Archives For Upper West Side

I think a number of factors contributed to it: missing Opening Day, the excitement for the new season, the fact that I’m single and my renewed quest at constantly trying new things, pushing myself outside of my comfort zone.

For the second straight weekend, I attended two baseball games in two days at Yankee Stadium. Last weekend also marked consecutive Saturdays that I decided to jog the 4.3 miles from my apartment to the ballpark in the Bronx. I traveled my now normal route, which takes me up Columbus in to Harlem, over the Macombs Dam Bridge and through to The House That George Built.

Saturday was fun for a couple of reasons. For starters, my ticket was in 203, where the infamous Bleacher Creatures sit. The fans are equal parts intelligent and raucous when it comes to supporting the Yanks. Of course, they also are known for a ritual called “Roll Call.” The section starts with the Center Fielder, then moves left and right before going around the infield, starting with the First Baseman.

In each instance, the section chants the players’ name until he acknowledges the section. The signal from the field can be as subtle as a quick point with the glove hand (Chase Headley) to the more deliberate stop-turn-muscle flex (Brett Gardner).

Speaking of Gardy, his bottom-of-the-ninth walk-off home run certainly sent me home happy. OK, it didn’t send me home. It sent me to Stan’s on River Ave. to meet my friend Kathryn and watch as her Rangers were eliminated in the playoffs by the Penguins.


I walked back over the bridge, snapped a beautiful photo of the Stadium, and hailed a yellow cab home. After a quick shower, I met my buddy Ryan at the nearby Boat Basin Café, marking my first visit to the watering hole and first sunset seen there of the season.


On Sunday I entertained Ryan along with my friend Craig and his better half Ilana at my apartment for a little “pre-game” before we took the subway back uptown. Once there, we headed to the now too-familiar Stan’s to meet a bunch of people (including my man John Foxx) for a few beverages and then back inside Yankee Stadium.


This game went so far south so quickly that I never even made it to my seat. I did discover that Yankee Stadium has a rooftop bar. It was my first and last appearance there.

Sunday wrapped with me, John and his wife grabbing dinner in our hood at a restaurant I’ve been dying to try since I moved here: Vai. I’d say it was worth the wait but I shouldn’t have waited so long in the first place!

With DJ Khaled in New York ahead of a “major announcement” Monday (me thinks it might have something to do with the Billboard Music Awards finalists reveal on “Good Morning America”), let me drop two major keys on you from my weekend.

First key came Friday night. I signed off the radio after a show that I was pretty happy with, thus I was feeling good. But I decided not to go out (major key alert!). Instead I grabbed food from my bodega, strolled in to my apartment and caught up on work. I needed to do this for a plethora of reasons: didn’t feel like spending money on drinks, was too behind on said work and have too busy of a week ahead.


The second key came throughout the weekend: no traveling (major key alert!)! After spending the past three weekends in the air (Buffalo, Florida, Syracuse) I kept it local and it felt fantastic. The farthest I traveled was to Newark, where I caught the Devils’ final home game of the season. Prudential Center is a favorite venue of mine and it was nice to see Jersey go out with a win – not to mention veteran Patrick Elias had himself quite a game.

My sleep schedule was a bit off Sunday but that did not prevent me from running errands, finally getting a bagel from Upper West Side-institution Barney Greengrass (whole wheat toasted with Sturgeon, capers, tomato, scallion cream cheese) and knocking out a 5.6 mile run in Central Park.


Even made a rare-appearance at Whole Foods to search for wine (grabbed a Chianti), McClure’s Bloody Mary Mix (out of stock) and naturally a wife (no luck).

Hey, there’s always next weekend. And thankfully, I’ll be spending it right here.

I walked out of my apartment on the Upper West Side to a SUV that had driven from Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Melissa, who works for the casino’s PR department and Angela “Big Ang” Raiola traveled from Uncasville to pick me up. We were headed to Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, a property that Mohegan manages. The casino booked the “Mob Wives” star for a series of “Reality Check” events, and I was tapped to host the question-and-answer sessions in Atlantic City as well as Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes Barre.

