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Marvelous Manhattan: Stories of the Restaurants, Bars, and Shops That Make This City Special

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“A timely read. . . . [Nadelson’s] reporting, all from a personal lens, is up-to-date. . . . Like chocolate chips in a cookie, the book is studded with delicious photos old and new.”
—Florence Fabricant, New York Times

“A wonderfully lively, knowledgeable journey through the past and present of places that help make New York City what it is, and which we must cherish and (hopefully) preserve.” 
—Salman Rushdie  

New York might have Broadway, Times Square, and the Empire State Building, but the real heart and soul of the city can be found in the iconic places that have defined cool since “cool” became a word.

Places like Di Palo’s in Little Italy, where you might stop in to pick up a little cheese only to find yourself in a long conversation—part friendly chat, part profound tutorial—with fourth-generation owner Lou Di Palo, sampling cheeses all the while. Or Raoul’s in SoHo, to enjoy a classic steak-frites in the company of downtown artists, celebrities, and dyed-in-the-wool locals. Or Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem, to be in the room where some young guys named Thelonious, Dizzy, and Charlie invented bebop. Or maybe Russ & Daughters, to pick up the city’s best lox and bagels, which they’ve been selling since 1914.

A lifelong New Yorker, writer Reggie Nadelson celebrates her city and all the places that make it special. Part guidebook, part cultural history, part walk down memory lane, alive with the spirit and the grit of small, often family-owned businesses that have survived the Great Depression, World War II, 9/11, and the coronavirus lockdown, Marvelous Manhattan is a seductive and timely book for anyone who lives in New York, loves the city, lived there once, or wishes they had.

Because that’s the thing about Manhattan: all you need to do is walk into the right place—say, Fanelli’s on Prince Street—sit down at the bar, order a drink, open this book, and suddenly you’re a New Yorker.

224 pages, Hardcover

Published April 13, 2021

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About the author

Reggie Nadelson

25 books18 followers
Reggie Nadelson is a New Yorker who also makes her home in London. She is a journalist and documentary film-maker. She is the author of the critically acclaimed series featuring Artie Cohen, Moscow-born New Yorker and the first great post-Cold War cop.

* Artie Cohen

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5 stars
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26 (36%)
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Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews
Profile Image for Roy.
367 reviews29 followers
December 26, 2021
"The places in this book are the places I love, my personal favorites, restaurants or shops that have history for me and that seem to be evidence that New York is still alive, that it is still the real thing. You want to argue about it? Well, it's a New Yorker's favorite pastime -- at least when we're not eating."

This is a set of essays, originally columns, about restaurants and shops that are uniquely Manhattan, and that speak to a sense that New York is both immutable and always changing. Written in a witty, intimate style, the essays give you history and spirit and reasons why you want to go there. There are 21 detailed essays, and a lot of short descriptions of 'honorable mentions'. One gets the impression that living in Manhattan is about eating, drinking, and occasionally being surprised by great music. I'm a little more outdoors than that, but she leaves me with no choice but to try all these places. I've already been to a few. Well worth reading even if you are not visiting New York. Indispensable if you are trying to get a feel for the city.
Profile Image for Amrita.
37 reviews5 followers
February 19, 2021
(My thanks to Netgalley and Artisan for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review)

A tour through Manhattan's many beloved eating institutions is also a trip through the various cultures who've built the island's food culture; where every few blocks one runs into yet another slice of grimy history and the deliciousness it birthed alongside the pain of the immigrant experience. The crime, the poverty, the racial tensions, the sheer grind of living in a city like New York - the dark, seamy bits that often get forgotten in the sparkle and fairy dust Hollywood and the popular imagination like to sprinkle over it - all of it is reflected in the food featured in this book. This is a loving tour through the different neighborhoods of Manhattan, ranging through the author's own beloved childhood haunts to more recent discoveries. It's a love letter to Manhattan and a snapshot of the communities that have found their home in it. Truly marvelous for those who know (and love) Manhattan like I do, and for those who've never been.
Profile Image for Tanya R.
919 reviews24 followers
February 21, 2021
Written by Author Reggie Nadelson, this book takes you on a tour of some of Nadleson’s favorite places in New York. Providing historical backgrounds on the building, families or famous persons that have visited, it’s a wonderful look at the city that never sleeps through the eyes of one of its own.

