Tuesday, 30 December 2008


The Puck Building occupies the block bounded by Lafayette, Houston, Mulberry and Jersey Streets. It was built in 1885, expanded in 1893, and until 1918 was the printing facility of Puck Magazine. The building now contains office space as well as ballrooms for large events on both the ground floor and the top floor. This example of Romanesque Revival architecture features two gilded figures of Shakespeare's character "Puck" as part of the facade.

In the 1980's it was the home of Spy Magazine, whose editors informally dubbed it "The Spy Building and since 2004 has been home to New York University's Wagner Graduate of Public Service and department of Sociology. An exterior shot of the Puck Building is often seen on the popular American television sitcom Will & Grace, as the building where the title character Grace Adler works.
An office stationery company, S. Novick & Son, once occupied the second floor, and notable amongst the firms' salesmen was Alger Hiss, the former assistant Secretary of State who was brought down in a spy scandal in the 1950's which brings to mind 'Puck's' words from Midsummer Nights Dream Act 3, Scene 2, "Lord what fools these mortals be!"

Monday, 29 December 2008


Scheffel Hall, the striking German Renaissance building at 190, Third Avenue at 17th Street, was a beer hall named after German balladeer Joseph Victor von Scheffel. The East Village was chock-a-block with German immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was modeled by the architects after the Friedrichsbau at Heidelberg Castle. The interior was covered with murals based on Scheffel's once-famous songs (or, still famous songs in Germany, perhaps.)

Another name on the building is "Allaire's" and this relates to the name of a restaurant that was there later. In 1909, O. Henry set one of his short story's here, describing it as a "big hall with its smokey rafters, rows of imported steins, portrait of Goethe, and verses painted on the walls."

During World War I, German spies congregated here and plotted away. Tammany leader Charles Murphy, apparently holding no grudges against either side in The Great War, also held court here. It was later Joe King's Rathskeller, a business which, thankfully, didn't put it name on the outside. After Joe King got out it became Fat Tuesday's, a premier jazz joint, best known for hosting regular Monday-night gigs by legendary guitarist Les Paul.

It now houses Sal Anthony's Movement Studio focusing on Pilates and is an occasional Stand-up Comedy venue.

Sunday, 28 December 2008


St. Vincent's Hospital has been a local lifesaver since 1849 when its doors first opened in a small house on West Thirteenth Street. In 1857 the hospital expanded to larger premises at 143 West Eleventh Street and has since built a warren of structures across the entire west half of that city block. As the city's third oldest hospital, St Vincent's has had its brushes with history.

Emergency teams awaiting casualties from The World Trade Center tragedy on Sept 11, 2001

In 1899, it became the first hospital in America to offer automobile ambulance service. In 1911 survivors of the Triangle fire were treated here, as were survivors of the sinking of the Titanic the following year. More recently, its Greenwich Village location placed St. Vincent's at the forefront of AIDS treatment and care, as the deadly epidemic wreaked havoc through the 1980's.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, who captivated the Village of the early 1920's

Two poets have been linked to St. Vincent's Hospital. One is Welsh-born Dylan Thomas, who drank at the White Horse Tavern, four blocks to the west along Eleventh Street, and who died in St. Vincent's in 1953. The other is Edna St. Vincent Millay. Just before the poet's birth in Maine in 1892, her mother learned that her own brother in NYC had been stricken with appendicitis. When news reached Rockland, Maine, that the operation had been successful, his grateful sister named her newborn daughter after the hospital that had saved his life.

Her best known poem might be "First Fig" (1920) from "A Few Figs from Thistles."

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends

It gives a lovely light!

Friday, 26 December 2008


In the 1870's, Sixth Avenue - later renamed Avenue of the Americas - began developing as a department store area with the B.Altman and Hugh O'Neill stores on the west side, at 19th and 21st Streets. These huge stores, spoon served by the new Sixth Avenue Elevated, attracted a broader crowd than the more elite shops running up Broadway from Union Square, two blocks east. The 1890's brought more construction of giant buildings on Sixth, of which the most ambitious was the Siegel-Cooper.

