Archives For Instagram

Over-the-top milkshakes, an exclusive pilsner, vegan sausage and hamburger options, fresh takes on nachos, chicken sandwiches and more.

No, I’m not listing the menu of a trendy hotspot in the Meatpacking District. Those are some of the new food offerings at Yankee Stadium this season.

“Ultimately, a lot of these stands are built with flexibility, so we can do whatever we want,” the stadium’s Senior Executive Chef, Matt Gibson, told me Monday. The 27-time World Series Champions opened the Audi Yankees Club yesterday to media for a tastings event of the new 2018 food items. “The Yankees have done a lot every year in regards to kind of renovating a bunch of stands. So we really just track the sales, see how the general population feels about things and then we can switch things out.”

Another factor: social media, specifically Instagram. The menu is tied to the campaign #YankeeStadiYUM and Gibson noted how the platforms affect both how the food is served and where it is consumed.

“We want to make sure that they have an offering that’s Instagram worthy as well as a good bang for their buck,” he said. “You should see the camera rolls on our phones. We look at (the food) from every different angle and how we can dress ‘em up so that it looks good on film, on your phone and as well as tastes good.”

Gibson joined the Legends Hospitality staff in the Bronx back in 2010 and save a year, has been there ever since. When the Stadium opened in 2009 the general buzz food-wise revolved around the Lobel’s sandwich, the availability of fresh fruit behind home plate and the sushi in right field. Additions since then have included a Parm Restaurant sandwich stand, foot-long cheese steaks, chicken and waffles, the Toyota Terrace and Frank’s Red Hot Terrace in center field and now a whole plethora of options, from plant-based to decadent and everything in between.

“At the end of the day, we wanted to make sure everyone enjoyed themselves here,” the executive chef said of the decision to include more vegetarian and vegan items. These include black bean taco cups from Brad Holtzman’s Taquitos Especiales (ed. note: Brad was a classmate of mine at Syracuse University) and the aforementioned vegan “meat” options, both served up by New York City-based chain Bareburger. “There’s a vegan sausage over there that’s lights-out. You won’t even miss the meat.”

And he was right. Rounding out the additions to the dining experience: a General Tso’s crispy chicken sandwich, King’s Hawaiian Original Sweet Pineapple BBQ Kalua Pork Nachos and a Lobel’s Meatloaf burger. On the beverage side, Bluepoint Brewing Company is the title sponsor for a new bar in the bleachers and will be serving a Pinstripe Pilsner exclusively at Yankee Stadium. There are also four new “Grand Slam” milkshakes including the “Celebration Shake,” which comes with a sugary-sprinkle-covered rim and a mini-cupcake garnishment.

For me, there still will be nothing sweeter than walking out of Yankee Stadium listening to Sinatra serenade a victory… but that might be a close second.

A post shared by 95.5 PLJ (@955plj) on

I don’t even know where to start with this past weekend, so let’s try the beginning. Here are five things I was thankful for.

– My go-to when booking hotels is Hotwire. Most of the time if I’m traveling for work the hotel is booked for me; but when I’m on my own I use that website for hotel deals. Hotwire has never led me astray and so when I decided late Friday night that I was going to travel to Detroit this past Sunday, I knew how to book my hotel. I ended up at The Westin Downtown and when I told some friends in The D my rate, they were stunned at how inexpensive it was.

– I wrapped up what felt like a month of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by partaking in a beverage at Blarney Stone, followed by a few more beverages and some food at Mustang Harry’s. A big thanks to Marzi, Sarah and the crew at Mustang’s for the hospitality. It was a beautiful day weather-wise and a lot of fun to hang with some old and new friends while watching the tournament games.

– To say I’m thankful for Syracuse Orange basketball would be an understatement. To quickly rewind: I had a thought in the back of my mind heading in to Friday night’s game that if we won, I might try to fly to Detroit for Sunday’s Round-of-32 match. Once we completed the victory against TCU, I started looking at flights. Less than an hour later, my plans were set. To see that game, from those seats, amongst that squad was a memory I will tell my grandkids about (carriage before the horse there but you get the idea). I get to experience a lot of “once-in-a-lifetime” moments and I never take them for granted. On to the Sweet 16!


