Category Archives: Further Afield

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

East of the City, West of the Hamptons

by Richard, CEO

So many people think that the world ends at the NYC border and doesn’t resume until you get to the ultra-famous ‘Hamptons’. Well, nothing could be further from the truth.
For visitors interested in seeing more of New York without the 3 hour Hamptons drive here are a few closer options:

Long Beach – a 30 minute car ride or a 45 minute ride on the LIRR from Manhattan brings you a block from the ocean, surrounded by miles of beaches and boardwalk. Less snobby and less costly than anything in the Hamptons, Long Beach is a good option – plenty of places to eat, a wide beach that runs for miles and no ‘beach fee’ like they charge in New Jersey.

Atlantic Beach – just to the west of Long Beach is a quieter option that is just as wide and pretty. A ½ block walk from the Long Beach LIRR station or a cab ride gets you there in 5 minutes.

Fire Island – fabulous barrier island – you can get there via the LIRR to Bayshore or a 90 minute car ride. Once there you hop on one of the ferries to one of the islands 6 destinations. Pleasant 10-15 minute ferry rides. There is plenty to do if you are a beach bum at heart. Many of the small towns have their own following and many offer great food options– all on an island less than a mile wide. Without too much difficulty you can walk from one little village to the next in 10-15 minutes. There are no cars allowed on Fire Island other than those belonging to the residents.

Jones Beach and Robert Moses Beach – located to the east of Long Beach And the west of Fire Island, these barrier islands offer miles and miles of wide open beaches. At Jones Beach, there are stops along the way to get ‘beach food’. At Robert Moses, you can walk to the Lighthouse and see living history.

Now, get out there and soak up the sun!

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A Grand Escape to Sands

by Karissa, Reservations Manager

I recently had the opportunity to go and visit the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Although I’ve visited casions in Atlantic City, I’ve never been able to spend the night at one  so it was a new and fun experience for me. We went on a Saturday and arrived right around check in time, we didn’t have to wait to check in and had great service and headed up to our room to freshen up before checking out the casino floor and getting dinner.

Upon entering the room I was in shock – since we work with so many hotels in New York City I am use to seeing such small rooms, the rooms at the Sands are very large and spacious. The décor was modern but had a very nice homey feel to it. The rooms are also energy efficient; when you enter the room there is a slot for your key on the wall, when you insert your key the lights turn on and the air conditioning will also turn on. The bathrooms were also very spacious with the sink outside of the bathroom so it’s accessible when someone is showering which I always prefer when traveling. After we got ready we headed down to the casino level.

We got down to the casino right around 5pm and it was already pretty busy – but not to the point where you had to squeeze through crowds of people. At this point we were very hungry so we headed right to eat at Emeril’s Burgers and More! There were several restaurants to choose from but we decided before hand that’s where we would go. Emeril himself has 3 restaurants there to suit everyones’ taste buds: the Chop House, Italian Table and then Burgers & More. We were seated right away and approached by our waiter Matt who was very accommodating and helpful in making suggestions off the menu. We decided to go all out on our experience there and had an appetizer, entrée, and dessert! All of the food was great we left so full and satisfied with the food and the wonderful service we had. We enjoyed it so much we later returned with a friend who wanted to grab something to eat.

The casino itself got quite busy as the night continued and there was a live band performing at one of the bars in the center of the casino and everyone was enjoying themselves singing along and dancing. There were plenty of games to choose from and it wasn’t so crowded that you needed to wait for a seat at one of the tables. There were plenty of slots to choose from which is what I personally always go for – I’m a little too scared to roll with the big guys at the poker tables! Some of our friends played Roulette and seemed to have a great time! On the outer banks of the casino there are the Shoppes at the Sands which is 2 floors of nice higher end stores like Nine West, Coach, DKNY, Guess, Lenox and an interesting store that I just HAD to go into ….Peeps & Company! I personally am not a fan of peeps but a lot of my officemates are so I had to go in and check it out – you can buy any kind of peep here year round!

