When Audio46 first opened under a different name, it primarily sold digital cameras. Business savvy, however, led the employees to realize that over time, more and more people were coming in for headphones. In 2016, they changed over their stock to deal primarily in audio equipment. Since then, they have been featured on CBS Local and have garnered international attention. I sat down with Tony Aama, Audio46’s Vice President, who discussed the shift with me. Tony listed the expansive list of headphone brands offered at Audio46, including Sennheiser, Audeze, Beyerdynamic, Jays, Hifiman, Westone, Shure, and Grado. He told me that there are headphones for every price point, from simple $10-20 ear buds to $4000 professional headphones. He showed me the back of the shop, where there are still shelves of digital cameras from before the shop switched over to audio. Tony was pleased to tell me that despite the shift, the store is still considered number one by many seeking digital cameras in the city. I also spoke with Ryan Davison, the Digital Content Director at Audio46, who said that the store provides a “really fun work environment. ” He went on to say, “I come in early and I leave late, ” to which Tony replied, “I have to tell them to go home. ” I witnessed the cheerful camaraderie of the staff when the Manhattan Sideways team took some of their pictures outside the store. Pablo, Sade, Jelena, and Ryan naturally posed with arms around each other and big grins on their faces. Though most of them have backgrounds related to TV or audio, they also have varied interests: for example, I learned that Sade is a fashion and tech blogger. They are able to tap their creative sides through the shop’s giveaways and promotions – the team shared that they had a lot of fun during National Selfie Day. And from what I saw, each one is extremely knowledgeable about their high-quality headphones and eager to help any visitors to the store. Tony phrased it best: “We’re good to our customers and good to our employees. ”
The wood-paneled walls of Nino's convey a sense of comfort that seems well-fitted to the people in the neighborhood. The first time I stopped in, on a rainy and cold afternoon, Franco Vendome greeted me with his warm smile and pleasant conversation. He absolutely had me at hello! Franco explained that he took over running the restaurant from his parents in 2008, although I have had the pleasure of meeting his mom on a few occasions, as she does not seem to have slowed down one bit after "retiring. " I was sad to hear their story of a devastating fire in April 2011, but they picked up the pieces, renovating the entire interior and re-opened to an eager crowd nineteen months later. Known as "Nino's on 46" since his parents named it in 1982, Franco has guided the restaurant to higher culinary aspirations, focusing on recreating traditional Italian dishes with a contemporary twist. Like many restaurants in the area, Nino's gets its fair amount of regulars for lunch - and I was so pleased when many would gently interrupt our conversation, simply to say thank you and good-bye. Franco plays a vital role here; bouncing back and forth between the front and back of the house, he somehow manages to expertly run the kitchen while consistently providing a familiar presence to his patrons. Of course the mom insisted that we sit down and try some of their specialties when we returned to take photos one day. Within a short amount of time, she presented the Manhattan Sideways team with an array of dishes - from the classic eggplant parmigiana, a homemade pasta, thin crust pizza, and a Caesar salad, to the inventive truffled mac and cheese bites with a lemon aioli dipping sauce, beet-infused gnudi and Frank's special sandwich with a piece of breaded chicken cutlet, prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula, roasted peppers and a balsamic vinegar dressing. Franco's imaginative sensibility distinguishes Nino's from the standard fare; as he acknowledges, this place brings "a downtown vibe to Midtown, " creating a hipper menu with greater variation than the traditional Italian restaurant. This push to innovate at Nino's derives in part from its family history. As the first-generation to grow up in America, Franco often visits his grandparent's home in Avellino, Italy; living on a self-sufficient farm and making their own wine and olive oil, his grandparents initiated him into a food culture dependent on fresh, local ingredients. Having spent his childhood in the "traditional" Nino's, Franco sought to combine his commitment to sustainable agriculture with the values he learned from his parents and grandparents, while also giving the new Nino's his own stamp. We believe he has succeeded.
Being greeted by Girl From Ipanema is a good sign of an authentic Brazilian restaurant — one that has been playing traditional bossa nova and jazz music on a stunning white piano since its inception. As a further testament to the restaurant’s authenticity, Via Brasil — which claims to be the oldest Brazilian restaurant in New York — is one of the last of its kind on West 46th Street’s Little Brazil block. Though many of its neighbors have closed, Via Brasil continues to attract diners with a taste for the tropics, lured in by heaping plates of traditional Brazilian fare and endless rounds of the country’s national drink, the caipirinha.
Utsav, an Indian restaurant constructed in the overhang connecting two buildings between 46th and 47th, has taken an unexpected path to arrive in New York. Opening in 2000, Utsav came to Midtown by way of Japan, as the American expansion of a chain of nineteen Tokyo restaurants run by Emiko Kothari. Emiko and her husband, Shivji Kothari, opened their first Indian restaurants in Calcutta in the 1960s. After a short time, the two decided to make the move back to Japan, and begin again in Emiko's native country. They were eager to introduce Bengali cuisine to a new audience in Tokyo. While she has grown up working in the family business of restaurants, Nandita Khanna, the granddaughter of Emiko, is running Utsav on her own. She wanted to try to expand the family's restaurants to the United States, and to "attempt to enter the more competitive restaurant scene in Manhattan. " In chatting with Nandita, we learned that the name choice Utsav means 'festival' in Sanskrit, and it was her desire to try to create an environment that reflected the vibrant festivals from her homeland. There is multi-level seating in the expansive space of Utsav with a lunch buffet available upstairs alongside the regular menu. While Utsav serves food from all over India and offers many regional specialties, Nandita finds that their most requested dishes are tandoori lambchops and bhuna mutton. In the bar area downstairs, Nandita recommends several innovative Indian twists on standard drinks: the Utsapolitan (a mango and vodka mix) and the pani puri margarita (vodka, tequila, and tamarind water). The bar also serves variations on Indian street food, with bhel puri and an array of chaats. As we were exiting Ustav, we took note of the well-situated tables just outside of the restaurant, where there was a volume of bankers from a few blocks east, and theater crew from a few blocks west, savoring their Indian meal. This amalgamation perfectly captures the area.