Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Chance for New Year's Eve Parties!

We're less than 48 hours out from New Year's Eve 2013/2014 and I'm guessing there are still some last-minute stragglers out there who haven't yet firmed up their plans. Well, there's no time like the present. Don't wait until next year! Or do, with 12:30am tickets now available at many venues:

Many parties are already sold out, but there are still some VIP options, door tickets available, and post-midnight entries. Some New Year's Eve cruises and Times Square lounges, attractions and clubs still have tickets. Pubcrawl.com's New Year's Eve Pub Crawl is still available. And the posh parties thrown by "Best New Year's" have various ticket levels still open, as well as several 12:30am entry ticket options. Toshi's Living Room has sold out for advance tickets, but you can still pay at the door or purchase 12:30am entry tickets online, which include a 2-hour open bar.

Whatever you do, have a safe and fun night and see you in 2014!

Previous WGINY New Year's Eve 2013 posts: 
New Year's Eve Party Updates
Where to Celebrate New Year's Eve

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Spotlight on Blesset Unrest and the Innovative Theatre Awards.

The New York Innovative Theatre Awards celebrates "Off-Off Broadway" theatre by recognizing the excellence of artists working in these productions. You can read more about the mission of the "IT Awards" here, and learn about current productions here. As a show wraps up a season of performances, voting for that show for the IT Awards closes. I recently saw Blessed Unrest's production of A Christmas Carol, and I took a few minutes today to cast a ballot for that performance, giving especially high marks for choreography, ensemble performance and outstanding actors. Here's why.

Founded by Artistic Director, Jessica Burr, Blessed Unrest has been challenging theatrical norms since 2000 with a wealth of productions that often emphasize ensemble casts and physical theater. In A Christmas Carol, just six actors played thirty-seven characters as they led you through a very unusual journey with Scrooge (played by Damen Scranton) and his spirits of Christmas past (played by Sora Baek), present and future (both played by Ensemble members).

The basics of the story remained unchanged -- Scrooge was a miser who could never see further than his own nose, even when it came to the holidays and especially when it came to his own employees, such as his poor clerk, Bob Cratchit (played by Nathan Richard Wagner). Then suddenly he is shown the err of his ways by the Christmas spirits. However, Blessed Unrest's unique and imaginative take on this classic tale had me impressed by the ability of the cast to move so fluidly together in motion, dance and gymnastics in often farcical synergy. Together, the Blessed Unrest cast made me feel moments of merriment and moments of sorrow as they moved towards the valuable moral of the story. The minimalist scenery, mostly a variety of old trunks and doors, was used in unique ways and added to the ideals of the stark contrast of wealth and poverty presented by the performers.

Damen Scranton, the only actor to maintain the same role throughout the show, played a stoic Ebenezer Scrooge, whose character quickly became tragically appealing to the audience. Joshua Wynter, who played Scrooge's deceased former business partner, Jacob Marley, among other characters, first stepped onto the stage in stilts as Marley's imposing ghost. Wynter could walk on those stilts like he was born on them as he presented a poignant message for "Scrooge." From there, the show moved on to a touching portrayal of Scrooge's last memories of his deceased sister, Fan (played by Jessi Blue Gormezano), and onward through Scrooge's isolated life and interactions with others, or lack thereof. A Christmas Carol was peppered with comedic scenes, such as a party hosted by the lively Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig (played by Wynter and Wagner, respectively), and pitiful ones, such as Scrooge watching his former beau, Belle (played by Tatyana Kot), enraptured with another. The show left me with a tear, even as it left me with a warm and jovial heart.

A Christmas Carol ran from December 5-22 and voting for the IT Awards ends for this show TODAY. I look forward to what's in Blessed Unrest's future.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Warm Up With This Winter With Some Cajun Flair at Masq Restaurant and Lounge.

Spicy Jambalaya at Masq Restaurant and Lounge
Photo by WGINY
Every February or early March, travelers from around the world flock to New Orleans for the annual Mardis Gras, or "Fat Tuesday," festival. This past March, 2013, one restaurant decided to bring New Orleans to New York. WGINY had the opportunity to sample dishes at Masq Restaurant and Lounge at a press dinner last week, and left feeling warm and satisfied.

Masq's Lounge
Photo Courtesy of Masq
Though the decor at Masq lends itself toward a fanciful New Orleans masquerade, as the name suggests, don't come here expecting beads (except perhaps on New Year's Eve, see below...). The restaurant is actually a cozy floor-through that maintains the semblance of a Cajun bistro while remaining residential enough to resemble a close relative or intimate friend's home you've just been invited to for dinner. In fact, owners George and Nora Chaprastian searched antique shops "up and down the East Coast" for furnishings and accessories that would make the restaurant seem more homey. In addition to the antiques, there are also some eye-catching, custom-designed elaborations, such as the horseshoe shaped bar at Masq's entrance, or the avant garde masquerade mural towards the back of the restaurant.





Asian Marinated Salmon
Photo by WGINY
Masq's main fare is "New American with New Orleans flair," but the menus actually present an international cuisine, with New American and New Orleans inspirations, among others. One of the most surprising dishes I tried was an Asian Marinated Salmon. I've never been a salmon fan, but Masq's presentation persuaded me to move outside of my comfort zone and try something new. I'm glad I did. The sweet marinade, a honey garlic soy sauce, really made this dish shine. It also helped that the salmon itself was not overtly "fishy," but rather as appealing and appetizing as a tender steak. According to Executive Chef, Marc Getzelman, who is also a co-owner, the marinade was a "happy accident" that resulted from trying to reduce salt while preparing the salmon recipe.

Shrimp Po'Boy
Photo by WGINY
Even the more typical New Orleans dishes at Masq tended to have a unique twist. The jambalaya, usually made to share, was topped with creamy goat cheese to "smooth out," Getzelman said, the fiery kick of the hot Andouille sausage. A cajun shrimp po'boy and mac 'n cheese croquettes were both served with a spicy remoulade that rounded out those fried sensations without overpowering the taste. For a lighter flavor, we also had prosciutto fig flatbread, which was a rich reminder that there's no such thing as too much cheese. Covered with large slices of prosciutto, goat cheese, and shaved pecorino romano, there's so much going on that you don't even taste the flatbread, but you'll savor the savory blend nonetheless. Although I didn't get to try the Maryland crab cakes, I'm told it's one of the more popular dishes and that even guests from Maryland will swear that the crab cakes prepared at Masq are better than those at restaurants back home. Apparently some Southerners have also said this about the jambalaya. The menu is always a work in progress so make sure to speak up about what you like, and anything you don't. The chef takes your comments seriously and several former daily specials have become featured menu items. Look for a crawfish dish to make an appearance on Masq's main menu in the very near future.

