TCQ&A: “I Want Bouley Bakery Back”

A compelling argument for healthy living, Alycea Ungaro does more in a month than many of us manage in a year. The Tribeca mom and business owner (Alycea Ungaro’s Real Pilates) has a new book out (Pilates Practice Companion), to go with her other books—including the MP3 books and video books (Vooks) she’s often recording. And she’s also a licensed physical therapist and a member of the advisory board of Fitness magazine. And she blogs at And last year she released a Pilates mat. And she still has time to enjoy the neighborhood….

How long have you lived in the area?
Since 1994—we moved from Hell’s Kitchen. At the time, our friends were against the move—they repeatedly told us how there were bums making fires in garbage cans down here and there were no trains and it just wasn’t safe. Our block was full of abandoned buildings at the time but we had an unobstructed view of the Hudson—something we enjoyed until last year.

Which restaurants do you frequent most often?
Takahachi—seriously, we eat there too much. My husband had mercury poisoning from eating too much raw fish—no joke. Nobu Next Door, another mercury contributor, but soooo worth it. Wolfgang’s Steakhouse (above)—we adore it! Last time we ate there, Wolfgang himself made the rounds past our table.

Which restaurants do you tend to go to for special occasions?
Bouley! And we used to go to Chanterelle. I am still mourning the loss.

Where do you order in (or get take-out) from? Are there dishes you always order?
Sophie’s Cuban for lunch—my kids love the ropa vieja, I like the spicy chicken. Columbine—we order lunch for the studio all the time from there. Max—I love the chicken capriccioso. Mmmmm….

Which shops do you find it hard to resist popping into when you pass by?
Capucine has hands-down the most interesting blend of clothes, bags, and jewelry! Petticoat Lane for my once-a-year everyday purse and my all-year-long undergarments. The gift shop at Lance Lappin is a holiday addiction for me. And Torly Kid—Carol (right) has impeccable taste.

What was the last non-essential item you bought in Tribeca?
I bought a black sequined tote bag from the Gap in the World Financial Center on a whim while with my kids.

Are there any services (salon, fitness, etc.) that you’re particularly glad are in the neighborhood?
Tortola Salon, which my family has frequented for years. Tom and Joe are the best. And Unique Shape Threading Salon. I’m a regular!

What’s the area’s best-kept secret?
1. The awesome craft section at Manhattan Books (left)—keeps the kids busy for a while.
2. The Cornerstone Grill makes the best “strips over salad” (grilled chicken breast over a green salad—such a healthy option for a BBQ joint, and no one knows about it).
3. The fact that you can see “Boardwalk Empire” on Sunday nights at the Tribeca Grand Hotel.
4. That Columbine offers half-off after hours.

Where do you always take out-of-towners?
Sunday brunch at the Tribeca Grand—just for brunch. Century 21—just for the experience. Bubby’s—just for pie.

Which neighborhood building do you wish you lived in and/or owned?
I have a soft spot for 8 Thomas Street (right). I love that unique little castle in the middle of an area devoted to government offices. Also, the brick building at Hudson and Beach—with the archways on the ground floor. Love that! Have never been inside….

What’s your favorite part of the area (street, park, whatever)?
The Promenade. After-dinner walks are something my family enjoys when the weather permits.

Your most memorable celebrity sighting?
Well, most of the celebrities I’ve seen have actually been taking sessions or classes at Real Pilates, but walking with Amanda Peet and her family across the street while a speeding cabdriver almost took us all down was pretty memorable. Particularly when the driver got cussed out in classic New York style.

If you could change one thing about the neighborhood, what would it be?
A light on Duane Street crossing into the park would be great. I want Bouley Bakery back. And a decent frozen yogurt place. I mean, seriously. And a closer post office!

What’s changed around here that you like? That you don’t?
I like the added stores, services, businesses. But the fact that the neighborhood often doesn’t “know” each other anymore is a bit sad. Relationships with locals and businesses are tough to maintain now that the population is teeming. Sometimes I feel we all get lost in the midst.

What’s your best Tribeca story?
When my oldest daughter was about 5 years old, she was given a hand-knit top from overseas. It came unraveled and she was very attached to it. I brought it into Koh’s Kids (left) to ask if they knew anyone who did this type of handiwork and could possibly repair it. Grace, the owner, took it home, fixed it herself, and brought it back to me at no charge. I had barely shopped there before that point, and she was so wonderful and generous, I never forgot it. I became a devotee.

Recent TCQ&As:
Marla Mase: “I Can Be Naughty at Times So Let’s Skip That Question”
Elisa Casas: “Jenny McCarthy Had Phone Sex in My Bed”
Connie Connors: “I’ve Always Loved the Chicken from Cornerstone Grill”
Tania Anthony: “Tribeca Needs a Good Chinese Restaurant”
Loretta Thomas: “Harvey Keitel Always Smiles Back”


1 Comment

  1. Wow- have to take notes on all her tips!