Guest Sales Associate

Fedora: Check

Skinny Jeans: Check

Handle Bar Mustache: Double Check!

The boon and bane of hipster-dom in Montauk reached such feverish heights this summer it warranted a feature in the New York Times. Locals ran anti-hipster campaigns, banning fedora and ironic mustaches alike as latter continued to arrive to Montauk’s modest shores in hoards. Once an honorable title of the 1940’s subculture, the term hipster in now at best a slur dropped at the slightest hint of apathy. While we could continue in that direction, I’m glass half full kind of girl, and after a recent weekend spent in Williamsburg-their capital- I have made a small space in my heart for all things hip-and -ster.

Wedged gently between Greene Point and Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg straddles the edge of history and modernism along the East River in Brooklyn. The remains of a once booming industrial center have been reapropriated into shops and warehouses for artisans, artists, and all things avant-garde.

Arrive in reverent form on single speed rented at the Brooklyn Bike Peddler, a modest though well stocked joint for all things bicycle. After a long grueling (wink) journey into the heart of Williamsburg, quench your thirst and settle you hunger at Radegast Hall and Biergarten. Cozy and comforting without the slightest sense of claustrophobia, this beer hall not only boasts a large selection of German and local beers, but a brunch menu so divine a “friend” felt compelled to order three dishes on her own.

While one could spend an entire day under a canopy of pretzels and mustard, I encourage you to wander north through many funky and locally made clothing shops.

Treasure hunters and vintage junkies might opt for a Sunday trip as Williamsburg plays host to a weekly flea market located between Kent St and the East River on 6th Ave. For the food obsessed, any day is a good day to be a in Williamsburg, Saturday however boasts a convergence of all varieties of gastronomic delights aptly titled, Smorgasburg (same location as Flea Market). Foodies need not worry about missing the flea market; a stone’s throw from the food market lays Artist and Fleas, a daily indoor flea market.

Exhausted from a day of treasure hunting and foraging, pause for a perfectly brewed “cup o’joe” from resident West Coast hipsters at Blue Bottle Café before ending your day along side the river to catch the golden hour as the great fedora in the sky (formerly the sun) retreats below Manhattan as you coast back home.

For more on the mention locations or for further information on all things Williamsburg contact us at info@NewYorkGuest.com

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Filed under Brooklyn, Further Afield, New York Stories

Shakespeare and Sandy on Red Hook

by Vanessa, New York Guest Sales Associate

Double double toil and trouble, Sandy’s surge, makes oceans double.

Flooding in Red Hook during Hurricane Sandy

In the day following the hurricane neighbors and residents alike made haste to soggy Red Hook, to “survey the damage” thus proving that curiosity is no longer a vice. While some of a certain variety ogled, many more set to work long before city officials could begin to assess the damage, to retrieve their surly section of Brooklyn. What sea water did not recede to where it once came, remained in the hallowed depths of basements, so that every house floated atop its own murky ocean.

Red Hook, without the storm, is a nook of salt and brine wedded precariously at the seam of the Hudson and the Atlantic along the southern tip of Brooklyn. As New York City officials assessed the incalculable damage of Sandy, old men of the neighborhood, besieged by tattoos, weathered skin, and oxen strength began the task of cutting back tangled trees, pumping basements, and ultimately rebuilding Red Hook with the same affection a captain feels for his ship. Red Hook with its myths and misdemeanors is the perfect demonstration of neighborhood pride where residents feel as much of an obligation to care for its streets as officials should. For them, there is no I in storm.

Crack of glass, rot of leaf, flood of basement, no relief!

