Meet the locals
Jonny Ensall hangs out with New Yorker Gabby through CityUnscripted
PEOPLE SAY NEW YORK is a tough city, and they’re right. In the summer it’s super-hot; in the winter it’s freezing. Dating is a game with few winners, drinking is less a pastime and more a necessity, and money evaporates from your pocket like water vapour off an open sewer.
And yet. It’s New York, New York – so good they named it twice. And there are few greater feelings than trotting down a sidewalk, bagel in hand, the honking of cabs in your ears and a million movie scenes in your mind.
Gabby shares my view. ‘New York is the centre of the universe,’ she says, quite seriously. Gabby is my host on a three-hour CityUnscripted tour around Greenwich Village – a history-rich corner of Manhattan with a vibrant foodie scene. She, like many others, came to the city to become an actor and is making ends meet by taking visitors like me on tours of the hippest areas of Manhattan.
‘People like Jack Kerouac and Eugene O’Neill used to come here to write,’ says Gabby, pointing to The Bitter End club and coffeehouse. Culture’s nice, but as Gabby puts it: ‘I love food and desserts in this city more than anything else.’ I have to agree. We go for cannoli at Pasticceria Rocco – the Italian-American bakery of your wildest stereotypes. Then there’s Molly’s Cupcakes, Murray’s cheese bar, and – of course – Bagels on the Square.
Gabby’s been working for CityUnscripted for more than a year. Her knowledge is impressive. She fills me in on the history of Caffe Reggio, “the home of the original cappuccino”, as we pass. The
coffeehouse was opened in 1927 by Domenico Parisi – the Italian immigrant who brought frothy coffee to the States. Little did he know how much it would change the lives of New Yorkers. Domenico’s first espresso machine still sits against the back wall of the shop.
It’s a detail I’d have otherwise missed, and details matter – they make a big scary city seem small enough to understand. As the CityUnscripted founders put it: ‘With a friend in the city, the city becomes your friend.’ That’s a movie tagline for you, right there.
A tour with Gabby costs £27 an hour. Book at www.cityunscripted.com.