Henry Siegel and Frank Cooper had established a successful departmental store in Chicago. To penetrate the New York City market, they acquired a full blockfront plot distinguished by its great depth, running 460 feet east toward Fifth Avenue.

Their architects, DeLemos & Cordes, designed what was claimed to be the largest store in the world - 750,000 square feet spread over a florid six-storey Renaissance-style structure with a tall central tower and grand entrance.
"The Big Store" it was called, and The New York Times wrote that it carried "all that is between a tenpenny nail and a roast rib of beef to a diamond bracelet and a velvet cape." It opened in opened in September 1896 in a near riot as a crowd of 150,000 tried to squeeze into a store that could accommodate only 35,000. According to the New York Tribune, even Frank Cooper could not get in.
The attractions included not only goods in elaborate display - the bicycle department had its own track - but also ancillary services: a bank, a post office, a hospitable, a nursery, an aviary, a florist, a dentist, a pharmacy, a ticket office and a servants' employment agency. The store did well even as change crept past it. In 1902 it served on average 180,000 people each day and used 40 million square feet of wrapping paper each year.

This glorious retail temple was the center of NYC's shopping; "meet me at the fountain" was a catch phrase referring to the store's centerpiece, which featured Daniel Chester French's statue of 'The Republic.'

The store closed in 1914 and the building is now Bed Bath & Beyond, a superstore featured on Sex and the City; Filene's Basement; T J Max.


What's to be done in New York City on Christmas Day, whether you are a resident who does not observe the Christian connotations of Christmas , a tourist in town that day, or for whatever reason are looking to be active and get out and about on the 25th of December? The city is a mix of people with varying religious beliefs or non-beliefs, many of whom carry about their lives as normal Christmas Day and some shops are open particularly in the 'touristy' areas, along with lots of restaurants and fast food outlets throughout Manhattan.

For restaurants, it is recommended that reservations are made, as those that are open can get very busy. The largest concentration of restaurants that open on Christmas Day are the Chinese Restaurants in Chinatown, particularly popular with the NYC Jewish fraternity.

Perhaps the cinema industry's historical involvement with those of the Jewish faith, explains why cinemas open on Christmas Day,with many featuring brand new releases.

So in conclusion, there's not much wrong in going for an envigarating walk in Central Park, lunch in Chinatown, and finishing off with catching a newly released movie.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008


Red Grooms with his painting "Joseph's Bridge" named in honour of Joseph Stella's paintings of Brooklyn Bridge

Red Grooms (born Charles Rogers Grooms on June 7th., 1937) is an American multimedia artist best known for his colourful pop-art constructions depicting frenetic scenes of modern urban life. After studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, then at Nashville's Peabody College, in 1956, Grooms moved to New York City, to enrol at the New School for Social Research.

'Subway' an excerpt from 'Ruckus Manhattan' 1975

In the early 1960's Grooms invented "sculpto-pictoramas" (such as his work, Ruckus Manhattan) - the mixed-media installations that would become his signature craft. These vibrant three-dimensional constructions melded painting and sculpture, to create immersive works of art that invited interaction from the viewer. The pieces were often populated with colourful, cartoon-like characters, from varied walks of life.

The Nervous City Street Scene 1973

Grooms' work has been exhibited extensively in galleries across the United States, as well as Europe, ans Japan and his art hangs in the collections of thirty-nine galleries, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2003, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Academy of Design.

Red Grooms currently lives and works in a studio on Walker Street, in Lower Manhattan at the intersection of Tribeca and Chinatown.


63, Bank Street

Bank Street in Greenwich Village is named after a branch of the Bank of New York, which has an office on Wall Street. In 1798 a clerk in the office was stricken with yellow fever, and, to avoid being quarantined and closed in the future, the bank bought eight lots in Greenwich Village and erected a branch there for use in emergencies. The urbanisation of Greenwich Village, which had hitherto been primarily farmland, was brought about by a mass exodus of concerned residents from lower Manhattan fleeing from the dangers of yellow fever.
Yellow fever (also called yellow jack, or sometimes black vomit or American Plague) is an acute viral disease, with mosquito's being a prime spreader of the disease. The yellow refers to the jaundice symptoms that affect some patients. In the late 1700's and early 1800's yellow fever reeked havoc in lower Manhattan causing thousands of deaths.
Sid Vicious performing

