It’s no real secret, I like to cook and more and more I like to make things from scratch and use the freshest ingredients possible. To get many things I will need for a particular recipe, invariably I need to get some things from the grocery store, but I enjoy going to the Farmer’s Market and get what is in season, in addition to produce that is appealing and that will a fantastic counterpart to what I might be making.
My repitore in what I like to make runs from soup and stews to applesauce, truffles, pasta, salads, fish, plus more (including pies, crumb cake and other goodies). I’m not opposed to reading a recipe to make something new or a dish that I may not prepared in quite a while, preparing something new can prove to be challenge at times, especially if the recipe calls for ingredients that have not been previously used or tried. When entertaining I often take any dietary concerns of the guest into consideration in what I might make or serve, this might include making substitutions in items, even leaving something out (and hoping it would not be missed). The display and presentation is just as important as is the ambience, congeniality and atmosphere, be it just one guest or many more people. It’s a great deal of work, but is always worth it. One doesn’t need to use the most fanciest of place settings, as long as everyone has a good time.
Something else I’ve enjoyed over the years is growing herbs, tomatoes and other vegetables; you get a fresher taste and flavor. Even growing cucumbers that can be eaten on their own, put into salads or used to make pickles is an interesting challenge, also making homemade jams and jellies is a fun past-time and is always a nice gift to give someone or send home with your guests as a small token of appreciation.
In New York, as well as in Washington, DC/Northern Virginia/Alexandria, there are many restaurants, a person would never go hungry, and they would be able to find something to satisfy their craving for an excellent meal, even if the restaurant is off the beaten path. Sometimes a restaurant may not look like much from the outside, but may have the most outstanding food and service that you can find anywhere else. All it takes is a little searching.
The New York Places
Just as there are many people in New York, there are just as numerous places to go to eat and relax not to mention locations and/or communities such as Little Italy or Chinatown.
P. J. Clarke’s
One of the most famous establishments that is still in operation today is P.J. Clarke’s. While much of P.J. Clarke’s history has been extraordinarily preserved, the earliest days of the legendary bar are somewhat murky. What is known is that the little red brick building was constructed in 1868 for unstated purposes on a squalid patch of land labeled in city records simply as “squatters’ shacks.” Sometime in 1884, the building was converted to a watering hole by one “Mr. Jennings,” who saw an opportunity to serve the many Irish laborers travelling to and from their jobs at the neighborhood’s slaughterhouses, breweries, manufactories, tanneries, and construction sites. P.J. Clarke’s didn’t gain its current name until another Irish immigrant, Mr. Patrick Joseph “Paddy” Clarke, arrived in the neighborhood around 1902 as the newly hired bartender under the saloon’s second owner, the Englishman “Mr. Duneen.” (What became of the first owner, Mr. Jennings, or when exactly the bar transferred ownership to Mr. Duneen is unknown. An industrious and apparently thrifty lad, Paddy tended bar and more or less ran the saloon for ten years before saving enough to purchase it outright from Mr. Duneen in 1912. In the face of this cultural and economic upheaval, P.J.’s remained stubbornly, defiantly, and proudly the same. Despite this – or more likely because of it – the bar thrived. Even Prohibition produced barely a hiccup, as P.J.’s used its discreet “wives’ window” (where women and children would come to fill pails of beer, women being prohibited from entering the bar until the ’60s) to screen customers and give neighborly handouts to cops on the local beat.
Sometime in the 1940s, P.J.’s – already a local institution – was discovered by the celebrity set. A fresh-faced Frank Sinatra ended many of his nights at table #20. Singer Johnny Mercer penned “One for My Baby” on a napkin while sitting at the antique mahogany bar. Charles Jackson, writer of the classic book The Lost Weekend, was a regular, and the bar scenes from Academy Award-winning movie adaptation were shot there. And so the legend grew.
PJ Clarke’s serves American fare.
