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Upper West Side: Restaurant 81 Brightens up the Neighborhood

The Upper West Side is becoming a veritable center of gastronomy. What with the Fatty Crab, the Shake Shack, and other downtown stalwarts making their way uptown to our fair neighborhood, it’s hardly necessary to go below 14th Street to eat any more. One notable addition to the local dining scene is Restaurant 81, which [...]

Upper West Side: Celeste for Good Neighborhood Italian

A friend sent me to this modest eatery on Amsterdam between 84th and 85th streets. She said dining at Celeste was like a cheap escape to Italy. Well, not quite, though most of the wait staff is the real thing-Italians actually conversing in their mother tongue. If you stop here for dinner, you can do [...]

Upper West Side: Neighborhood Restaurants RIP

One more condo, one less neighborhood eatery. The Strand diner, which has been operating for 16 years on 96th Street just east of Broadway, has shut its doors. Not that the place was some great temple of gastronomy, but it served a function-cheap diner food for those times when you just wanted to fill your [...]

Upper West Side: Cauliflower and Pizza? Yes!

Yesterday, I was looking for a light lunch. I strolled into Grandaisy Bakery, a tiny storefront on 72nd and Broadway, right next to Grey’s Papaya, the hot dog joint. A steady stream of customers was shuffling in and out of the diminutive eatery. I caught sight of a slice of cauliflower pizza. It could be [...]

Passover: Can Restaurants Take the Place of Home?

The Times today featured a story about how the number of restaurants offering seders is mushrooming. Some don’t get it right. They serve rugelach, which because they’re made with wheat, are a definite no-no. I’m not so appalled by what seems to be a mini-trend. Maybe that’s because for years my family has celebrated Passover [...]