Custom-Made Horseshoe Shaped Bar
Photo Courtesy of Masq
Of course, no good meal is complete without drinks, and there's no shortage of alcohol where a restaurant with Fat Tuesday roots is concerned. Seasonal cocktails rotate often at Masq, and some Fall and Winter favorites featured hints of pumpkin, apple, and pecan pie. You can also ask your server to suggest wine pairings to complement your meal. I enjoyed a white wine blend paired with the flatbread, "Le Tre Uve 2011 Bianco Di Valpanera Blend," which was a light Italian wine comprised of Chardonnay, Sauvingon and Verduzzo Friulano, and later a full-bodied Argentinian Malbec, "Alamos 2012," which paired richly with the jambalaya.

Masq Restaurant and Lounge is located at 309 E. 49th Street, between 1st & 2nd Aves, in Midtown East. Masq is open for both lunch and dinner, and you'll find happy hour specials at the bar from 4pm-8pm. In true New Orleans fashion, the restaurant closes for rest on Sundays.


Upcoming at Masq: A New Year's Eve masquerade for $80 in advance or $90 at the door includes a 5-hour open bar, 2 hours of some of Masq's best appetizers (buffet-style), live music, party favors, and a midnight champagne toast as the ball drop is broadcast on flatscreen TVs around the restaurant. After you ring in the new year, return on January 8 for the 2014 kickoff of Masq's Spotlight Lounge Music Series, when the restaurant transforms into a coffehouse scene with singer-songwriters taking the stage.

Masq's Private Party Room
Photo by WGINY
For private events, there is a party room in the back, designed to look like a sitting room, and maintaining the residential quality of the restaurant, with antique furniture, mirrors and other interesting pieces. The party room can hold approximately 45 guests. If you have a larger party, arrangements can be made to rent out the entire restaurant.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Unofficial Google+ Film Festival Goes Global

By Tami Shaloum

The third annual Unofficial Google+ Film Festival, which took place December 13-15, has concluded but viewers can still watch the nearly 80 short films and web series online. The festival was truly a global event, taking place through a series of live screenings and panels made viewable on Google Hangouts in locations as varied as London, Singapore, New Zealand, Mexico, and New York City. In addition, the festival brought together filmmakers from 23 countries around the world.

WGINY had the opportunity to attend the live event in New York at Katra, a Middle Eastern restaurant and lounge in the lower east side. The eight films screened were from Film Block 4, representing filmmakers from the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Of particular note are “Unplugged,” a visually unique, pro-nature animated film; “Love Squirts,” an über-short comedy that explores the fine art of zit-popping; “The Story of an Egg,” a documentary about the real meaning of terms such as “free range” and “cage free;” and “Los Santos (The Saints),” a comedy about a couple of inept kidnappers and the three couples they mistakenly detain.

The discussion afterward took place on Google Hangouts with some of the filmmakers and actors live in New York or streamed live on screen. Some film students from a university in Tijuana, Mexico were also in virtual attendance. It was interesting to see the way Hangouts was used to facilitate a Q&A. With only a few minor technical glitches, the conversation seemed to run smoothly. Some of the topics discussed included the number of submissions (500), the veracity of the mockumentary “Fished Out: The Truth Behind Lionfish Addiction” (inconclusive, as the filmmakers were playfully ambiguous), and the conceptualization of some of the films: “La Comida (The Meal),” “Fuck You, Lucy Pickens (The Orientation),” and “The Wood House.”

It’s nice to see some younger, newer filmmakers getting recognized for their work. Events like this really help to celebrate the diversity and creativity of film.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

New Year's Eve Party Updates

We're just about two weeks out from New Year's Eve and What's Good in New York continues to bring you updates on the hottest parties. 

Looking for some chic, festive revelry with a unique combination of live music (9 piece orchestra) and DJ? Check out the NYE Gala Party at Toshi's Living Room. Open bar, appetizers and midnight champagne toast are included. WGINY readers may get a special discount via promo code "earlytoshi," while supplies last. 

Have an appetite for an adventure at sea? Try a New Year's Eve cruise with dinner and dancing. With the New York City skyline behind you and fireworks above you, you've never seen New York on New Year's quite like this. 

Focusing on Times Square? Check out these Balldrop.com events. Enjoy the magic of Times Square while you bowl at Frames, play arcade games at Dave and Busters, catch a movie at AMC Theaters, or dine, dance and drink the night away at a host of neighborhood clubs and restaurants. Some packages include exclusive access to balconies and terraces where you can watch the ball drop while avoiding the large crowds in the streets below. 

Seeking a world-class nightclub or luxury lounge with DJs that will rock your socks off? Best New Year's has a party for you and every New Year's Eve package includes open bar. 

Not the nightclub type? Kick back at a local pub, or try several in one night with a PubCrawls.com package.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse: An Intimate, VIP Music and Culinary Venue Designed Exclusively For You.

There's something intriguing at the corner of 26th & Broadway. If you've passed by this corner in the past two or so years, you've probably noticed the big picture windows looking in on an alluring lounge with live music endlessly reverberating through the glass walls. What you're glimpsing is a taste of Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse, a chic, modern take on what could be a prohibition era music club, except there's definitely alcohol available here.

Pop/Rock/Hip-Hop Band "Hello Brooklyn" is Kinetic at Toshi's Living Room
Despite the large open windows, step inside Toshi's and you will instantly feel whisked away into an intimate, VIP music and culinary venue designed exclusively for you. Toshi's Living Room really aims to embody its name, as an inviting space where you can feel like family yet be treated like royalty. Although owner Toshi's venue is part of his larger, luxurious Flatiron Hotel, this is unlike any hotel bar you've ever experienced, and to even call it a "hotel bar" does it no justice. With eclectic live music nightly and a hip crowd that often includes proprietor Robert "Toshi" Chan himself, and his dog Ponzu, Toshi's Living Room has real character and soul, with just the right amount of kitsch, to strike at your heart.

