Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Giano Restaurant & Wine Bar is a Gem in the East Village

An East Village gem, Giano Restaurant & Wine Bar blends "innovation and tradition" with its uniquely home-style Italian fare. Enter into the sophisticated, warmly lit restaurant, and the charming staff will make you feel like you're family. Don't be put off if your waiter caresses your shoulder while taking your order... It's not a cheap come on, but rather a further example that customers at Giano are more like comrades than mere consumers. 
Interior of Giano Restaurant & Wine Bar
photo by Heather K.

Lasagna Bolognese
photo by Heather K.
For the hip foodies out there, Giano certainly offers some innovative menu items, such as last week's appetizer special - grilled asparagus wrapped in speck and covered with baked cheese. For those who come for the tradition, the menu is rich in Italian pasta entrees, made in house daily. There's the "gnocchi ai 4 formaggi" (four-cheese gnocchi), which the waiter can enthusiastically tell you "disappears in your mouth," or the Northern-Italian style "lasagna bolognese," prepared with only grass fed beef, and served with a heavenly B├ęchamel.
Rigatoni Con Fave e Pancetta
photo by Meredith Verona
For that innovation/tradition blend, there's the "Rigatoni con fave e pancetta." Made with fava beans, pancetta, white wine and ricotta salata, but devoid of thick sauces, this dish tastes so light and healthy, you'll forget you're consuming a pasta dish. Though the pastas are filling and certainly enough to constitute a meal, if you prefer a meat or fish dish, there are also a handful of creative offerings that feature chicken, lamb, salmon, and cod.
Giano strives to use local and organic ingredients in many of its distinctive dishes. Although also a winebar, the focus on Giano is clearly the food. Somewhat surprisingly considering the ambiance and quality that Giano offers, entrees are reasonably priced, with most pasta dishes around or below $15, and other entrees $18-23. With a voucher for $15 off, WGINY and a dining companion were able to enjoy two glasses of wine, two entrees and a dessert for under $50 before tip. 

Speaking of dessert, there's no official dessert menu, just two simple options - "French or Italian?". Despite a brazen plug by the waiter for "one of the top 5 tiramisu you've ever had," we choose the other dessert option, a creme brulee, which somehow came out both cold and burnt. Nevertheless, given how palatable the rest of our meal was, this has only convinced me that I need to return to Giano to try the tiramisu.

Giano is located at 126 East 7th Street, between 1st Avenue and A, and offers specialty menus for parties, prix-fix and brunch. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Livestream the Social Good Summit!

Due to a snafu with our press pass, WGINY will be unable to bring you live coverage of the Social Good Summit, but you can still livestream all the action here. (For languages other than English, click here).

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Vampire Weekend is Immediately Electrifying at Barclay's Center

Last night, indie rock's preppiest "boy band," Vampire Weekend, blazed onto the stage at Barclay's Center for their first-ever show at the massive Brooklyn arena. Lead singer and guitarist, Ezra Koenig, joked that the show would be a late record release party, celebrating the band's third studio album, "Modern Vampires of the City," which came out this past May. Even so, serious stage time was given to fan favorites from their first two albums-- the eponymous album that launched their fame, "Vampire Weekend," and their critically acclaimed sophomoric album, "Contra."

Vampire Weekend at Barclay's Center
Immediately electrifying the Barclay's crowd on Friday evening, Vampire Weekend energetically opened with "Cousins," and the audience was reveling on their feet for the remainder of the approximately one hour and fifteen minute set (sans encore, which went for another fifteen minutes or so). Fans old and new were placated with a mix of ethereal tunes from "Modern Vampires," such as "Enchanting Arms," and "Ya Hey," and peppy fan favorites from the first two albums, including "Horchata" and "A-Punk." The band continued to keep it ironic with songs like "Oxford Comma," and "Diane Young," and by the end of the night they had played well over half of their complete discography.

The showmanship was also stellar. Guitarist Chris Baio was jumping around the stage so much, his feet barely touched the floor, yet his playing was flawless. Rostam Batmanglij's skills on the synthesizer added the new wave touch to a variety of songs, while percussionist Chris Tomson kept me puzzled with his ever-rotating wardrobe of Nets jerseys.

