Tag Archives: Eatery NYC

A Glass of Wine with a Side of New York Stories

Frank’s Place on 2nd Avenue, NYC

Whenever I visit a city, I always check to see if there are any interesting wine bars that have garnered some great reviews. I have found it is a great way to discover some new wines – whether local or imported and meet people who share a passion for the grape.

Wine Cafe of Dreams


I did a 30-hour pop in to NYC, well-known for having some stellar wine bars. Casellula on West 52nd street is a gem in Hell’s Kitchen. The wine selection is creative. I loved the Matchbook Tempranillo – one of their staples from California. Or  Frank’s on 2nd Avenue in the Lower East Side where I found a Tuscan favourite called Salcheto.


But New York also makes me think of my dad,  Alberto Travers, who introduced me to the city many decades ago.

Alberto after he joined the Italian Resistance

He was  a fighter in the Italian resistance and to him, New York was the dream. As a teenager during the Second World War,  Alberto  fought alongside American soldiers, smoked their cigarettes, read their copies of Life magazine with a dictionary in hand  and heard stories of the greatest city in the world.

Back in NYC at last

Years later, my father would drive from Montreal in a van typically full of his children, our friends and visiting European relatives.  We all jammed into the same hotel room, though hotel is a bit generous for this downtown  place.


The Times Square Motor Inn was a favourite of my dad’s mainly because it included parking.  We found out the “hotel”  had a second vocation as a temporary shelter for the homeless and home to  some really big bugs and the odd rodent.  But  you couldn’t beat its location,  next door to the New York Times on  43rd  where the delivery trucks rumbled down the street after midnight. It was an impressive sight for  a wannabe journalist of 14.



The Former Times Square Motor Inn


Coincidentally on my latest visit, I ended up staying at a hotel right across the street. The New York Times moved around the corner, and the Inn was no longer open for business.


Those NYC trips were magic. From Broadway musicals like Chicago and A Chorus Line, to the late night improv clubs, to his own self-created Mafia landmark tour including Umberto’s Clam Bar where mobster Joe “Crazy” Gallo met his maker, My father  shared his stories and gave us experiences we will never forget.  The only rule: order the cheapest thing on the menu.

My father passed away  25 years ago in May but all four of his children inherited his love of New York.  One daughter and three grand daughters live there now.  The rest of us visit when we can. Relatives still talk about those adventures,  many of them over a glass of wine.

It is one of the  many gifts he left us.

A sign painter by trade  and a fan of fonts – my father  lived life in capital letters and taught us to do the same.



Wine to Celebrate a Milestone

Let's Get this Party Started
Let’s Get this Party Started

This is what a weekend of wine, friendship and celebration looks like. The event, a milestone birthday  – with my best friends Lynne (the birthday girl) and Helen and a promise it would be EPIC.

The weekend proved to be all that and more. Highly appropriate  because Lynne and I have shared many a bottle of good, bad and even the odd ugly wine over the years. This celebration’s wine list – proved to have  a little of each.

Our first toast was over a glass of Cuveé de FlyPorter. Not exactly vintage, but good enough to get this party started. By the way, a shout out to Porter Air for having the best service – they switched our flights to get us to Newark on the same flight – with a smile and no charge.

Live from New York...
Live in New York…



The Birthday Odyssey Surprise  began at NBC studios for a live taping of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Did I mention TV-friendly Hugh Jackman was the guest with a surprise appearance by the mildly photogenic Chris Hemsworth? No pix or wine allowed – but the experience whetted our appetite for later.



Little Italy’s Finest Apple

La Mela is fixture in Little Italy. 20 years ago, one of the waiters stopped my sister Eileen and lured her in. Since then, there has been a steady Canadian contingent enjoying the family style meals (menus are for tourists they told me) with wine to match. In the early days we ordered a bottle (or three) of house red to share at the table.


This time, we went for a full-bodied Primativo, after all what’s a milestone birthday all about? And just as they do in Italy, a digestivo of Limoncello, on the house of course.

A Perfect Primativo
A Perfect Primativo
Cheers to All
Three Friends at La Mela
Tre Amici at La Mela

Day One. Good wine – check. Great surprise – double check. SO far so good.

Morning with Kelly, Helen & Lynne

The TV experience didn’t end there. Lynne got up close and personal with Kelly Ripa.  Helen made 6 ft 5 Michael Strahan laugh when she looked up, way up, and told  him “I’m  5 ft 2 in a good mood”. Helen also ended up winning the daily trivia prize too. Day Two starting well. But where’s the wine?


AH, EATALY – the food emporium for people not afraid of carbs and wine.

Abridged for Wine Lovers
Abridged for Wine Lovers

We settled on fish and ordered an incredibly delicious Santa Vittoria Gavi 2013, a superb selection, refreshing, crisp and a perfect match with our Skate and Mixed Grill Seafood platter.

Santa Vittoria GAVI
Santa Vittoria GAVI


Categorize this one as GREAT.


The BAD came at the theatre when we were handed two sippy cups of wine. “That will be $51” said the man at the concession stand. “Pardon?” Lynne and I, the polite Canadians replied at the same time. I kept the cup.

Dame Helen on Broadway
Dame Helen on Broadway


Hey when on Broadway…and when you throw in a post-show sighting of the amazing Dame Helen Mirren  – well, what’s to complain about?

Day Two: two more thumbs up.


Our next theatre experience, “Cabaret” starring Alan Cumming, proved it’s all about the context.

The Golden Ticket
The Golden Ticket
Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
The Kit Kat Club


The wine probably wasn’t any better. But this time we were sitting in the former Studio 54 disco now converted into the Kit Kat Club.

Cabaret Cabernet
Cabaret Cabernet



And this time the wine  came out of a bottle. It  made  the Santa Marina Cabernet “delle Venezie” bottled last month,  taste just fine.


Kick Start to an NYC Morning
Kick Start to an NYC Morning


Oops, forgot the Prosecco at Eatery NYC– a fantastic find on 9th Ave and 53rd street.  The best Mimosas in Hell’s Kitchen- crisp and ice cold bubbly with just enough orange juice for colour (the food was fantastic too – especially Helen’s Mac and Jac).



But the big wine winners on this celebration weekend came at the official birthday dinner at Ilili in midtown where friends came from near and far to toast the birthday girl.


The waiter Isaac couldn’t have been more accommodating, When the  white drinkers asked for Pinot Grigio – he suggested a Greek wine at the same price point.


A Glorious Greek
A Glorious Greek


I’ve sampled  a few Greek wines in the past months, especially the whites and I have only good things to say. Like the  Mantania Tselepos Classic 2012- they were light and refreshing, much more appealing than the average Pinot Grigio.



A Superb Spanish Red
A Superb Spanish Red

Isaac did the same for the red. I looked at the Chianti Classico – and he suggested a Bodegas Ateca Atteca Old Vines Garnacha 2012 . Deep red with a lovely long finish – and most important – it met the approval of the Birthday Girl. This was without a doubt my favourite wine of the evening  – upstaged only by the toast with Veuve Cliquot – which according to Lynne -” if it’s not Veuve, it’s crap” (a motto repeated to much hilarity by her 10-year old niece at a dinner party).





And this is how the birthday girl felt at the end of the  weekend.




The moral of the story: when you are lucky enough to have great friends as I do, whatever you toast with is a celebration.  Friends pick you up when you need it, dance with you when times are good, and they always turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.


Friends Worth Celebrating
Friends Worth Celebrating

And yes, it was EPIC.