Whatever musical stylings you prefer, Toshi's has a show for you, often two shows in one night, mixing genres such as rock, pop, jazz, funk, motown, soul, acoustic, indie, dance, hip-hop and anything else you can envision. Come for a jazz show such as modern jazz vocalist Melanie Marod, who can scat like she was born for it, and enjoy dinner while her mellow music compliments your meal. While the volume of an early evening jazz show is kept at a low enough level for patrons to carry on conversation, the performer still remains the focus of the room.

Dance the Night Away to Radiant Rock, Pop, Jazz and  Other Musical Stylings
Later in the evenings, find a radiant rock or pop band, such as Brooklyn-based cover band, Hello Brooklyn, whose lead singers, Liz Reagan and Ray Ramos blew me away at a recent Toshi's Living Room show with their talented versatility and their come hither ability to draw dancers to the aisles. Even Toshi couldn't escape the charisma, as I glimpsed him grooving in his seat. The vibrant and captivating female lead, Liz Regan, was cheeky yet magnetic as she fluently covered tunes from Amy Winehouse to Adele, Bon Jovi, and Sublime, and Rihanna to Cee Lo Green, Guns N' Roses and Daft Punk, while the breakout rap and rock genius of Ray Ramos, kept the band's set fresh and interesting. I was excited to learn that, beginning January 9, 2014, Hello Brooklyn will be playing a weekly Thursday night show at Toshi's Living Room.

Not surprisingly, music isn't the only reason to visit Toshi's. Come dine on the "Food of Love," imbibe some "Glasses of Happiness," or try the seasonal, rotating menu of cuisine and cocktails. Although there's never a cover for music, be prepared to pay premium prices for beverages, and rightly so for the exclusive experience and entertainment value at Toshi's. Try the Mango Tango, a rum based drink crafted with a hint of mint and a fruity infusion of mango and lime, or consider ordering some wine from "Toshi Vineyards" Private Reserve.

Hungry? To start, enjoy the tangy Avocado Mango Ceviche, made with baby shrimp, calamari, and avocado and mango of course, but also mixed with a special blend of jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, onion and cherry tomato to create a delightfully piquant array of flavors. Crouch close to your plate with Ninja Calamari, a spicy, crispy brown appetizer that's big enough for 2-4 people to share, though with a palatable Wasabi/Togarashi seasoning, and sweet contrasting plum sauce, you may want to keep it all to yourself. With more than ten "small plate" options including an assortment of appetizers, salad, and focaccia, you may just find that you'll fill up on these as I did. However, Toshi's menu also offers enticing entrees available for even the most discerning diner, including beef, seafood and vegetarian options.

The "Living Room" Crowd Enjoys an Evening Out at Toshi's 
A mention must also be made of the elegant yet tasteful decor, and the mesmerizing aquarium centered between Toshi's Living Room and the entrance to the Flatiron Hotel. The aquarium is accompanied by an informative iPad where patrons can click to find information on the beautiful fish in Toshi's tank. Find out more about the colorful and unusual marine life such as "Bubbles the Kole Yellow Eye Tang," "Ramona the Remora," or "Zeus the Henichus Black & White Butterfly Fish." Get a better view of these fish from the mezzanine, where you can sit and let the bands play on in the background below you, or use the restroom facilities which are located on this level. From the lobby, head all the way upstairs to Toshi's Penthouse and overlook the iconic skyline that defines New York City.

What's even more impressive is that despite little to no advertising, rather growing a fan base by only word of mouth, it is a rare night that leaves Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse with empty seats. You would be hard-pressed to guess that this is "Toshi" Chan's first venture into the hotel/restaurant business. Read more about how Toshi's legendary parties gained him notoriety in New York before he opened up the Flatiron Hotel and its corresponding "Penthouse" and "Living Room." Aside from his business and mixology experience, the bulk of his background is as an artist and actor, a trait that helps him select the best of the best when it comes to performers who grace his stage. Though Toshi at times scours the city looking for new talent, for the most part these days emerging talent finds him, and new acts are free to submit to an audition. Changing acts are always being added to the lineup so check the Event Calendar for the most up-to-date information on performances.

Toshi is a purveyor of arts not just in the entertainment scene, but as a philanthropist as well. His toshiNow Foundation aims to introduce the arts to the youngest of New Yorkers, with music and art lessons, and scholarship opportunities for "tots, tweens and tweens." Learn about the toshiNow Mission, and look out for a fundraising event in early 2014.

Speaking of 2014, if you haven't yet found a place to party this New Year's Eve, Toshi's New Year's Eve Gala is certain to be a night of festive revelry that you won't soon forget. Separate events will be taking place at the Living Room and the Penthouse, but both parties will include live music, a 6 hour open bar, appetizers and a midnight champagne toast. Early bird prices may still be in effect if you act quickly.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fostering Change for Children Raises $11,000+ At Its Annual Holiday For Change Fundraiser.

Fostering Change for Children Co-Founder
April Dinwoodie Speaks at "Holiday for Change"
Last Wednesday, December 4, Fostering Change for Children held its 3rd Annual Holiday Fundraiser, "Holiday For Change," raising $11,000 for child welfare awareness and initiatives, and once again surpassing their target fundraising goal for the holiday fundraising event. Fostering Change for Children is a non-profit that works to improve the lives of children and families through programs such as Adoptment, a mentoring program that pairs adults who were formerly adopted or in the foster care system with children currently in foster care, and Children's Corps, a "Teach for America" style two-year work corps for social workers and caseworkers interested in child welfare and youth work.


Although this was Fostering Change for Children's 3rd Holiday Social, the organization celebrated the 10th Anniversary of its Adoptment program, originally realized by Fostering Change Co-Founder and Vice President of the Board, April Dinwoodie. This year's event honored long-time Board Member and Adoptment Mentor, Robert Chirlian, who was surrounded by at least three of his former mentees as he expressed both his gratitude for and dedication to this pioneering charity. Mr. Chirlian spoke of the holiday season and how, because of Fostering Change for Children, "instead of having nowhere to go this Thanksgiving," many of the children on whose behalf the organization works were able to share their holiday with family.