– I received a few odd looks like I was some-type-of-crazy when I told people this weekend that I was heading to Detroit. I think part of that was they couldn’t believe I booked a trip on Friday night for Sunday. But surely the other part was that they were skeptical of why I’d be so eager to travel to the Motor City. After Sunday’s initial visit, I’m already planning a return trip. Downtown Detroit is beautiful, the new Little Caesars Arena is gorgeous, there is plenty to experience and perhaps most importantly – the people are amazing. I was in dive bars and hotel bars, pizzerias and Coney shops, Ubers and shuttle buses. And I need to return because I only visited one spot in Greektown, I need to catch a game at Comerica and I never made it to a single casino. Thank you, Detroit.

– Last but certainly not least… I am beyond thankful for my friends. I got to day-drink with my roommate Rafael on Saturday. Marzi came through clutch with the invite to Mustang Harry’s. JAG scooped me from the airport in Detroit Sunday, showed me around and grabbed brunch. My buddy Ed snagged me that amazing seat for Sunday’s game. I had the chance to see Matt and meet his wife. My colleague Robby picked up a nice dinner on Sunday evening. And countless others checked in via text and social media throughout the weekend. I love you all.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on

A post shared by Robby Bridges (@robbybridges) on

To be honest, it took my body a few days to recover from one of the more hectic weekends in recent memory. Nonetheless, my busy schedule offered me plenty of reasons to be thankful throughout my travels. Here are five of them.

– I’m thankful for Daylight Saving Time. Like pretty much everything these days, it’s become a bit of a lightening rod as to whether we should participate in it or not. Naturally, the state of Florida has its own idea on this as well. But regardless, I enjoy the extra hour of daylight, especially considering I now live on the east side amongst high rises and the sun isn’t as plentiful as my old neighborhood.

– Wow, Morristown, New Jersey – I am thankful for you! My colleagues at 95.5 PLJ and I had a great time at the Morris County St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday. The hospitality was as fantastic as the company. I still have no idea why Vegas-style showgirls were dancing at Horseshoe Tavern but perhaps some things in life just shouldn’t be questioned. Our dinner at Urban Table was pretty fantastic and I really enjoyed hanging with my buddy Kerry, who I hadn’t seen in a while. She took me to a neighborhood spot in Bayonne for a quick nightcap before I Uber’d back to the city. Hopefully I’ll be in Morristown sooner rather than later (I keep hearing rave reviews of Jockey Hollow).

– I was awake super-early on Sunday morning so I could rent a car and drive to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. A big thank you to everyone in NEPA who showed love, along with my co-workers at 97.1/95.7 BHT, during the city’s St. Patty’s Parade. The 570 is probably best-known for Scranton’s parade but I always enjoyed WB’s more (I also hear Pittston’s the weekend prior has become quite the scene).

– By the way, the parade didn’t start until 2 pm, but I had a 5K to run in Wilkes-Barre at 10 am, thus the early alarm. A longtime colleague of mine in Pennsylvania, Barry Brown, is battling kidney cancer. The 5K was The Renal Race, which aims to raise funds and awareness for kidney disease. I really loved seeing everyone at Cumulus Wilkes-Barre rally around one of our own.

– The weekend ended with a drive down 80 that I’m all-too-familiar with… that is, until I took a detour to Wegmans in Hanover, New Jersey. It was the perfect pit-stop to not only stock-up on groceries but also celebrate my Syracuse Orange getting in to the NCAA Tournament. ‘Cuse!

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on

It was another weekend filled with friends, travels and a few cocktails so let me tell you five things that I was thankful for during it.

– For the second time in three weekends I made it back to Syracuse: this time for the annual WJPZ Alumni Banquet/Reunion. Some of the highlights included watching the Orange beat Clemson in the Carrier Dome, seeing my old professor Dr. Rick Wright and his son Rubin and hanging with both alumni and students at the after party.


I always leave the banquet thankful and motivated; this year was no different.


– I flew back and forth to Syracuse and between the flights, Uber rides and hotel check-in I had zero interruptions. That is always a welcome footnote for a weekend.

– Despite going one stretch where I slept about six hours over a two day period, I still managed to run 4 miles this weekend. If I didn’t take good care of my body, minding both how I use it and what I put in it, I wouldn’t have been able to pull that off.

