New York State Of Mind

An Italian Hotelier Shares The Best Places To Eat, Shop, And Experience Local History In New York City’s Seaport District, And Beyond
Ignazio Cipriani, co-owner, Mr. C Hotels
Ignazio Cipriani
Co-Owner, Mr. C Hotels

For Mr. C Seaport, the first East Coast property in a brand launched by brothers Ignazio and Maggio Cipriani, the hotel’s location in the Seaport District offers a special link to New York’s history as a port city. Ignazio Cipriani was drawn to “the quality of old New York—a charm you don’t get anywhere else in the city—the proximity of the water reminds me of Venice.” A member of the fourth generation of an acclaimed Italian family and steeped in hospitality (his work experience has ranged from restaurant kitchens to hotel operations), Ignazio has an attentive eye on the present and a keen sight on the future. The Mr. C property is key in the renovation and transformation of the Seaport District, which is being spearheaded by the Howard Hughes Corporation and includes the recently opened Pier 17 and the Italian specialty store 10 Corso Como. More is on the horizon.

Mr. C Seaport's Classic Suite is a corner room with a separate living area.
Mr. C Seaport, New York, New York

A contemporary, yet classic retreat, Mr. C Seaport provides a luxurious oasis amidst the bustling backdrop of New York City, offering idyllic views of the nearby East River, Brooklyn Bridge, and New York skyline. Location is the key to the hotel’s unique appeal: set in the burgeoning Seaport District, it is centered on Pier 17’s iconic waterfront which serves as a cultural, dining, retail and entertainment anchor for Lower Manhattan.

Local Recommendations

Explore New York City's Best Restaurants, Shopping, Museums, And More With Ignazio Cipriani

The hotelier and entrepreneur opens his black book and offers insights on the transformation of a historic district.

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For Cipriani, a father of two young children, family life is priority as are meals at home. Still, restaurants are in is his blood. In addition to Bellini (33 Peck Slip; +1-929-263-0413), Mr. C Seaport’s on-site restaurant, which is a boon to a growing residential population that appreciates fine dining as well as to hotel guests, Ignazio has wide-ranging restaurant suggestions in the area that includes Manhattan’s financial district and Brooklyn. Near the Oculus at the World Trade Center is Nobu Downtown (195 Broadway; +1-212-219-0500), the inventive Japanese restaurant by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, renowned for dishes such as black miso cod and yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño. After more than 23 years in the city’s TriBeCa district, Nobu moved in 2017 from its location to downtown Manhattan’s new crossroads. Designed by David Rockwell, the lounge and bar occupies part of the magnificent lobby of a landmark building, originally built as the headquarters of AT&T. Downstairs, the spacious dining room, whose walls are embellished with river stones, has a sushi bar that extends in front of the sparkling open kitchen.

On weekends, Cipriani is drawn to the other side of the East River, to Brooklyn and, in particular, to DUMBO. Cecconi’s (55 Water St., Brooklyn; +1-718-650-3900), whose flagship restaurant is in London’s Mayfair, has a prime spot in the Empire Stores complex, a former 1860’s warehouse for import-and-export goods, like sugar, molasses, palm oil, wool, and rubber. The extensive terrace with waterfront views of the Manhattan skyline and the restaurant’s brick-walled dining room reflects the building’s past use, and today is a setting of vibrant amiability. The menu features cicchetti, Venetian-style tapas plates of pasta, risotto, as well as pizza—from mozzarella, tomato, and basil to zucchini blossom, goat cheese, and black truffle. Main dishes include branzino with spinach and veal Milanese.

At DUMBO’s Empire Stores, shoppers find a handsome, generously-sized shop for Shinola (49 Water St., Brooklyn; +1-929-395-0099), the American manufacturer of fine watches, leather goods, and bicycles. It accommodates a Smile To Go café, with coffee drinks for needed pick-me-ups. The J.Crew Men’s Shop (55 Water St., Space F, Brooklyn; +1-718-222-2904) carries Ludlow suits, locally-made accessories and gifts, and provides special services on premises like haircuts and shaves at Fellow Barber.

Back in Manhattan, Bar Pitti (268 Sixth Ave.; +1-212-982-3300) in the West Village, figures on Ignazio Cipriani’s short list, too. The abidingly popular restaurant of the art and fashion worlds is renowned for a chalkboard menu featuring Italian fare—ravioli with butter sauce and sage, tagliatelle with boar ragù—and for its generous outdoor café space. In fall and spring, there are few spots more redolent of the changing seasons.

The dining room at Nobu Downtown. Photo courtesy of Eric Laignel.

