You've probably had the wonderful homemade pastas at Raffetto's whether you know it or not - they're served in many local restaurants. But we bet you haven't tried their delicious Genoa toasts: fried ciabatta slices dotted with red-pepper flakes that soak up oil like a sponge. Sold by the pound or a fraction thereof. Crunch, crunch!
One of the latest products to appear at Sullivan Street Bakery - which isn't located on Sullivan Street anymore, but in Hell's Kitchen - is bombolini: sugary spheroids filled with luscious, yolky custard. They don't have a hole, so don't you dare call them doughnuts (but, really, what's the diff?).
We didn't want Red Hook to become a big-box-store playground either, but we're not gonna lie: We love the Swedish meatballs at Ikea. Admit it, you like those strange orbs blanketed in sauce, too - especially with lingonberry jam on the side.
If you'd also like a glass of wine with your snack and don't mind sitting a bit, go for the unusual dried-meat products at the South African wine bar Xai Xai. These include droewors (dried sausages of beef and lamb) and biltong (beef jerky), both chewy and yummy. You'll never look at a Slim Jim the same way again.
After three years in the making, Santos' Party House finally opened the doors to its 8,000-square-foot, multilevel space last June (or May, depending on whom you talk to and whether or not they got in) - and the party has rarely stopped since then. Legendary Studio 54 stalwart Nicky Siano spins on Sunday nights; A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip joins DJ Rich Medina on Fridays; and every other Wednesday belongs to Special Disco Version, which puts the dance floor in the incredibly capable hands of LCD Soundsystem duo James Murphy and Pat Mahoney. Add one-offs with co-owner Andrew WK himself, and you've got the one Manhattan club for which the hip kids will actually cross the river to dance.
OK, at the risk of sounding really old by saying this: What the f*** with the noise level at New York dives? Sometimes the cheapest bars are just too damned loud. So when we tire of staring at our friends or our dates over a $2 beer and maybe attempting to communicate with our eyes, what's left to do? If you want to actually talk to your companions, try the Sly Fox, a mostly empty watering hole operating under the auspices of the ultra-cool Ukrainian National Home. Aside from the few drunk old Eastern European men (most likely buying you pitchers) and the bartender's scattershot iPod playlist, there are relatively few decibels to contend with. Bonus: the awesome booths that look like something out of your babcia's dining room.
Instead of freezing your ass off in Times Square, a saner annual tradition has sprung up to ring in the new year - the Patti Smith Group's Bowery Ballroom NYE Shows, a two- or three-night tradition since 1998. Most any show with Smith and her band - including longtime collaborators guitarist Lenny Kaye and drummer Jay Dee Daughtery - is an event, but what makes these shows special is that Smith herself is celebrating her own birthday (December 30), as well as the fact that they're hometown gigs (yes, she's a New Yorker again). For these performances, they have guests sit in like Michael Stipe, Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Kim Gordon, Tom Verlaine, Steve Earle, and Joan Osborne, and the band digs through its catalog, sometimes reviving albums like Easter or Dream of Life, other times pulling out covers of Led Zeppelin ("Kashmir"), Christine Aguilera ("Beautiful"), and James Brown ("Living in America").
There are now plenty of so-called Bajan fish-taco joints in town, but where's a place you can really dash in and get one immediately? We'd try La Esquina, the rickety shed that sticks out like a sore thumb at the confluence of Lafayette and Centre streets, where the fish is grilled (rather than fried) to order.