MSG and Eataly

My last two work trips to New York have been fun and productive, so I thought I’d blog about a few highlights.

First, last week during my visit I decided to attend a Knicks game.  I had never been to Madison Square Garden despite staying in a hotel right across the street on most of my visits, but I wasn’t too thrilled about the cost of admission.  Since acquiring Carmelo Anthony last month (and signing Amar’e Stoudemire earlier this year), the Knicks are finally becoming a team of interest again (after stinking for the last few years), so ticket prices are rising, and I figured now would be a good time to cross the Garden off the list of places to see.

My mission was to buy a “cheap” ticket from the scalpers outside the arena, and I knew I had some leverage since I was willing to wait until the game had started (and a single ticket is sometimes hard to unload).  It was a cold night with a heavy mix of sleet and small hail, but fortunately I had an umbrella (unlike most of the scalpers).  I spent a good 40 minutes talking with at least 25 different scalpers who were trying to sell tickets for $150-200.  They’d laugh at me when I told them I wasn’t willing to pay more than $40 for a ticket, and I’d tell them where they could find me when they were stuck with a ticket they couldn’t sell after the game started.  Most got the message that I was a stubborn customer, but eventually, about 10 minutes after the game’s scheduled start time, I was able to get a ticket for $25!  That was actual face value, and while it was in the upper deck, I didn’t care.  I had won this round, New York!

Inside MSG, it was amazing!  The atmosphere was electric, and walking around the concourse, it seemed like every seat (even in the upper deck) was a great view.  I only ended up missing 6 minutes of the first quarter by waiting for a cheaper ticket (and Bernie Williams playing the national anthem on the guitar – unexpected!), and I still got to watch an exciting game featuring the all-stars mentioned above.  The Knicks were playing the Orlando Magic, so I also got to see an outstanding performance by Dwight Howard and his teammates Jameer Nelson, Gilbert Arenas, and Jason Richardson.

Being a single at an event has its advantages, and I used it to find a much better seat in the second half.  I snuck my way down to the lower level and had a fantastic seat to enjoy the game.  The Knicks ended up blowing a lead in the fourth quarter and losing, and the New York fans booed mercilessly.  It was kind of funny.


Second, during my February visit I had an amazing pizza dinner at Eataly, Mario Batali’s restaurant/food emporium.  It was great, and due to a team retreat last week, I got to have even more of their pizza for lunch.  Eataly is a bit overwhelming with so many amazing food products and small areas to eat.  You literally dine among the shoppers, and everything you eat is made from products sold in the store.  The cheese counter alone made me wish I had a free shopping spree there, like you used to be able to win at Toys R Us when you were a kid.  The meat counter was a thing of beauty, and I was most surprised by the availability of a whole butchered rabbit for sale.  The fresh pasta, gelato, produce, bread, I could go on and on…it’s all so amazing.

Sorry for the photo quality - camera phones can't do anything justice, so I've stolen a couple from other sites.




In all, I’ve had the privilege of tasting six different pizzas they serve!

1. San Marzano – their margherita pizza (on left of photo) – nice, but usually I need toppings for oomph

2. Casandrinella – ricotta, mozzarella, ham, and parmigiano reggiano (on right of photo) – nice, but not a huge ricotta fan

3. Ventura – mozzarella, parma ham, shaved parm, and arugula (middle of photo) – would definitely eat again

4. La Verace TSG – buffalo mozzarella, parm, sorrento evoo, and basil – similar to the San Marzano, but far superior

5. Scisciana – gorgonzola, parm, mozzarella, and parma ham – the gorgonzola makes it, so very good

6. Massese – Mozzarella, basil, and neapolitan spicy salami – the salami was some of the best I’ve ever eaten!


I highly recommend everyone visit Eataly for the full experience.  Other highlights included a fun meal at a Korean place that a coworker showed me.  The only signs were in Korean, and it was located on the second floor behind an unmarked door.  I felt like quite the insider.  We had some great fried chicken, pork kimchi, pickled radish cubes, and soju.

Another fun thing I did back in February was meet up with the Purdue Alumni Club of NYC to watch the Purdue/IU game.  I hope to hang out with that group more often, and definitely during basketball season next year when I’m in town!

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