When in Rome
The appearance of the amazing Florentine panini shop Antica Noe in New York City has made me long for more Italian in my life. But first I have to come clean … despite my last name, I am not Italian (though I thought I was until about 5 years ago). Nonetheless, I identify with and respect Italian culture particularly their unbridled enjoyment of life. Italians enjoy long lunches (siesta), value high quality food and ingredients, and know how to relax and vacation (all of August). These are all things to aspire to! In this week’s Find, I embrace my (nonexistent) Italian heritage on the island of Manhattan!
The first step towards emulating the Italians is relaxing the mind and body through massage. Massage in your home is nice and relaxing, but hardly an experience, certainly not an adventure. The folks at Aire Ancient Baths in Tribeca have created an excellent massage experience, paying homage to the bath houses of ancient Rome; sure, plumbing was a problem back then and having a central bath house was practical, but there is something amazing about a purpose built facility. Immediately upon entering, you are transported to a different time and place. After changing into your bathing suit, you are ushered down to the coed communal baths housed in a cavernous and dimly lit space where the only sounds are running water and flamenco acoustic guitar.
There are six different pools to soak in: the Floatarium (salt bath, a la Dead Sea), the Tepidarium (warm bath), the Caladium (hot bath), the Frigidarium (ice bath), the Jet Pool, and cold plunges. Each booking is 2 hours long and I recommend going with a friend or significant other. After your soak, an attendant will usher you into a very relaxing massage, either 30 or 60 minute. Despite being featured last week on Showtime’s Billions, the treatments are relatively affordable (by Manhattan standards).
Now that you are thoroughly relaxed and definitely pruned, it’s time to indulge your other senses. Head to Pasquale Jones in Little Italy, which is the perfect place to find your inner Italian. Newly opened, this is the sequel by the duo responsible for the very popular Charlie Bird, Ryan Hardy and Robert Bohr. The menu is focused on brick oven pizza, pasta, and fresh fish. Not only is the food stellar, but the decor is super chic (designed by Leroy Street). It is a must that you book this before Aire given how difficult (impossible?) reservations are proving to be! Good luck!
No Italian meal would be complete without Gelato! Right across the street from Pasquale Jones is a delizioso gelato place that may be the best in Manhattan. Mo Il Gelato is 100% natural, made with fresh and organic ingredients and is worth the calories (though better for you than ice cream). I recommend trying either the Gelato Panino, which is a warm brioche filled with the Gelato flavor of your choice or an Affogato (Gelato topped with hot espresso). Enjoy (life)!