Friday, July 29, 2011

All the Answers Can Be Found in East Harlem

An Urban Education.

This Carton Contains The Book of Knowledge

Monday, July 11, 2011

Earl's Named Best Cheap Eats

The little beer bar that could, Earl's Beer and Cheese, has been the darling of New York City publications. I first wrote about Earl's back in April for New York Press and a few weeks later New York Magazine sang the joint's praises. Now, New York has named it The Best New Cheap Eats Joint of 2011. Wow! Quite the honor. Congrats to Earls!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Sunset

The soft pink of sunset was a cool contrast to the gritty streets.

Monday, June 27, 2011

East Harlem in NBC's New York Nightly News

You'll find many different nationalities, but “hipsters … you won’t get any of that here." Notes on a changing neighborhood:

View more videos at:

This video, by NBC’s senior correspondent Gabe Pressman, touches on the diverse cultures and demographics represented in in East Harlem as well as what the residents feel are the pros and cons of the ever changing landscape.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

110th Street Almost Smoke-Free

The Daily News reported today that 110th St. between Lexington and Third Aves became the city's first "smoke-free" block, in a program organized by the East Harlem Asthma Center. But, it's not entirely smoke-free yet, the News notes, "The only holdout was the U.S. Post Office branch, where many workers smoke, organizers said." Have you ever had the misfortune of waiting in line here? According to the News "Fifteen businesses - including the Savoy Bakery, Young's Fish Market, Expo Liquor and RAZA Records - as well as The Mirada condominium and a neighborhood public library branch agreed to join the voluntary project."

Read the full article here.

Hat tip: Rachel

Monday, June 6, 2011

East Harlem, Beirut

Music blog LYFSTYL announced the band Beirut's new single today, and although I am the furthest thing from a music blogger, the song's title (not to mention the lovely rhythm that's now permanently stuck in my head) caught my attention. Listen to Beirut's song East Harlem below.

Beirut - East Harlem by Revolver USA

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lexington Sugar Rush

Two bakeries have opened on Lexington Ave in East Harlem. Lloyd's Carrot Cake has opened their second location in East Harlem. The new shop is located on Lexington, between 99th and 100th Streets, next to Vinyl Wine. And, Giovanna's, the Italian restaurant on Lex between 100th and 101st streets, has opened a bakery next door to their original outpost. Sweet!

See the East Harlem NYC Lloyd's Carrot Cake review.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lost Cat Found

A bit of good news on this rainy week...or a humorous hipster sign...I really can't tell.

Piatto d'Oro

Sauce and Lady

Walk East on 109th Street, and keep going…and going a bit further –– just pass the giant brightly-lit car wash that floods the street in an eerily glow sits Piatto d’Oro. This Italian restaurant is a quirky hidden gem, decorated with lots of pinks and mint greens, plenty of those classic black and white snapshots, and pink roses on the tables. The décor, the tunes (Louis Prima, of course) and the adorable and attentive Italian staff are staples of many Italian joints, and truth be told I was having a bit of déjà vu. But, “What was it exactly that was making me feel like I’ve been here before in the best way?” I asked myself. Well, I knew instantly what Piatto d’Oro reminded me of when my meal was placed in front of me, and I suddenly wished I had ordered spaghetti and meatballs so my date and I could spaghetti kiss a la Lady and the Tramp. If the waiter came out with an accordion I would have done a few Lady-like shy blinks and kept right on eating.

As any respectable Italian joint knows, it’s all about the sauce, and Piatto d’Oro delivers on that and more. My date and I tried the fried zucchini appetizer ($5.95), penne with vodka sauce ($10.95) and the chicken Sophia Loren ($15.95) (yeah, it's a big breast of chicken (get it?!), and it's stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella with a shiitake mushroom brown sauce). Everything was completely devoured and then the sauces were soaked up with bread. Go here with someone you're comfortable eating a lot in front of.

Piatto d'Oro
349 E 109th Street (near 1st Ave)
They also do take-out and delivery.
Also see New York Magazine's review.

I apologize that these photos are a bit "Law and Order" crime scene-esque. The Hipstamatic App can be a bit addictive.

Digging into the fried zucchini.

A complimentary shot of sambuca.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Italian Harlem Relic to Close

In the Papers

The New York Times profiled Claudio Caponigro's East 116th Street barber shop this week, and it seems that this 60-year-old Italian Harlem relic will be closing very soon.