After the 'bloody' and violent death of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen in the Chelsea Hotel, charges were not brought against Sid Vicious of the infamous Sex Pistols, but his life spiraled yet further into violence and drugs. On the evening of 1st February 1979, after being released from prison from serving a term for smashing a beer mug into the face of Patti Smith's brother, he joined a small celebratory gathering at his new girlfriend, Michele Robinson's home at 63, Bank Street. There he overdosed on heroin and was discovered dead late the next morning. It is understood that his mother, Anne Beverley was responsible for arranging for the delivery of the heroin that killed her son. You bring 'em in and you take 'em out...........

Monday, 22 December 2008



As the name implies, Broadway is a wide avenue which runs the length of Manhattan Island, from Bowling Green at the South, to Inwood at the northern tip of the island. It is the oldest north-south main thoroughfare in the city, dating from the first New Amsterdam settlement. The name Broadway is an English translation of the Dutch name, Breede weg. Broadway was originally the Wickquasgeck Trail, carved into the brush land of Manhattan by its North American inhabitants.

The Bowery

The Bowery, as a street, was known as Bowery Lane prior to 1807 and was the road leading to Peter Stuyvesant's farm or bouwerij. Today it runs from Chatham Square in the south to Cooper Square in the north. "The Bowery" is also used to describe a small neighborhood with boundaries at East 4th Street and the East Village to the north, Canal Street and Chinatown to the south, Allen Street and the Lower East Side to the east and Bowery (the street) and Little Italy to the west.

Sixth Avenue aka The Avenue of the Americas

In 1945, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia changed the official name of Sixth Avenue to Avenue of the Americas in an attempt to acknowledge the City's close trading ties with South America and to encourage further commercial relationships. Alas, New Yorkers remained faithful to the old name. After the name change, the street signs carried a unique design and the streetlights were adorned with "Avenue of the Americas" (many of these were removed in 1992, when most streetlights were replaced).

Since New Yorkers seldom use this term, calling the avenue by that name has even become 'a shibboleth' of sorts for something a tourist in the city might say (such as mispronouncing "Houston Street" - should be said as "Howston". However, to avoid confusion among visitors, the street was signed with both names in the 1980's.

Sunday, 21 December 2008


Looking down at the Rockefeller Center's Christmas Festivities

As Christmas approaches, the decorations which have been on display for many weeks actually take on a seemingly different perspective; from hard-nosed commercialism when originally put up to a warm, welcoming, mellow conceptualization, whatever your beliefs, the nearer we get to the 25th of December.

Great fun to skate and watch at the 'Rock'

Many a happy time can be had just watching the skaters do their level best to entertain you, whether it be by 'wowing' with their skills or amusing you with their total lack of bodily co-ordination, balance or decorum.

Rather large baubles on the Avenue of The Americas

Stores make a big effort to entice you through their doors to the cash registers by providing some spectacular window displays. The standard in NYC is very high, none more so than at the legendary Macy's Departmental Store, on 34th Street, between 7th Avenue and Broadway ( photo's above and below).

The importance of Christmas is to remind ourselves of the values that we really wish to use as a template for our dealings with our families, friends, neighbours, co-citizens and fellow beings everywhere. It is also a time to spend dedicated quality time with our families and friends - something which tends to get neglected nowadays. Whilst some view Christmas as a time to reflect on their own faith, it has become a period that transcends one particular faith and can be happily embraced and enjoyed by all of us. HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY.


Mae West in Manhattan in 1933

Mae West (1893-1980), born in Brooklyn, NYC, was an American actress, playwright, screenwriter, and sex symbol but perhaps, best remembered for her bawdy double entendres, such as:

"My left leg is Christmas; my right leg is Easter; why don't you come up and visit me between the holidays?"

"When I'm good I'm very very good. When I am bad, I'm better."

"There are no good girls gone wrong. There are only bad girls found out."

"I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."

"I feel like a million tonight - but one at a time."

"There are two things in life I like hard and one of them is eggs."

"Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly."

"Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home, I'm tired."

And her most famous:

"Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?"

Mae & W. C. Fields in the comedy film classic "My Little Chickadee" (1940)

In 1918, after several high-profile revues, West got her big break in the Shubert Brothers revue "Sometime," opposite Ed Wynn. Eventually, she began writing her own risque plays using the pen name Jane Mast. Her first starring role on Broadway was in a play she titled "Sex", which she also wrote, produced and directed. This notorious show did not go over well with city officials and the theater was raided with West arrested along with the cast.
She was prosecuted on morals charges and, on April 19, 1927, was sentenced to ten days imprisonment for "corrupting the morals of youth."

While incarcerated on Roosevelt Island, she was allowed to wear her silk underpants instead of the scratchy prison issue and the warden reportedly took her to dinner every night and surprisingly was given a two day reduction in the term served for "good behavior."

In 1932, West was offered a motion picture contract by Paramount Pictures. One of her earlier films was "She Done Him Wrong" (1933). The film is also notable as providing one of Cary Grant's first major roles, which boosted his career. Mae claimed she spotted Grant at the studio and insisted he be cast as the male lead. The film was a box office hit and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. The huge success of the movie is accredited with saving Paramount from bankruptcy. Her next release "I'm No Angel"(1933) again paired her alongside Cary Grant. The film was a tremendous financial blockbuster and was nominated for an Academy Award.

Mae giving Rock Hudson her "Come up and see sometime" look at the 1958 Academy Awards Show

As well as films, Mae enjoyed a long career on the stage, television, radio and writing and well into her old age she was always ready with her quick wit which has become legend. She died on November 22, 1980 at age 87 and is entombed with her family in Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn. For her contribution to the film industry, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood.

And a parting thought from Mae, "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough." She sure did it right!

Friday, 19 December 2008


This building, at the corner of Cooper Square and St. Mark's Place, has enjoyed many different types of colourful and intriguing usages. The Valencia Hotel was here and offered the value and 'laissez-faire' attitude needed to make it a popular destination for a 'covert rendezvous'; also known as a 'hot sheets hotel'. Featured in James Leo Herlihy's 1971 novel 'The Season of the Witch.

Having undergone refurbishment, and change of clientele it is now the St Marks Hotel, a 3 star budget hotel, offering (for New York) good value basic en-suite rooms from $140 per night per room.

Kevin Michael "GG" Allin (1956-1993) relatively dressed and 'unslashed' at start of a gig

The Valencia Hotel was the home at one time to GG Allin, a punk rock singer-songwriter and musician who is best remembered for his notorious live performances that typically featured wildly transgressive acts such as him defecating and urinating on stage. Often it also involved rolling in feces, eating excrement, committing self-mutilation, performing naked and committing violent actions towards the audience. Whilst not unnaturally more notorious for his stage antics, he recorded prolifically, not only in the punk rock genre, but also in spoken word, country and Rolling Stones-influenced rock.

In late 1989, he was charged with the rape and torture of a female acquaintance. At first he denied the charges, claiming the woman was a willing participant but later Allin entered into a plea bargain for lesser charges and was imprisoned for 16 months. Despite threats of on-stage suicide, Allin died of a heroin overdose in NYC on June 29, 1993, in the Manhattan apartment of friends, John Handley and Dwanna Yount.

The Five Spot Cafe made its debut in this building with a long residency by Thelonius Monk in 1957. Monk's seven month stint at the club was a landmark for both the artist and the club. He was backed by John Coltrane on tenor sax. As well as confirming Monk's genius it also made the Five Spot the East Village's premier Jazz club. Many other Jazz greats performed at the club and several live recordings from the club have been released over the years including Thelonius Monk's 'At the Five Spot', 'Blues Five Spot' and 'Discovery! Live at the Five Spot' and Eric Dolphy's 'The Five Spot Volumes 1 & 2.'

The Five Spot Cafe made a massive contribution to cementing New York City's reputation as the 'Capital City of Jazz'.


