By Michelle Slade
New York has countless amazing things going for it. Unfortunately, everyone else knows that too - which means it’s a pretty stifling place to be year-round, let alone at summertime. Sometimes we feel the need to escape for a while - quit all the people, the cellphone chatter, the sirens, the looming buildings, the lines in the morning that mean we have to wait 20 minutes to buy a darn bagel... But where to go for the day? We humbly submit to you:
Why should I get away to Greenwich?
This place is English in a way that Greenwich Village so wishes it could be. Hell, it’s more English than England: huge expanses of lush green fields, seasides, cute little villagey areas with chocolate-box shops, and gigantic sprawling houses on acres of land. It’s consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the whole of the US. But if you’re not on a million-dollar salary, or if you want a break from busyness rather than a full-on retirement from it, Greenwich is a great place to visit: it’s idyllic, peaceful, has great shopping and some of the best restaurants outside of NYC.
While you’re certainly not short of choice in Manhattan, you are short of space to breathe, polite servers and clean fitting rooms. Greenwich is your shopping haven! It has all the high-end stores you could ever want (remember: this place is very dollar-happy), in the sort of beautiful, relaxing setting that leads to an overload of impulse buys. What sorts of stores, we imagine you wondering while giving your bank statement the once-over. The main drag - Greenwich Avenue - is Fifth Avenue on Valium: just as classy; nowhere near as stressful. Here you’ll find Saks, J Crew, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and Tiffany, among many others.
The Greenwich founders learned an important lesson from England: provide everything that’s typically English (fields, pretty shops, etc.) EXCEPT English food. Believe us: Greenwich is all the better for it. Here are some top options:
When you think of expensive menu items, what comes to mind? Foie gras, caviar, scallops, lobster, truffles, for example? It’s all on offer at Jean-Louis; the prices are as you’d expect, but the good news is that the food is worth it for once. The restaurant is on a street called Lewis Street, which makes us think... was the award-winning chef’s name REALLY “Louis,” or was it just a convenient way for patrons to remember the address?
Burgers, Shakes & Fries
Want somewhere a bit more low-key, low-cost, lowbrow? Try Burgers, Shakes & Fries - a place where you can get little other than the words in the title, and all the better for it. Actually, that’s a slight lie: the shakes are a bit powdery and could do with some TLC. But hot dang those burgers! They’re done just how you want them, and they come served inside buttered toast instead of buns - making us wonder why other joints don’t do the same.
There are A LOT of pizza places in Greenwich, but Re Napoli is definitely our favorite - the BYOBness definitely helps, but the main reason is the awesome food. Everyone raves about the Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches, but we suggest you save that for visit #2. The first time you go, you must try the Romana pizza: it’s 24” long and divided into three parts (for three “courses”). Our favorite Romana is the Ferlito: first part - spinach, ricotta, speck and olives; second part - salami, olives, sundried tomatoes, pizza sauce and mozzarella; third part - cream cheese, Nutella, banana and almonds.
Relaxation and prettiness
One word: BEACHES! There are four in total, but the best are at Greenwich Point (you’ll need to get a pass from the community center to enter) and Great Captain Island (which can be reached by ferry). Or if you fancy something a bit more unusual (and British), watch some polo at Greenwich Polo Club. Matches aren’t held year-round, so be sure to check the website first.
Couldn’t be easier: get a Metro North train from Grand Central Station and you’ll arrive within the hour.
Michelle Slade is a freelance writer, editor and proofreader. She writes for a number of fun and wacky websites and publications, and is also the author of If I’m Not Mistaken, That’s Bacon: Kosher Guidance for Confused Jews and Haggadah Good Feeling About This: Passover Guidance for Confused Jews. She blogs with her husband at www.makingitanywhere.com.