I contributed two articles to Time Out New York's feature package on New York City staycations.
What was once a vacated rock in the New York Harbor, abandoned by the Coast Guard in 1995, is now a haven for creative types. This year, find more than a dozen free exhibitions throughout the island. For instance, the artists’ festival Figment is displaying interactive sculptures, while Storm King Art Center hosts a retrospective of sculptor Mark di Suvero. Keep an eye on the schedule for big summer concerts, too, including the The Governors Ball with Girl Talk, Empire of the Sun and Big Boi (Sat 18 noon–11:30pm; $95–$150), or ditch work early and ferry over any Friday to borrow a pair of wheels from Bike and Roll (10am–4:30pm, last rental 3:30pm; first hour free, each additional hour $12). Cool off with a drink (and maybe some grilled kielbasa) at the sandy Water Taxi Beach, which also has the best views of downtown Manhattan. (212-825-3045, govisland.com). Fri–Sun through Sept 25. Travel: Ferries leave from the Battery Maritime Building, Slip 7, in Manhattan and Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn."
"Otto and Orient Express
Mario Batali’s pizza joint, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria (1 Fifth Ave at 8th St; 212-995-9559, ottopizzeria.com) is modeled after an Italian train station, which becomes apparent as soon as you put your name in for a table and the hostess issues you a “train ticket” bearing the name of an Italian town. When it’s time to be seated, you’ll find that place announced on a departures board—the old-timey kind with flip-down letters. Then you’ll be on your way to your culinary satisfaction—maybe via a garlicky vongole pizza topped with clams, a mini carafe of wine from the extensive 700-bottle list and an award-winning gelato. Continue your journey on the Orient Express (325 W 11th St between Greenwich and Washington Sts; 212-691-8845, orientexpressnyc.com), which is set up to look like a bar car on an old-fashioned train. The drinks menu here is similarly themed, with cocktails that have cloak-and-dagger-sounding names like the Mata Hari (Bulleit bourbon, Pierde Almas mezcal, lemon juice, agave, ginger, aloe; $14) or the From Russia with Love (Russian Standard vodka, ginger, lime, rosewater rinse; $12)." Click through to read the rest of the article at Time Out New York.