The Rainbow Room
Another well-known restaurant “The Rainbow Room” was an upscale Northern Italian restaurant and nightclub on the 65th floor of the GE Building in Rockefeller Center, New York, NY. Opened in 1934, it was the first restaurant to be located in a high-rise setting. Suffering from a decline in business following the 2008 economic reversal, the restaurant closed in 2009. In 2012, it was declared a New York City landmark by the New York Landmarks Commission and new investors are currently being sought.
Tavern on the Green
The historic Tavern on the Green building has been through many transformations through the years. It was home to Central Park’s flock of sheep and their shepherd until the 1930s, when it was converted into a restaurant. Until recently, it was one of New York’s most famous dining spots.
Tavern on the Green Visitor Center & Gift Shop is currently closed for a complete building renovation. The Tavern on the Green building will reopen to the public in summer 2013.
Windows on the World
Unfortunately no longer in business. It was lost to us when the World Trade Towers were destroyed in the attacks of September 11, 2001. The main dining room faced north and east, allowing guests to look out onto the skyline of Manhattan. The restaurant was not only one of the most respected in New York, but due to the premium location also had high prices. The dress code required jackets for men and was strictly enforced; a man who arrived with a reservation but without a jacket was seated at the bar. A more intimate dining room, Wild Blue, was located on the south side of the restaurant. The bar extended along the south side of 1 World Trade Center as well as the corner over part of the east side. The bar’s dress code was more relaxed and it had average prices. Looking out from the bar through the full length windows, one could see views of the southern tip of Manhattan, where the Hudson and East Rivers meet. In addition, one could see Liberty State Park and Ellis Island as well as Staten Island with the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
In 2000, its final full year of operation, it reported revenues of US$37 million, making it the highest-grossing restaurant in the United States.
Little Italy was once the sprawling home of much of New York City’s Italian population, Little Italy and now has become more of a tourist destination than a residential neighborhood. Little Italy previously spread from Canal Street north to Houston, but now its borders are limited to about four city blocks. Still, Little Italy is worth visiting for delicious imported Italian groceries and to see the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as well as a chance to glimpse some of the restaurants and bars made famous by gangsters and members of the Rat Pack. It’s also great to experience the San Gennaro Festival that takes place in Little
Italy every September.
The History of the Feast of San Gennaro
The Annual Feast of San Gennaro is a celebration of the Patron Saint of Naples. First celebrated in New York City on September 19, 1926 by newly arrived immigrants from Naples, the Feast of San Gennaro was a traditional celebration in Naples for Saint Gennaro who was martyred for the faith in 305 A.D.
Immigrants who had settled along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy section of New York City continued their traditional celebration with a one day Feast. September 19th is the most religious day of the Festival of San Gennaro, and features a Religious Procession followed by Celebratory Mass at the Most Precious Blood Church on Mulberry Street, the National Shrine of San Gennaro.
Little Italy has many wonderful restaurants each one serving up unique and wonderful traditional Italian fare.
New York’s Chinatown is a cultural haven full of ancient and exotic traditions, and a huge amount of restaurants. This bustling and crowded neighborhood is home to over half of the city’s Chinese population. In the grocery stores and fruit stands, you will find many food items available nowhere else in the city, from exotic fruit and vegetables to live snails and dried shrimp. Excellent Thai, Vietnamese, and Korean restaurants have joined the mix. Every lunar new year, the streets are filled with the hubbub of the Chinatown Chinese New Year Parade.
Greenwich Village – “The Village”
Greenwich Village extends from Broadway to the Hudson and from 14th Street down to Houston Street. The Village is primarily a residential neighborhood that gave birth to the Beat Generation. Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac and Dylan Thomas all roamed the tree-lined streets. Even though rent hikes have sent such starving artists searching for new digs, the bohemian impact is still felt within the walls of the fabled coffeehouses and bars that border historic Washington Square Park. Past literary residents include Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman and Mark Twain, and today the area is overrun with the NYU students who study them. Downtown charm is personified in lots of low-rise townhouses, thumbnail-size gardens, secret courtyards and a serpentine layout of streets.