The Times Writes:
It has become a beloved museum of the old-fashioned barber trade, attracting political leaders, entertainers and underworld bosses who mixed with the neighborhood’s declining corps of Italian men, as well as the generations of Puerto Rican and other Latino men who have displaced them... But now the rental pressures of a gentrifying neighborhood are threatening to close his shop, which along with Rao’s celebrity-packed restaurant, is one of the last relics of Italian East Harlem.

Read the full article here.

Do any of you go to Caludio's for a trim or a shave? Do you know of any other Italian Harlem relics in danger of closing?

Photo Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

Follow me on Twitter for more East Harlem news @GloriaDawson

Monday, May 9, 2011

Do We Live in the Desert?

The USDA's new Food Desert locator map was dissected by the Village Voice this week, and it turns out that East Harlem is not considered a food desert after all, at least not according to the USDA. According to the Village Voice, this may have something to do with the how the USDA identifies food deserts and that the USDA may consider efforts like fresh produce carts acceptable access to produce. The Voice notes, "if it's hard to identify food deserts across the country using nothing more than algorithms, then within New York City, where "grocery store" can mean "corner deli" and "mile" can mean "two trains and a bus ride," it's virtually impossible."

Read the full piece in the Village Voice here .

I certainly think East Harlem could use a few more grocery stores. What do you think?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

An East Harlem CSA

A community supported agricultural share or CSA is a great way to support local farms and get very affordable farm fresh produce. New York City offers plenty of options for CSAs, but I've never heard of a CSA up here in East Harlem. Now, the produce isn't grown here, of course, it's grown Upstate, but the pick up is at La Marqueta and supports the farms that sell their produce at that market. Breezy Hill Orchard, one of the vendors at La Marqueta, is offering shares for pick up from June to November. Vegetable and fruit shares including strawberries, carrots, apples and egg shares and pasta shares are available. A full vegetable share costs $375 for the 20-week season, a full fruit share is $220 and a half is $110, the egg share is $75 and the pasta share is $85. For more info head up to La Marqueta at 1590 Park Avenue and 116th St, or call Ann the CSA coordinator at (845) 2266-3979.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Message Just for You

I imagine everyone who walks by one of James De La Vega's impromptu works of art thinks that the message speaks just to them.

Lunch at Cafe Ollin

Small Mexican joints line the streets of East Harlem and many are worth stopping in for a torta or taco to go, but Cafe Ollin is a place where you can and should sit and stay for awhile. Walking inside the nondescript restaurant you'll no-doubt immediately notice the bright blue painted walls. The walls don't look jarring, as you might imagine, instead they are fun and festive and welcoming, as is the overall vibe of the place. Let that festive feeling dictate your beverage choice and pick out one of the brightly colored drinks from the case in the back. There's no alcohol here, but you can get your fill of Mexican style fruit and even Sangria flavored colas as well as traditional soft drinks. Now it's time to start snacking, and you can't go wrong with a crispy tostada to start. For your main I'd suggest trying a torta or cemitas, they come filled with traditional ingredients like beef, chicken and chorizo, or you can go more experimental with ham, pork and pineapple or cactus and potatoes. I've been working my way down the sandwich choices on the menu and haven't been disappointed yet.

Have you been to Cafe Ollin? What's your favorite sandwich?

Cafe Ollin
339 East 108 Street
New York, N.Y. 10029
(212) 828-3644

Thursday, April 28, 2011

East Harlem at Tribeca Film Festival has a great piece and accompanying video about the film Nightlife, which is part of the Tribeca Film Festival. The film centers around the "unexpected bond between a pair of Manhattan teens — one from a Harlem project, the other from the tony Upper East Side."

Read the full piece here.

Nightlife is playing Saturday, April 30 at 4 p.m. (AMC Loews Village) and Sunday, May 1 at 7 p.m. (Tribeca Cinemas Theater).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Harlem East -- Another Nickname for East Harlem?

We just recovered from SpaHa (short for Spanish Harlem) and now the Wall Street Journal notes that new business owners are starting to call the eastern side of 125th St, where new businesses are popping up like Wild Olive Market and Sade Skincare, "the New Harlem East." "It contrasts with the many cellphone-, linen- and sneaker-store-lined strips nearby."

Neighborhood nicknames always remind me of an episode of How I Met Your Mother where two characters are convinced of the merits of a certain area of New York City called DoWiSeTrepla. They are told it's "the hottest neighborhood in NYC. The deals are amazing. Much more affordable than Dumbo or Tribeca." They later find out DoWiSeTrepla stands for "Down Wind from The Sewage Treatment Plant." Neighborhood nicknames make me nervous.

Read about the new businesses in New Harlem East, East Harlem or whatever you want to call our neighborhood here.

