Ground Zero. Notice for scale, the number of cranes in the construction zone
Century 21: Fashion Worth Fighting For
New York subway
The NYSE – the tension and stress are palpable around here
View of the financial district from the Brooklyn Bridge
On our third day, after breakfast, we hopped on the subway and went to the Yankees game versus the first-place Tampa Bay Rays. The game was fun, and it was neat to check out Yankee Stadium in its final year. The crowd was fun – lots of guys and their kids (it was a day game). The final score was 2-1 Yankees in 11 innings. Later that afternoon we went back downtown to shop, at the aforementioned Century 21. Their motto is “Fashion Worth Fighting For,” and indeed, it is apt. Century 21 is basically a two-building department store, located next to Ground Zero, on the south end of Manhattan island. How the source their inventory remains a mystery to me, but the concept is tons of clothing, shoes and accessories massively discounted, however, not liquidated I don’t think, because they have many sizes of everything. And it’s all great stuff – no manufacturer’s defects, no stains, no returns.
Cleverly, the store keeps the original MSRP tag on each item and then sticks their price tag beside it. Some of the deals I came home with: Hugo Boss men’s dress shoes, wooden soles, polished black calf leather; MSRP $275, bought for $150. Vutolli Italian hand-made men’s dress pants, 100% wool, straight off the line and needing tailoring for length; MSRP $475, bought for, get this, $25. Seven For All Man Kind jeans; MSRP $225, bought for $59, Polo Ralph Lauren button up shirt; MSRP $90, bought for $30. You get the idea. I highly recommend this store to anyone visiting. And pack light on the way down so you can load up for the trip home.
A subway back down to this end of Manhattan the next day took us through Wall Street and to the Brooklyn Bridge, which is a great walk and provides great views of the Manhattan skyline (or at least the financial district). One of the most interesting experiences was walking past the fabled Wall St. bull, a block from the New York Stock Exchange, where we saw a liquor and wine shop. Naturally, when I see a wine shop, I want to know what they have in the windows, so my attention was drawn to its storefront. It is important to realize that it was 9:30am. As we walked past the entrance, we noticed a man wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase exiting the store. Before the door had finished closing behind him, he removed the cap from an ounce of Smirnoff (airplane sized bottle), pounded the entirety of its contents, replaced the cap, threw it on the ground, and stumbled up Wall St. directly behind us. Our jaws hit the ground, but soon after, we found ourselves laughing in amazement. “That’s the guy in charge of our investments,” I said.
We managed a quick trip uptown to Soho, which is a trendy neighborhood, home to interesting lofts and apartment buildings, boutique stores for every brand name you can think of, and a number of art galleries and restaurants. We checked a few of these out and had a quick bite at a little Italian restaurant, but were careful not to spoil our appetites.
Careful, that is, because we had reservations at Babbo, the restaurant made famous by its Croc-wearing chef, Iron Chef Mario Battali. I’d read glorious reviews about this restaurant and was enticed by its online menu. After scooting home to freshen up and change, we subway’d it back into Greenwich Village for dinner. Let me say simply, that a peaceful and smartly decorated dining room, combined with perfect service, a great wine list (both in selection and value) and truly the most creative and delicious food I’ve ever had the opportunity to eat, made this the most enjoyable meal I’ve ever had, without question.
My meal began with a plate covered with thin Prosciutto ham, a small hill of arugula, and fresh cherries with stems dotting the perimeter. The Prosciutto could be pulled apart with the gentle nudge of a fork and subsequently melted like butter (or would that be, budda) in my mouth, and the complimenting flavors were both surprising and sumptuous. My main course was braised beef with porcini mushrooms, lemon zest and citrus. My dessert was chocolate hazelnut cake with orange zest and raspberry sauce. My wife enjoyed a salad and homemade garganelli with mushrooms, and her dessert was a spectacular creation of strawberry gelato with fresh cut strawberries on top, with a 25 year old balsamic vinegar drizzled over it. Absolutely without question, the most amazing taste sensation either of us have ever had. Unbelievable.
Of course, this dinner must have been complimented by a great wine, and the Babbo wine list is a daunting bible of obscure Italian selections. Predictably, I checked it out online a few days earlier and came up with a shortlist, based on what we might be eating. The sommeliere was delightful and stood by, prepared to help. We started the evening with a glass of prosecco, then had a bottle of 1999 La Spinetta Barbaresco Valeirano, and finished dinner with a glass of recioto della valpolicella (for myself) and a traditional Italian white desert wine, Solalto, a blend of mostly Italian varietals done in a botrytis fashion for my wife.
Dinner at Babbo is not inexpensive, but certainly, considering the multitude of restaurants charging $30 for an entree these days, our dinner provided unquestionably great value and lasting memories. I heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a fantastic experience in New York City. Our final two days to come in my next post.