At night, Greenwich Village comes alive with sounds from late-night coffeehouses, cafés, experimental theaters and music clubs. At fabled coffeehouses like Caffe Reggio and Café Figaro, you can order a double espresso or cappuccino and pretend for a few minutes that you’re Allen Ginsberg or William Burroughs. Washington Mews and MacDougal Alley are quiet cobblestone lanes right off the square. Legendary streets such as Astor Place and Bleeker Street (famous Beat and hippie hangouts) are lined with super-hip boutiques, delis displaying esoteric beers from around the globe and cafes and restaurants of all stripes.
SOHO (South of Houston)
SoHo is a most unique shopping area, with everything from art stands on the street to high-end boutiques. It is area that is certain to exceed one’s expectations. There are many unique restaurants located in SoHo as well, they include just about every form of food that fits everyone’s palette, from American, to French, to Asian, Italian, vegan, vegetarian and so much more. I have listed a few:
I TRE MERLI RESTAURANT
Offers a tasting of their brick-oven pizzas, focaccias, bruschetta’s, and other delicious snacks from their kitchen with every drink you buy. Come enjoy this Italian “Happy Hour” tradition, eat, drink and have fun, in the heart of Soho.
has a great weekly lounge vibe. POPULAR for a long running HAPPY HOUR and weekend party scene for Soho hipsters and all of NYC.
Be seen at Pera Soho’s beautiful garden for lunch, brunch or dinner and enjoy the best season of the city in true NYC fashion. Pera Soho offers some of the signature meze and entrée dishes that made the first Pera (Midtown) so popular, while taking diners’ palates on an adventurous journey through the eastern Mediterranean food ways. The overall aesthetic is relaxed refinement that nonetheless evokes a sense of occasion. An ingenious configuration defines three spaces that are as suitable for a la carte dining as they are for private events. A large private garden and a stunning roof deck present intriguing al fresco possibilities.
BISTRO LES AMIS
Cozy French Bistro with excellent food at affordable
prices with a smile
Café Café is a coffee and healthy food destination for a friendly, relaxing, and reliable experience. We serves a diverse menu of freshly baked pastries, sandwiched, salads, smoothies, organic breakfast, hot teas, real hot chocolate, iced drinks and quality coffee not commonly available. The Café Café experience is a comforting refuge that provided a sense of community, a third place for people to congregate beyond work or the home, a place that welcomed people and rewarded them for coming, and a layout that could accommodate both fast service
and quiet moments. This collective ‘downtown’ ambience sets Café Café apart since 1997.
Delicatessen brings international comfort food to the cross roads of SoHo and Nolita, serving familiar favorites with a twist for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night, creating a friendly neighborhood vibe. Executive chef Michael Ferraro, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America has worked in the kitchens of Beacon Restaurant, Mercer Kitchen, and the Biltmore Room. At Delicatessen he presents International Comfort Classics that incorporate elements from his Italian roots and classical French training.
SOUTH STREET SEAPORT
Situated on Lower Manhattan’s waterfront with a breathtaking view, South Street Seaport is a must-see for anyone visiting New York City. It’s a combination maritime museum and mall, offering insight into New York’s rich maritime history and providing a great place for shopping and dining
South Street Seaport is located on the site of what was once the busiest port in America. Fulton Street, at the neighborhood’s center, was one of the most crowded streets in the city, Fulton Street especially after a fish market opened here in 1821. A popular ferry service to Brooklyn also departed here.
After the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge nearby trade activity quickly declined and the neighborhood was soon abandoned and left to decay. In the 1960s Peter Stanford and a group of sympathizers formed the ‘Friends of South Street Seaport’, a collective striving to preserve the historic area by turning it into an open air museum. It would take until the 1980s before this idea became a reality. In 1983 South Street Seaport officially opened and two years later a new shopping mall opened here as well.
Today the area is again attracting crowds, be it mostly tourists instead of sailors and merchants. Many come here to see one of the frequently changing expositions, to dine and have a drink or to take a trip on a historic vessel. The dining choices are varied on Pier 17 include, crepes (French) German (beer garden), Italian, Latino, Irish, tex-mex, fast food such as Johnny Rockets, and many more. Plus restaurants specializing in sea food.
