I used to eat healthier before my life in Manhattan — the island of opportunity, stylish shoes, and gluten-full foods. I remember my boring pre-NYC diet, which consisted primarily of omelets, peanut butter, fish and grilled chicken salads. I rarely ate (don’t say it!) a sandwich.
But in this town, also known as the capital of bagels and pizza, I can no longer resist the temptation. The goal that seemed not so challenging before, has now become nearly impossible to attain while living in New York City — avoiding that high-calorie food group also as known as “carbs.”
My days of cooking most every meal in a sprawling gourmet kitchen are long gone and the nights of starchy food delivery are here to stay. The local doughy options are greater, more indulgent and guilt-full. I succumb to the bread fairy on a daily basis, be it a bagel for breakfast, a slice of pizza for lunch, or a bowl of pasta for dinner. Some days, I indulge in all three — horror, I know. These menu items are belly fat’s besties for sure, and the six pack’s enemies. (I’m okay with this since I’ve never owned or drunk a six pack.)
All Spanx aside, I have a rule that I rarely break — “Don’t eat carbs unless they’re really worth it.” That means no Wonder Bread, Domino’s Pizza or Lender’s Bagels for me. These are nothing but poor imitations of the real thing, and can’t come close to the crusty French baguette, the melt-in-your-mouth slice of pizza, or the crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside New York bagel. (Ok, I’m craving now.) But these ‘real things’ are made and sold on just about every corner in this city. Where are those Spanx?
If you need a natural mood enhancer or an energy boost, here are a few carb-loading spots in NYC that are well worth the calories and inches. Warning: A tummy tuck may be in order.
2446 Broadway between 90th and 91st Streets, Upper West Side
Whole Wheat Everything Bagel (untoasted) with veggie cream cheese is not to be missed.
359 First Avenue between 20th & 21st Streets, Gramercy
Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside —this might be the perfect bagel. Pair it with the strawberry cream cheese.
80 Spring Street, between Broadway and Crosby, SoHo
With a baguette like no other outside of Paris, this bistro/bakery is not for Atkins or Zone diet followers. Also famous for French pastries and flaky croissants, you’ll find Balthazar breads scattered throughout other restaurants in Manhattan.
Silver Moon Bakery
2740 Broadway at 105th Street, Manhattan Valley
Charming spot with delectable tarts and cookies and 44 kinds of bread on the regular menu; many use organic and whole grains.
Di Fara Pizza
1424 J Street, Midwood, Brooklyn
Attend pizza theatre and watch owner, Dom, pull each pie out of the oven with his bare hands, only to clip fresh basil and drizzle with olive oil. No frills, long waits but best pizza anywhere (in my opinion). Nuff said.
502 Amsterdam Avenue between 84th & 85th Street, Upper West Side
Trattoria has best Pizza Margherita with thin crust, fresh mozzarella and basil, and baked to perfection in a wood-fired oven.
230 Ninth Avenue at 24th Street, Chelsea
Beautifully crafted artisanal pizzas in modern space by Sullivan Street Bakery owner Jim Lahey. This man knows bread. Love the Stracciatella Pizza with arugula, crushed tomato, and black pepper. For meat and carb-lovers, go for the Veal Meatball Pizza with caramelized onions. (Salads are also delicious, but who needs those?) Bellissimo!