Fostering Change for Children also works to combat the high turnover rate for children's welfare workers in New York City. While the local child welfare system tends to yield a 60% retention rate, Children's Corps retains 87% of its child welfare workers annually. I had the opportunity to speak with several Children's Corps members, many of whom who raved about their experiences working "hands on" with children on a daily basis, most often in association with Family Court permanency proceedings. One thing was abundantly clear -- Children's Corps members have a passion for protecting and advocating for children's rights and wellbeing. Alana Mihovics, a student of both social work and law, noted that she had "looked at [the system] from both sides" and "found it interesting to consider ... ways to improve the system" via a more "holistic approach" as a Children's Corps member. The other common response from Corps members was a deep appreciation for the support system that the program offered them, often as young professionals just starting out in their careers. Miriam Kwietniewska, another Corps member, exclaimed that she "love[d] [her] job," could not have done it without the support of the Corps/Fostering Change for Children, and that she was "intrigued" by the genuineness of the field into which she was essentially thrust, and the "courageous people" she encountered within. Ms. Kwietniewska enjoyed working to keep children "safe and comfortable," with a goal of providing them with "some kind of loving environment." Typically, Corps members are recruited from various disciplines including social work, law, and psychology.

With over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States at any given time, Fostering Change for Children acts as a beacon of light for children in a confusing and murky system.  According to the organization's website, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Barry Chaffkin, LCSW "believes that every child deserves a safe and permanent family, and [he] has dedicated his life to finding new and creative ways to achieve this." Together, and with the support of their staff and board, Chaffkin and Dinwoodie have established an organization that takes hold of neverending opportunities to impact the lives of children and families.

This holiday season, consider donating to this worthy cause, or if you're looking for deeper involvement, become a Children's Corps member or an Adoptment mentor. And don't forget about their diverse training programs in the field of child welfare. There are so many ways to help.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Leslie DiNicola: Man, You Should Hear This Woman Sing.

By Heather K.
Edited by Lauren L. 


You may not know who Leslie DiNicola is yet, but man, you should hear this woman sing. In her three years on the “New York music scene,” she has already released three EPs, with a fourth album in the works for 2014.
Leslie DiNicola at Arlene's Grocery
With an all-male band backing her this past November, DiNicola played a weekly Saturday night residency at Arlene’s Grocery, a Lower East Side music venue that since 1995 has played host to upcoming rock, alternative and indie artists. Ever heard of a little band called “The Strokes”? They once had a residency at Arlene’s Grocery. 

Not every soprano can belt out Demi Lovato, Jewel, Journey, and Dolly Parton within minutes of each other, but Leslie DiNicola has got it down. Add to that a firm selection of emotive original music, and it becomes no secret that this girl is going places. DiNicola often pens her lyrics based on her own personal experiences, such as the touching song, “Weight,” about a friend who had passed away. 

Leslie DiNicola's special talent for rock ballads really shines on songs like Journey's "Separate Ways," a challenging song for any band to master, let alone a female vocalist, yet DiNicola achieves it with apparent ease and enduring devotion to the music that is evident from her presentation of it. Perhaps ironically then, her original music tends to evoke a lighter, earthier mood and a soulful style that you'll want to sing along to. 

Explore her music and discography here, and check her on January 8, 2014, at 7pm, at The Bowery Electric.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Where to Celebrate New Year's Eve 2014 in NYC

By Tami Shaloum with Contributions by Heather K.  

It’s almost New Year’s Eve, and instead of scratching your head wondering what you’re going to do this year, let What’s Good in NY bring you the scoop on the hottest parties around the city.

One unique option to welcome 2014 is a party cruise around Manhattan perfectly poised to view the fireworks display at midnight. NewYearsCruise.com offers 11 different yachts from which to choose. All cruises include dinner, dancing, an open bar, and spectacular views of New York City, with complete packages starting at only $125. The Hornblower Infinity and Cornucopia Majesty are two yachts that also include a champagne toast at midnight, the perfect setting for that special night you’ve always dreamed of. Other boats include the rock n’ roll-themed Lucille Yacht and several family-friendly options. Get the best deals on cruises by booking online at http://whatsgoodinny.ievents.com/type:cruise/new-york/new-york, and use code WGINY5 to receive 5% off any New Year's Eve cruise. 

BallDrop.com brings you all the nightclubs, restaurants, bars, lounges, hotels, and other unique venues around Times Square that are hosting NYE parties. For an 80s throwback, try the Culture Club. General admission includes a 5-hour open bar, four floors of DJs, party favors, and a champagne toast at midnight. Two other playful options are Frames Bowling Lounge and Bowlmor, featuring bowling, a buffet, DJs, and an open bar. Lucky Cheng’s offers fun, interactive drag performers, passed hors d’oeuvres, dancing, and an open bar. Many of the parties referenced in WGINY's Times Square New Year's Eve 2012 post can be found at BallDrop.com. Choose your New Year's Eve experience and buy your tickets at http://whatsgoodinny.ievents.com/type:new-years/new-york/new-york

If luxury nightclubs, lavish rooftops and exclusive VIP spots strike your fancy, you may be interested in some of the hippest parties around town from BestNewYears.com. Go for the bling at Stage 48, voted NYC's #1 New Year's Eve nightclub for 2014, get posh at the The DL's chic rooftop lounge, or cuddle up in a more intimate space at Union Square Ballroom, among other venues. General admission to any "Best New Year's" event comes with a 3-6 hour open bar, depending on venue, and tickets start as low as $75. Buy them at heatherk.bestnewyears.com/newyork

Maybe you'd rather not stick to one spot. PubCrawls.com has got your bar hopping needs covered with enough options to satisfy everyone in your party. Their official New Year's Eve Pub Crawl offers $3 draft beers and 2-for-1 mixed well drinks at participating venues. Your night begins at Bar None near Union Square and continues all the way into the wee hours. Pub Crawls tickets can also be purchased at http://whatsgoodinny.ievents.com/type:pub-crawl/new-york/new-york.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show is Back in Full Loco-Motion!

The New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show is back in full loco-motion, forging ahead this season with more trains than ever before!

Trains at the Holiday Train Show Pass by Iconic NYC Buildings
Photo Courtesy of  The New York Botanical Garden 
Last year, WGINY had the opportunity to attend the 2012 Holiday Train Show, full of "g-scale" model trains and exquisitely detailed replicas of New York City landmarks. Creator Paul Busse's whimsical, artistic creations have been on view annually at NYBG for over 20 years.

Photo Courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden
This year's show at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory Courtyard includes most of the scenes from last year, and builds on them with fun new attractions such as a model of a Metro-North train winding around Hudson River Valley mansions, a "Streets of New York" holiday dining pavilion, and a "Holiday Adventures" activity area for kids in the Everett Children's Adventure Garden. For the adults-only, consider visiting the show during a Bar Car Night, and enjoy a complimentary cocktail while viewing the exhibition, and then head to the Conservatory Courtyard to watch special ice carving demonstrations throughout the evening.