After all the exploring and enjoying the night we decided to wind down and head to bed even at that point at almost 1am the casino floor was still bumping and people were out having a great time! We headed up to the room and quickly fell asleep, the room was very quiet – no outside noise snuck in and disturbed us. The next morning we headed back down to the casino floor for continental breakfast. I was a little concerned that we went down 30 minutes before the breakfast ended but there was still plenty of food to choose from including fresh fruit and pastries and assorted juices. We then went to check out and were greeted by one of the managers as we had a short wait for an agent to check us out.

The whole stay, although just for one night, was very delightful, we had a great time and are already planning when we can go back! And even though sometimes Pennsylvania seems light years away to New Yorkers it’s actually pretty close. We have a car and were able drive but there is also public transportation that can go there from the city or you could rent a car and drive there it’s a very easy drive. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to get away to somewhere new and enjoys casinos.

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Visiting Rhinebeck

by Richard, CEO

Every few months I make it my business to look for destinations that are near enough to New York City to be of interest to visitors. I usually focus on places that are from one to at most 3 hours away- and that can show off a part of the area that demonstrates the cultural diversity or history of the greater New York region.

This time I choose Rhinebeck, New York as the destination. It’s about 2 hours north of NYC by car and about the same – maybe 20 minutes more – via Amtrak. The Amtrak station is a short 6 mile cab ride away, so it’s perfect of a side trip.

What makes Rhinebeck worth it? Three things- its rich history, its wonderful quirky restaurants all within 100 yards of each other, and its nice people

History abounds in Rhinebeck – it’s on one the oldest roads in America (Route 9G) and the home to an Inn that claims it is the oldest and longest operating inn – the Beekman Arms.  The home of  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt  is wonderful to tour but the Vanderbilt Mansion is so much better – and shows that even among the old money (the Roosevelts) and the new money (the Vanderbilts) there were real class differences.

Just about 2 years ago Rhinebeck was the focal point for the wedding of the Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea.  As the locals tell it – a lot of crowds, a lot of gawking but not a lot of buyers of anything except for grab and go sandwiches and pizza. The wedding actually hurt many of the businesses – where the expectations were high and the results (for the most part) far, far less than expected.

Here are some of my top picks for area restaurants:

CALICO www.calicorhinebeck.com  Directly across from the Inn, it offers quaint ambiance, wonderful food and great owners (husband is the chef; wife is the pastry and candy chef and p/t hostess). On a chilly rainy night they made us feel very welcome and offered excellent food. I choose their stuffed with lump crab meat lemon sole – and it was among the best I ever had – the velvety sauce and perfect vegetables were excellent. A wine list that was so fair and interesting – great values. And the desserts were exceptional. Our young server was well-trained and polite to a fault.  There are only a half dozen tables so book early. This is the kind of place you don’t want to tell anyone else about.

TERRAPIN www.terrapinrestaurant.com  a short 50 yards from the Inn, it is an eclectic place –  10 times the size of Calico, but still offering impeccable service. Some of the best tapas I have had and very good entrees – with favorites going to salmon and tuna. .

ARIELLE  www.ariellerhinebeck.com/     A cute, French accented place also 50 yards away from the Inn. It’s a model of a French bistro. All of the feeling you could want – soft pillow laden banquets. Very nice menu – Pistou vegetable soup was excellent as was a smoked trout salad.  A little tight but that added to the ambiance.  Staff was pleasant, young and efficient. Absolutely perfect for lunch.

This is an interesting community where no one seems they are into image or an attitude. The people walk the streets and when they pass they mostly smile or nod hello. So nice to see.

With the exception of one red headed park ranger at the Vanderbilt home who could use some lessons in who she works for and how she is employed ( her male counterpart – who guided us – was among the better we have experiences-he knew his stuff and  told his story with warmth and enthusiasm. Can’t say the same for the Roosevelt guide – she was more perfunctory then interesting.