– It was so great to stop by MetroPCS with Team PLJ on Sunday afternoon. Thankfully with my lack of travel disruptions I had no issues landing at LaGuardia, getting back to my apartment to drop off my bags and making the trek to the Midwood neighborhood. Thanks for having us!


– Speaking of neighborhoods, Sunday night I ended up back in my old stomping grounds on the Upper West Side. I grabbed dinner with Ryan and watched The Oscars at Fred’s, then continued to e’s for a night cap before shopping at Fairway and heading back to the Financial District. Any weekend that can end with a trip to one of my favorite bars and a grocery store is usually a good weekend in my book.

– I returned to my yoga practice. My building offers classes on Saturday morning and so I decided to not go out on Friday night, opting to work until 1:30 am. This positioned me to wake up without a hangover and with the desire to head upstairs so I could work on my tree pose and warrior two. Namaste.

– I finally visited the new Wegmans in Montvale. Oh, my, goodness. From the Burger Bar to the cookie bar to the sheer expansiveness of the store, it was worth the trip and then some. For those who don’t know, my first ever job was Front End Cashier at the Wegmans in the Town of Niagara, 17 years ago. Wow, that makes me feel old. Anyways, I stocked up on everything, including alcohol because Wegmans’ adjacent wine, beer and liquor store is equally fantastic.

– I had my second appearance of the year with 95.5 PLJ at T-Mobile in Mohegan Lake, New York. I loved visiting the northern part of Westchester County and hope to return soon; some of the mom-and-pop restaurants along the way looked like they served up some delicious food.


– I surprised my friend Ashley at a comedy show she was added to Sunday night in the East Village. I hadn’t seen her since she moved from Los Angeles almost a year ago to continue pursuing stand-up. She was fantastic and it was also pretty cool that I got to introduce her to Kelly’s – a Buffalo Bills and Sabres bar but also a Chicago Cubs and Bulls watering hole (she’s originally from Chicago and is a diehard Cubs fan).

– As for that aforementioned warm weather, it afforded me the opportunity to run outside Sunday, and I am beyond grateful for that. From the physical ability to run, to living in Manhattan where we have a plethora of amazing routes, to the fact that I didn’t have to bundle up because by the time I finished it was 60 (!) outside – it was a nice way to lead in to Sunday night and close out what was a great weekend.

It was my first weekend without work or travel in over a month, however it was not a weekend without responsibility… or rather, “responsibility.”

My buddy Danny, one of my best friends from Pennsylvania, came in to town for his annual birthday celebration (his actual birthday was the previous Tuesday). What this weekend usually amounts to is three straight days of debauchery. This year wasn’t quite the 5 am-a-night marathon of prior years… at least for three straight nights. Danny had work early Monday.

But all bets were off Friday and Saturday. We met up with my friend Ryan at a private club downtown Friday night where we hung out until last call, then dialed up the venerable West Village dive WXOU Bar for a night cap, followed by a trip to my bodega for sandwiches and wings.

Saturday started with an excellent brunch at Westville’s Financial District location and continued with a few more Bloody Marys at Beckett’s while I screamed at the TV over the Syracuse game (they lost).

After a quick reset at my apartment, we grabbed dinner at Village Yokocho, an awesome Japanese restaurant in the East Village that also contains a speakeasy. From there we ordered a round at Tompkins Square Bar (there was a line at Niagara!) and then met friends at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1. The live set wrapped at 2 am so we walked back to Avenue A and one of my favorite watering holes, Kelly’s, for some late night wings and Blue Lights. Night cap? You bet; it happened up the street at Sophie’s. Danny was craving pizza, so we made that happen at Little Italy Pizza, which is open 24 hours.


Now Sunday started a little differently; I Uber-ed round-trip to Whole Foods to buy the ingredients for my vegan Buffalo Chicken Dip, which I then promptly cooked before hitting the road. We had tickets for the noon Knicks game (they are awful), watching it at The Garden with a round of double-shot Bloody Marys (they are fantastic).

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


We bar-hopped a little, with a stop at my old neighborhood standby, The Dead Poet, before hailing an Uber to Ryan’s place so we could watch the Big Game and I could tweet out gems like this.


