I love New York City. Lived there when I was a kid. I’ve returned many times since my family moved away in 1986 and always feel right at home. There’s no place like it anywhere else on Earth.
My sons have fallen in love with New York City and we’ve had some great times there together. They prefer Midtown Manhattan, with its iconic sights like Central Park, Times Square, and the Empire State Building, along with the high-end shopping and that they can’t afford. I’m more of a Lower Manhattan kind of guy. The Lower East Side, Soho, the Bowery, Chinatown, Little Italy. I highly recommend the Tenement Museum at the corner of Orchard and Delancey. Even more highly, I recommend the food.
When I’m in Lower Manhattan, there are three places. fI insist on visiting. (Quiet kids, we’re going!) In Little Italy, I like to take a big bite of history at Lombardi’s (32 Spring St.), America’s first pizzeria. Their website is firstpizza.com. I mean, come on! How can anyone resist? Established in 1905, Lombardi’s still bakes a beautiful smoky-crusted coal oven pizza with San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil. It’s the perfect introduction to Little Italy.
On to Chinatown, and another throwback to a bygone era: Nom Wah Tea Parlor (13-15 Doyers St.). Although, there’s nothing there that you would want to throw back. Since 1920, Nom Wah has served as neighborhood staple, offering delicious dim sum, savory steamed buns, and fragrant tea. Ordering with their efficient ticket system is half the fun.
No trip to Manhattan is truly complete without a sandwich at a good New York deli. And why just settle for good when you can go to Katz’s Delicatessen (205 East Houston St.)? It has been the gold standard since 1888. Tell your counterman that you want the classic pastrami and corned beef, some pickles, a bowl of matzoh ball soup, even one of their hot dogs…you can’t go wrong! Well, actually you can. It’s wrong to go to Katz’s alone. This is an experience, and amount of food, that should be shared.
Each of these three historic establishments hearken back to a different time, inflated prices notwithstanding, and they do it extremely well. I’m glad that one can still can still be experience a bit of the old New York. However, Lombardi’s, Nom Wah, and Katz’s only begin to scratch the surface of the deep culinary heritage found in Lower Manhattan. That’s why you have to visit more than once.