Additionally, on Saturday, November 23, at 2pm, U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins will be reading special poetry selections, including train-themed works, to a sold out crowd at the Botanical Garden's Ross Hall.

An All-Garden Pass to the New York Botanical Garden, which includes admission to the Holiday Train Show, starts at $20 for adults, and $10 for children ages 2-12, and 30% off may be available for select weekday tickets with promo code "9036" online. You need a timed ticket for entry to the exhibition, and advanced reservations are highly recommended for this popular show.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Holiday Train Show website.

Photo Courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden
Want a chance to win tickets to the Holiday Train Show?

The first person to correctly a train-themed poem by Billy Collins in the comments will win a family-four pack of tickets to visit the Holiday Train Show (admission to Collins' reading not included). Tickets will be mailed to the winner.


Friday, November 15, 2013

New York City Bar Chorus 20th Anniversary Show is TODAY at 7pm

Today, the New York City Bar Chorus marks its 20th year of "musical pro bono" with its benefit concert at the New York City Bar Association, 42 W. 44th Street, at 7pm. See WGINY's prior post for more info.

The "CBC" was recently featured on NY1's "Your Weekend Starts Now" segment, at :45. NY1's Stephanie Simon reports, "If you must have a brush with the law, this should be it."

The members of the CBC were also "New Yorkers of the week" in 2004, again featured on NY1, as that "Choir of Legal Eagles Entertain[ing] The Community For Free."

As the Chorus' event announcement notes, "Whether you are a long-time fan or have never before heard the CBC, there is no better time to see them shine."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

“The Power of Poison” Injects Mystery into The American Museum of Natural History

By Tami Shaloum

What’s your poison? Is it odorless, tasteless arsenic? Perhaps it is a venomous snake? Or maybe it’s the theobromine found in chocolate, which is highly toxic to dogs? Yes, these are just a few of the diverse poisons that are explored in The American Museum of Natural History’s new exhibit “The Power of Poison.” We all know that poison is used for many evils, as well as for protection, but did you know that poisons could also be used in medicines to help people heal from a wide variety of ills? This exhibit, curated by Dr. Mark Siddall, provides an educational and entertaining look at poisons found in nature, myths and legends, history, and literature.

We begin by entering a replica of the Chocó Rain Forest in Colombia, where many forms of venomous wildlife exist. The different flora and fauna on display showcase their toxic nature often used as protection. Here you will find the typical Museum of Natural History dioramas featuring both live and replica models of animals. Model bugs are magnified to three times their original size, live golden poison frogs demonstrate that being tiny doesn’t make a creature any less deadly, and a video recreates a mysterious real-life poisoning by newt.

Golden Poison Frog Photograph Provided By AMNH
Next, we enter the realm of the fantastic, where stories, myths, and legends come alive, and famous figures come under scrutiny for their connection to poison. Have you ever wondered why the Alice in Wonderland character is called the Mad Hatter? (The answer is actually based in the history of the hat-making process.) What were those witches in Macbeth really brewing in their cauldrons? Other characters on display include Snow White and the poisoned apple; Harry Potter and the bezoar, known as a universal antidote to poisons; Westley and Vizzini’s battle of wits from The Princess Bride (Did you know you really can’t immunize yourself against poison by consuming a small amount every day?); and Hercules and the Hydra, told cleverly by animation projected onto clay pots. These stories are broken down to explore the use of these poisons and learn more about their effects. One particularly amusing display is about people who practiced witchcraft by brewing potions and claiming they could fly. Guess what: They were really just doped up!

Alice in Wonderland "Tea Party" Image Provided By AMNH
Macbeth "Witches Brew" Photo Provided By AMNH
Other displays include protective charms and amulets such as frankincense, gold, and bezoars; poison detectors like opal, toadstones, and silver spoons; and a cool, interactive “Enchanted Book” to help you learn more about different legends. Another interesting feature of the exhibit is a toxicology demonstration where an actor walks the audience through a mystery of an actual poisoning that occurred in the 19th century that facilitated the introduction of forensic evidence in court cases. She then invites everyone to move on to the next room to try and solve three more mysteries.

This exhibit is great fun for all ages, especially if you’re into mythology, nature, or just curious about poison. It’s interactive, engaging, and very informative. The exhibit opens on Saturday, November 16, 2013 and runs through August 10, 2014. Visit "The Power of Poison" exhibition website for more information.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

New York City Bar Chorus Celebrates 20 Years of "Musical Pro Bono" with November 15th Benefit Show

Big-city lawyers tend to get a "bum rap." However, for the past 20 years, the New York City Bar Chorus, directed by Kathryn E. Schneider, Esq., and accompanied by Matthew V. Grieco, Esq., has shown off the more "harmonious" instincts of legal professionals at community outreach venues across New York City, where they provide "musical pro bono." The 80+-member chorus is led by and composed entirely of legal professionals, including lawyers, legal assistants, law students, law librarians, as well as the occasional judge. (Note: Heather K., founder of WGINY, and a lawyer for a local non-profit organization, is a member of the New York City Bar Chorus.)

Since 1993, the chorus has staged well over 200 performances at its outreach venues, including senior residences, AIDS and cancer support centers, homeless shelters, and rehabilitation facilities. The group has also done the occasional "glamor gig" for legal luminaries, and has appeared three times on television, including as NY 1 News "New Yorkers of the Week."

Since residents at many of the chorus's outreach venues request privacy, its shows are not often open to the public. But, in honor of its Twentieth Anniversary, the chorus is staging a celebratory benefit show on Friday, November 15, 2013, at 7pm, at the New York City Bar Association, which is open to the public. This performance will showcase the CBC's diverse repertoire, ranging from Queen to Dolly Parton, Gershwin to gospel, and West Side Story to Pippin and Wicked, and raise money for the chorus and the City Bar Fund, the pro bono affiliate of the City Bar. Quoted in a recent press release, City Bar President Carey R. Dunne has said, "I think they sound more like singers who practice law than lawyers who sing."

Check out the chorus' event listing or join the Facebook invite for the "New York City Bar Chorus 20th Anniversary Concert," and preview the chorus's professional and uplifting sound on YouTube.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Radio Theatre's "Dracula": You've Never Seen Bram Stoker Like This.

