There is no better place to spend the holidays than New York City. The holiday spirit abounds. So much to do and see, much of it free, such as the decorations at stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Henri Bendel, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and the tree inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the toys at FAO Schwartz.
Culture Espresso Bar
If you’re looking for a place to take a break, consider Culture Espresso Bar. These folks take their coffee seriously but without pretense or hype. In addition to the usual espresso drinks, try their individually brewed coffee of the day. You’ll never go back to Starbucks. 72 W. 38th St. (near Sixth Ave.); 212-302-0200.
For a hearty lunch to stave off the winter chill I recommend Osteria Morini, one of several Italian restaurants opened in New York by Michael White since his success at Fiamma Osteria in 2002, including Marea, which got two Michelin starts and three from The New York Times. A bustling, family friendly spot—there was a table of eight Chinese-Americans right next to us with three small children. You don’t get that in Peoria, folks.
Morini features the cuisine of Emilia-Romagna. In addition to lunch and dinner, Morini serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday. But not the waffles and salad nicoise kind. More like two eggs up, mortadella cottoletta and truffled cream spinach or polenta cotechino and potato fried eggs with Parmigiano. Great pastas, of course, like the Stracci, wide ribbon pasta with braised wild mushrooms. The wine list is reasonably priced with quite a few available by the glass or quartino (a quarter of a liter). If you’ve never had a good Lambrusco in your life, this is the place to try a few. 218 Lafayette St,, 212-965-8777 • osteriamorini.com
And if you just want to gawk, you must visit Eataly, the food emporium created by Joe and Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali. You’ve never seen so many types of pastas, olive oils and balsamic vinegars in your life, not to mention Piemontese beef, artisan salumi, freshly baked breads from stone-ground flour and several eateries, including a rooftop birreria (beer garden). 200 5th AVENUE (Entrances on 5th Avenue and 23rd Street), eatalyny.com, email@example.com 212-229-2560. The market is open daily from 10am to 11pm. Call, email or check the web site for the hours of the restaurants.