I love the new stores, but I'm not sure about the new name. What do you think about SpaHa or New Harlem East? Do you like these nicknames or does East Harlem work for you?

Monday, April 18, 2011

New York Magazine finds Earl's

In the latest edition of New York Magazine the Underground Gourmet guys make their way up to East Harlem's Earl's Beer and Cheese, and they give it a stellar review!

...on several forays to this northern hinterland, we found much more: an ebullient but civilized young crowd mercifully free of frat-house yahoos, good tunes played at conversation-friendly decibel levels, and a bar-food menu that never failed to surprise or satisfy. Having said that, culinary pilgrims should note that the space is tight and, unlike most of the city’s so-called gastropubs, it’s decidedly a bar rather than a restaurant. You are kindly asked to order from the bartender, and depending on the night and the hour, if you’re not lucky enough to wriggle into an inside seat at the single communal table...

And you thought it was crowded before! Here's hoping East Harlem residents can still squeeze into our favorite pint-sized pub!

Read the full review.

Earl's Beer and Cheese
1259 Park Ave
(between E. 97th & E. 98th sts.)

James De La Vega Edited

I AM Becomeing Your MY Dream

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's a Beautiful Day for a Woodland Walk

Central Park Conservancy organizes monthly Harlem Meer Social Hours and this month's event, a Woodland Walk, is scheduled for this evening. Get to Central Park's Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, located inside the park near 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues, by 6:30, and you'll experience the beauty of the park at dusk. The walk is guided by Central Park Conservancy horticulturalists.

Next month's event is Seasonal Picnic Recipes. Meet at the same spot on Thursday, May 12 at 6:30 and Chef Margaret Hoffman will show you how to incorporate fresh Greenmarket products into picnic menus. Complimentary refreshments will be provided.

See the Central Park Conservancy Website for more information.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Earl's in New York Press

I'm very excited to have my review of Earl's Beer and Cheese, the new bar that opened on Park Ave between 97th and 98th aves, in the latest issue of New York Press.

If you haven't been to Earl's yet, perhaps this preview of the piece will entice you:

If the allure of microbrews and the 1970s basement vibe isn't enough to draw you uptown, perhaps the seasonal pickle plate ($6) and selection of local cheeses ($9-$15)—what Earl's humbly calls "bar food"—will. Cescari and co-owner Adam Clark originally thought they'd serve only cheese-focused bar food, but when they gave free reign over the menu to chef Corey Cova, who recently spent time in Momofuku Ssam Bar, the menu was upgraded. Cova is constantly trying out new dishes, but one semi-regular standout is the Beer-Cheese ($6). Inspired by a dish Cova had in a beer hall in Prague, it's a basket of toast with raw garlic to rub over it, served with a spicy cheddar and cream ale sauce. Another standout is the grilled cheese with cheddar, kimchi, pork belly and a fried egg ($8).

Earl's Beer and Cheese

1259 Park Ave
(between E. 97th & E. 98th sts.)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Original Patsy's

Taken the other week while having an Italian Harlem adventure.

Patsy's Restaurant Review

Patsy's Pizzeria
2287 1st Ave, near 118th St.
Phone: (212) 534-9783
Cash Only

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

East Harlem Gets Its Groupon

Cafe Ollin is the latest East Harlem establishment to offer a deal on Groupon. It's great to see uptown joints getting in on this great marketing tool. The coupons are sure to bring new customers up to the area with these fantastic deals. In the last few weeks I've purchased Groupons from East Harlem Cafe and Lloyds Carrot Cake Cafe. It's entirely possible that I'll be paying for meals solely with Groupons this weekend.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Café Ollin Gets the Serious Eats Treatment

The foodie Website Serious Eats has found their way up to East Harlem, and they are loving the sandwiches at Café Ollin.

"About the size of a catcher's mitt and packed with enough ingredients to stock a small bodega, the juancho cemita ($10) at Café Ollin in East Harlem is closer to a meal than a grab-and-go sandwich."

I'm partial to the tortas myself. Whatever you order Café Ollin, chances are you'll love it too.

Café Ollin
339 East 108th Street, New York NY 10029

Monday, February 21, 2011

Carrot Cake Coming Soon

It looks like Lloyd's Carrot Cake will be expanding to a second location in East Harlem. The new shop will be located on Lexington, between 99th and 100th Streets, next to Vinyl Wine. That is going to be a pretty delicious block.

See the East Harlem NYC Lloyd's Carrot Cake review.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

East Harlem, The Basics 4 (Vintage Style Edition)

Entrepreneur, writer, editor, vintage stylist, life enthusiast and all around creative gal Sammy Davis has some great advice for East Harlemites.

