Picnics are a great way to have an authentic travel experience. It has the added benefit of saving the traveler valuable cash resources. In order to maximize the benefits of your travel picnic, we’ve created four steps to the perfect outing.
“To leave a place is to die a little.” ~French Proverb
Select a comfortable spot that reflects the interests of the participants. It’s often best to select a place that communes with nature. Areas within reach of rivers, lakes, or parks are ideal. This approach is feasible in the urban jungle too. For instance, the banks of the Seine River (below) in Paris have popular walkways to spend an afternoon. The Great Lawn (map) of Central Park in New York City represents another great spot. The latter has Belvedere Castle within its vicinity.
Picnic, Seine River, Paris © Malias
2. Food Selection
“Tell me what you eat, I’ll tell you who you are” ~Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Picnicking is an opening to have an authentic meal. It’s easy to collect a variety of foodstuffs, from local markets, that residents eat in their daily lives. A sojourn to an Italian city or village, for example, would allow for a picnic menu that consists of fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, mortadella with breadsticks, chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto on wedges of honeydew, and a basket filled with figs and grapes. Add a glass of local wine or fresh tomato juice with lemon and black pepper.
“Strangers are just friends waiting to happen.” ~Rod McKuen
Consider inviting a couple of locals or fellow travelers to your gathering. There is no better way to understand a location that to spend time with those who know it best. It will also provide an opportunity to learn several new phrases in their native language. If you haven’t met any residents, contemplate arranging your get-together near a smiling group of locals. Don’t be surprised if an invitation to join them is in the offing. This is especially helpful for solo travelers.
4. Conversation Topics
“Friends are those rare people who ask how you are then wait for an answer” ~Unknown
During the meal, it’s best to keep to light topics. Allow each guest to select a topic for discussion over the course of the afternoon. This makes sure that everyone has a chance to participate in the conversation. It’s equally helpful to listen to your fellow picnickers and provide feedback to their musings.
Stomach churning? Read about the best pizza in New York City.
Gennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing a travel article or photograph for publication.
1. Di Fara Pizza
Domenico De Marco is the master of pizza-making. Di Fara Pizza thrives based on the mouthwatering flavor of each bite of his fresh pies. The unorganized, long lines are a worthwhile penance to bask in the joy that comes when Mr. De Marco uses a scissor to chop fresh basil onto your searing pie. For the ultimate ecstasy, order a pie with porcini mushrooms. Do note that take-out is the best option.
2. Grimaldi’s Pizzeria
Grimaldi’s Pizzeria is perfect for travelers arriving to New York City for the first time. Just take a stroll, from Manhattan to Brooklyn, across the historic Brooklyn Bridge and you’ll be moments away from waiting in line for one of the best coal-oven pies in the world. Grimaldi’s has fresh ingredients and a level of consistency that is unrivaled. Be prepared to sit in close proximity to your fellow pizza lovers.
Grimaldi’s © Eric Konon
3. Totonno’s Pizzeria
This Coney Island institution has fans lining up to partake in a ritual of devouring its coal-oven masterpieces. The decor is simple, but the taste of Totonno’s pies is divine. Don’t be surprised to see a group of teenagers polish of a pie–each. Do note that the pizzeria closes once the fresh dough runs out for that night.
4. Famous Joe’s Pizza
This award-winning institution is one of the few exceptional pizzerias to offer slices. Though the decor and seating aren’t inviting, the mozzarella oozes off the thin-slices of this crowd-pleaser. This is the perfect place for an individual dropping in for a couple of slices or the backpacker who wants a quick bite of NYC’s best without denting their wallet.
5. John’s Pizzeria
The carved-wooden booths of this institution house hundreds of loyal, passionate clients who order pies at this no-slice haven. Long lines develop before lunch and dinner to taste John’s scrumptious, thin-crusted pies. One of several coal-fired pizzerias on the list, John’s customers always leave satiated.
6. Lombardi’s Pizza
Lombardi’s © Robyn Lee
Lombardi’s was the first pizzeria in the United States. The original establishment opened its doors in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi. Today, Lombardi’s continues to make exceptional pies for its eagerly awaiting patrons. This cash only establishment creates the perfect crispy crust to go along with the aura of its history.
7. Una Pizza Napolitana *Closed
The most unique choice on the list is this Anthony Mangieri pizzeria modeled after the local Italian-style with wood-fired, brick oven pizza. With a limited menu of four pies, Una Pizza Napolitana relies upon fresh ingredients such as mozzarella di bufalo and San Marzano tomatoes to keep its customers returning.
8. Ottimo Restaurant
Ottimo is the perfect place for a group of friends who want to select from a variety of Italian fare. After the meal, those who didn’t try the Neapolitan-style pizza with fresh buffalo mozzarella will be wondering if they made the best choice. Unlike most of places on the list, Ottimo has a restaurant ambiance with sufficient and comfortable seating.
Read about the best chocolate in NYC , the hundreds of free things to do in NYC , or some of the best authentic foods around the world based on our reader feedback.
Gennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.