The Theatre District
The theatre district is an area of Midtown Manhattan where most Broadway theatres are located as well as other theatres movie theaters, restaurants, hotels, and other places of entertainment. It extends from West 40th Street to West 54th Street, from west of Sixth Avenue to east of Eighth Avenue, and includes Times Square. Radio City Music Hall is also a part of this grouping.
There are many restaurants specializing in American, French, Italian, and many others, plus bars and pubs that specialize in pre-theatre fare as well as after theatre specials.
This listing (and albert brief history) of restaurants in New York City is by no means complete, it is only a brief view of some of the places that the city has to offer. It is so wide and varied, that I would have a small book, but the food offerings are so numerous and covers so many ethnic varieties, that you can find something that would appeal to you and satisfy. There reason being for the most part with people from all parts of the globe settling in New York City and its environs, places serving and selling food and produce from their native country gives them not only a taste of home, but also gives others the opportunity as well to be transported to an area they might not otherwise get to experience.
Alexandria’s history reaches back more than thirteen thousand years. From the first Native Americans to settle here, to the bustling city it is today, the timeline of Alexandria’s history is filled with events that helped shape the United States of America into the country it is today.
A vital seaport during colonial times, Alexandria is George Washington’s hometown and part of the original Washington, DC. Thomas Jefferson entertained guests at Gadsby’s Tavern. Civil War General Robert E. Lee moved to Alexandria with his family when he was only 4 years old. As a young man, Lee dreamed of becoming a doctor. Instead, he became one of the most famous figures in the American Civil War.
Alexandria restaurants have taken their place alongside Washington, D.C. restaurants as some of the best in the nation with the New York Times praising, “…the city has taken its place at the culinary table.” With both locally-owned and operated neighborhood restaurants as well as nationally-recognized chef-owned ones, Alexandria is a flavorful melting pot in the truest sense. After you’ve dined, take time to experience Alexandria’s Nightlife. From live music by local performers to concerts with world-renowned artists, you are sure to find the perfect way to end your evening in Alexandria.
MURPHY’S IRISH PUB
DANDY CRUISE SHIP RESTAURANTS
Gourmet dining, dancing and an unparalleled view of the nation’s capitals majestic monuments. Day or night, rain or shine, year ’round. Nina’s Dandy features a 465-square-foot marble dance floor and 3,700-square-foot outer deck for dancing under the stars.
Northern Virginia’s only authentic country-western bar and restaurant. Live bands, two large dance floors, couples 2-Step and line-dance lessons, a karaoke bar, and outdoor deck. Kitchen specializes in wood-smoked BBQ beef brisket, ribs and pulled pork.
BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier unites traditional Belgian cuisine with contemporary creativity for distinctive Old Town Alexandria fine dining. Adjacent to the boutique Lorien Hotel & Spa, this restaurant is joined by BRABO Tasting Room and the gourmet market, The Butcher’s Block by RW, for a flavorful King Street trio. Brabo by acclaimed chef Robert Wiedmaier strikes the perfect balance between rustic and refined, timeless and contemporary with its interior designed by famed New York designer Vicente Wolf. Just as the Roman hero Silvius Brabo, our namesake, inspired the citizens of Antwerp by slaying the terrifying giant Antigone, Brabo promises inspired cuisine and a memorable experience.
TJ STONE’S GRILL HOUSE AND TAP ROOM
Modern Italian cooking with influences from France and America. For over 30 years, Geranio has combined excellent service with refined cuisine. Indulge also in Geranio’s Wine Spectator award-winning wine list.
A LA LUCIA
Situated on a quiet corner in north Old Town, a la Lucia has fast become one of the neighborhoods favorite spots. Consistently recognized one of it the area’s top 100 restaurants, it specializes in southern Italian cuisine. The dishes are simple, not trendy, and flavored by little more than the wonderfully fresh ingredients. The food here stays true to a traditional Italian table. Complimenting this fabulous food is an amazing selection of wines chosen by owner Michael Nayeri. Michael continues to share his passion for fine food and great wine through his own creation, a la Lucia.
