// Washington Square Park with my bro and sis-in-law //
My West Village Gems.
Manhattan's West Village is too cool for school. Windy little streets, Sesame-Street-esque colored buildings, celebrity-infested and foodie-infused, this little hamlet in downtown Manhattan often sweeps people away with its posh allure. Rent in this area of town is OUTTA CONTROL, but it's because you truly feel like you are living in a little village. There is some really grand food, and I won't pretend to know half of the hot spots, but here are a few that are definites on my list. Especially if you are visiting! Munch away, my friends!
Olio e Piu.
This place. Made me believe for a split-second that we were back in Italy. The open-air seating, the quaint tables and the killer-good wine... there is just something about Olio e Piu that is so reminiscent of a foreign dream. This is where you are seated outdoors, served an authentic Italian meal, and will relish the most subtle of all breezes cooling the hot city pavement, with probably not a cloud in the sky. Ah. The margherita pizza is killer. As is the olive appetizer. Order the Montepulciano d'Abruzza Riserva wine, it's my fave. We sat and talked for hours, watching the sun go down over the village and the fashionistas strut out of hiding. Downtown always houses the hip. Remember that.
I wasn't a cupcake girl. I wasn't. But then I had Magnolia Bakery's extremely basic vanilla cupcake and I was a changed woman. What the heck are they putting in these fluffy mounds of puffery and delight? Whatever it is, I'm always left wanting more. You must must MUST have a cupcake here before you bounce out of the village. Don't be shy now. While there are a zillion of these locations around the city, the one in the Village is the original contender. I believe this bakery sparked the "cupcake craze" that our fine country went through a few years ago (with the help of its prominent featuring as a hot spot for the ladies of Sex and the City to indulge in a sugar craving.) At Magnolia, that cupcake trend is still going strong, with GOOD reason.
// When my sis came to visit, we went to TOWN in Magnolia. //
Johns Of Bleeker Street.
Here's the deal with Johns: the pizza isn't all that great. But for whatever reason, this is one of those famed, rite-of-passage kind of spots that is super old and boasts "New York-style Pizza!" so millions of people rush this place every year. It's neat to visit once (if only for the stained old photos of John with every celebrity under the sun), but then make sure you hit up Juliana's in Brooklyn for the reeeeeeeally good stuff. And tell them I sent you. (hahahaha don't do that - they don't know me at all.)
Okay, this is a truly delicious West Village dinner spot. This Italian joint is named after the owner's mother, inspired by the seasonal bounty from her fresh vegetable garden in Lucca, Italy. What makes this place unique? It boasts a rather impressive rooftop farm, so everything served is truly farm fresh, plucked from the urban garden. How urban-chic is that? Get the Caprese Foccacia appetizer, the Braised Pork Shoulder or the Lamb and don't forget about the vino!
Apparently everything I adore in the West Village is Italian in heritage. Grom is a deeeeeeelicious gelato bar featuring the richest, thickest, creamiest gelato I've found in the city yet. It is the closest thing to what we tasted last summer on our Italian escapade. Favorites? The Pistachio & Stratiacella Gelato (IN A CONE), or you could go wild and get the lemon sorbet. It will make you pucker for sure, but nom nom nom, it's the best kind of sour.
// At Ayza, GET THE FONDUE. //
Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar
This is a fun, romantic little spot for a special treat, a date night, or even a ladies night. I've been to Ayza for dinner, appetizers, and dessert and you just CAN'T go wrong. Except if you don't have a reservation. Then you will be all kinds of rejected at the door. But seriously, make the resi and don't forget to order the fondue for dessert.
These are just a handful of my faves down in the Village. There are literally zillions of places you can grab wine, cheese and desserts galore and be a happy little frantic. Let me know if you check these hot spots out! As some of my close-to-heart West Village dream spots, I am already counting down the days until I return... and munch munch munch!