best of nyc 1999


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William Bastone's New York
Affordable Pashmina? Can't help you there, sister.

The new Moomba? I'm not your go-to guy.

Fendi baguettes? Call Kirna-Zabete.

But when it comes to gyros, have I got a place for you! Under the el in Astoria, Tony's Souvlaki (28-44 31st Street, 718-728-3638) is my favorite cheap-eats place, a spot where the spinach pies, flaming cheese, and garlicky tzatziki are just some of the house specialties. And make sure to eat in the back room, with its undulating, grottolike walls. If you've got wheels and want dessert, a quick hop on the nearby LIE will get you to the one Queens establishment worthy of its reputation. No, it ain't the Bergin Hunt & Fish Club. It's the old-school Lemon Ice King of Corona (52-02 108th Street, 718-699-5133). You'll find no biscotti or poetry slams here (and don't try ordering anything in tall, grande, or venti). Thankfully, it's just ice, ice, baby.

If you find yourself being arraigned in Brooklyn, head straight to Fascati Pizza (80 Henry Street, 718-237-1278) once you make bail. In the shadow of the federal and state courthouses, Fascati's thin-crust, by-the-slice pie is the antidote to all that fake cheese peddled citywide. If you're lunching with codefendants, walk a few blocks to the more spacious but pies-only Patsy Grimaldi's (19 Old Fulton Street, 718-858-4300). Patsy's is what John's Pizza dreams of being. And while it'd be easy to add the marvelous River Cafe (1 Water Street, 718-522-5200) to this small selection of Kings County classics, give another waterfront restaurant a try. In Canarsie, Abbracciamento on the Pier (2200 Rockaway Parkway, 718-251-5517) has a pleasant outdoor deck and a solid menu.

In Manhattan, Sultan (1435 Second Avenue, 861-0200) serves the best Turkish kebabs in town, not to mention a sublime appetizer of feta cheese baked in filo. Who doesn't love Bar Pitti (268 Sixth Avenue, 982-3300)? One night, I was so involved with my eggplant parmigiana that I barely noticed that Michael Stipe, Billy Corgan, and Patti Smith were sitting next to me also engaged in a Tuscan pig-out. Go to the Sullivan Street Bakery (73 Sullivan Street, 334-9435) for awesome focaccia and their pane pugliese. Further north, don't be scared to venture into Melampo (105 Sullivan Street, 334-9530) for a prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich. The irascible owner probably won't bite you. And while you're in the area, stop by the venerable Triangle Social Club (208 Sullivan Street). One of the nabe's last wiseguy clubs, the Triangle doesn't entertain visitors, but you might be able to peep at the guys playing pinochle or sitting in Barcaloungers watching TV (if you're into that, of course).

I don't know about you, but these high-end downtown furniture shops make me ill. Since when does a Heywood Wakefield end table give you the license to steal? Run from those Lafayette Street clip joints to reGENERATION (38 Renwick Street, 741-2102), where you'll find an eclectic and fairly priced collection of pieces (my Florence Knoll couch once wintered here). And if you need the thing recovered, go to Woodside's Prestige Furniture (32-28 58th Street, 718-721-2200). They did a marvelous job on said couch as well as a tricky Arne Jacobsen egg chair.

Think 30 clams is a bit pricey for a pair of socks? Well, then, stay away from Paul Smith (108 Fifth Avenue, 627-9770), where the hosiery features an amusing, but tasteful, array of designs (soccer balls, bull's-eyes, carrots, etc.). The ties are also beautiful, but the suits require a mortgage. I can't afford much at Barneys (660 Madison Avenue, 826-8900), but that doesn't stop me from fingering the merch (in fact, I recently contemplated buying a beautiful Jil Sander suit. Alas, I came up $1200 short).

On the cheap tip, there's always the grounds of Riverdale's Wave Hill (675 West 252nd Street, 718-549-2055). Commit that sweeping Hudson view and those rolling lawns to memory — they'll come in handy when you return to your 363-square-foot hovel. Speaking of grass, the ballfields at Tribeca's Hudson River Park (Chambers and West streets) often go unused and boast a view that parallels that of Central Park's diamonds. Walk east and stop into the Surrogate's Court building (31 Chambers Street) for a sample of magnificent municipal architecture. All hail marble! The new federal courthouse (500 Pearl Street) is a bit garish, but from the upper floors you get a remarkable — and free — view of Manhattan. And, as an added bonus, you can peer down onto the rooftop exercise yard of the adjacent Metropolitan Correctional Center. One afternoon, I could've sworn I saw Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman practicing free throws.




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Austin Bunn's New York

Fanboy's Best of NYC as told to Ward Sutton

Greg Tate's New York

Guy Trebay's New York

Lynn Yaeger's New York

Michael Musto's New York

Richard Goldstein's New York

Robert Christgau's New York

Toni Schlesinger's New York

Tristan Taormino's New York