At the center of Bertucci’s, you’ll find a brick oven. And there’s a very simple reason for that: everything is better by the brick oven. The brick oven is where the flavors of vegetables are awakened. It’s where pizza crusts become irresistibly light and crisp, and pizza toppings become perfectly, mouthwateringly caramelized. It’s where an intense heat locks in the natural flavors of everything from our classic Lasagna Rustica to our Frutti Di Mare. But it’s not just what happens inside the brick oven, it’s what happens around it: the celebrations, the laughter, the energy. The wide-eyed wonder of looking at the dancing fire, the sweet anticipation of watching one of our brick oven chefs prepare your meal in our open kitchen, and of course, the tantalizing aroma.
While the tradition of brick ovens in Italian pizzerias and trattorias dates back hundreds of years, our brick oven is also a place for innovation. Since 1981, Bertucci’s has prided itself on being a pizza pioneer, using the freshest ingredients in new and exciting ways. Today, we offer Artisan Pizzas, with creative new combinations of distinctive Italian flavors, sure to become classics. With their signature brick oven, culture of hospitality and the world’s best pizza, Bertucci’s lets you and your family and friends share an authentic Italian experience. Everything is better by the brick oven at Bertucci’s.
TWO NINETEEN RESTAURANT
In an elegant Victorian setting, serving genuine New Orleans cuisine since 1979. The Basin Street Lounge has live jazz & blues Fri. & Sat. The Bayou Room has dancing with a DJ.
Old Town’s Seafood Restaurant since 1971. Recently remodeled and the menu updated to feature many contemporary seafood dishes along with their traditional Chesapeake fare. One block from the waterfront. Open daily for lunch and dinner, Sunday Brunch.
VILLA DI ESTE RESTAURANT
Italian fine dining restaurant in the north end of historic Old Town, proudly serving residents and visitors since 1994. Enjoy homemade bread, pasta and desserts, fresh seafood, traditional Italian appetizers, and daily specialties including ossobuco, lamb shanks, and veal chops. There is even new outdoor dining patio.
Serving Fine Italian Cuisine since 1973! Old Town`s first Italian restaurant. Homemade pasta, daily lunch, dinner specials and chef`s suggestions.
Award-winning French cuisine and Basque specialties, seafood and seasonal specials in an intimate, Old World setting. Business casual attire.
MOUNT VERNON INN
The charming Mount Vernon Inn restaurant serves lunch daily and elegant candlelit dinners Mon – Sat. The Inn offers six intimate dining rooms, two with fireplace, all with Colonial charm, Colonial servers, and delicious regional and Colonial cuisine.
THE CHART HOUSE
With its breath-taking views of the Potomac River, Chart House offers world-class dining and impeccable service. Recently renovated, take the time to enjoy a seamless blend of fine seafood and steaks, service and atmosphere.
MAI THAI RESTAURANT
Enjoy spectacular views of the Potomac River while dining on authentic Thai cuisine just steps from the famous Torpedo Factory. Mai Thai serves simple uptown chic combined with delicious hospitality and exquisite cuisine.
Step aboard Washington DC’s most elegant cruising vessel for distinctive dining and dancing. Award-winning wines, exceptional service, delightful ambiance and paired with spectacular views of Washington DC’s historic monuments. It is about taking a celebration, and making it unforgettable.
From each of her three climate-controlled glass-atrium dining rooms to the outside deck, Odyssey III offers a singularly unique setting that begs to be explored. Exquisitely renovated interiors, enticing dance floors as well as a distinctive atmosphere reminiscent of classic ocean liners. Take an opportunity to visit the Captain’s bridge, open to all passengers throughout most of the cruise.
A menu of creative seasonal hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, entrees and desserts are prepared fresh, on board daily — complemented perfectly by an excellent wine list. There is also a menu expressly for children.
There are many restaurants, cafes, coffee houses and more in Alexandria, that blends tradition, charm and comfort, I’ve only provided a small sampling of them here. Be aware there are other dining establishments that also serve fare that vegans and vegetarians alike will enjoy immensely.
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