When I hopped in to the car, I immediately noticed one person missing: Ang. She had walked across the street to my bodega for a pack of cigarettes. On the way back, a few fans stopped her for photos, and she happily obliged.

“So you live around here?” she asked me once we hit the road. I mentioned that I had been at my apartment for at the time, a little over a year. “Nice neighborhood. A lot of good brunch spots.”

There are many things I’ll never forget about that weekend; hearing Ang, in that trademark Staten Island drawl of hers, offer up Yelp-like reviews of the brunch options on the Upper West Side is certainly one of them.

Another was during the trip down I-95 to AC when we diverted to a rest stop for food. I wasn’t too hungry so I just grabbed a coffee; Ang wanted to hit up Auntie Anne’s. We finished our purchases and head back in to the car. Ang bought pretzel dippers with sauce. And if you know me and my eating habits, you know they usually don’t involve pretzel dippers, with or without the sauce.

“Honey you want one?” asked Ang. I politely declined. I could tell that she was a little annoyed but we continued making small talk.

She asked two more times before finally offering up a look that is all-too-familiar to fans of her show.

“No, really. Have one.”

Before I could respond the pretzels were right in front of my face.

If you’re like me and you grew up in an Italian-American household, you’re probably having flashbacks and rightfully so. Ang was a tough but loving mother from Staten Island; not one to mince words and always making sure those around her were taken care of.
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And like any good Italian mother, if she offered food, you’d better accept.

Despite our pit stop, we arrived in Atlantic City with time to spare, so we headed over to the outlets that are a stone’s throw from the boardwalk. Yes, I went shopping with Ang. She was looking for clothes to buy her grandkids (always taking care of others); I was just happy to spot H&M.

Being out in public with Ang was an experience in itself. It didn’t matter whether it was a bar, nightclub, store or open-air shopping center: the woman always became the center of attention regardless if she was seeking it or not. Not only did everyone know who Ang was, but everyone felt like they knew Ang. She was as authentic as they come, especially for reality TV, and that’s what endeared her to so many fans.

“Ooh look at you! You made out!” she exclaimed when she saw the amount of clothes that I purchased. Of course, Ang had accumulated a few bags herself.

The event in Atlantic City went well and the next day we took off for Wilkes Barre. Another part of the weekend that’s unforgettable: Ang was always on time. She enjoyed herself, but she knew that we were there to work too.

The trip from AC to Northeastern Pennsylvania was a long one. Traffic on a side road the driver took was brutal, and by that point in the weekend, Ang had grown a bit tired. We made it to Mohegan Sun Pocono just in time for the appearance and of course, it was the best of the weekend. Ang was in great spirits on stage, trading barbs with me and the crowd while sipping on an alcoholic beverage; it was Cinco de Mayo after all.

“I’m not here for a long time; I’m here for a good time,” she said during our chat at MS Pocono, one of the last quotes she offered up before we wrapped.

I surely won’t forget that either. She truly was one-of-a-kind and someone who lived life on her terms. Ang – thanks for the memories, and the pretzel dippers.

In episode number three of “2 Slices & A Story,” actor Zach McGowan reminisces about his days growing up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Fun fact: McGowan’s dad owned a bar on 76th and Broadway.

Did Winter Storm Jonas slow me down last weekend? You’re talking to someone who grew up in Western New York and went to school at Syracuse University. A few scenes from Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


And the snow was far from finished when I snapped that Saturday afternoon. By Saturday evening, people were literally sledding down Amsterdam.


On Monday, the cleanup struggle was still real.

New York City-born actor Zach McGowan stopped by ahead of a few big premieres: Season 3 of The CW’s show “The 100,” which he has an arc on and Season 3 of Starz’s hit “Black Sails” – a show he has been on since the start. McGowan talked about landing both roles and growing up during the 80’s on the Upper West Side.