NYU Alumni 
Magazine Spring 2011

the insider

Best of New York

NYU faculty, staff, and alumni Offer up their Favorites

by Renée Alfuso / CAS ’06

Take an invigorating hike to see fall colors, then reward yourself with some gourmet doughnuts

Book Nooks

“Reading is my life—that’s practically all I do,” poet Deborah Landau says. And when she shops for new material, the clinical professor and director of the Creative Writing Program at NYU prefers independent bookstores to the sprawling chains that often neglect small presses. “It’s like the difference between a clothing boutique and a department store, which can feel overwhelming,” she explains. Landau suggests Three Lives & Company, where an ambiguous shelving system encourages communication between customers and knowledgeable staff. A West Village staple for 33 years, the space itself is fit for a Hobbit and recalls another era in bookselling. “The atmosphere is so charming that you really can’t believe it still exists,” Landau says. For a bit more legroom, she recommends McNally Jackson, which boasts a tea shop with free Wi-Fi frequented by authors and bookworms alike. The two comfy floors in Soho are decked with plants, paintings, and leather armchairs, and offer additional perks such as an Espresso Book Machine that prints PDFs as bound paperbacks, which can then be sold in-store. But Landau goes for their poetry chapbooks, literary magazines, and showcased staff recommendations. “I love a carefully curated selection because you’ll discover things you didn’t even know you were looking for,” she says.

154 West 10th Street, 212-741-2069

52 Prince Street, 212-274-1160

Decadent Doughnuts

Whether or not cops have an affinity for a certain circular pastry, the truth is: Who doesn’t like doughnuts? Still we thought we’d ask one of NYU’s finest, Mark Fischetti, who’s worked as a campus security officer for 16 years, to help sample some of the tastiest in town. After some much deserved off-duty indulging, Fischetti’s top pick was Doughnut Plant. Owner Mark Israel uses his grandfather’s special recipe for eggless artisanal doughnuts, which have been featured on The Martha Stewart Show, Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate, and countless “best” lists across America. “It’s not a run-of-the-mill doughnut,” Fischetti notes. The gourmet treats are made with all-natural ingredients, fresh fruit, and no trans fats, preservatives, or artificial flavorings. Even the traditional jelly doughnut is transformed into a fluffy square filled evenly with blackberry jam. But Fischetti lauds the store’s unique flavors such as fresh blueberry, carrot cake, and crème brûlée—an elevated version of Boston cream with rich vanilla custard and crunchy burnt sugar on top. Flavors constantly change with the seasons, with rose petal in February and roasted chestnut for fall. When the tough work was over, Fischetti concluded: “Being a doughnut tester is the perfect job.”

379 Grand Street, 212-505-3700

Spot of Tea

It doesn’t take a trip down the rabbit hole to uncover an exceptional tea party. Simply pop into Alice’s Tea Cup (on the Upper West and East sides), with its more than 140 loose-leaf varieties, including the rare Japanese green tea Gyokuro and Trafalgar Square, a peppermint-patty house blend. The whimsical wonderland serves afternoon tea all day alongside tiers of scones, finger sandwiches, and fruit tarts (try the Mad Hatter for two or the Jabberwocky for more monstrous appetites). But for a proper cup of tea, look no further than Tea & Sympathy in the Little Britain section of Greenwich Village, where Londoner Nicky Perry set up shop in 1990. “The place has a lot of character and really great food,” says Rebecca Smith (CAS ’11), who co-founded the British Culture Club at NYU and catered their events with Tea & Sympathy’s authentic fare, such as shepherd’s pie and Yorkshire pudding. The cozy eatery has just 10 tables but patrons happily wait in the adjacent gift shop, which sells British groceries, sweets, and tea accessories. Regulars include expats Tina Brown, Rupert Everett, and Kate Moss. Smith especially recommends it to coffee-prone New Yorkers who she believes are missing out. “I didn’t like tea for the longest time, but then it grew on me,” she recalls. “It’s a nice change of pace.”

108 Greenwich Avenue, 212-989-9735

Editors’ Pick: Day Tripper

NYU Alumni Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jason Hollander (GAL ’07) recently discovered a nature hike so perfect that he just couldn’t keep it to himself. “It’s quick and easy to get there—essentially it’s user-friendly hiking for Manhattanites,” he says of Claudius Smith’s Rock Loop in Harriman State Park. After just an hour’s ride on NJ Transit, from Penn Station to Tuxedo, New York, the train deposits you two blocks from the trailhead, and there’s even a deli by the station where hikers can stock up on supplies. The 6.2-mile loop is moderately strenuous and takes about five hours to complete. Once you get moving, the terrain changes from swampland to rock crevices and shimmering streams before climbing to dramatic cliffs overlooking the Hudson Valley. Plateaus such as Claudius Smith’s Rock and the aptly named Almost Perpendicular offer scenic spots to stop for lunch while taking in panoramic views of the Ramapo Mountains and miles of brightly colored trees in autumn. “What’s nice is that it’s not just a stroll in the woods,” Hollander says. “It has lots of different physical challenges, so it’s never boring.”

For this and other nearby trails, visit

photos from top: © christopher L. Smith; Courtesy Doughnut Plant; © Jason Hollander; © Dan Balogh