Brazilia Cafe

684 Broadway, New York

NoHo is a neighborhood with a high concentration of high quality espresso: in a few blocks radius the choices include Think Coffee, La Colombe, UR Cup and Gasoline Alley. The espresso density and quality further increased with the recent opening of Brazilia Cafe.

The professional service and great presentation are a prelude to a gentle espresso that pleases your taste buds without hitting them with excessive bitterness. Acidity is absent, leaving room for the full enjoyment of South American coffee.

The small chocolate donut was complimentary and much appreciated.

Spritz @ Temple Bar

332 Lafayette Street, New York, NY

Spritz  @ Temple Bar

Temple Bar does nothing to capture your attention, but once you try it you know you will come back.

While walking on Lafayette street, it is easy to get distracted by glittering neon signs and tables on the sidewalk, and get past a rather anonymous door that looks like the entrance of a residential building. If you are lucky enough to go through that door, you will enter into time capsule. The decor is elegant, inspired by the style of lounges of the first half of 1900s. The dim lights ensure privacy while the light spots at the tables allow you to see what you are drinking and eating. The waiting staff is nice and courteous. The surprisingly low noise level, at least around 9pm-11pm, gives the opportunity to have a good conversation in front of an excellent drink.

Talking about drinks: the Spritz was a pleasant surprise. This cocktail, typical of the north-east of Italy, is not an easy find in New York. There are different versions of the recipe, all requiring prosecco combined with a bitter flavor. At Temple Bar the prosecco is mixed with Aperol, as recommended by the International Bartenders Association.

The Aperol and the prosecco are well balanced, creating a refreshing sensation. The potato pancakes with tuna sashimi were a good complement to an already pleasant experience.

Pizza & Pizzella @ Forcella

334 Bowery Street, New York

Pizzella at Forcella

When the MoMA will open a pizza art gallery, the curator will probably include Forcella as a leading example of the new wave of Neapolitan style pizza in New York.

The name of the restaurant comes from an iconic neighborhood in Naples, and the pizza experience at Forcella is true to its Italian roots. The pizza is impeccable, the ingredients are of excellent quality, the spicy olive oil is available on request, and the waiters always try to sell you more expensive beverages.

It is impossible to resist to the “Pizzella”, a tiny piece of pizza dough quickly fried and then baked with a simple topping of tomato and cheese. This is an absolute must, especially if you are not going to order the “Montanara”, the deep fried whole pizza.

The “Margherita Extra” is pure art and passion. The crust is thick, light and fluffy. The toppings are perfectly blended together creating a continuum of flavors, from the acid-sweetness of the tomato to the decadent, sinful opulence of the melted cheese. A masterpiece on a plate.

Margherita Extra at Forcella


293 Mercer Street, NY 

A blend of different coffees, from Central and South America, brewed in one strong espresso with a velvety texture. Each sip is dense and smooth, with a robust bitter flavor and a mild acidic aftertaste. This is the boost you need in the morning and at any time when you are about to enter “power save” mode.

There is also a delicious selection of Mexican chocolate. The dark chocolate with salt and pepper is perfectly balanced and it also pairs nicely with the espresso.

A week with Sandy – Day 6

NoHo, Saturday November 3rd

At 4am in the morning on Saturday, the apartment lit up as Christmas tree: power is back! I switch off the lights and while I get back to Morpheus’ world, my neurons start processing what I learnt through this experience:

  • Smartphones with touchscreen, apps and 4G connectivity are cool gadgets for 20 hours; traditional mobile phones with a tiny display,15 keys and GSM connectivity are useful communication tools for 5 consecutive black out days.
  • An old radio powered by batteries is more than a decorative object.
  • Candles can be used to generate light and not only to create a romantic atmosphere.
  • You can get a decent phased shower with 15 cups of water.
  • Flushing the toilet on the sixth floor of a building is a more complex and exhausting task than pushing a button.
  • A power strip can be a tool to build a community and make friends.
  • Even without lights, New York is an amazing a place to be.
  • You can survive without TV, Internet and other media as long as you can share a red wine, memories and ideas with a good friend.

A week with Sandy – Day 4, night [Part 1]

6th Avenue and Bleecker Street, Thursday November 1st

Without traffic lights and public illumination, Sixth Avenue looks more US Highway 1 than Avenue of the Americas. Crossing it after 6:30pm without a flashlight is a modern version of a Russian roulette. At various intersections NYPD helps pedestrians cross the street. Everyone crossing the street feels obliged to say “thank you” to these officers. It is not easy to stay in the middle of the street in such conditions.

Thank you, NYPD and FDNY.

A week with Sandy – Day 4, afternoon shooping

NoHo, Thursday November 1st

This afternoon Conedison distributes dry ice at Union Square. I decide to take a break from work and walk to 14th street: the food in my refrigerator will appreciate some extra cold.

University Place is under a curfew; almost all stores are shut down. Agata & Valentina is an interesting exception. The store is open and the interiors are illuminated with flashlights hanging from the ceiling. There is a sort of camaraderie among the customers who are wandering through the dark aisles: they greet each other making jokes about the black-out. New Yorkers will never stop surprising me!

When I get to Union Square, I see that black-out created new businesses and new community services. A stand selling flashlights and battery powered radios is positioned in front of a Bank of America branch, and a small crowd is lining up at a van offering free recharge for electronic devices.