Looking for a Halloween themed activity this weekend? Try a spooky rendition of Dracula by Radio Theatre NYC. "Radio Theatre" is a modern take on the radio programs of yesteryear, presenting theatrical interpretations of actors reading story-scripts at radio mics, but before a live studio audience.

Stephanie Heitman as a Vampire Bride in Dracula
Photo by R. Patrick Alberty (Dracula's own Jonathan Harker) Used With Permission
The Dracula storytellers, for the most part, do not interact with each other on stage, though their stage presence and demeanor, and the deep passion in their voices creates vivid imagery for the audience without too much stretch of the imagination required. For those who do need a little more scenery to paint that perfect picture, there's a homemade fog machine queued up to spew smoke at any moment that calls for a chilling atmosphere.

In Dracula, like in Bram Stoker's original vision, there are several key characters -- Count Dracula of course (read by Patrick Halloran), solicitor Jonathan Harker (R. Patrick Alberty), his wife Mina Harker (Olivia Obaressi), Mina's friend Lucy Westerna (Stephanie Heitman), and prominent vampire hunter, Dr. Van Helsing (Joshua Nicholson). The story's narrator, voiced by the show's director, Frank Zilinyi, is presumably asylum keeper, Dr. John Seward, from Bram Stoker's novel, though his famous eccentric patient Renfield is conspicuously absent. The cast works together reading the story on stage as if they are living it, voices both taunting and trembling, with blood curdling screams abound.

Radio Theatre's Dracula has made it through several layers of adaptation before hitting Horse Trade's Kraine Theater. The original novel was adapted for radio by Orson Welles, legendary for his October 30, 1938 panic-causing War of the Worlds radio broadcast. In fact, Welles' Dracula broadcast hit the airwaves more than three months before War of the Worlds. Since then, Dan Bianchi has re-re-adapted Dracula for the modern "radio theatre" goers. Though, presumably, no one listening to the 1938 Dracula broadcast believed they should actually fear vampires at their windows and doors, theatergoers at Bianchi's current-running Dracula production may become so engrossed as to believe Dracula could creep up behind them in their seats at any moment, hungry for blood.

Like the Count's coffins of earth, time is running out for Dracula with only two more shows left this season. See it on Sundays, November 3 or 10, at 3pm, before it takes flight. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $15 for students/seniors/military, and are available for purchase online, at the door, or by calling 212-868-4444. The Kraine Theater is located at 85 East 4th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.

Monday, October 28, 2013

David’s RedHaired Death Captures the Joys and Sorrows of Love and Loss

By Tami Shaloum 

There is something interesting going on in the back of a Mexican restaurant in Williamsburg and it’s not the fine cuisine. It’s LA SALA, an innovative performance space located in Cantina Royal. The room is equipped with high ceilings, blank walls, a projector, cabaret tables and a bar, and is especially well suited to the imaginative multimedia two-woman show, David’s RedHaired Death. The experimental play happens to make good use of the high ceilings, with the addition of two male aerialists, and the vast walls, with images and video projected onto three walls of the space.

The story is simple enough: two red-haired women, Jean and Marilyn, are introduced through an unseen mutual friend and fall in love. Right away, it seems as though they are soul mates. Aside from their shared hair color—a detail that threads throughout the play—they smoke the same cigarettes, have the same family composition, and often say the same things at the same time. Half the play deals with exploring this sudden and surprising mutual admiration. Interwoven in this narrative is the death of Jean’s brother, David. This, we know from the beginning (and the title), is imminent. It is the aftermath of that event that we do not see coming and which, along with the complexity of emotions the two actresses convey, adds some really deep intensity to the story.

The performances by Diana Beshara as Jean and Elizabeth Simmons as Marilyn are nothing short of magnetic. The two actresses are charming and exude chemistry as they flirt and discuss the many benefits of being a redhead. Sherry Kramer’s writing is quite poetic at times and utilizes repetition to great dramatic effect. The story seems to be set in some heightened reality, enhanced by dim lighting and an all white set with a red accent. My one technical complaint is that the aerialists, while skilled, seem a bit superfluous. They pop in about four times throughout the show, apropos of nothing, and perform their gravity defying moves. I understand the use of them in conveying the literal fall of a character, but it took me out of the story rather than enriching it.

If the first act is as dreamy as new love, shit gets real in the second act. All of a sudden, the red-haired curtain gets lifted and we see all the unnatural, brassy highlights. The dialogue ceases to be as lyrical. While it is admirable to let the tone shift a little, it is a little too jarring in this case. It seems as though the entire storytelling device changes. This is accentuated by a phone call that should have been a monologue, but instead we have to endure a hackneyed recording and pretend it is a dialogue. The story could have advanced without this detail.

Configuring the space to the performance and vice versa is an interesting way to deepen the story and inject some energy into the space as though it were another character. This is hopefully a theatrical device that continues to evolve. Even without it, David’s RedHaired Death is still a profound exploration of joy and sorrow, a juxtaposition of the bliss of new love and the depression that can overwhelm us, and a testament to the limits of love.

David’s RedHaired Death is currently playing at LA SALA in the back room of Cantina Royal at 58 North 3rd Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Performances are running until November 10 on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets include a free beer.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Regular Friday Night Romp, "Off The Top Of Our Heads" Has Witty Performers Who Think On Their Toes.

Reprinted with permission
"What are you doing Friday night?" A typical question in our anything but typical Gotham City. Enter Gotham City Improv's Friday night romp, "Off The Top Of Our Heads," a witty and entertaining, fully improvised show that's sure to start your night off right. While many NYC improvisation troupes perform "longform" or "Harold" improv, taking audience suggestions to create full story-scenes, "Off The Top Of Our Heads" specializes in "shortform" improv, and in doing so presents a scintillating variety show.

WGINY recently attended a Friday night performance of "Off The Top Of Our Heads," and was impressed by how quickly the actors could come up with one-liners and quirky dialogue, only moments after a new idea was presented.  The audience was involved in nearly every aspect of the improvisations, as the joking, charismatic Artistic Director, Marc Adam Smith, ran several series of interactive games to get the show going. Smith was a fine MC whose ability to interject himself into scenes at the most unexpected times kept the show fresh and entertaining.

