For an at-home dad, Matt Schneider spends very little time at home. He and his two boys can usually be seen “at the playground, in a class, or not ordering off the children’s menu at a local restaurant,” he says. Matt is a founding member and organizer for the NYC Dads Group: “We’re a group of over 200 at-home dads and other active fathers seeking an opportunity to socialize and support each other.” Dads and their kids meet weekly at museums, theaters, parks, zoos, indoor play areas, and other venues. The group also organizes workshops and other activities; the next one—a discussion on Equally Shared Parenting—is tomorrow (Thursday, May 27) at 92YTribeca.
How long have you lived in Tribeca?
We’ve lived here for eight years (five years in Tribeca and the last three in Battery Park City).
Which restaurants do you frequent most often?
We try to get to a lot of different restaurants, especially new ones. Sometimes I think we give most of our disposable income to Inatteso Pizzabar and Inatteso Cafe, not just because they’re at the base of our building, but because every item on both menus is outstanding. The Pizzabar menu changes seasonally, but I’m partial to the beef stew served in winter. The café’s chocolate chip cookies are the best in Lower Manhattan, especially since the Bouley Market closed. We’re big fans of Locanda Verde for brunch (the uovo Modenese is unbelievable), and my older son loves the French toast. We’ve also been supporting Franklin Café Tavola Calda. The food is good, the staff is very warm, and the restaurant has a very fun atmosphere. It’s a great place to go with friends if you’re looking for something casual. Last time we were there they still didn’t have their liquor license, so make sure to stop by Maslow 6 across the street to pick up a nice bottle of red.
Which restaurants do you tend to go to for special occasions?
We just celebrated an anniversary at Bouley, and we really enjoyed it. The new space looks like it came right out of a fairy tale, the food was excellent, and the service was everything we could have hoped for as we celebrated our big day. We get all of our birthday cakes from Duane Park Patisserie: They’re always able to step up to whatever theme we’ve chosen.
Where do you order in (or get take-out) from? Are there dishes you always order?
We order from Roc quite a bit, and I pretty much always order the cavatelli with sausage and broccoli rabe. When we have friends over, they usually want to order pizza from Inatteso. We love it, and friends from all over the city are saying it is the best pizza they’ve ever had. When my in-laws are in town, we always order from Salaam Bombay—very good food for even the most discerning Indian father. Overall, though, I’m somewhat disappointed with the delivery options down here, especially for East/Southeast Asian food.
Which shops do you find it hard to resist popping into when you pass by?
I cook a lot, so I’m at Whole Foods two or three times a week. If I’m at the Seaport, I always stop in Provisions to see the new tasty foods they have on hand. I pop in to Chambers Street Wines far too often, but we don’t want anybody to go thirsty when they visit our place. The staff is very helpful and they treat me well even though I’m usually shopping for $10–$15 bottles of wine. When we moved into our apartment, we bought a lot of furniture and lighting from Room [site of the portrait at top]. The owner, Amy Crain, worked with us to put together a really modern, but warm space, and I still like going in to see what’s new. We also stop by the Cheryl Hazan Gallery all the time—someday, we’ll actually buy a piece of art.
What was the last non-essential item you bought in Tribeca?
I spent way too much on a pair of glasses at Disrespectacles. They were so nonessential that I lost them within weeks. Now I stick to glasses covered under our insurance at Battery Park Vision. They have a great selection, and my wife won’t give me as hard a time when I lose them (at least she didn’t last time I lost them).
Are there any services (salon, fitness, etc.) that you’re particularly glad are in the neighborhood?
I’m especially thankful to have my son’s preschool, Downtown Little School, in the neighborhood. I always say it’s an oasis in the middle of the craziness of New York living. The entire staff is extremely knowledgeable and the parent community is very down to earth. I also love the Church Street School of Music and Art—it has been in the neighborhood for twenty years, and the staff seems to be made up of working artists and musicians who love to share their talent with our children. I’m a big fan of the Greenmarkets throughout the neighborhood. During summer, I stop by one of the Lower Manhattan markets almost every day, and I’m very much looking forward to a new outpost in BPC. I’ve been getting my haircut at Lance Lappin since the week we moved to New York, and I’ve always been happy. For several years, I wasn’t loyal to a particular stylist, which seemed to drive the staff nuts. For the last couple years, Chester has cut my hair, and he always does a great job—he even catches a stray eyebrow hair every now and then. I also appreciate the 92YTribeca because they continue to accommodate many of our NYC Dads Group events!
