Sally’s Apizza & Frank Pepe: A New Haven Pizza Pilgrimage

Sallys Pizza 5

A medium plain mozzarella pie at Sally’s Apizza can easily feed three hungry diners.

Pizza. While many Americans declare pizza to be an unhealthy obsession, I can eat it almost every night of the week. In fact, the one time we visited Napoli, Italy, we did just that, eating one Neapolitan pie per day for five days straight at legendary spots like Da Michele and Di Matteo. And now that I’ve finally visited Sally’s Apizza in New Haven, I can safely say I would eat there five days in a row with no problem at all.

To get to the point: The plain mozzarella pie at Sally’s is one of the best pizzas that I’ve ever had. Oblong in shape but perfect in taste with a beautiful and crisp crust, tangy sauce and bubbling cheese. And the pizzeria oozes old-school charm with 1970s booths,  no-nonsense waiters, and prices that make the wait worthwhile.

Sallys Dining Room

The old-school dining room of Sally’s Apizza. Photo: Craig Nelson

Sallys Menu

The tomato pies are the way to go at Sally’s. Photo: Craig Nelson

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A medium White Clam Pizza at Frank Pepe in New Haven. Photo: Craig Nelson

If you’re still hungry, just walk down the block to Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana and get in line. The atmosphere and menu are a little more modern (think salads and bright lighting), but the pizza is still old-world, especially the White Clam pie. Plump, freshly shucked clams are piled on top of melted grated cheese and garlic on a crunchy crust that’s been wood fired. It’s a simple yet brilliant combination that brings out the brininess of New England shellfish.

Pepes Dining Room

The dining room booths at Frank Pepe. Photo: Craig Nelson

Pepes Oven

The brick oven at Frank Pepe. Photo: Craig Nelson

Pepes Sign 2

The scene outside of Frank Pepe on a Saturday night. Photo: Craig Nelson

Before you think it’s a big trek or the train tickets will throw your budget off, think about this: two round-trip MetroNorth tickets from Grand Central to New Haven Union Station and a medium plain mozzarella pie at Sally’s with a couple of beers puts your total bill under $100. That’s still cheaper than a regular dinner in modern day Manhattan!

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Drifting in Daylight: A Magical Moment along the Harlem Meer

Harlem Meer

The S.S. Hangover floating along a peaceful Harlem Meer. Photo: C. Nelson, 2015.

The Harlem Meer is one of my favorite places — not only in New York but the whole world. It’s a calming oasis to escape the noise and grit of the Manhattan grid where tourists rarely venture and locals cherish as their own backyard. Creative Time, a groundbreaking arts organization started in 1973, has recently launched a six-week outdoor exhibition called Drifting in Daylight featuring everything from sunset-flavored ice cream (for free) to dance performances on the Great Hill. My favorite part is the roving boat named S.S. Hangover that circles the meer playing hauntingly beautiful brass music. The video doesn’t do it justice. You have to experience it in person to feel the fresh air against your skin as you take in the beautiful sounds. This work of art by Ragnar Kjartansson makes this urban retreat even more special.

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Step Back in Time in the Back Room at Irish Haven

Irish Haven 2

The back room of Irish Haven. That tile floor is gorgeous. Photo: Craig Nelson

Although it’s a long trek by subway from Upper Manhattan, I love traveling out to Sunset Park in Brooklyn. It’s a great neighborhood filled with tacos, dim sum, an old-school bowling alley, and incredible views, of yes, the sunset. But somehow I had never been to Irish Haven, a perfectly-preserved dive bar with friendly folks behind the bar and on the stools. The cheap beer doesn’t hurt either. And as pointed out by my friend Clay, it was a shooting location for The Departed. Yes, that famous Boston-set gangster movie had many scenes filmed in New York. Who knew? But even more impressive are the vintage phone booths and foosball table in the back room. Hanging out back there felt like home, even though it was my first time in the place. Now I just need to figure out how to get there quicker. I wonder if the Second Avenue subway will add a Sunset Park extension in 2043?

Foosball Irish Haven 2

The coolest foosball table in New York City. Photo: Craig Nelson

Irish Haven 3Foosball Irish Have

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Walking in a Winter Wonderland (aka Central Park)

A snowy Guggenheim. Photo: Patricia Glowinski

A snowy Guggenheim. Photo: Patricia Glowinski

As the blizzard of 2015 began its descent on New York, we ventured into Central Park to snap a few photos before the storm really took hold. Winter sensation Juno is supposed to wreak havoc across the region. But until the winds kick up and dozens of inches of snow fall on the ground, we’ll enjoy the peaceful and quiet city. After all, these moments only come around every decade. Snowmageddon…bring it on!

Let in snow...in Central Park. Photo: Patricia Glowinski

Let in snow…in Central Park. Photo: Patricia Glowinski

The iron gates of the Conservatory Gardens. Photo: Patricia Glowinski

The iron gates of the Conservatory Gardens. Photo: Patricia Glowinski

Central Park in white. Photo: Patricia Glowinski

Central Park in white. Photo: Patricia Glowinski

 

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City Love: Meandering Through Paris

Blue skies over Place de la République. Photo: Craig Nelson

Blue skies over Place de la République, where people came together after the attacks on January 7.