Where To Go For Cocktails

Cocktail Hour Begins At A Chic Spot

For a drink, Cipriani recommends the elegant bar at Mr. C Seaport’s lobby lounge. Indeed, there may be no better place for a Bellini, the celebrated cocktail of Prosecco and peach purée created at Harry’s Bar, the Cipriani-mainstay in Venice. For a different experience, he proposes the terrace at Cipriani Club 55 (55 Wall St.; +1-646-300-8163). Its colonnaded balcony overlooks Wall Street and is steps from Federal Hall, where George Washington took the oath of office as the first U.S. President. The 55 Wall Street building has a notable heritage of its own. The grand edifice and one-time headquarters for National City Bank had served in an earlier guise as the Merchant’s Exchange Building, a venue for the U.S. Customs House (Herman Melville worked there as an inspector). If considering history’s grand sweep, this may be the ideal spot for a classic martini, Manhattan, or single-malt Scotch.

The terrace at Cipriani Club 55. Photo courtesy of Cipriani.

The Seaport District's Center For Entertainment And Dining

Visit The Transformed Pier 17

The reimagined Pier 17 (89 South St.;, a pivotal part of the Seaport District’s transformation, is set to further enhance the area’s dining. Within the structure designed by SHoP Architects—known for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn—is Pier Village, a collection of two-story spaces that will incorporate restaurants by notable chefs including Jean-Georges Vongerichten starting in late 2018. Others by David Chang, Andrew Carmellini, and Malibu Farm are planned for 2019. The recently inaugurated Rooftop at Pier 17 (89 South St.; +1-212-732-8257 ), an acre-and-half of entertainment space with matchless views—particularly at night—accommodates audiences of 3,500 for open-air performances by the likes of Sting and Pink Martini from spring into fall. Come winter, the venue will be fashioned as an skating rink designed by David Rockwell. For sports enthusiasts, ESPN has inaugurated a studio, part of a new broadcasting center at Pier 17. Visitors can expect to see reporters roving the Seaport District, conducting man-on-the-street interviews with fans and sports personalities.

The Rooftop at Pier 17. Photo courtesy of C. Taylor Crothers on behalf of The Howard Hughes Corporation.

Downtown Shopping

Shop, Italian Style At The New York Outpost Of Milan’s 10 Corso Como

Among the most beguiling recent openings in the Seaport District is 10 Corso Como (1 Fulton St.; +1-212-265-9500), a distillation of la bella figura that typifies the Italian way of life. The shop is the first U.S. location of the company founded by Carla Sozzani, a former fashion editor and publisher. Like the flagship which opened in Milan almost 30 years ago, this concept shop is a vanguard of fashion—apparel and accessories for men and women—fine housewares and design objects, fragrances, art books, and a photography gallery. The 28,000-square-foot space which occupies the ground floor of the Fulton Market Building contains a restaurant and bar.

Inside 10 Corso Como. Photo courtesy of 10 Corso Como.

New York City History

A Museum Of Special Collections

Ignazio Cipriani is keen to recommend the South Street Museum (12 Fulton St.; +1-212-265-9500) to guests and residents alike. A small institution with big and varied collections, it documents the growth of New York as a port city, as well as the development of seaport commerce and the U.S. economy overall. Museum-goers might expect navigational instruments and shipwright tools of the fishing industry and seafaring with related drawings, prints, and photographs from the 18th through the 20th century. But the museum also reveals the essential role of trade in such goods as coffee and tea. The ship model collection has more than 2,400 detailed examples, from 19th-century naval vessels to ocean liners, sure to calibrate the interests of everyone’s inner explorer. In addition to walking tours, the museum arranges seasonal sailing excursions on schooners and other vessels.

Outside the South Street Seaport Museum. Photo courtesy of James Keivom.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

A Classic Carousel

With all of Manhattan’s wonders, Ignazio Cipriani appreciates the special beauty of Brooklyn Bridge Park (334 Furman St., Brooklyn; +1-718-222-9939) with his son on weekends. Landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates has created a remarkable waterfront of green spaces on 85 acres of former vacant industrial sites and abandoned piers, enlivened with numerous children’s playgrounds, tranquil gardens, playing fields, salt marshes, and promenades with vistas of ever-changing skylines. An array of sounds—horns of ferry boats, squawks of gulls, barks of dogs socializing in dog runs—fill the air, adding to the vibrant scene. Unique and special to the park, is Jane’s Carousel (Old Dock St., Brooklyn; +1-718-222-2502) a lovingly restored 1922 merry-go-round that encompasses the vintage and modern in an exceptional and enduring manner: 48 finely carved, vividly colored horses, and two lavish chariots housed in a transparent pavilion, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. Louvered, acrylic panels open and close according to the weather, so that children—and adults—can enjoy Jane’s Carousel, a simple and timeless pleasure, year-round.

Facing Jane's Carousel. Photo courtesy of Julienne Schaer.