As Koneig explained, though some of their lyrics may lead some fans to believe they're a Massachusetts-based band (e.g. "Walcott" and "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"), Vampire Weekend actually has its roots in New York City. The crowd roared at this and later went into a dance craze frenzy when the band closed its "spontaneous" encore with "Walcott."

Vampire Weekend has a long, global tour ahead of them, through January 2014, but no current plans to return to the NYC metro area. The closest show will be in Rochester, NY, on December 1.  To get your Vampire fix, you can stream singles from the new album, "Modern Vampires of the City" on Vampire Weekend's homepage, or purchase music and accessories here.

As for Barclay's as a music venue, the popular acts keep coming. Everyone from Phoenix to Justin Timberlake to Nine Inch Nails wants a piece of the action at Barclay's. However, the acoustics could be better, and the seats and rows could be wider. If you're excessively tall or heavyset, or have a leg injury, good luck fitting into a seat at Barclay's. With all the money that went into building the corporate-infused arena, one would think they would make it a little more comfortable for patrons. At least someone did think to give the seats comfortable back cushions (presumably funded by Metro PCS, as the company's name is embroidered into every chair).

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mashable's Social Good Summit Seeks Global Citizens

By Heather-Ann Schaeffner

Next week, at the start of UN week, What's Good in NY will be attending the Mashable Social Good Summit, where "big ideas meet new media to create innovative solutions." Slated to speak are former Vice President Al Gore, the Executive Director of UNICEF, the President of the World Bank, the CEOs & Founders of more than 20 non-profits, such as Charity Miles, Invisible Children, Inc., and Malaria No More, and many other influential minds in the forum of making the world a better place and using technology to empower people to become global citizens.

With a bevy of monolithic humanitarian issues on the agenda, we look forward to bringing you coverage from Sunday about "The Quest for Conflict Free Technology: The New Wave of Natural Resources," and the many high-powered Keynote "Listeners," as they are called for this conference.

On Monday, WGINY will be excited to share with you how to "Empower a Billion Women by 2020" and "Embrace Your Inner Punk Rock to Save the World," along with select quotes from former Vice President Gore and a photo-slideshow of the conference thus far.

Wrapping up the conference on Tuesday, WGINY will be intrigued to bring you the debate, "The Ocean vs. Space: Which is Really the Final Frontier?" WGINY will then culminate our experience with Mashable and the packed room full of social entrepreneurs with a zinger or two from "You Can Tell A Lot About People From The Jokes They Tell," and a few more lovely photos.  

Tickets to the Summit are sold out, but you can livestream it here

For more information about the Social Good Summit, be sure to check out the website and full agenda. You can also stay connected during the conference with #SocialGoodSummit and #2030Now. Join the global conversation. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Kickin' it With Mac DeMarco at the East River Park Amphitheater

By Matthew Taub

Photo by WGINY
There are few signs leading to the East River Park Amphitheater as one crosses the pedestrian bridge over the FDR drive. And by that, we mean, there are no signs at all. After an unfortunate detour, furiously scrolling through multiple web sites to ascertain the exact location, WGINY & co. eventually stumbled upon this intimate and inviting venue, a tastefully designed space on what could best be described as the lower, lower east side.

What immediately improved our mood was Mac DeMarco, glam-inspired off-kilter popslacker rock” preternatural precocious Canadian genius. Deemed a wunderkind even in the early days of Makeout Videotape (his first ensemble, since disbanded), DeMarco has followed up with solo offerings under an eponymous band name, starting with mini-album Rock and Roll Night Club and more recently with a full-length, aptly-tiled release, 2.

Appearing with his full traveling band, DeMarco, now at the ripe old age of 23, showed off his trademark “lo-fi crooning,” which included the use of jangly effect pedal distortions and typical juvenile antics, on this occasion including a range of character voices, intentionally misplaced-genre mash-up covers, and a serenade of girlfriend “Kiki” before the audience. The crowds were brought to their feet through the entire course of events, mobbed the stage, got kicked off the stage by security, stayed for an encore, and met the performer after the show, since he hopped over barricades to be taken in by the adoring masses.