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Long Island City

30 Reasons to Cross the River

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P.S.1 Area
Art scene:

1. P.S.1 (22-25 Jackson Avenue; 718-784-2084), Long Island City's oldest art institution, sits in the triangular neighborhood known as Hunters Point. Among the summer exhibits is "Heart of Gold," a multi-artist, multimedia meditation on America's emotional involvement with money. The museum's popular Saturday-afternoon Warm Up concert series restarts July 6; the annual architectural installation in the courtyard opens June 30. This year's winner, William E. Massie, plans to create a "Playa Urbana/Urban Beach," complete with wading pools.

2.New York Center for Media Arts (45-12 Davis Street; 718-472-9414) is an educational center devoted to new media. The building is hard to miss: It's a big, graffiti-covered structure you'll hit if you travel northeast on Jackson Avenue.

3.SculptureCenter's new space sits up the street in a cul-de-sac (44-19 Purves Street; 718-361-1750).

4.The Space (42-16 West Street, off Jackson Ave.; no phone), is a few blocks down Jackson Avenue. An artist-run floor in a former warehouse, the Space hosts student and professional art projects. Beginning June 29, it plans a full summer of Saturday-afternoon concerts and projects.

5.L.I.C.K. Ltd. Fine Art (46-44 11th Street; 718-937-3080), owned by Andrew Miller, is one of three galleries clustered around P.S.1.

6.The Dorsky Gallery is down the street at 11th Street and 45th Avenue (718-937-6317).

7.Eugene Binder gallery is a few blocks farther toward the river at 5-31 50th Avenue (718-786-6775). All galleries are open weekends, along with some weekdays.

Restaurants:

8. Manducatis (13-27 Jackson Avenue; 718-729-4602) is one of Long Island City's best-known restaurants. Behind a famously nondescript faux-stone façade, chef Ida Cerbone has been cooking classic Italian food for 23 years. "If you've never eaten at Manducatis, you've never had Italian food in the city," says MOMA's Glenn Lowry.

9.Manetta's (10-76 Jackson Avenue; 718-786-6171) is a more casual place, known for its brick-oven pizzas and a bustling lunchtime crowd. Nearby Silvercup Studios has been known to order up to 60 pizzas at once when the casts of The Sopranos or Sex and the City are working late.

10.Tournesol (50-12 Vernon Boulevard; 718-472-4355) is a well-reviewed restaurant with the biggest neighborhood buzz. A three-month-old French bistro–brunch spot, complete with carriage lamps, it's conveniently located next to the first stop on the 7 train in Queens.

11.La Vuelta (10-43 44th Drive; 718-361-1858) is another relatively new arrival. Owner Elias Batas's family has been running restaurants in Queens for 35 years, but, he explains, "Newer, younger residents were asking for vegetarian food. I always wanted to do something different in the neighborhood, because it keeps it flowing." Batas displays the work of local artists and has started a jazz-funk-blues series in his restaurant's small back garden.

12.L.I.C. Cafe (5-48 49th Avenue; 718-361-2004) is owned by Peter Yurasits, who was also hoping to tap the health-food market when he opened three years ago. The café offers a limited menu, changing daily, of fresh fish, salads, and art-directed sandwiches.

13.Jackson Ave. Steakhouse (12-23 Jackson Avenue; 718-784-1412) serves basic meat-and-potatoes fare (and has a clubby marble-and-brass bar). Owner Mitchell Catanzano started a dinner theater in his party room this spring; a new playwrights festival will begin in July.

14.Sage American Kitchen (26-21 Jackson Avenue; 718-361-0707), is the place where locals stop for coffee and takeout (it also caters the P.S.1 café). Some area residents are hoping it will expand to a space with seating, since they are all desperate for a coffee bar.

Other attractions:

15. Gantry Plaza State Park is a short walk down 48th Avenue toward the river, next to the Citylights residential tower. Walk out on the piers for a direct view of the U.N. building and midtown's towers.

16.The New York Architectural Terra Cotta Company building is a local landmark north of the park; the owners of Silvercup Studios have received the rights to the property and plan to turn it into more production facilities, offices, and residential buildings with a public esplanade.

MOMA QNS Area
Art scene:17. MOMA is a ten-minute walk west from the Citicorp tower down Queens Boulevard, across the Sunnyside rail yards. The new building (33rd Street at Queens Boulevard; 212-708-9400) is an almost Yves Klein blue, in homage to the Swingline building's original blue tiles, and its rooftop structures are painted with the pieces of MOMA's distinctive logo, white on black. From the 7 train, as the track curves west from Queens Plaza, the chopped-up letters assemble themselves into a perfect m-o-m-a for about fifteen seconds, a clever effect designed by architect Michael Maltzan.