Pizza: Sam's Famous Pizzs
116th & Lexington

Coffee: SpaHa Cafe
between 116th & 117th on Lexington

Brunch: Orbit Cafe
2257 1st Ave., at the corner of 116th St.

See the East Harlem NYC Orbit review.
As noted by Levi in the comments, Orbit is closed indefinitely for renovations.

Groceries: Pathmark @ 125th BUT there is an Asian fruit market I love on 3rd avenue between 115th & 116th called Lee's Fruit Market

Laundry: I forget it's official name ... on 115th between 3rd & Lexington

Take-out: oh oh! you gotta visit these guys! Makana's Hawiaan BBQ & Sushi! It's on 1st Avenue between 115th & 116th -- JUST opened

And then specifically for you, best thrift store or shopping locations?
Goodwill at 123rd & 3rd Avenue.

Take a look at Sammy's site.

If you're an East Harlemite and would like to tell us your "Basics" shoot me an email.

East Harlem NYC in the New York Daily News

This blog is featured in today's Upper Manhattan section of the New York Daily News. Pick up a copy or check it out online. I'm thrilled to be included! A big thanks to reporter Clem Richardson for reaching out to me for the piece.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Love is in the Air at Earl's

Have you been to East Harlem's (or is it in the way Upper East Side?) awesome new bar Earl's Beer and Cheese? Yes, your prayers for a local bar have finally been answered, and the food is way more than you could have imagined...unless you imagined pork belly, kimchi grilled cheese paired with obscure but awesome microbrews –– because that's exactly what they've got.
If you haven't been to Earl's yet, you must check it out, and there's no better time than Valentine's Day (gentlemen,that's February 14th, please note). They have a fantastic meal lined up with wine pairings from their brother shop Vinyl Wine. The second course of pork belly confit (hmmm, does someone have a thing for pork belly? I think yes.) braised in duck fat with avocado puree and pickled red onion has my mouth watering. $50 a person, give them a call 212-289-1581. As Michael Faircloth, co-owner of Vinyl Wine said on Facebook yesterday, "Every Kiss Begins With Earl's!" I couldn't agree more.

Earl's Beer and Cheese
1259 Park Ave
(between 97th St & 98th St)
Manhattan, NY 10029

The New New Harlem in New York Mag

File this under: Not quite East Harlem, but it's still nice to see uptown getting some love. After spending an evening at Harlem's Bier International, I was excited to open my new issue of New York Magazine and see an extensive feature on Harlem. Bier International (definitely worth heading over the west side and checking out), Red Rooster, Aloft Harlem hotel and dozens of other hot spots are reviewed. The issue is worth picking up so you can explore the other new new Harlem.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Furthering Your East Harlem Education

Are you the sort of East Harlemite who loves to impress friends on walks around the neighborhood with your stories of famous figures who've lived here? Or maybe you're a new neighbor and want to learn about the history of East Harlem. Then there are no better books for you to own than Christopher Bell's East Harlem and his follow up book East Harlem Revisited. They offer readers a visual tour of the emerging area from the early 1900's to today. Bell, who was raised in East Harlem, strings together the complex and ever changing history of the neighborhood. My favorite sections were the stories of Italian Harlem, I love to think about men playing bocce in the parks around here. I was also excited to learn that playwright Arthur Miller and actor Al Pacino were both East Harlemites.

East Harlem and East Harlem Revisited are published by Arcadia Publishing.

Full Disclosure: Arcadia Publishing sent me East Harlem Revisited and my dad lent me East Harlem, which he owned, when I moved into the area. Hmmm, he probably wants it back.

Two Sides of East Harlem

No where else in East Harlem is the area's status as emerging neighborhood more clearly defined than it is on Lexington and 110th Street. An abandoned building, with boarded up windows, sits around the block from one of the largest, and for lack of a better term most luxurious, luxury buildings around. The juxtaposition always startles me.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

East Harlem, The Basics 3 (With Special Tips for East Harlem Dog Owners!)

Heather and her two dogs have lived here in East Harlem for three years, and she has some great suggestions and tips for East Harlemites and their pups! Thanks so much, Heather!

Coffee: Savoy Bakery is amazingly good (and super fresh) pastries, bread, pork buns (!!), coffee, lattes, iced coffee, etc. Worth every penny.
170 E 110th St (between Lexington Ave & 3rd Ave)

Check out the East Harlem NYC's Savory review.

