You don’t have a fat book advance or a trust fund. And you actually really like your boyfriend/ husband/partner. But who doesn’t yearn for a mini-journey of discovery a la Elizabeth Gilbert? In preparation for the inevitable travel lust that the movie Eat, Pray, Love will unleash when it hits theaters on August 13, we’ve prepared the inter-borough version. Get your Eat fix in Brooklyn, find Prayer in Queens, and learn to Love (yourself) in Manhattan. No passport needed. It’s just like your yoga teacher says, No matter where you go, there you are.
Lucali owner Mark Iacono’s passion for pizza will inspire you to take an Elizabeth Gilbert-style nutritional holiday (one day where you say calories be damned). This soulful Carroll Gardens pizzeria serves only thin-crust pizza and calzones—no antipasti, no tiramisu, no cappuccino. But the single-minded focus on the pie leads to Platonic perfection. (And second place on Alan Richman’s best pizza list for the country.) The ritual of waiting outside for a table with an open bottle of Sangiovese only furthers the feeling that you’re in Naples.
Lucali, 575 Henry St., Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn; 718-858-4086
Getting to the Ganesh Temple in Flushing is a pilgrimage—albeit on the 7 train rather than an elephant—so you’ll know you’re about to have a transformational experience. That’s conveyed by Hindu priests in bright orange robes, squatting amongst flowers and incense, and 16 stone carvings of elephant-head Ganesha. Discard your shoes at the door, feel the cold marble floors under your feet, and observe the bright floral offerings and gorgeous wall carvings inside. The lovely staff is happy to explain what everything means, and the monks may even welcome your deeper questions. I happened to crash a wedding during my visit: A flower behind each ear and four walks around the sacred fire later, the bride and groom emerged under a cloud of flower petals. Restorative stuff for even the most jaded of New Yorkers. If you go on a Sunday, you may catch the mesmerizing song of the only known Hindu choir in the world, who practice in the senior center just across the street. Believe me, you will never have heard anything like it.
Sri Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devasthanam, 45-57 Bowne Street, Flushing, NY 11355; 718-460-8484, www.nyganeshtemple.org. Weekdays 8am to 9pm; weekends 7:30am to 9pm
Slather on your Juara Candlenut Butter Creme. We’ve swapped a $2,000 plane ticket to Bali for a $16 night of Basement Bhangra at SOBs. (Liz Gilbert won’t mind that we’ve switched cultures and continents.) You don’t need to be Indian or have taken classes in the Indian dance form, says Amy Whiffen, who loves the dance party, held on the first Thursday of every month (that’s tomorrow!). “It’s not traditional Indian Bhangra, where you have to study it for years,” says Whiffen, who’s a beginner. You can show up before 8:00 for a quick lesson on how to use your shoulders and a few hand moves. “The music is easy to dance to and really relatable,” says Whiffen. “DJ Rekha will mix in contemporary stuff like Wyclef. The beat is amazing—that’s what grabs everyone. It gets really packed and energized. People are super sweaty and bumping into you. Everyone’s moving as a group, but you really get into your own amazing groove.” That’s a kind of love we need more of.
SOBs, 200 Varick St., Basement, 212-243-4940, www.sobs.com. First Thursday of every month. Doors open at 7 pm.
–Melisse Gelula, Alexia Brue, and Alexandra King