The singing actress picks her fave food spots in the Theatre District ahead of her acclaimed evening of cabaret at the Green Room 42.
Though we understand their circumstances may have been a bit different, like Oliver and his clan of orphan boys, we’ve all fallen into a daze dreaming of “food, glorious food” at one point or another.
After all, it’s been said that food is the great equalizer, connecting us and bringing us together, either with family or friends, colleagues or companions, or any others from all walks of life, to dine often at a communal table or gathering space wherein we share stories and reveal the most authentic parts of ourselves.
In our continued effort, however, to find our way into others’ hearts (and stomachs!), sometimes it helps to venture beyond our tables and into the kitchens of others — especially in a city with such a diversified abundance of eateries as New York.
And of course, you can’t spell “theatre” without “eat.”
So, in this new series, we’ve polled some of the Great Bright Way’s best to “dish” (get it?) on where they love to eat, drink, and take in the vibes either pre- or post-show, while also answering why they love to sup there, sharing a favorite dish or two, and more.
Kicking it all off is international star of stage and cabaret Alexandra Silber, who heads to the Green Room 42 on November 28 for a return engagement of her intimate new show, The Hour of the Pearl. Alongside her musical director – as well as friend and frequent collaborator – Ben Moss, the multi-hyphenate singer/storyteller digs deep into her faith and spirituality, by way of folk, jazz, Broadway, and American songbook standards, for a uniquely special evening that critics say simply cannot be missed.
In addition to her cabaret work, which also includes the acclaimed I Wish series at 54 Below, Silber has, of course, appeared on Broadway, both as Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof opposite Danny Burstein, and as Sophie De Palma in Master Class opposite Tyne Daly.
She originated the role of Halina in the debut London cast of Paula Vogel’s Indecent. Other credits include Kiss Me, Kate and Carousel (West End), and Arlington and Hello Again (NYC).
Furthermore, she was Grammy-nominated in 2014 for her portrayal of Maria in the San Francisco Symphony recording of West Side Story.
Finally, she’s a proud published author; her debut novel “After Anatevka,” as well as her memoir “White Hot Grief Parade” are produced by Pegasus Books and are also available on Audible.com.
So, where does Al like to eat?
630 9th Avenue (44th & 45th Streets)
“Nizza is my favorite restaurant in the theatre district,” she says, noting its “beautifully lit, swanky 1970s Riviera atmosphere,” along with its “gorgeous bar, attentive staff, and simple but elegantly prepared Riviera food.”
Loved by theatre performers and theatregoers alike, the Broadway-centric Italian trattoria has been catering to the Hell’s Kitchen crowd with a variety of coastline classics since 2007.
Highlights include a variety of in-house pizzas and pasta (“Might I suggest the house-made rigatoni, the (famous) wild boar lasagna, or the not-at-all ordinary pasta al pesto made with handkerchief-sized sheets of pasta, and dressed with the perfect balance of garlic, basil, cheese, and pine nuts?” asks Silber), an extensive selection of wine and cocktails (“Thank goodness Nizza has a great but totally approachable wine list,” Silber continues), and their famous Burrata, prepared delicately with agrodolce tomatoes, roasted peppers, basil pesto, and served atop fresh grilled bread.
Silber points out there’s also an ample selection of gluten-free offerings, to boot. (“A boot, perhaps, the shape of Italy,” she laughs, fitting, as Nizza takes its “lovely name…from the Italian word for the French region of Nice.”)
But for the singing actress, it’s all about the Socca: “a crispy, delicious, thicker version of a crepe, made from chickpea and olive oil, mixed with sage, onions, and pecorino, and then topped with tapenade.” Off the entrée menu – again, extensively gluten-free – she favors the Branzino al Forno, served with roasted artichokes, potatoes, and olives, and finished with capers, wine, butter and lemon.
As she details her preferences off the Mediterranean menu, Silber mentions a particularly harrowing incident in her early 20s when she was “robbed on a night train from Venice to Nice.” As a result, “I have not returned to Italy nor France since the great-train-robbery-of-my-twenties.” But, she says, with a nod to the authentic ambience of her beloved restaurant, “Why should I have to? I have Nizza.”
Nizza is open for lunch M-F from 12pm-4pm, dinner Sun-Tues 4pm-10:30pm, Wednesday & Saturday 4pm-11:30pm. Brunch is served Saturday & Sunday from 11pm-4pm.
403 W. 43rd Street
Simply put, according to Silber: “nothing beats a late-into-the-night evening at Bea.”
Located just outside the lively Times Square hustle – “enough to simultaneously be both convenient and a hidden gem” – Bea, lovingly named after the owners’ grandmother, has been bustling on Ninth Avenue since 2013.
Silber specifically commends the layout and design – “equally classy and welcoming” – with enough room to spread out and chat with friends old and new.
While there’s a lounge area with booth-style seating in addition to a roomy bar, Silber recommends the courtyard atrium. “[It’s] an old alleyway that is now enclosed and includes the shelter of a gorgeous old tree,” she explains. “I always aim to dine in the atrium – an indoor picnic with perfectly arranged plates.”
In terms of food, which is generally heavy on small plates and lighter fare, Silber endorses the House Ricotta, served with warm grilled bread, rosemary honey and sea salt. “Another favorite is the Warm Asparagus Salad,” she notes, “topped with poached egg, pistachio and miso vinaigrette.” Both options can be prepared gluten-free, as can most of the selections on their menu (denoted with *GF or *GFA). Other owner-endorsed noshes include the lamb chops, pork dumplings, and green tagliatelle with shrimp. Cocktails, and alcoholic drinks – including the signature Lavender Monk, made with lavender-infused Tito’s vodka – are aplenty. And while Bea is a treat at any time of day, their specialty weekend brunch, with bottomless cocktails and an optional pre-fixe menu, just can’t be beat.
Bea is open 7 days a week from 5pm-2am, with brunch served Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-4pm.
We’ll continue to present a new performer with a new restaurant and a new menu, so keep checking back to see who we poll and what’s on their mind at mealtime! Until next time, bon appétit!