I was finally able to visit NYC a few years before Covid came along. I had hoped I’d be on a return trip by now but that’s going to have to wait. Reading through this book, I was able to learn so much about these places and now have added at least 10 new places I’ll need to visit when I’m finally able to return. My husband, originally from New York, had only heard of a handful of these places and learned quite a bit reading over my shoulder, along with salivating at all the descriptions of food from the restaurants listed!

A favorite quote from the book that reinforces my growing love for this city I’ve barely had time to explore:
Very few cities cling to their myths or their history the way New York does; even as it hurries to tear things down, to build up bigger, higher, richer, there is always that rueful melancholy for the past.

This book was such a pleasure to read!

Thank you to #NetGalley for providing this book. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy and all views expressed are only my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,174 reviews62 followers
January 28, 2021
There are many books written nostalgically about the New York that used to be or the New York that perhaps featured prominently in an author's memory. Marvelous Manhattan is a marvelous (pun intended) addition to this genre and a very welcome one as well.
Nadelson has the personal experience, writing chops, and credentials to author a book like this. The balance between storytelling, photographs, and length of each vignette is perfect and gives the reader just the right amount of schmear on the bagel.
The first thing a reader is going to want to do is peruse the table of contents to see if their own personal favorites have been included. Nadelson has astutely included a wide range of New York favorites, but has not neglected lesser known, but intriguing locations. The historical and generational tidbits are memorable and though the pandemic won't last forever, this is prime reading for those of us still stuck at home and/or unable to travel to New York.

I loved it. Can we have a second volume, please?

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this wonderful book.
Profile Image for Jenn Adams.
1,404 reviews5 followers
March 2, 2021
Delightful tour through some of the author's favorite NYC (specifically Manhattan) locations - conversations with owners, personal anecdotes, and even color photographs. Definitely has that quintessentially NYC "this is the best place in the world, there's no question" but that's part of the charm. Would definitely recommend.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Suzi.
988 reviews11 followers
February 20, 2022
Two years i not Covid and I'm missing my trips to Manhattan. But when I'm back I'm visiting old haunts. guess this book proves how out of it I am! I still want cupcakes!
495 reviews2 followers
February 12, 2023
My daughter who lives in New York, and her partner, gave me this book for the holidays, specifying that I should read it and mark pages of places I've never been to and would like to visit, so that they could take me to them at some time. (I imagine she includes her dad in there, also. He'd like to visit, too.)

I've been to New York countless times, to visit my daughters, who both went to college there, and after, to visit this, one who lives there. I've chaperoned field trips, and visited the city with my husband. This book is a charming and delightful trip to the city. Nadelson's descriptions are chatty and somewhat freewheeling. She does not follow a set template, nor should she. She rightfully recognizes that the shops, restaurants, bars, and performance spaces have their own personalities. As do their descriptions.

She writes in a warm, chatty way, describing the food here, and the owner/managers there. She offers interesting tidbits and anecdotes about each place, along with a variety of photos, some historic, some contemporary. I got the feeling I was talking to someone who really knows the city well, and wants to share it with me. Like my daughter.

It's also an easy read in that no chapter is long, and each stands alone. You can read one before bed time, or read five relatively quickly. I would recommend this book to anyone headed to New York for the first time, or going back to visit, with an eye to finding a new, special spot.