After the game, none of us could turn away from the live streams of the celebrations (or, rioting) in Philadelphia. Finally at about 1:20 am, we called it and returned downtown.


After all, it was Monday. Danny had work in the morning.

Now that I’ve had a few days to process everything, some news and notes from my first ever GRAMMYs red carpet…

– The GRAMMYs red carpet is reminiscent of one for a big movie premiere in that it’s quite expansive, filled with top level stars, chaotic in spurts and covered by outlets of all shapes and sizes. Jayde Donovan and I were holding down the fort for our radio network, Westwood One. We were towards the end of the media lineup – to our left were The Garden social media team and WWD.com. To our right? A Japanese TV outlet that is clearly big across the Pacific because seemingly everyone stopped or attempted to stop and say hi to them.

– Always appreciate Scott Borchetta, the head of Big Machine Label Group, making a few minutes for us. He joked that NARAS had quite the wildcard on their hands sitting country group Midland in the front row. On a more serious note, he thought Taylor Swift had a good chance in both categories she was nominated, especially Best Country Song for writing Little Big Town’s “Better Man.” She came up empty for that along with “I Don’t Want To Live Forever” from “Fifty Shades Darker” in the Visual Media category, one that Borchetta believed is a “flip of the coin.”

– When we flagged Victor Cruz over and he revealed to Jayde that he was presenting the “Despacito” performance, my first thought was, “Oh, the irony!” Of course, it was two seasons ago that Cruz along with Odell Beckham Jr. and other Giants players flew to Miami the week before a playoff game to hang with Justin Bieber in Miami. Not only would the G-Men lose to the Packers, but some would point to the incident as the reason why Cruz wasn’t brought back to the team.

A post shared by Westwood One (@westwoodoneinc) on


– Speaking of “Despacito,” I think anyone and everyone who had anything to do with that song and wasn’t named Justin Bieber was on the red carpet. The producers, the artists, the principle songwriter, the guy who opened the studio door… it was incredible!

– The white roses Jayde and I wore were donated by 1800Flowers.com and the whole movement was championed in part by one of our colleagues, Melony Torres – very cool.

A post shared by 95.5 PLJ (@955plj) on


– It always amazes me that sometime the biggest stars are the ones most generous with their time. With that said, it was cool to see Tony Bennett spend a few minutes chatting with Jayde.

A post shared by 95.5 PLJ (@955plj) on


– Loved catching up with Long Island’s own Hoodie Allen, who told me he knew about his buddy Ed Sheeran’s engagement for a whole and to him and those around Ed it came as no surprise. I wonder if Hoodie is in charge of the bachelor party…

– Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife told us that city officials worked hard to get The GRAMMYs to The Garden. Later, when I asked Recording Academy President Neil Portnow about New York as a host city, he went out of his way to mention the administration sang a rather different tune, stating tonight wasn’t the time to address the challenges working with them.

A post shared by 95.5 PLJ (@955plj) on


Although for me, the best part of our interaction with Mr. Mayor was after I shook his hand, when I told the Boston-born lifelong Red Sox fan, “Let’s go Yankees.”

I’m sure the Mayor appreciated it as much as Mr. Portnow’s comments.

I love how the weekend after I visited Toronto, Drake just drops two songs out of nowhere!

Anyways, I was listening to his album “More Life” as my plane made the descent in to Pearson International Airport. After a quick trip through Customs and to the Uber pick-up area, I hopped in an “Uber Select” (nicer than X but not as nice as Black) and headed 20 minutes towards downtown.

I was in Toronto last weekend because of my cousin Shawn. He’s a shooting guard on amateur basketball team called Healthy Buffalo and a couple times throughout the season they play on a NBA court, typically Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland or Air Canada Centre in Toronto. When I was home for Thanksgiving, Shawn and his older brother Chris told me about the Canada date and asked if I was interested in attending. I booked my flight a few weeks later.

Thanks to my plane taxiing on the runway for an hour, Chris (along with his wife, sister-and-law and two kids) and Shawn beat me to the hotel. I met them there, dropped off my bags and we left for the ACC. It was certainly different watching basketball in a nearly-empty, half-lit arena, not to mention it was my first time in this particular venue. Still, it was awesome to see Shawn ballin’ on the same court where later in the evening the Raptors would be taking on Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors.

