Welcome to Notes from a Far-Flung Correspondent, which features the weekly interests and musings of Bossy’s Son, who is currently enjoying his sophomore year at Columbia University in the City of New York.
This week: New York Summer At Dusk.
Recently I reached out to Bossy’s Council to help dictate an excursion into the annals of the ever-elusive Cheap New York. I got a lot of good feedback — let’s be honest, mostly because I mentioned the Museum of Sex — and I’m happy to report that a few nights ago I was able to check out a few locations.
First, les presento a my partners in crime for the evening:
On the left, there’s Kat, a free spirit from SoCal who’s got an internship designing jewelry downtown this summer. On the right is Mari, who has lived in a wealth of exotic places like Uganda and Egypt and Kosovo and now blesses Columbia with her cosmopolitanisms. These knuckleheads are roommates for the summer and are always good for shenanigans galore.
First stop of the evening, just as the sun started to drop, was Artichoke Basilles Pizzeria:
This place lived up to the hype. The line when we got there (around 8pm) stretched far out of the store, but moved fast, and the smells coming from within were enough to keep us around. Slices of the high-quality pizza are damn cheap, all things considered — but don’t be tempted to order too many: they are quite large and rich, and you’re likely to have extra if you get overly ambitious.
We tried the Crab and Spinach & Artichoke, both of which cost $4.50 a slice. The crab is delicious, but a bit too creamy for my taste; this is a good slice to split with someone. The spinach and artichoke was divine, if also just slightly rich; it had all of the complex taste of the crab without feeling like too much at the end of the slice.
But the King of Kings at Artichoke is the Margarita slice for $4 flat. Think simple: tomato sauce, mozzarella, olive oil, basil, with a sprinkling of parmesan. When you’re there, faced with choices like Sicilian and Stuffed Artichoke and Crab, it might feel like a bit of a cop-out to order Margarita. Don’t succumb to this. The cheapest slice is also the tastiest, and the only one where you can safely order two slices without leaving any behind.
One last trick: when you order at Artichoke, make sure you ask them to make your slices extra hot. They leave them in the oven for just marginally longer, but in that precious minute the crust gets a bit crispier, the toppings a bit gooier, and the flavor a bit more developed. Yum.
We ate our slices on the go, and by the time we finished we had reached my New Favorite Place — yes, totally deserving of the capital letters — in New York. Strand Bookstore.
First let me say this: we got to Strand at 9:00pm, and it closes at 10:30pm, and that was nowhere near enough time because Jesus H. Christ this place is amazing.
Seriously, folks. Go to Strand, but make sure you set aside enough time to patiently flip through the endless carts, shelves, and racks, especially the many $1-areas. Sure, you may have to wade through outdated fitness guides and absurd coffeetable books, but you may just find $1 copies of Foucalt’s History of Sexuality and Doctorow’s Loon Lake.
And yes, attentive readers, perhaps I am mentioning sex once a post to keep my audience interested… or maybe soy inocente.
To end our evening, as the air cooled and the breeze began, we kicked back on Mari and Kat’s rooftop, enjoying the panoramic views and thinking this is the life.
And really, it is.