Profile Image for Joy.
1,045 reviews
October 7, 2021
I loved this! It’s one woman telling the story of about 40 of her favorite places in NYC. It’s great. She’s also really clear about the scope: places she happens to love. All but 2-3 are age-old institutions (and I think that’s what she loves about them). My only 2 quibbles with the book are that there wasn’t a map that showed each of the sites, and the 3 places in Harlem feel kinda thrown-in. I think she is from the lower west side, and so 80% of her favorites are in the lower west side. I have the feeling someone made her add in a few spots from the upper west and from Harlem, so she just did - but those stories aren’t as compelling. But all in all, I loved this. I’d love to read a book like this on some other big cities!
Profile Image for Tria.
46 reviews
March 10, 2021
This book had me within the first few pages- much like the author's mother, I too escaped the Canadian prairies in my early twenties for the excitement, culture and life that felt so far from my home. NYC instantly captivated my spirit - and I have such fond memories of my time there, and many of these places. I hit the 10 yr threshold of living in the city that some say qualifies you to call yourself a New Yorker, and despite living elsewhere now, it will always be a place I cherish, and one that gave me the freedom, space and opportunity to grow and discover the myself, and the world.

Thank you NetGalley for the review copy.
Profile Image for Joe.
306 reviews24 followers
June 29, 2021
This slim volume is a pure treasure. I am a sucker for any histories of Manhattan especially Greenwich Village where my family comes from. I was filled with such nostalgia reading about the places I have been and an excitement to visit the ones that I haven’t. On the cover is my beloved Fanelli’s Cafe, where it’s impossible to not strike up a conversation over some cocktails. Nadelson is a wonderful guide leading us from SOHO all the way Uptown. She even has an apologies chapter at the end because naturally there will be arguments about places left out. This is a gem.
Profile Image for oohlalabooks.
781 reviews165 followers
February 11, 2021
Having grown up in NYC, I have visited and eaten at many of the places mentioned. I have fond memories of the many tastes, smells, people, and sights .. NYC does this to a person, the experience is amazing and magical. It is also wonderful reading about the owners and the history of the buildings. Thank you to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for a gifted copy. This is my honest review.
September 8, 2021
Loved it so much. Light and easy reading. A fascinating book that you can read whenever you choose. You can read one chapter or you can read three then put away. Each chapter is a wonderful vignette about restaurants, bars, or stores in New York. Makes you want to visit each chapter's subject on the next trip to NYC. Ms. Nadelson provides a wonderful native's perspective. It was a terrific vacation escape read!
715 reviews6 followers
March 2, 2021
This book is a great resource for anyone traveling to the City who wants to see what the "locals" say make it great. Some of the places are very touristy and hard to get into, others are very expensive, and some are a little downscale. But everyone that is mentioned is well worth trying to go to, even if only once to see what the ambiance of 'old' New York was like in the thirties and fifties.
Profile Image for Annarella.
10.4k reviews101 followers
April 14, 2021
This could be an excellent guide to Manhattan places and it made me travel and wish I was there.
A fascinating collection of places, stories and photos about the places the author loves.
I loved it and it's strongly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Profile Image for Ashley Martin.
35 reviews
January 5, 2023
I first saw this book at Three Lives & Co, which I was excited to see featured in the book. I was so excited to learn more about Manhattan's restaurant scene and history. The book definitely taught me more about that and more. The book is less about the 'bests' of the city and more of the 'bests' according to the author; I was hoping more for the former, but it was still an enjoyable read.
351 reviews7 followers
May 13, 2021
If you love Manhattan.....
Personal favorites of the author from the Village and Downtown to Harlem.
Profile Image for Christina Cola.
81 reviews6 followers
November 11, 2021
I love books where New Yorkers talk about their favorite spots in the city. Reading this took me home for a little while, which is a comfort when I don’t get to fly home as much as I’d like.
54 reviews
February 8, 2023
When is Volume II coming out? I LOVED it! A wonderful tribute to the "heart and soul" of the greatest city in the world. Highly recommended!!
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews

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