Astor Place was the site of the Astor Place Opera House on the corner of East 8th Street. Built to be a fashionable theater in 1847, it was the location of the Astor Place Riot of May 10th 1849. The riot was one of the bloodiest days in New York's history. Anti-British feelings were running so high among New York's Irish at the height of the Irish potato famine that they found an outlet in the rivalry between American actor Edwin Forrest and the English William Charles Macready. It seems that the two actors were slated to play Macbeth at two different theaters on the same night.

The appearance onstage of the Englishman in Macbeth occasioned so violent a protest in the streets that the police overreacted and fired into the large ugly mob of in excess of 20,000 made up of lower and working class men, that had gathered outside the Opera House and were throwing missiles onto the audience and stage.

The National Guard fire into the crowd

The eventual death toll stood at 31 civilians dead, some 30 or 40 wounded from gunfire, and more than 100 soldiers, police, and civilians injured by paving stones, clubs, or other weapons. Eighty-six rioters were arrested. A coroner's jury exonerated the guardsmen, though it criticized the police for not being prepared. Macready had been smuggled out of the theater in disguise and left NYC the next morning, never to return to the USA (quick on the uptake, us English). Forrest, though tainted by association with the riot and by a scandalous divorce from his wife, continued with a successful theatrical career and died in 1872.

The buiding that now stands on the site of old Astor Place Opera House

After the tragic events of May 10th, 1849, The Astor tried to carry on, but the memories of the riot made most managers unwilling to book events there. The curent building was designed in 1890 by George Harney and housed the Chinese consulate in the 1920's.

Thursday, 18 December 2008


The previous Blog tells of E B White's book of essays "Here is New York", (1948) containing, what has proven to be, some shrewd portents. He joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine in 1927, and continued to contribute for six decades. Best recognised for his essays and unsigned "Notes and Comment" pieces, he gradually became the most important contributor to The New Yorker at a time when it was arguably the most important American literary magazine.

He is perhaps best known as an author of children's books, which he turned to on behalf of a niece, Janet Hart White. His first children's book, "Stuart Little", was published in 1945. It is the tale of a young New Yorker named Stuart Little who had the "shy, pleasant manner of a mouse" and in Garth William's illustrations does look like a mouse and by the time the three highly successful Stuart Little films were made, had become a mouse.
"Charlotte's Web", published in 1952, tells the story of a barn spider named Charlotte and her friendship with a pig named Wilbur. The illustrator again was Garth Williams. In 2000 Publishers Weekly acclaimed the book as the best-selling children's paperback of all time. Written in White's dry, low key manner, "Charlotte's Web" is considered a classis of children's literature, enjoyable to adults as well as children.
In 1978, White won an honorary Pulitzer Prize for his work as a whole. Other awards he received included a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 and memberships in a variety of literary societies throughout the United States. He died on October 1, 1985, 86 years old.


In the summer of 1948 Elwyn Brooks "E.B." White, a Pulitzer Prize winner, sat in a New York hotel room and sweltering in the summer heat and intense humidity, and wrote a remarkable, pristine essay, "Here is New York." Perceptive, funny, and nostalgic, the author's stroll around Manhattan - with the reader arm-in-arm - remains the quintessential love letter to the city, written by one of America's foremost literary figures. The New York Times has chosen "Here is New York" as one of the ten best books ever written about the grand metropolis.

However, there is something rather unsettling in E B White's observations on the changes that could occur to New York City's future following World War II. Quoting from his text:-

"The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sound of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest edition."

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, his prophesy was regrettably and tragically proven to be accurate. God Bless those innocents who perished.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Tribeca Grill at 375, Greenwich Street at the corner of Franklin St

Tribeca Grill is co-owned by renowned restaurateur Drew Nieporent and actor Robert De Niro. It opened to much acclaim in 1990 and was instrumental in helping to put the Tribeca neighborhood on the map. Now in it's 18th year , Tribeca Grill has become one of New York's downtown restaurant landmarks. Executive Chef Stephen Lewandowski's market drivcen menu features robust dishes such as Berkshire T-Bone Pork Chop with homemade Potato Pierorgies (that's Slav boiled dumplings not funny happenings under Pier 26), Seared Sea Scallops with Chanterelles and Corn Pudding, and Braised Short Ribs with Porcini Mushrooms, Fava Beans and English Peas. A very fine and extensive wine cellar is kept and is one of only seven restaurants in NYC to receive the Grand Award from Wine Spectator Magazine.

