Katra steeps revelers in a sleek ambiance inspired by its mantra of “Cocktails. Cuisine. Culture.” Moroccan influences drift from the menu of small dishes—including lamb tagines and merguez sausage—throughout the restaurant, from clutches of delicate tasseled lanterns to banquettes strewn with tiny pillows perfect for five-minute naps between entree and dessert. Cocktails made with Pama pomegranate liqueur and tropical fruits such as lychee and guava flow throughout both levels of the restaurant, from the cozy cabanas upstairs to the lower floor’s DJ booth and couches.
When it comes to food, pretty much every culture claims a place within the confines of New York City. Thousands of restaurants have long left their mark on the sprawling metropolis with ethnic flavors. But in the early 2000s, Michael Momm felt something was still missing from the culinary landscape: a contemporary German restaurant like those found in his native Cologne. Sure, a handful of German eateries already existed, but these exhibited what he considered to be stale traditions, such as folk music and displays of cuckoo clocks that still announced the long-defunct 13th hour. He opened Loreley Restaurant & Biergarten as a means to showcase more contemporary German culture.
The restaurant's brick-lined dining room and outdoor biergarten exemplify the concept of Gem?tlichkeit, which roughly translates to "coziness." Diners sit together at long wooden tables, socializing or cheering during live German sporting events. It's at these tables?built by a carpenter in Cologne?that patrons sip imported wines and more than 20 German beers in bottles and on tap. Narrow glasses contain the restaurant's signature light ale, K?lsch, which is complemented by offerings from a menu of classic German comfort food. French fries accompany various schnitzel dishes, and the aptly named Sausage Party sampler showcases seven different german sausages over beer-marinated sauerkraut with bacon. On Saturday and Sunday until 4 p.m., the kitchen staff also prepares plates from a brunch menu, including German-style pancakes and eggs benedict topped with black forest ham.
You can't get much more Little Italy than Grotta Azzurra. Originally opened in 1908, the restaurant is a neighborhood fixture that was once a regular hangout for Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Even Robert De Nero grew up on Grotta's Old World cooking. After closing for several years, a refurbished and reinvigorated Grotta Azzurra came back strong with Chef Frank Castellana helming the kitchen.
Tradition remains a guiding force behind the robust Italian menu. Castellana's chefs bake focaccia bread daily, make their own mozzarella, and create gnocchi and other pastas by hand. Menu mainstays are all time-honored classics, such as beef braciole, chicken parmigiana, and a whole Maine lobster served with clams and mussels in a spicy red sauce?the restaurant's signature entree since 1908. Grotta Azzurra pairs these hearty plates with glasses, bottles, and Erlenmeyer flasks of wine from its extensive list, which earned an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.
The Scholastic Store meshes storytime and playtime, sneaking play spaces and interactive kiosks in between stacks of popular children's titles. In Clifford the Big Red Dog's comfy doghouse, parents and kids equipped with toys, books, and pretend play items act out classic Clifford tales, such as Clifford Goes to Law School, before skipping off hand in hand with a Clifford audio book ($9.95). Burgeoning bookworms can schedule bookstore visits to coincide with in-store events to take advantage of free author readings and thrice-weekly storytimes.
Nestled between Soho and Little Italy, Posteritati’s expansive gallery space invokes the golden age of cinema with more than 9,000 black-and-white and Technicolor movie posters. Petite placards and wall-length signboards span decades and genres that range from the once-popular film noir to the criminally overlooked fettuccini western. Colorful books on cinema arts round out Posteritati's collection and share space on the gallery’s dark hardwood floors with a rotating array of autographed handbills signed by producers, writers, and stars such as Lena Horne. The shop regularly hosts shows and poster exhibitions that revolve around central screen themes such as politics, romance, and actors’ relationships with antagonizing laugh tracks.