Shawn played great and his team won the round-robin tournament.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


After a late lunch and a quick nap, the three men headed back to the arena for the game. Chris and Shawn had 100 level seats; I was late to the party so I ended up with a seat in 317 that I sat in for player introductions and the first quarter. I spent the rest of the evening in an area called the Draught Deck – full bar, tons of seating and multiple TVs to watch both the game on the court and other sports (Patriots/Titans were on as well).

Oh, then there was the Coors Light virtual reality game that I figured it was necessary to partake in.

Golden State edged out Toronto, I almost drank the arena out of Crown and the three of us headed across the street to this fantastic sports bar called Real Sports. More Crown (for me at least), some appetizers and a check later and we retired to the hotel room.

Rather, Chris and Shawn retired. I had made arrangements to check out Soho House Toronto and I didn’t want to flake on that. Obviously what happens there isn’t for public consumption but I had a great time. The nightcap to the nightcap took place at Cactus Club Café before I wrapped the night in the fashion that every great Canadian night should end.

Poutine, of course.

A post shared by 95.5 PLJ (@955plj) on


Sunday I drove with my family home to see the parents, get one last taste of my Mom’s homecooking and grab a few things I left over the holidays. I flew back early Monday morning, knowingly dreaming of that poutine and unknowingly awaiting new music from Drake.

I’ll never forget one particular time when I was walking up an emergency path in Times Square towards 47th Street. I saw two bottles, a regular water and a Vitamin Water, at the feet of a reveler. I asked if they were his and he nodded. I then looked closer and realized that they were both frozen solid – that was a first.

It was my fourth consecutive time ringing in the New Year while standing in the Crossroads of the World and there were a couple of firsts throughout the evening. In addition to the frozen beverages, I finally interviewed a bystander who at least said that he wore diapers to the ball drop in case he had to go to the bathroom; I had heard for years that people did this but no one ever admitted it to me.

A post shared by 95.5 PLJ (@955plj) on


The reveler took it a step further and offered to show me; I took him for his word.

This was also the first year I ended up inside a bar on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. A big thanks to O’Donoghues Pub on 44th, right next to the ABC studios, for allowing me to pop-in during the final hour of our broadcast for a bit and interview some of the patrons on the air.

Most important, thanks to Vic on site, Scotty Bones back in the studio, dick clark productions for providing us with access to and space in the aforementioned ABC studios and the great folks at Times Square Alliance for credentialing us to be there.

I tell people all the time – my job is comprised of many “once-in-a-lifetime” events that I have the chance to experience on an annual basis, and this is one of them. I hope you get the chance to do the same one year. Have a safe and successful 2018 and check out my chats with Nick Jonas, Andy Grammer and some of those revelers below.

The holidays went well, thanks, but they were different. For the first time in a few years, I decided to spend an entire week at home around Christmas. This wasn’t my first option but it ended up as the most practical for a couple of reasons.

First off, I was heading in to the first of the year with a bunch of vacation days. Use ‘em or lose ‘em! I didn’t want to lose them so regardless of where I was going to spend the week, it definitely wasn’t going to be in the studio.

Second, the weather this time of year can be dicey-at-best in the northeast, and so the idea of flying to multiple locations can not only become pricey, but simply impossible thanks to Mother Nature.

And that leads me to point number three: I needed to be home for not only Christmas but the following Saturday, when my cousin Anthony would be sworn in as Town Justice for the Town of Niagara. Anthony is my best friend and he won in such convincing fashion during the primary that by the general election, he was the only candidate on the ballot. I’m extremely proud of him and wouldn’t have missed the day for anything.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


The idea of flying back-and-forth twice between Buffalo and New York around the two weekends crossed my mind. I eventually decided against it due to reason number two and it worked out because it afforded me a chance mid-week to return to my alma mater and see family there as well (in addition to watching my Syracuse Orange win against Eastern Michigan).

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


That was the other nice part of staying back in Western New York for an entire week – I had the opportunity to visit with a lot of family and friends while still taking a few days to do absolutely nothing. I needed it more than I knew.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Do I wish I wouldn’t have packed on a few extra pounds and would’ve been able to run outside a little more? Of course, but my Mom’s home-cooked meals were worth it.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on