The mahogany bar comes from Maxwell's Plum, the original singles bar
The restaurant is located on the first two floors of the Tribeca Film Center, which is the headquarters of Mr. De Niro's film company, Tribeca Productions, the Tribeca Film Festival and the Weinstein Company. The building is a historic 1905 warehouse that was once the Martinson Coffee factory. With its high ceilings, original exposed brick, large mahogany bar and over sized windows, The Grill reflects the industrial character of the Tribeca neighborhood. The restaurant also serves as a permanent gallery for the artwork of Mr. De Niro's father, the late Robert De Niro Senior.

The legendary Robert De Niro

Born in NYC in 1943, the son of Virginia Admiral, a painter, and Robert De Niro, Sr., an abstract expressionist painter and sculptor, Mr De Niro is a two-time Academy Award-winning American film actor, director and producer. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential actors of his time.


The Hangman's Elm?

Prior to 1797, the current site of Washington Square Park was farmland, when the Common Council of New York purchased the fields for a new potter's field, or public burial ground for the unknown or poor. However, when New York, which had not spread to this area yet, went through yellow fever epidemics in the early 1800's, most of those who died were also buried here, safely away from town, as a hygenic measure. It is estimated that over 20,000 bodies were buried in Washington Square, mainly the victims of yellow fever, until the cemetery became full in 1825. A number of reports exist of a blue mist hanging over the park on hot summer mornings, thought to be the 'vapors' from the bones below.

It was during this time, as legend has it, that the large elm at the northwest corner of the park was the old hanging tree where many of the condemned prisoners, from the Newgate Prison on Christopher Street and other jails were taken for execution. What is a fact is that in 1989, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation determined that this English elm was 310 years old, making it the oldest known tree in Manhattan

A parade in progress

In 1826 the City bought additional land, the square was laid out and leveled, and it was turned into the Washington Military Parade Ground. Military parade grounds were public spaces specified by the city where volunteer militia companies responsible for the nation's defence would train. The streets surrounding the square became one of the city's most desirable residential areas in the 1830's. The protected row of Greek Revival style houses on the north side of the park remain from that time.

In 1849 and 1850, the parade ground was reworked into the first park on the site with more paths and a new fence built around it.

Align Left The park today

At 9.75 acres Washington Square Park is one of the best-known of NYC's 1,700 public parks, and is a landmark in the Manhattan neighborhood of Greenwich Village, as well as a meeting place and center for cultural activity. An open space with a tradition of nonconformity, the park's fountain area has long been one of the city's popular spots for residents and tourists.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008


John Gotti's hangout at 247 Mulberry Street
Infamous connection would be more accurate for this building which was the hangout of the Gambino mob when John Gotti was running it. It was known as the Ravenite Social Club and was wiretapped by the FBI - the conversations recorded here helped send him to prison. The Feds took over the building, which was owned by a Gambino capo, in 1998.

It now houses Amy Chan, a handbag designer whose Asian-styled wares are carried by Claire Danes and Kate Moss. No better symbol of the transformation of the neighborhood could be imagined - John G would turn in his grave!

Enrico Caruso feasted here after performances

Founded in 1908 by the Davino family, Grotto Azzurra at 177 Mulberry Street, was named for the blue grotto on the Isle of Capri and designed to 'evoke the beauty of one of the world's most famous caves'. As well as the after show dinning of Caruso, Sinatra was a frequent visitor and called it his one and only favorite Italian restaurant, making it the site of many a "Rat Pack" evening. Shuttered for six years, it has now been renovated and its cuisine is in the sure hands of multi-talented chef Frank Castellana.

Many well known celebrities enjoy the traditional italian offerings at Grotta Azzurra. Recently seen include, Cast of Sopranos, Daryl Hall, Dennis Leary, Frankie Avalon, Gwyneth Paltrow and husband Chris Martin, Lynn Redgrave, Salman Rushdie, and Blythe Danner.