Exploring NYC Cuisine & Historic Landmarks: A Journey
My trips to Brooklyn usually start from Washington Square, which provides access to the A C D E & F lines on the weekends (and the B & M lines during the week). During my most recent trip, my restaurateur friend and I took the Coney Island bound F train to Bergen Street and started with lunch at Sottocasa.
NEAPOLITAN-STYLE PIZZA IN BROOKLYN
I’d been wanting to try Sottocasa since reading about it in Time Out New York. Since my friend loved Keste (because of their use of fresh tomatoes on the Regina Margherita) in Manhattan’s West Village, I thought Sottocasa would be a good place to try next. Their Reginella has the same ingredients (crushed tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil) as the Regina Margherita at Keste. Since I had someone to split the pie with, I suggested we order a Nutella pizza as well.
When I go to New York for pizza, I try to get as close to what they eat in Naples as possible. Like both Keste and Sottocasa, most of the best pizzerias I’ve eaten at outside of Naples have roots there. We went to Sottocasa with the idea that we would just have a light lunch, but left feeling like maybe we didn’t need to eat again until the next day.
EXPLORING GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY
We went back to the Bergen Street Station and boarded the G train with the intention of taking it to the last stop, but a young lady overheard us talking about going to Green-Wood Cemetery and suggested changing to the R train and taking it to 25 st. I’ve always found New Yorkers to be extremely helpful. Before we knew it, we were exiting the G train at 4 Av-9 St and boarding the R. After going to the cemetery’s web site, I saw that this was a better way to enter.
What I thought would be a quick photo op turned into a more than two-hour visit and a ride from strangers. About an hour into our visit, a woman with a New Jersey license plate asked if we needed help. She offered to drive us around and we gladly accepted. Her name was Paula and she drove us around while explaining the cemetery’s history. She was from Bensonhurst (home of my favorite pizzeria) and her boyfriend from Iowa. Paula has family buried at Green-Wood.
WALKING UNDER THE VERRAZANO BRIDGE
Our next destination was the Verrazano Bridge and what neither my friend nor I were counting on was Paula giving us a ride from Green-Wood Cemetery to John Paul Jones Park. It’s at least a 20-minute ride, but it seemed like we were there in less than five. They knew L & B Spumoni Gardens (my favorite pizzeria) and reminded me that I needed to try DiFara in Midwood.
After they let us out of the car, we took a leisurely walk down to the pedestrian area under the Verrazano Bridge. Although I’ve walked the George Washington and BMW (Brooklyn-Manhattan-Williamsburg) bridges, looking up at the longest suspension bridge in the Americas intimidated me a bit. Although I love walking and bicycling, I wasn’t disappointed that the Verrazano Bridge is not open to pedestrians.
FRENCH CUISINE IN BROOKLYN
I thought it would be nice to have dinner near the Bergen Street Station. There are several French restaurants and bistros between Cobble and Boerum Hills. After walking to the Bay Ridge-95 St station, we boarded the R train and transferred to the G and took that back to Bergen Street.
We chose Bar Tabac (my friend’s 1st French restaurant experience ever), which we walked past on the way to Sottocasa earlier in the day. We shared the grilled hanger steak and les moulets frites marinieres (steamed Canadian mussels in white wine sauce with fries).
ICE CREAM BETWEEN THE MANHATTAN & WILLIAMSBURG BRIDGES
After dinner and a stop at We Olive’s (specializing in Olive Oil & Wine) only location on the East Coast, we boarded the Manhattan-bound F train. Our intention was to go directly to W 4 St-Washington Square, but before the train crossed into Manhattan, we started talking about ice cream. I was too full for ice cream, but not for sorbet. I’d been wanting to try Ice and Vice since I read about it in Time Out New York.
We got out at the East Broadway stop and walked a couple blocks east to Ice and Vice. They’re known for their creative flavors. They only had one sorbet and it had a citrusy flavor, which was what I needed. I got a cup and my friend got a cone of “gold digger” which is their combination of kalamansi (citrusy!) and olive oil.
CHOCOLATES & FRENCH MACARONS IN THE WEST VILLAGE
We both left feeling satisfied and took the F train back to W 4 St – Wash Sq, which is very close to Bleecker Street (my favorite area to shop for sweets). Our first stop was Sugar and Plumm, where we each got a box of six French macarons.
We then went to Royce Chocolate, where we each got a box of nama chocolate maccha (green tea). During the warmer months, shopping at Royce also gives you the unique advantage of ice packs and mini coolers, designed to keep your chocolates cool for 7 hours.
Our final stop was Bisous Ciao. Their salted caramel is my favorite French macaron. I had them fill half of the box (of six) with salted caramel and one each of blood orange, yuzu and roasted banana. What stands out the most from the entire day was getting a ride to the Verranzano bridge from strangers. That certainly felt like an “only in New York” moment. Whenever I go out exploring in NYC, I seem to have at least one of those.