I wish both of these national sites offered one –on one tours of the homes and estates – like you can find at Gettysburg and elsewhere

Rhinebeck is well worth a visit.

Recommendations-

If you are heading there for a weekend night, make a restaurant reservation early as possible .

Guests eat about an hour to hour and half earlier then in Manhattan – so don’t look for most places to serve after 8:30/9:30 except for the pub types.

Spring and summer tend to be busy – as when the leaves turn or the Duchess County Fair is on

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Go East: The North Fork of Long Island

by Richard, CEO

The North Fork of Long Island is virtually unknown outside of locals and those who live and work in Manhattan. About 75 miles and 90 minutes from Midtown (when traffic is good) is the start of the Hamptons and the North Fork.
Starting at the Town of Riverhead on Route 58, you will travel through the towns of Mattituck, Southold and end at Greenport. Along the way, you will pass through villages and hamlets that are some of the oldest in America- some founded in the 1600’s.
My best advice is to start out early and wander among the farms and vineyards as you travel east. Stop for lunch and a snack – hit the little inlets and small villages. Walk around Greenport. Ferry over to Shelter Island and then head back west at the end of your day and eat dinner in Southold, Mattituck or Riverhead.
Here are the some key distinctions between The North Fork and its more famous South Fork neighbor, the Hamptons. The North Fork is:

  • More families; fewer celebrities
  • More farms; fewer mansions
  • More friendly; less attitude
  • More pumpkins; less perfume
  • More vineyards, less sand
  • More Wrangler jeans; less Gucci

There are two main routes from Riverhead to Greenport. Both have their charms:

  • Route 58 – sort of heads down the middle of the North Fork and skirts along Peconic Bay
  • Sound Ave runs along the North shore and skirts Long Island Sound.

Where there was once a real shortage of good restaurants, now they are abundant. To get a flavor for things here are a few recommendations (maybe even musts); but please don’t expect haute cuisine- think good, simple and local.

  • Briemeiers Pies – at the top of Rt. 105/Sound Ave in Riverhead
  • Duffy’s – just a simple but quaint deli in Mattituck
  • The Elbow Room – for marinated steaks – Mattituck- local flavor; not
  • Magic Fountain in Mattituck – for ice cream – lines all year long and worth it
  • Country Inn – on Rt 58 for breakfast
  • TR’s In Riverhead – a throwback kind of place
  • Farm Country Inn – Riverhead – for lunch and dinner – try their Montauk sandwich
  • The Barge in Southold – very good lobsters
  • Buoy 1 – Riverhead for simple seafood and great clam chowder

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Come Sail Away!

There is nothing better then a warm sunny mid afternoon on the Hudson River in New York City!

I had a great opportunity to join one of our close hotel partnerships on a cruise down the Hudson River, past the Statue of Liberty and back up to midtown. If you have never done this it’s a must do on your bucket list!

Living in New York City, sometimes we take the fun, touristy type stuff for granted. I am so glad  that I got to experience this! The boat started off at 41st Street and12th Avenue and cruised south. Along the route you see the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, many pier’s with beautiful yachts docked, the popular outdoor bar & grill “The Frying Pan”, The Standard Hotel, the promenade all along the southern part of Manhattan that goes all the way down to Battery Park and last but not least – the Statue of Liberty!

There are so many boating options in New York City. New York Guest offers them all!

Contact us if you are looking for:

Dinner Cruise around Manhattan

Private Yacht/Sailboat Charters for all occassions

Public Sightseeing Tours

Private Sightseeing Tours

Boats over to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Attached Boat trips with Bus trips

Call us at (212) 302-4019 or email us at info@newyorkguest.com for more information. Come sail away! – Karissa

Do you want to know a secret? Did you know New York City has FREE kayaking along the Hudson River? Check it out!

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Filed under Further Afield, Group Travel, Meetings and Events, New York InSight, New York Restaurants, New York Sightseeing, New York Stories, NYC News and Information, NYC with Kids, Out on the Town, Uncategorized