Inside Bellini Italian Restaurant & Brick Oven Pizza, wall sconces and tea lights swathe wooden tables in a romantic atmosphere. Exposed-brick walls hold aloft framed pictures, glass mirrors, and carved artwork below wooden cabinets packed with bottles of wine. Within these rustic environs, patrons can savor with classic Italian pastas such as lobster ravioli and penne à la vodka, smothered in creamy sauce. Alternatively, oven-baked pizzas feed those who care to share with other diners or an imaginary friend who's allergic to food with corners.
Tale' Thai Cuisine's ambitious menu ventures into many of the Thai style's less frequented flavors, from pumpkin-infused curry to mango and lemongrass salsa. Chefs also instill standard dishes such as duck and filleted fish with classic spices and textures such as Thai basil, cashews, and sweet-and-spicy tamarind sauce. The bright hues of red peppers and broccoli stalks pop against the restaurant's hardwood floors and dark leather chairs, both dominated by a sleek backlit bar that, like every public library, stacks its shelves with bottles of wine and fine liquors.
Set within an upscale speakeasy atmosphere, Prohibition ensnares picky patrons with a diverse menu of casual 1920s-inspired victuals and cocktails. Begin the gustatory beguine with a tuna taco starter, swimming in wasabi mayo and Asian coleslaw ($11), or plant pincers in a veggie-bedecked goat-cheese pizza ($14). Mini the Works burgers quell carnivorous cravings with a supporting cast of applewood bacon, american cheese, thousand-island dressing, and a side of shoestring fries ($11 for two, $18 for four).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's four-block-long building, located in Central Park, functions as a time capsule, preserving hundreds of thousands of paintings, sculptures, and artifacts that collectively demonstrate mankind's finest achievements. Founded in 1870 to bring fine art closer to the general public, the Museum has since become a means of exploring worldwide cultures through their art. Today, it fills two million square feet of space with pieces that represent civilizations across the globe.
With more than 400 galleries open to the public, seeing all the Museum has to offer is more of a lifetime achievement than an afternoon commitment. Paintings by preeminent artists such as Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh draw huge crowds, but unexpected treasures await those willing to dig deeper. One collection of galleries features the world’s most comprehensive collection of American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts. Another, equally compelling—and newly reopened—collection is devoted to intricate Islamic artwork from as far westward as Spain and Morocco and as far eastward as Central Asia and India. It's also impossible to overlook the galleries of Egyptian art and its approximately 26,000 artifacts, making it the largest collection of its kind outside Cairo.
The Met’s collection is so expansive that it cannot fit entirely in its Fifth Avenue location. Travel to Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan, and you'll find the Museum's collection of reassembled cloisters, which opened to the public in 1938. These beautiful medieval structures currently house around 2,000 manuscripts, tapestries, and stained-glass artworks largely dating from the 12th century through the 15th century. Three of the cloisters even feature gardens planted in accordance with medieval tradition.
Chinese-American owner Yeh Ching brings the flavors she picked up while living in Malaysia to Canteen 82, teaming with her Hong Kong–born partner, Alan Lee, to further diversify the restaurant’s eclectic menu of Asian fusion fare. Dim sum influences abound, with house-made Shanghai soup dumplings served by the dozen, but small plates aren’t everything at Canteen 82, where robust entrees include a traditional Malaysian slow-cooked beef dish touted in a 2010 review by the New York Times. An espresso machine conjures velvety lattes to chase Malaysian-style curry puffs or dishes from a vegetarian menu to sate herbivorous patrons and their pet brontosauruses.
New York food critics seem to have fallen in love with Calle Ocho—or at least in lust. Hai Rubenstein of New York magazine described the eatery as "uncalculatingly sexy," and the same publication's William Grimes once referred to Chef Alex Garcia as "a very sexy chef"—speaking of his food, of course.
Although Calle Ocho's softly lit environs simmer with sunset-colored booths and glazed terra-cotta mosaics, it is the menu of Latin American-fusion plates that keeps things hot. Under the direction of Consulting Chef Garcia and Executive Chef Rodney Mitchell, the kitchen staff drizzles saffron-pineapple sauce over lobster empanadas and mixes red snapper and thai chili into ceviche to create sharable plates for two people stuck in the same large sweater. For entrees, they top braised pork shank with pickled jalapeños and pair spice-rubbed salmon with lobster mash and mango chutney. Weekend brunches showcase such Latin-inspired plates as Costa Rican tacos with eggs and chorizo and Cuban-style burgers with chipotle ketchup.