Every few minutes, scenes were changed and altered, and new layers of absurdness ensued, as actors were rotated in and out of the spotlight. There were five performers, in addition to the Director, and each seemed to personify a different personality trait throughout the show, even as they portrayed varying improvised characters. The vibrant, expressive Nannette Deasy had an innate ability to think on her toes and cause raucous laughter as as result. Maddie O'Hara tended to charm as a proverbial "girl-next-door," Christopher Boerger had no trouble making apathy amusing, Curt Dixon's exaggerated style gave him a special glamour, and Alex Decaneas' eccentricity only served to further add to the blithesome frivolity of the evening. Although I understand not all are "regular" castmembers, I have rarely seen such a cohesive, connected group of improv performers. Scenes and jokes flowed like whimsical anecdotes across the stage and into the audience aisles (quite literally at one point...watch where you sit!).

"Off The Top Of Our Heads," showing every Friday night at 8pm, is a great way to kickoff a weekend, or let loose after a long work week. Tickets are only $10, and Goldstar is currently running a 50% off promotion.

Gotham City Improv is located at 48 W. 21st Street, between 5th and 6th Ave. For more information, follow GCI on Facebook and Twitter, and check out their promo video on Yelp!. GCI also holds improv classes (including FREE sample classes), and has a full calendar of other improv shows.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Accidental Pervert" Contest Winner, Joey S., Is A Cut Above!

The winner of WGINY's "Accidental Pervert" embarrassing childhood story contest is also comically engaging. Joey S., of New York, New York, discusses his "Scalp Lock" haircut and even models it in pictures:

Most of my [childhood] embarrassments weren’t entirely evident to me until well after the fact, and sadly, most of them lasted much longer than was necessary. Yes, there was that time when I wet the bed at the age of 10, but then again, who hasn’t? And sure, I may have been the last guy in elementary school to get the memo that wearing the same color sweat suit wasn’t the cool way to dress, but honestly, it was easier and extremely comfortable. At the end of the day (today), there has to be one story that takes the cake… and so here goes:

On my sixth birthday, I decided to get a haircut. I was really interested in Native American Indians at the time, and there were some re-enactors in the area that I wanted to be like. My newly 6 year old self decided that I would get a “Scalp Lock,” which, for the few of you who are not acquainted with Iroquois culture, is a completely shaved head minus a long ‘block’ of hair directly in the center. (Clarification: This is not a rat tail. It is significantly worse.)






















The haircut wasn’t so much embarrassing as the 5 years afterwards when I continued to sport this look. I was “that kid,” the one with the weird hair. Perhaps it would have made a difference if I had pursued any reenacting, but I didn’t, and honestly, perhaps it still wouldn’t have. My parents deserve a gold star for championing individuality, and my Dad did say it made me much easier to find on the soccer field. As I’m sure most of you can guess, this hairstyle coupled with the aforementioned same-color sweat suits was double trouble for the ladies.  Mercifully, I put an end to the madness when I created the “change is good” slogan Obama later adopted in his 2008 campaign. 



Congratulations to Joey S! (And here's hoping he sports a better haircut on his night with "The Accidental Pervert"). 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Glimpse Into Rich Global Cultures and Human Stories at the AMNH's Margaret Mead Film Festival

By Tami Shaloum 

If you have ever wanted an insider’s glimpse into another culture without the expense and inconvenience of traveling, you will definitely want to check out the 2013 Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History this weekend. Beginning Thursday, October 17 and running through Sunday, October 20, the Mead festival features over 40 films and events documenting and showcasing many of the rich cultures from around the world and the human stories that connect us all. It will conclude on Sunday night with an award ceremony and dance party featuring the only all-female mariachi band, Mariachi Flor de Toloache.

The events running throughout the weekend include musical performances, talks and art installations, all free with the purchase of a film ticket. Films include Chimeras, which talks about modern Chinese identity and Western influence in the art world; Cinéma Inch’Allah!, about four Belgian-Moroccan filmmakers friends; The Infamous T, which features a queer and homeless American teenager; and Three Voices (Diario a Tres Voces), which weaves the stories of three Mexican females into a study of what it means to be a woman. Cultural tourism figures into several of the films this year, from Papua New Guinea in Cannibal Tours, to Ethiopia in Framing the Other, to Bolivia, Thailand, Mali and Bhutan in Gringo Trails.

WGINY is highlighting the opening night film and Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Contender Miss Nikki and the Tiger Girls. This film will change your perspective on Myanmar. Miss Nikki is an Australian woman determined to form Myanmar’s first all-girl band. The Tiger Girls are her creation. She manages them, trains them, styles them, writes music, and choreographs their dances. Although the Girls’ music pervades the film, the story of the band is only half the focus, the other half being Myanmar itself. Long governed under harsh military rule, this country in Southeast Asia is as compelling a subject as the five vibrant young women talking about their dreams of becoming international pop stars. Myanmar’s strict censorship laws made it difficult for any kind of creative expression, especially those pertaining to politics and anything that goes against the ideal of a proper Burmese female. These six women persist despite these setbacks, even when it is clear that the country is not quite ready for such a concept. It’s an underdog story, although it’s clear these girls are bolstered by privileged Western entities. For instance, would they have even existed if not for a manager who is clearly being supported by her wealthy boyfriend? It is unlikely that the Burmese production company they are signed to in the beginning would have even taken them on without Nikki’s presence. Also, we are not given a satisfying reason as to Nikki’s motivations to forming the band and her experience with this kind of business. There is no real thoughtful discussion about the pros and cons of Western influence on their culture. Some of the girls express doubts about the changing pro-democracy government, but it is dismissed as something they will have to get used to. Ultimately, it’s a story about five girls from different backgrounds coming together and becoming close friends who also happen to make music together. It is filled with spirited and youthful dreams, but also the every day realities the girls face as they struggle with money, family and success.

Monday, October 14, 2013

"Accidental Pervert" is "Comically Engaging," and You Can Win Tickets Here!

Enter What's Good in New York's latest contest to win two tickets to see "Accidental Pervert," a play that TheatreMania finds"Comically Engaging" and BroadwayWorld describes as a "A Wild Roller Coaster Ride!"

Through this one-man Off-Broadway show, comedian Andrew Goffman brings to life the true story of how accidentally stumbling upon his father's collection of pornographic videos, at the ripe pre-pubescent age of eleven, turned him into an erotica-enthused teenager and young adult, and stuck with him through his twenty-sixth year, when he met his wife.