Cacao Prieto’s former and future glory

Red Hook, as it always does, will return to its quiet glory of gnarled iron, biker bars, oysters, and moonshine. With it too, a renaissance of Cacao Prieto, Widow Jane, Key Lime Pies, and Red Hook Winery, mermaids of sorts who swim between the raindrops. These daring few have helped reestablished Red Hook as a mecca for “locavores”, “small-batch-avores”, and the artisanally crazed, redrafting the once entirely unsavory narrative of Red Hook into the perfect semblance of bitter and sweet. Widow Jane with Cacao Prieto are perfect examples of this marriage, recently hosting a fete for the launch of the former’s 7 year whiskey reserve. Between tastings of their various brews, party goers (myself included) feasted on heavenly roasts, thick cuts of chocolate, and pickled everything. When the band strummed its last tune, friends and I ventured nearby to Sunny’s for local beers and blue grass. The next day, we returned to Red Hook Winery where good friends ponder the outcome of this year’s harvest over bubbling cauldrons of fermenting Long Island grapes.

Ferment the flora, roast the pig, Long Island, wrong island to pick a fight with.

When tides recede, and doors reopen, I encourage you to make haste and taste for Red Hook. For more information on Red Hook or any of the locations mentioned this article don’t hesitate to contact us at info@newyorkguest.com

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Filed under Brooklyn, NYC News and Information

Brooklyn’s New Way to go to the Movies

by Louise, Community Manager

It happens to all of us:  we plan an awesome vacation and then a movie that we really want to see is scheduled to come out smack dab in the middle of it. Not wanting to spend a moment of our precious vacation in a multiplex that could be anywhere in the world, we sigh and wait until we get home to see the movie.

Leave it to NYC to come up with the perfect solution to this problem. Now you can see a movie while simultaneously having a unique New York City experience. Of course, NYC has many famous theaters – the Paris Theater, the Angelika and Film Forum come to mind, but I’m referring to a relatively new spot in Brooklyn called Nitehawk Cinema. The brain child of Saul Bolton, owner of the awesome restaurant Saul, also in Brooklyn, Nitehawk brings snacking at the movies to a whole new level. They offer a full menu of elevated “concessions” – including popcorn with real butter and seasoned salt, homemade candy bars, and a queso dip with scallions and cilantro that is about a trillion times better than that neon orange stuff they pump into a plastic cup for you at a regular theater. But that’s only the beginning. Nitehawk also has a menu of small plates including homemade pickles, tater tots, and vegetable tempura or several entrees, featuring an awesome burger, and an amazing dessert menu that includes soft serve ice cream (NOT Carvel) and a root beer float. Not only that, Nitehawk has a full bar, and comes up with specialty cocktails and dishes for every movie they play. When I was there on Friday, The Hunger Games  had just opened and the featured cocktail was called “Girl on Fire” – a spicy tequila concoction.

At Nitehawk, the theater opens about 30 minutes before showtime and you are free to arrive at any time to place orders and have food and a drink in front of you before the movie starts.  There is also a bar in the lobby where you can have a few cocktails before the theater opens. In the theater, seats are set up with a table between every pair, not in your way but perfectly placed with a cup holder and space for your food. When I first heard about Nitehawk, I worried that the ambience of the movie would be ruined by people reordering while the movie was on, but the folks at Nitehawk have the perfect solution for this: every table is equipped with small pieces of paper and little pencils, and if you want to order during the movie you write down your order and post it in front of you. The waiters make several sweeps to collect orders and serve. The waiters are incredibly impressive as well – the sweeps are neat and efficient and they duck whenever they walk in front of the screen. It’s about as unobtrusive as it can get.

With only three theaters and a propensity towards indie films, Nitehawk definitely doesn’t show every blockbuster, but it is well worth checking out their schedule while you are here!  It’s a dinner and a movie experience like no other and I highly recommend it. Nitehawk is located in the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, just one stop into Brooklyn on the L train. I highly encourage exploring the outer boroughs on your visit and this is a great excuse to do that!

Want more restaurant recommendations for your trip, or need help creating a unique NYC vacation? Feel free to e-mail me at lgeller@newyorkguest.com and we’ll get planning!

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Filed under Brooklyn, New York Restaurants, Out on the Town