What’s Tribeca’s best-kept secret?
I’m not sure Tribeca has any secrets anymore! Families seem to be moving to Tribeca, BPC, and the Financial District in droves. I think it is the most family-friendly neighborhood in the city, but it’s also still a great place even if you don’t have kids. I hear grumbling about “stroller brigades” and “mommy posses,” but I think most parents try to be respectful of their neighbors (I’m sure plenty of your readers will disagree with me). I also think it’s generally a calmer place to live than other parts of the city. People are more friendly and less uptight, and everything is more casual. Hopefully, we can maintain that vibe.
Where do you always take out-of-towners?
I love to walk around Lower Manhattan with visitors. We usually start at Wagner Park for a view of the Statue of Liberty and then over to the Financial District to see the awe-inspiring historical monuments and architecture. And of course, it’s just fun to walk around Tribeca and Soho to go shopping and have lunch. Visitors usually come with kids, so we always stop by the playgrounds to make sure our friends know that our children get to play outside. I agree with the TCQ&A participant who said it’s nice to show out-of-towners (especially grandparents) that we have a normal life.
Which neighborhood building do you wish you lived in and/or owned?
I don’t have an address in mind, but I’m envious of our friends that have big lofts. We don’t need more space for more stuff, but I would love to have a big open space for our kids and their friends. I wouldn’t mind some outdoor space as well. I miss having barbecues in the backyard.
What’s your favorite part of Tribeca (street, park, whatever)?
My new favorite place is the New Amsterdam Market, held at the old Fulton Fish Market a few times a year. It’s a great opportunity to find local food growers, artisans, and purveyors and almost all of them give tastes (head cheese, anyone?). There’s a terrific article in this month’s edition of Edible Manhattan that describes the original Washington Market. Think La Boqueria in Barcelona, or the Union Square Greenmarket times ten. The New Amsterdam Market gets us back to our roots as a food mecca.
Your most memorable Tribeca celebrity sighting?
Like most people, I try to stay cool when I see celebrities around the neighborhood. Several years ago, I was reading and having coffee at Pécan while my son was sleeping in the stroller. Jon and Tracey Stewart sat down at the table next to us with one of their kids. I noticed that Tracey kept looking over at us, and finally she said that she was very impressed that I had time to read while taking care of a baby. I came up with a witty enough response that Jon joined the conversation and we went on to chat until my son woke up. I’m happy that our celebrity neighbors have found a place to live that allows them to lead normal lives.
If you could change one thing about the neighborhood, what would it be?
I’m tired of construction. It makes me sad to walk by the World Trade Center site and see so little progress after such a long time. It makes me mad when multiple blocks of sidewalks are closed for months and no work is being done. I’m trying to figure out how the city prioritizes the work. The West Thames Park will be demolished and reconfigured within nine months because workers have been working 24-7 to finish it by Memorial Day, but the pedestrian crossing through the Battery Garage has been an accident waiting to happen for years.
What’s changed in Tribeca that you like? That you don’t?
I like that we have access to retail conveniences like Whole Foods, Barnes & Noble, and Bed Bath & Beyond, but we also have a lot of small businesses succeeding in the neighborhood as well. I’m a big supporter of small businesses, and I think more people should recognize that we need to support the ones we really love. So many stores and restaurants have closed or moved in the last few years, and up to now, we’ve been lucky that they’ve often been replaced by other interesting stores and restaurants (e.g. Franklin Station/Franklin Café Tavola Calda). I also worry that the calm, comfortable vibe in the neighborhood is changing with the influx of people from other parts of the city.
I always tell people that we wouldn’t live in New York unless we lived in this neighborhood. I’m glad you recognize “Greater Tribeca” to include the wonderful surrounding neighborhoods. We have everything we need down here in our little corner of the world, and for us, life just keeps getting better and better.
Any questions you wish you’d been asked?
Nope. This took me three days as it is.
• Judy Dunne: “Last Halloween, a Client Dressed Her Son as a Lobster in a Pot”
• Donna Marotta: “The Number of Nail Salons Baffles Me”
• Susan Bernfield: “I Almost Invited Jon Stewart Over on Passover”
• Paulette Goto: “I Buy ‘Play-Date Punch’ at Chambers Street Wines”
• Wendy Gardner: “I Bought a Stuffed Wombat at Moomah”