Andrew Goffman, as writer and sole performer in "Accidental Pervert," takes the audience on a charmingly unexpected, bawdy journey through his childhood pornography addiction. Watch a preview here, as Goffman explains that "in a strange way [Accidental Pervert] is actually a tribute" to his father, the unintended purveyor of his first major encounter with pornography.

Catch a performance of "Accidental Pervert" every Friday and Saturday night at 7pm, at The 13th Street Repertory Company. Regular tickets are $49, or for $99, purchase a VIP ticket ("Very Important Pervert") to go backstage for a special tour of the theater, a meet and greet with both Andrew Goffman and the show's director, Charles Messina, an autographed show t-shirt, a reserved front row seat, and two complimentary drinks from concessions. However, WGINY readers can get general admission tickets at the special discount price of only $29, by using online code RRM29, or by ordering by phone, with code RRM29, at 212-352-3101.

Want a chance to win tickets? Send WGINY your best embarrassing childhood story. E-mail your submission (under 250 words please) to whatsgoodinny@gmail.com and the funniest story will win a pair of tickets to see "Accidental Pervert". Submissions are due on or before Friday, October 18 at 5pm, and the winner will be announced Wednesday, October 23, with the winning story posted.

Contest restrictions: Blackout dates may apply. Voucher for two free tickets expires November 20, 2013. WGINY contributors and immediate family are not eligible.Discount restrictions: Offer may be revoked at anytime and is subject to availability. Not valid on prior purchase. Offer cannot be combined with other discounts or promotions; blackout dates and restrictions may apply. Maximum of 8 tickets total with offer.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Italian Bistro, "Incognito," Surprises With Its Scottish Flair


Photo courtesy of Incognito Bistro
Last week, WGINY was invited to a press dinner at "Incognito," a Roman bistro with "Scottish flair." When NYC restaurants offer cuisine from two vastly different regions, the first thought diners typically have is fusion, and an expectation that individual menu items will each have influences from both cuisines. Incognito Bistro, however, surprises with the unexpected separation of its Italian and Scottish roots.

Despite that Executive Chef and Co-Owner Paolo Montana is Scottish-Italian, hailing from Glasgow, a "Scottish Corner" of the menu at Incognito was only added this past summer, although the bistro has been in business since July 2011. Chef Paolo's humble story of how he became General Manager and Executive Chef of one of the best Italian restaurants in Glasgow by the time he was twenty-four years old, prior to emigrating to the US, reveals that his true talent lies within and that perseverance really does pay off.

Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Paolo Montana
Photo courtesy of Incognito Bistro
Prosciutto and Rucola Pizza
photo by WGINY
Our meal for the evening, served tasting-course style, began with a Prosciutto and Rucola pizza, one of eight savory small pies on the expansive menu at Incognito. On top of fresh roasted tomato and mozzarella, a thick slice of prosciutto sat on each pizza wedge, waiting to be devoured. We next moved on to some appetizers, of which my favorite was a Baby Shrimp Timble seeping with cilantro and avocado that had an ambrosial effect as it evanesced in my mouth.

Risotto prepared with smoked mozzerella
Photo by WGINY



In the middle of the meal we enjoyed selections of pasta including a unusually smokey-style mozzarella Risotto, and a Carbonerapasta with a parmigiano sauce and hefty helpings of pancetta, at just the right texture to complement the pasta.

Three other plates also made it to my memory, at least two of which came from that recently introduced "Scottish Corner," featuring upscale, creative versions of classic Scottish fare. There was the tasting of "Isle of Skye Scallops," made with scallops literally flown in from the Isle of Skye in Scotland, and the "Highland Haggis," Chef Paolo's take on Scotland's national dish.


Highland Haggis
Photo by WGINY

The scallops were pan roasted and prepared with a velvety butter sauce known as fennel beurre blanc. As for the haggis, I admittedly was wholly unfamiliar with this delicacy until Chef Paolo introduced it to me. I especially use the word delicacy, as patrons who know the history of haggis may be turned off by the idea of it, yet at Incognito the lamb sausage, turnip, and creamed potato sampling set in a light whisky au jus sauce really was a hidden treat, pleasant and soft and tantalizing. And that's the crux of Incognito right there -- it's exactly the opposite of what you'd expect.


Isle of Skye scallop tasting
Photo by WGINY
Not all of the items we sampled are included on the regular menu, but the menu changes seasonally, and if Chef Paolo gets to know you (and like you) as a customer, you may even be able to convince him to create something special just for you. As seems to be the trend with emerging restaurants, Paolo uses local and organic ingredients wherever possible, but yet again he goes a step further and is willing to accommodate special dietary needs, such as requests for gluten-free pasta.




Incognito's large, open dining area is both modern and vintage
Photo courtesy of Incognito Bistro
The story of Chef Paolo would not be complete without mention of his beautiful and charming wife and Co-Owner, Adriana Moretti. They may be the most down to earth power couple you will ever meet, and the restaurant works because of their hard work together, which brings me to the decor at Incognito. Richly painted columns adorn the large open dining area, and here's another surprise -- it's Adriana's mother, Scottish artist, Patricia Moretti, who is responsible for the colorful pastels. The atmosphere is at once both sleekly modern and suggestively vintage, with custom-made tables and chairs, and a leather banquette, watched over by black-and-white photographs of yore.


Never-ending dessert platter
Photo by WGINY
There's also a private room for parties or the occasional celebrity guest (yes, Incognito has gotten some, and no I can't tell you who, it's incognito!). Other special menu offerings include an all day bar menu, including both food and cocktails, where the "happy hour" never ends, as well as pre-theatre and lunch menus. Incognito even delivers.

Any good evening should end with a fine dessert, and ours did. Offered a selection of every dessert on the current menu, the standouts for me were a rich, creamy, chocolate torte glazed with caramel sauce, and a smooth vanilla panna cotta with a berry compote.

The award-winning Incognito Bistro may be tucked away inconspicuously in the Flatiron district of New York City, but it's not staying hidden very well, and if you have the chance to try it you'll see why. Try it on a Tuesday night for a taste of the new live jazz program, or on any other night of the week, except Sunday, which Paolo and Adriana take off for a well-deserved day of rest. And if you're wondering about the plaid ties your wait staff are wearing, read all about "Clan Italia," as Incognito becomes the first US restaurant to feature Italian Tartan. In fact, as far as WGINY can find, Incognito is the only restaurant in NYC offering both Italian and Scottish fare together.

Incognito Italian Bistro is located at 30 West 18th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. Reservations can be made by phone or online at opentable.com.