I was lucky enough to visit Paris near the end of last year. It was only my fourth time in the City of Light, but somehow I always feel at home there. My French is horrible, but that doesn’t stop me from roaming the streets, getting  a little lost and seeing what I stumble across. This trip included tasty crepes at Marché des Enfants Rouges, an evening with new friends at La Belle Hortense (a cozy wine bar/bookshop) and a catching a film at the old-school cinema Le Desperado. A few times I even shut off my iPhone and left my map at the hotel to see where I would end up. Exploring with no plan at all, I managed to wander through a Julie Delpy film shoot near Place de la République and a Karl Lagerfeld-Gisele photo session in the Latin Quarter…on the same day!

Just like in New York, walking through the city streets of Paris gives you a feeling of being truly alive. The urban energy, the architecture, the food and wine, it’s all perfect. I’ve been meaning to put up my photos since I came back, and with the horrible events of last week, it seems like the right time to share my love of Paris.

Biking along Rue de Archives. Photo: Craig Nelson

Parisians biking and walking along Rue de Archives. Photo: Craig Nelson

A hotel room with a view. Photo: Craig Nelson

My room with a view from Hotel Tiquetonne. Photo: Craig Nelson

Strolling around the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood. Photo: Craig Nelson

Strolling around the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood. Photo: Craig Nelson

Rue Tiquetonne

Rue Tiquetonne.

Porte Saint Denis

Porte Saint Denis

The chimneys of Paris. Photo: Craig Nelson

The chimneys of Paris. Photo: Craig Nelson

Best public transport signage in the world. Photo: Craig Nelson

Best public transport signage in the world. Photo: Craig Nelson

Looking up at Sacre Couer. Photo: Craig Nelson

Looking up at Sacre Couer. Photo: Craig Nelson

The beautiful Gare Du Nord. Photo: Craig Nelson

The beautiful Gare Du Nord. Photo: Craig Nelson

Sacre Couer Steps

Navigating the steep Sacre Couer steps.

Clouds over Paris

Clouds over Paris.

 

Hanging out along the Seine at night. Photo: Craig Nelson

Hanging out along the Seine at night. Photo: Craig Nelson

Rue de Lancry. Photo: Craig Nelson

Rue de Lancry. Photo: Craig Nelson

The city sprawling out from Sacre Coeur. Photo: Craig Nelson

The city sprawling out from Sacre Coeur. Photo: Craig Nelson

Paris Graffiti.

Paris Graffiti.

Paris Street

Classic Paris streetscape.

 

True "love" in Paris. Photo: Craig Nelson

True “love” in Paris. Photo: Craig Nelson

Canal Saint-Martin from a pedestrian bridge. Photo: Craig Nelson

Looking at Canal Saint-Martin from a pedestrian bridge. Photo: Craig Nelson

Notre Dame at night. Photo: Craig Nelson

Notre Dame at night. Photo: Craig Nelson

Sun breaking through on the Eiffel Tower. Photo: Craig Nelson

Sun breaking through over the Eiffel Tower. Photo: Craig Nelson

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Holiday Cheer Along The Harlem Meer

The Harlem Meer all lit up for the holidays.

The Harlem Meer all lit up for the holidays. Photo: Craig Nelson

Everyone knows about the charms of Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall at Christmas time, especially the famous spruce that attracts millions of onlookers. But did you know New York City is also home to a “floating” Christmas tree? Not many people make it up to the north section of Central Park, but if you venture to the Harlem Meer  after the sun goes down, you’ll find a festive holiday landscape without the crowds. In early December the park strings up lights on the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center and decorates a tree to place it out in the middle of the water. It’s actually multiple trees (17 to be exact) tied together to give it a heftier effect. If the temperatures aren’t too cold, there are plenty of benches to relax on. It all makes for a lovely scene that feels so peaceful, it’s hard to believe you’re in the middle of the city with Fifth Avenue and 110th Street just a few feet away!

The floating tree reflecting off the meer. Photo: Craig Nelson

The floating tree reflecting off the meer. Photo: Craig Nelson

The Charles A. Dana Discovery Center. Photo: Craig Nelson

The Charles A. Dana Discovery Center. Photo: Craig Nelson

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Another peaceful evening in December along the Harlem Meer. Photo: Craig Nelson

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Graffiti Hall of Fame: Welcome to H-A-R-L-E-M

Harlem_Wall

One of the highlights of living in East Harlem is all of the street art on view, and I always look forward to walking by the The Graffiti Hall of Fame (at 106th and Park) on the way to Central Park. The murals change a few times a year, and recently over Labor Day weekend, a new batch of freshly painted graffiti went up. The art is always mind-blowing, but this time the TatsCru captured a slice of the neighborhood across an entire wall in a totally unique way. Here’s an up close look at each letter.

Harlem_H
Harlem_A
Harlem_R
Harlem_L
Harlem_E
Harlem_M

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