It was just after our order had been taken that the water in my glass slowly started to ripple, like that scene in Jurassic Park. But instead of being on an island in the middle of nowhere with a large dinosaur lurching about, I was in Bushwick, about to enjoy the most soulful Middle Eastern food in the city, and a band in the studio space next door had just started "practicing." But by the time my halloumi sandwich was gone (more on that later), the rumbling bass was the last thing on my mind.
The Best Hummus in NYC
In the hustle of New York City, it is rare to feel instantly comfortable and at home at a restaurant. You need an inviting dining room, a stellar front-door team, and servers who don't seem like they have somewhere else more important to be. Get those things right, though, and a first impression can turn into a lasting love affair. Prune (54 East 1st Street, 212-677-6221) gets it right, and other restaurants should learn from its example.
Photo by Eric Wolfinger
I had never heard people argue about oxtail before. A nearby gentleman was under the impression he had received an incorrect takeout order size, and voices were rising. It didn't bother me, though. I was sweating and out of breath, and I was trying to finish at least half of the soulful and spicy calypso shrimp dish that lay before me. Plump shrimp were swimming in a coconut curry sauce. It was a snowy night and a good night to be at The Islands (803 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-398-3575).
Photos by Kevin Kessler for the Village Voice Stewed chicken Bill's Gay Nineties' Facebook Page What was once Bill's Gay Nineties
I remember going to Bill's Gay Nineties (57 East 54 Street) for the first time about three years ago and realizing how great it was. People thrown together — Wall Street honchos, midtown tourists, my friend and me — and we're all singing the same old showtunes and hits of yesteryear together. We sat at the bar next to an older gentleman with rose-colored bifocals and a yellow silk tie who told us that his recently acquired stepson (whom he hated) made $5 million a year as a lawyer.More »
When you think of the concrete jungle that is the border of Williamsburg and East Williamsburg, the thought of fresh fish is not usually the first thing on your mind. But for the last 22 years, Pat Zollo has sold locals some of the finest fresh fish in the city at Metropolitan Fish Market (635 Metropolitan Avenue, 718-387-6835).
The last fish market in Williamsburg
Paul's Focacceria opened in 1904, the same year the ice cream cone was invented and Cy Young threw the first perfect game. Paul's was located on a residential street just a few blocks away from the Brooklyn piers, and it served traditional Sicilian sandwiches to the local Italian community and Italian longshoremen clamoring for a taste of home. It was only open for lunch. Today, the longshoremen and working pier may be gone, but Paul's remains — it's now called Ferdinando's Focacceria (151 Union Street, Brooklyn; 718-855-1545).
Photos by Kevin Kessler for the Village Voice
The stretch of Greenwich Street between Spring and Canal is one of those blocks we often walk down and think, "Man, it would be cool to have a place right around here." And situated along the street, inside a circa-1820s rowhouse, is one of those gems we often find and think, "Man, this is what New York is all about." Inside the ground-floor room of the home, past the wide-framed wooden door, sits one of the greatest collections of rare and antiquarian cookbooks in the world. Welcome to Joanne Hendricks Cookbooks (488 Greenwich Street, 212-226-5731).
Joanne Hendricks showing off the goods
That is it, folks: another year in the books. Whether it was a fine year with lofty heights or a forgettable one with some deep-valley lows, we can all look forward to January 1 to start anew. For me, this year was happily filled with visiting those old-school New York establishments throughout the city that are still open and keeping the quality high. We lost a few of the gems along the way, but overall, throughout this constantly changing city of five boroughs and eight and a half million people, we've held on to many old-school treasures, which are tucked away in every borough. And as our parents told us to say, "We should be very thankful." We are.
Used with the permission of Herbert Glaser Glaser's Bake Shop, early 1900s
Photos by Kevin Kessler for the Village Voice Gennaro "Jerry" Virtuoso: THE meatball king
It's a cold, dreary morning on the corner of a residential street in east Williamsburg. Inside a two-story brick building, Gennaro "Jerry" Virtuoso is ripping apart day old bread that has been soaked in water. These bread crumbs are then added to a large bowl of ground and cut beef that, after a stint in a 500-degree over, will become some of the best meatballs this side of New England.