Take-out/Delivery: Dreamers Pizza is a custom/gourmet pizza/Italian/American food place. The food is always delivered in a timely fashion, and I’ve never had a “bad order.” I'd recommend the lasagna pizza, penne ala vodka, calzones, hero sandwiches and more.
1850 3rd Ave (between 102nd St & 103rd St)

Pizza: A slice at Patsy's is by far the best “experience” of a slice of in NYC –– coal oven, delicious, and thin. Buy a pie ($11) vs. buying 2 slices ($3.50) as you can heat it up and eat it later! Note: cash only! And, this is the REAL deal / old school Patsy’s.
2287 1st Ave (between 117th St & 118th St)

Check out East Harlem NYC's Patsy's review.

Another slice that is rated in the category of “more bang for your buck” would be Sam’s Famous Pizza. HUGE slices at a cheap price. And, right next to the subway.
150 E. 116th St. and Lexington

Mexican Food:
El Paso Taqueria is an authentic/gourmet Mexican restaurant with cute back patio area.
237 E 116th St, (Btwn 2nd & 3rd Ave)

Fierce Spa! I have spent the past 3 years looking for a nail salon that is priced accordingly for the neighborhood, doesn’t stink like acrylic when you walk in the doors, and is CLEAN … this brand new salon (opened in Sept. 2010) fits the bill. Cute, pink décor and priced right. Book an appointment with Guadalupe.
349 E 117th St (between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)

Nice View of Manhattan:vMarcus Garvey Park – upper level. Take the stairs up on a nice day. You can see downtown, uptown, etc.
Madison Avenue and East 120th Street

Target, Costco, Pathmark, Associated, etc. Tons of supermarkets in the neighborhood. I shop at all of them as I check sales and like the variety of offerings each has.

Especially for the Dog Owner:
from 9pm to 9am (everyday) dogs can be off-leash in Central Park. A nice community of dog owners meet up in the off leash areas every morning. I have met numerous new friends via the off leash areas as all the owners talk to each other as their dogs play
Check out this handy map on off leash Central Park areas (a must for Harlem dog owners!)
I take my 2 dogs (off leash) to the Harlem Meer (enter at 110 Street and Fifth Ave), Great Hill, etc. almost every morning.

Randalls Island Park has off-leash hours from 7am to 3pm (everyday). And, killer views of Manhattan top off this experience of letting your dog(s) run free on this island.
To get to Randall’s – either take Triborough bridge (aka RFK Bridge) pedestrian walkway or the 103rd Street Pedestrian Bridge on the East River. (note: 103 street pedestrian bridge is under construction till mid-2011 – check for updates)

If you're an East Harlemite and would like to tell us your "Basics" shoot me an email.

De La Vega Fine Art

You may have noticed that James De La Vega has been quite prolific lately. "Become Your Dream" has been sketched everywhere from the Upper East Side to way up in Harlem, and the slogan has been on everything from from toilets to all sorts of trash that piled up during the snow storms. Sammy Davis (not JR) the vintage fashion stylist and entrepreneur spotted an object d'art on her street corner and snapped it up to decorate her pad.

Sammy says:
The artist, De La Vega, does this to things around the city that are in the "trash." Pieces of furniture, mattresses ... the sidewalk with chalk ... etc. I see it often just at the right moment. Once I saw "Become Your Dream" after finishing a run in Central Park, chalked on the sidewalk as I left the 110th street entrance. It's a beautiful thing and I thank De La Vega for passing along his message with such guerrilla tactics!

Check out Sammy Davis Vintage.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Vinyl Wine in Edible Manhattan

East Harlem has been in desperate need of a a good wine shop for some time, and this past summer we finally got one -- Vinyl Wine. After checking out the store's great selection and awesome vibe, I thought the shop, and the story of the changing East Harlem scene, would make a great piece for one of my favorite foodie magazines Edible Manhattan. Luckily for me, Edible's editors agreed, and my article is in the newest issue, on newsstands now!

Here's a preview of the piece:

Axl Rose and his glass of wine hold court on one whitewashed brick wall, a record player in the corner plays Sharon Jones then Arcade Fire, the cash register sits on a desk embedded with speaker parts, and behind that desk sits a floppy-haired guy you'd expect to own a record shop. But the wooden bins and plastic crates that line the walls of this narrow store are filled not with records but with organic and natural wines made by small, relatively unknown producers. And, instead of being located on Bleecker or in Brooklyn, the aptly named Vinyl Wine sits between 99th and 100th streets, right on the cusp of East Harlem.

If you haven't checked out Vinyl Wine already here are the details:
Vinyl Wine
1555 Lexington Ave
(between 99th St & 100th St)
Manhattan, NY 10029