Category Archives: America

Dina’s 10 Favorite Things About Fall in NYC

Hope you enjoyed my summer of New Jersey, but now that it’s almost fall, it’s time to go back to the city.  I love every season in New York City.  Each season has something unique about it.  These are the things I love about fall/autumn in New York City.

  1. Everyone’s back from summer vacation, including celebrities.  I think this is one of the best times of year for celebrity sightings.
  2. The lecture circuit is open again with interesting talks at many different venues.  (Yes, I am a nerd.)
  3. San Gennaro Festival in September–I love the ten-day festival in Little Italy and try to go as many times as I can. I like the Mass, procession, and of course, the food.
  4. New York state apples at the Union Square Greenmarket.
  5. Brooklyn Book Festival–A great place for literary-types like me to get our fix. So many great independent and small press publishers. I always find something interesting here.
  6. Mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival–I enjoy going to Chinatown to get mooncakes at the local bakeries.
  7. Columbus Day Parade–I have marched in the parade before.  It is a great way to celebrate my Italian culture and share it with the world.
  8. Village Halloween parade–This is an event not to be missed. I have marched in the parade many times.  It is a lot of fun to see the creative costumes and have a crazy night out in the Village.
  9. Leaves changing color at Central Park.
  10. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade–OK, you have to do this parade at least once. Known for its giant balloons, the parade is a must-see, especially if you know someone who works along the parade route, like I did, and can watch it from the comfort (and warmth) of inside.

me marching in the Village Halloween parade

Central Park in fall

Brooklyn Book Festival

–Dina Di Maio

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Ponzio’s, a New Jersey Diner in Cherry Hill, NJ

I couldn’t conclude a tour of New Jersey without visiting a Jersey diner.  And without getting Taylor ham, although it’s referred to as pork roll in South Jersey.

When you step inside Ponzio’s, the first thing you see is the huge bakery with cases of cakes, pastries and cookies.  A sight that has me drooling.

For an appetizer, we got the bay fries. These were really delicious!

I got a pork roll and cheese sandwich.

Pretty good, although I prefer a breakfast Taylor ham and egg roll.

My friend was excited to get calamari marinara, calamari as an entrée without breading.

I thought I’d try the peach pie, which looks amazing in this photo, with its whipped cream piled high. I have to say it was a bit disappointing though, as it didn’t have a fresh, farm-fresh pie flavor to it.  I think the whipped cream was artificial.

Delaney’s Irish Pub & Grill in Cape May, New Jersey

There are so many great places to eat in Cape May, but when I saw Cajun Pierogies on the menu at Delaney’s Irish Pub & Grill, I was sold.  These are cheese and potato pierogies with Cajun seasoning.  They were delicious!

Also got the basket of tater tots with white cheddar bacon cheese sauce.

Some fried calamari.

And for some greens, a tomato and mozzarella salad.

This menu has a huge selection of items, and it was the perfect place to share some appetizers. They were all very good.

Best Ice Cream in New Jersey–My New Jersey Ice Cream Tour Results

The best ice cream in New Jersey is, of course, subjective.  New Jersey is a great state for an ice cream fan.  There are so many places to try.  I sampled ice cream from eleven different ice cream shops around the state and have chosen my top three and listed what stands out the most to me about the shop.

  1. Denville Dairy in Denville, NJ–the creamiest soft-serve ice cream.
  2. Magnifico’s in East Brunswick, NJ–best cherry-dipped cone.
  3. Cookman Creamery in Asbury Park, NJ–delicious vegan options.

New Jersey Ice Cream, Day 10: Fine Fellows Creamery, Cape May, NJ

Fine Fellows Creamery has a cute retro ’50s soda shop vibe.  It serves Bassetts Ice Cream from Philadelphia.  Bassetts is the oldest ice cream company in America still run by the Bassett family since 1861.  They have a lot of traditional flavors but have changed with the times to include flavors like matcha and pomegranate blueberry chunk. I had never heard of nor tried Bassetts before, so I was curious.  I’m a purist, so I usually opt for vanilla.

ice cream

It was good, but it had the consistency of most retail ice cream, which is to say, it had added gums.  Sure enough, I checked the nutritional information on Bassetts website and it does (and corn syrup).  I would say if you are in Cape May and wanting ice cream, then Fine Fellows is a good option.

New Jersey Ice Cream, Day 9: Cliff’s Homemade Ice Cream, Ledgewood, NJ

Cliff’s Homemade Ice Cream opened in 1975 by Cliff Freund.

It serves both hard and soft ice cream.  For those who prefer soft serve, there are a lot of flavors here to choose from.


The hard ice cream menu is quite extensive and a lot of flavors sounded interesting to me, Smurf not being one of them.  I liked Bavarian Creame Raspberry Truffle.  My friend did also, so we both got two scoops.  As you can see from this photo, my friend’s scoops were a lot larger than mine and they had truffles, which you couldn’t see in mine.

ice cream

Despite these inconsistencies, the ice cream was good.

New Jersey Ice Cream, Day 8: Denville Dairy, Denville, NJ

Denville Dairy has been around for 50 years, so you know they are doing something right.  The shop was created by Jack Fine, who passed away in 2013, and is now run by his children.  They serve hard and soft ice cream as well as ice cream sandwiches, cakes, pies and more.  I had to go for a vanilla soft serve here because I had a feeling it was going to be creamy and delicious.  I was right.  This was one of the best vanilla soft serve ice creams I have ever had.  It has that wonderfully creamy mouthfeel and slight tang that I look for in vanilla ice cream.

ice cream