NYU Alumni Magazine Spring 2008

the insider

Best of New York

NYU faculty and staff Offer up their Favorites

by Renée Alfuso / CAS '06

Whether it's unlocking a secret nightspot or indulging in a spa getaway, there's something fun for everyone this fall.
The Secret’s Out

The Prohibition era may be over, but those who know where to look can still party like it’s 1929. Trevor Cano, an administrative aid for university development and alumni relations, discovered such a watering hole and, even though it’s called Please Don’t Tell, or PDT, it’s just too good to keep to himself. Tucked inside the East Village frankfurter joint Crif Dogs is an unassuming telephone booth, but dial the right number and—viola!—the back wall opens into a modern–day speakeasy. “Suddenly you’re right in this really nice, low–lit bar,” Cano says. PDT rewards those who find it with an array of inventive drinks, such as the Hemingway Daiquiri, a white rum, citrus juice, and maraschino liqueur concoction, and the absinthe–based Corpse Reviver No. 2, which landed on New York magazine’s 2008 list of best cocktails. For the hungry, PDT offers waffle fries and hot dogs smothered with bacon, jalapeņos, and other decadent toppings, passed from next door through a hole in the wall. “It’s a fun concept—being able to eat your drunk food before you’re drunk,” Cano says.
113 St. Marks Place, 212–614–0386

Say Cheese, New York

Capturing the perfect shot of New York can be tricky. “If you’re in Manhattan, oftentimes you don’t see enough to get it,” says Mark Jenkinson, associate teacher in the photography and imaging department at the Tisch School of the Arts. “If you go to New Jersey, it feels like you’re in Jersey and New York is just in the background.” After 30 years as a professional photographer, he returns to one location time and again—the DUMBO section of Brooklyn. DUMBO, which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, provides spectacular views of Manhattan, as well as a classic New York icon. “The Brooklyn Bridge arches over in this perfect way and, if you’re shooting at night, it’s got lights,” Jenkinson says, which brightens the whole upper frame. And with its many restaurants, bars, and galleries, the neighborhood isn’t just for the pros, but anyone with a camera. Jenkinson recommends getting there by walking across the bridge or by taking a New York Water Taxi to the Fulton Ferry Landing just west of DUMBO to snap shots along the way.
New York Water Taxi, 212–742–1969; www.nywatertaxi.com/fulton

The Perfect Pampering

After raising more than $3 billion for the Campaign for NYU, a girl could use a break. So when Debra A. LaMorte, senior vice president for university development and alumni relations, finds time to relax, she heads to SILK DAY SPA off Fifth Avenue. “It’s a real oasis,” she says. “It’s so serene, it feels like you were swept into another world.” With deep red and golden tones, accentuated with bamboo and black stones, the spa exudes Eastern tranquility. LaMorte is partial to its facials and massages, but Silk offers everything from quick fixes, such as the New York Minute Peel—a half–hour facial for those on–the–go—to more extravagant specials, such as the Urban Vacation, which combines a body scrub, hot stone massage, and papaya mango wrap. But whatever the treatment, LaMorte says she’s always welcomed by clean conditions and impeccable service—a refreshing change from other spas that can be crowded, noisy, or too pushy with their products. “You never feel as though you’re on any kind of mass production line,” she says. “It’s a very individual place.”
47 West 13th Street, 212–255–6457;

Double the Dhal

When Krishnendu Ray immigrated to New York, he was plagued by such nostalgia for Indian home cooking that he switched his studies from political science to food. Now an assistant professor of nutrition and food studies at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, Ray says what he misses most are the more subtle flavors from home. “At most Indian restaurants here, the food reeks of spices,” he explains. “That’s the nature of commodified cooking. People expect that aggressive spice, and they’ll be disappointed otherwise.” Still, Café Spice has become a habit, he confesses, because of its delicious dhal and inexpensive prices. The bistro’s proximity to campus, on University Place, makes it the perfect spot to grade papers over a lunch of lamb thali with curry and rice. For a special treat, however, Ray opts for TABLA. There he can choose from two different dining experiences: The upstairs dining area offers upscale American cuisine infused with Indian spices and flavors, while the downstairs Bread Bar serves home–style fare. Ray especially likes the creative twists on some of his favorite dishes, such as the Italian–inspired rosemary naan and the fish steamed in banana leaves. “They play with the traditional ingredients and spices so that it’s stylized,” he says, “but it works.”
11 Madison Avenue, 212–889–0667;

photos from top ©noah kalina, mark jenkinson, silk day spa, bill bettencourt