The family-run Astoria Sports Complex offers batting cages and indoor soccer, and has one of the largest fitness centers around. The facility got its start more than 30 years ago, when owner Steve Poliseno converted an abandoned ice house, purchased at auction, into the gigantic sports complex it is today. The most recent addition to the facility is a gigantic, Olympic-sized swimming pool, where kids can take lessons and prepare to be the Model U.N. delegate from Atlantis.
From dealing with high rents to competing with new business fads, New York institutions can be hard to come by these days. Murray’s Sturgeon Shop, however, curbs that trend and keeps to an old-school tradition of devoted customer service and attention to detail in its artfully plated deli spreads. Since 1946, the Zagat-rated eatery—which also garnered nods from New York Magazine—has stocked products made from its namesake fish, such as smoked sturgeon or caviar. Alaskan salmon, whitefish, and lox complement kosher deli meats such as corned beef and pastrami. To cater parties or Tamagotchi-addiction interventions, the shop delivers ready-to-eat soups, salads, imported cheeses, and indulgent desserts such as old-fashioned crumb cake and rugelach by the pound.
Chef and restaurateur Lea Forant hand-selects organic and local produce for a menu of French-influenced cuisine. Although recipes, like holiday socks, change seasonally, a wide array of sandwiches, omelets, and seafood plates incorporate ingredients such as emmental cheese and smoked salmon. Chalkboards relay the daily assortment of freshly baked desserts and baristas fill glasses with house-made lavender lemonade and cranberry iced tea. Incorporating customizations for diet, taste, and budget, catering services deliver French cuisine to doorsteps. Natural light inundates the cafe's glassed-in sun porch, streaming past the striped awning and elbowing between clouds playing Red Rover.
Harlem’s illustrious past and multifaceted present open up to tourists courtesy of Welcome to Harlem’s knowledgeable guides, all of whom are residents of the neighborhood. Day and evening tours are organized by interest, showcasing culinary hot spots, historic jazz venues, stunning architecture, shopping destinations, or rollicking church services. Landmarks such as the legendary Apollo Theater, Columbia University, and the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine open up to guests, providing a casual, intimate view that can’t be attained on an unaccompanied stroll or while being chased by a clown car.
Few people would imagine a turn-of-the-century horse stable as an epicenter of opulence, but when two nightlife impresarios teamed up, that’s exactly what they achieved. They transformed their Manhattan space into a glitzy indoor and outdoor venue for parties and happy hours. The venue spans multiple rooms and spaces, including a nightclub-like, 5000-square-foot salon supported by wooden beams reclaimed from vintage vessels, and a terrace strewn with greenery and plush benches. The open-air rooftop epitomizes decadence with its temperature-regulated mahogany flooring, fireplace, and party playlists streaming through surround sound from the DJ booth. The rooftop’s glass-enclosed, curtained cabanas have individually controlled heating and cooling units, as well as customizable hologram celebrity guests. The venue has even drawn the eye of high-profile partiers, including the cast of The Jersey Shore and The Today Show.
It took Joel Russ ten days to travel from Germany to Ellis Island by boat in 1907, and that was the easy part. The 22-year-old Russ had arrived in America to help support his older sister's family, which he began doing by selling strings of Polish mushrooms, carrying them on his shoulders until he had saved up enough money for a pushcart. Next, he upgraded to a horse and wagon, and by 1914, he had enough funds to open a store. Dubbed "Russ's Cut Rate Appetizers", the store specialized in selling the cold appetizers known in Yiddish as "forshpayz": among them salt-cured salmon and herring. In 1920, he moved to East Houston Street, where the shop still stands today. During this period, he also became the father of three daughters who began working in the shop after school and on weekends, and in 1933, the store was renamed Russ & Daughters––widely regarded as the first business to ever use "& Daughters" in its name. Nearly 100 years later, the shop is owned and staffed by fourth-generation Russ family members, and has been recognized by The Smithsonian Institute as "a part of New York's cultural heritage". One of the last traditional appetizing stores on the Lower East Side, the business is considered by most to be much more than a beloved grocery: it's a preserver of the culture of the city's Eastern European Jewish Immigrants. Smoked and cured salmon is still sliced by hand, while bagels are rolled by hand and baked in an old-fashioned revolving oven. When ¬New York Magazine asked world-traveling chef Anthony Bourdain to name the best meal he's ever eaten in New York, the Travel Channel host said simply, "bagel, nova, cream cheese at Russ & Daughters. Not just the best, but 'ours'." Beyond the traditional bagel toppers, today's customers find gourmet delights such as cinnamon or chocolate babka, homemade chopped herring salad with granny smith apples, and handmade macaroons dipped in dark chocolate. Russian-style blini's make the perfect vessel for any of Russ & Daughter's high grade, hand-packed caviars, which are still sourced the old-fashioned way: by waiting patiently next to the fish's nests.