18.The Noguchi Museum -- its original location closed for some long-deferred structural renovations -- has moved a sliver of its collection to a new loft space at 36-01 43rd Avenue (718-204-7088), open year-round (the indoor-outdoor museum wasn't). The curators are still trying to bring a bit of the outdoors into their man-made environment, as Noguchi himself hoped to do. The next exhibit, opening June 29 (the museum will be closed until then), will be "Noguchi: Sculpture & Nature." In September, Soho's Museum for African Art will take over the floor above the Noguchi.

19.The Factory (31st Street and 47th Avenue), where MOMA has temporarily moved some of its administrative offices, often looks like a work of art itself. In the past, the block-long lobby has been sculpted and tiled into a serpentine, psychedelic experience, in which metal insects pop from the ceilings; a school bus has been turned into a monstrous hand. Remember to try the elevators, one lined with a mural and the other with metal and ceramic installations like voodoo caves.

Restaurants:

20. Hemsin (39-17/19 Queens Boulevard; 718-937-1715) is one of several restaurants lining Queens Boulevard, a Turkish place that Lowry particularly recommends. It serves yogurt-marinated mixed grill and other typical Middle Eastern fare. Don't skip the honey-soaked baklava, baked on the premises.

21.Dazies (39-41 Queens Boulevard; 718-786-7013) -- a family-run restaurant for 32 years -- is another Lowry favorite. A plush, clubby sort of spot, it has a pianist at dinnertime and a rich menu.

22.Blooms (41-06 Queens Boulevard; 718-706-1000), is one of the street's numerous Irish pubs, serving rib-sticking pub fare.

Other attractions:

23. Tucker Robbins's new studio-workshop is located two blocks west of the Noguchi (33-02 Skillman Avenue; 718-764-0222). The designer offers native crafts from Asia, Africa, and South America as well as his own bold reshaping of traditional forms. If you're in the market for one of his $30,000 tables, you can even go behind the scenes and pick your own rare wood.

24.The Thalia Spanish Theatre (41-17 Greenpoint Avenue; 718-729-3880) presents works by Spanish and Latino playwrights on alternating English/Spanish nights, along with flamenco and tango performances. In honor of MOMA's arrival, artistic director Angel Gil Orrios is planning productions inspired by Spain's two most famous modern artists -- Picasso and Dalí.

AMMI Area
Art scene:

25. The American Museum of the Moving Image (35th Avenue at 36th Street; 718-784-0077) has added the very I LOVE NY exhibit "Robert De Niro: Costume and Character," more than two dozen complete costumes from the actor's large collection -- he has it written into his contract on each film he does that he gets to keep all his clothes. This summer, the museum is running two film series. The first, June 15 to 30, includes films from the twenties and thirties starring Rudolph Valentino, the original Latin lover. AMMI will also be screening classic international films on Saturday and Sunday nights.

Restaurants:

26. Cafe Bar (32-90 36th Street; 718-204-5273) is one of the several artsy cafés AMMI has spawned one block north along 34th Avenue. It offers fifties-themed décor, Mediterranean-influenced food, and lattes; freelancers with laptops flock there by day, locals sip cocktails by night.

27.Tupelo (34-18 34th Avenue; 718-707-9588) was opened by a couple of local hipsters who were waiting for someone to open their kind of late-night spot. When no one else did, Evan and Frank Roumeliotis decided to take matters into their own hands.

28. S'Agapo (34-21 34th Avenue; 718-626-0303) serves fresh Greek food -- lots of salads and fish -- and, despite its simple décor, manages to showcase a few pieces of modern art.

Elsewhere
29. The Socrates Sculpture Park (Broadway at Vernon Boulevard; 718-956-1819), an outdoor riverside garden of man-made delights, is a lengthy walk from the N train and distant from LIC's other attractions, but the Artlink bus runs to it. A variety of artists are exhibiting work there this summer, and Socrates's Wednesday-night International Film Festival (co-sponsored by AMMI) starts July 10. Local restaurants cater food from around the globe, there will be live music, and films from eight countries will be screened after sundown.

30.The Fisher Landau Center (38-27 30th Street; 718-937-0727) is a private collection, now open only by appointment, and it includes works by Chuck Close, Robert Rauschenberg, and Ed Ruscha. Currently on view are photographs by Kiki Smith of Native American beadwork and baskets from the collection of Charles and Valerie Diker.

Transportation
Though Long Island City is only a short cab ride over the Queensboro Bridge, the subway is just as easy a way to get there—after all, the area is served by the 7, E, G, N, Q, R, W, and brand-new V trains. There’s also a free bus service called the Artlink (212-708-9750; queensartlink.org) that originates at the old MOMA on 53rd Street. It currently hits the Socrates Sculpture Park, ammi, P.S.1, and Noguchi, and as of this month, MOMA QNS will be added to the route. The bus will run Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., every hour.


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