As you may have heard, we welcomed our fourth little family member (and future globetrotter) to the world last month! Her name is Olivia Grace.
Though her passport has yet to arrive in the mail, we’ve been strolling her all around downtown Manhattan introducing her to neighborhood favorites and checking out some spots that are brand new for the summer, just like her! Here are our best finds so far — and yes, you can bring your giant Uppa or Bugaboo to each and every one of the below with little or no fuss:
For pretzels the size of your head, daily oyster specials and Statue of Liberty views
Leave it to the king of lower Manhattan, Peter Poulakakos (whose dining and drinking establishments include Financier, Adrienne’s Pizza Bar, Ulysses, Dead Rabbit and Harry’s Italian among others,) to take the decrepit 28,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts building that sat empty at Pier A for decades and turn it into one of this summer’s best waterfront downtown destinations. Pier A Harbor House is a massive 3 level space that features a casual restaurant and raw bar on the first floor, a fine dining restaurant and cocktail bar on the second floor and event space with Hudson River views on the third (wedding venue, anyone?) We prefer the first floor outdoor picnic table seating — definitely the best spot for families on a warm summer day. Mom and Dad will appreciate the changing oyster selection and full bar, big kids will dig the giant pretzels and babies are welcome.
It’s the French version of Eataly
Le District has all your market needs covered, from fish to fromage to flowers. Opened in May at Brookfield Place, this brand new spot offers a lot of really good things to spend your money on, all under one roof. You can stop by the charcuterie to pick up provisions for an impromptu picnic in nearby Nelson Rockefeller Park, visit the boucherie for prime meat cuts before your next big bbq or hit the creperie for an afternoon snack (banana/nutella is always a good idea). In the center, grab a bar stool at Le Comptoir for a glass of wine paired with seasonal market fare or head to Beauborg, the more formal brasserie-style restaurant on premises. There’s also a poissonnerie (for fish), a patisserie (for sweets,) a fromagerie (cheese,) rotisserie (slow roasted meats) as well as a grocerie in the back with a beautiful display of fresh fruits, veggies, Blue Marble sea salt caramel ice cream…I could go on and on.
The food court for foodies
Sort of old news since it opened last summer but still worth a mention is Hudson Eats, Brookfield’s very own foodie food court situated right upstairs from Le District. Boasting over 14 eateries, Hudson Eats offers cafeteria-style seating with picture windows overlooking North Cove Marina, which is great for families who love a nice view but may need to make a run for it at any given moment (diaper change/toddler meltdown, etc.) We stick to Blue Ribbon Sushi, Mighty Quinns BBQ, Little Muenster and Tartinery and always leave happy.
Hip threads, fancy strollers and european toys for the cool kids
Babesta, downtown’s best baby boutique, has just opened its newest outpost at Brookfield Place. (I swear this post is not sponsored by Brookfield. We just like it a lot.) This shop always stocks the best in kids bedding, toys, clothing and gear including stylish sunglasses and clothing by Bobo Choses, swaddlers by Aden and Anais, Elks and Angels cuddle bears, Auggie knit gift sets, Uncle Goose blocks and Blabla bedding. They also have some great New York-centric books and other items which make lovely gifts like plush yellow taxi toys and stuffed Empire State buildings by Oeuf. Travel obsessives will love the giant Janod magnetic world map and full range of Playforever racecars and airplanes.
For bookworms, paper nerds and storytime for the kids
For all lovers of paper and print, this store is a dream. Posman Books carries all sorts of letter-pressed and hand dip-dyed greeting cards, gorgeous notebooks with designs by Rifle Paper and Skinny La Minx, quirky Smudge Ink gift wrap and pretty Knot and Bow party supplies. Oh, and they have books too. A pretty extensive travel section in fact, as well as finger puppet books and other fun stuff for kids like Star Wars lightsaber ice pop molds and Make Your own Monster kits. Stop by on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 am for story time this summer. Who said print was dead?
I smell croissants but this looks like an office building
Don’t look so confused. Yes, there is a bakery somewhere in this building. Follow your nose through the lobby of 220 Church Street and you’ll find the one and only Arcade Bakery, Roger Gural’s secret Tribeca temple of baked goods. Gural has an impressive bread-based resume, having spent time at Le Fournil Borriglione in Nice, Amy’s Bread in New York and working as head baker for David Bouley at Bouchon in Napa and at Almondine in Brooklyn. His whiskey pecan babka is something special and almond croissants are out of this world. We may or may not have even chosen our pediatrician by his proximity to the bakery. (For anyone who’s looking, there’s a great practice next door at 40 Worth.) Just schedule your appointments before 4 pm when the ovens close down for the day.
FiDi’s new salumeria and restaurant
Can you say culatello? Da Claudio has it, along with nduja (spicy, spreadable pork sausage from Calabria,) wild boar sausage and other hard-to-get-your-hands-on Italian imports that you certainly wont find at the deli counter at Whole Foods. On a recent visit we were graciously offered so many samples from behind the salumi counter — coppa, mortadella, saffron pecorino — that we pretty much walked out full. If you’re staying for dinner, try their delicious and unique version of spaghetti carbonara.
Baked by Melissa
For tiny cupcakes minus the guilt
Favored by both the preschool set (now the gold standard for classroom birthday parties) and adults who don’t need to eat an entire cupcake, Baked by Melissa has opened up on Fulton Street, just a few blocks from the new Fulton St. subway station. Apparently this location has been in business hiding under some scaffolding for a couple years now, but not many people know about it. (I got stopped twice by strangers on the street asking, “There’s a Baked by Melissa down here??” while carrying a bag around.) These little cupcake bites have certainly built up a strong NY following since their original shop opened in Soho in 2009. Six years later there’s good news for out-of-towners — they now they deliver nationwide.
Downtown’s floating oyster bar is back for a second season
Grand Banks, the oyster bar aboard the Sherman Zwicker, a historic wooden schooner, is docked at Pier 25 again this summer. This year they have Kerry Heffernan on board (no pun intended) to elevate their menu which now not only includes a selection of both east and west coast oysters but also small plates like sea bream crudo with rhubarb, tarragon and aromatic clementine oil. Though we have seen strollers on board during off hours, this is one you may want to call the babysitter for. Though babies surely wouldn’t mind the way the boat rocks back and forth with the waves.