Eataly Downtown– 74.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Eataly Downtown is an American take on an Italian food hall.  Gone are the stucco walls, thick wooden beams, and big bins of olives, instead this location of Eataly is located in a mall and has all the warmth and allure of a giant food court.  It’s a chaotic, often loud, tourist-filled space pockmarked with various stalls or displays–produce, cheese station, bread station, pastries, etc.–interspersed with restaurants and more casual eating options. We have recorded higher decibel readings before, but Eataly Downtown is uncomfortable in its own special way–not solely due to noise level–though it was loud in spots–but mostly due to the crowds.

It’s clear that Eataly would best be enjoyed during an off time (though we doubt that one exists) or if one is comfortably numb. If you are the type who likes to keep an emergency Xanas in your bag, take it and wait a half hour before entering. It may make things better.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We did a complete circuit of the space twice–yes, we forced ourselves round more than once just for you. The main restaurants, which are located closer to the entrance, are live, loud, and packed. Eataly is co-owned by Mario Batali, who, it is rumored, is responsible for the unforgivably loud music in New York City restaurants. Click the link in the previous sentence to find out why.  Even if we didn’t mind having our ear drums assaulted, that was not an option as just about every seat was taken in the restaurant dining spaces. Pressing on, we saw a better option.

I Ravioli is a stall offering three types of ravioli and the promise of a quieter meal. There is no dedicated seating space. Rather, there are two seating areas located within a short distance.  Avoid the seating immediately nearby and walk about 25 feet away to a dining area a near the display of packaged cookies. You will still hear the unnecessary music there, but the volume is much lower.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

As for the ravioli (we opted for ravioli made with peas in a butter and pecorino sauce), they were tasty. And the seating area we chose was fine. In fact, this relatively calm spot could have approached comfortable if the music was turned off, but that won’t happen. So recharge in this  relatively relaxing chunk of the space, and gird yourself for the run to the exit. The rest of Eataly is filled with slow-moving people, too much noise, and lots of lights and shiny things.  We were suffering sensory overload by the time we left.

Although we haven’t taken a decibel reading at the original Eataly location in the Flatiron district, we think Eataly Downtown matches it with regard to noise and crowd level. There is no question that the Eataly sites have almost anything you would want for your Italian pantry, but at a price.  Yes, there are few bargains at Eataly and fighting your way through the crowds is a chore. Still, the selection is pretty damn good and the food is well done.  So if you must go, know what to expect and be prepared for the crowds and noise.

We suggest that you proceed with caution with either Eataly space.  Aim for a less crowded time–perhaps at 7:00 a.m.?–and look for a quiet niche somewhere in the sea of people.

HOURS

7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

4 World Trade Tower, 3rd Floor (Street at Church Street), New York, NY 10007

WEBSITE

Eataly NYC Downtown

Canal Street Market — 77.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Canal Street Market is a food court/mall (featuring “top retail/design concepts”) that recently opened on Canal Street, in Manhattan’s Chinatown.  It’s a loud and busy place with an interesting mix of food vendors serving mainly Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cuisine, along with some fusion mixes and a couple of sweet options.

The first thing you notice on entering the space is that the music is way too loud. The second is that management very obviously wants a young crowd–the music featured rap during our visit. The soundscape wasn’t helped by keeping the main doorway open to traffic noise from Canal Street.  Canal Street is always loud and chaotic, with constant horn honking and seemingly unending sirens. Trying to find a spot to have a quick nosh by the front of the space is a nightmare if you care about your ears.  It simply is unpleasantly loud.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Fortunately the soundscape is a bit better in the back of the space near the restrooms, but there is very little seating.  Instead, there is a dining area comprised almost entirely of tables and ledges for standing, with just a few areas where one can sit. And while the dining area wasn’t as loud as the front of the space, it wasn’t pleasant, just less annoying.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

In the end, we were happy to leave and surprised that the reading clocked in at under 80 decibels. Despite avoiding the 80 decibel bright line standard–we recommend avoiding any space over 80 decibels–we think it best to avoid eating at the market.  On a busy day with an open door and loud music, the space squeaks by, barely.  The food options have received good reviews, so if you want to visit we suggest avoiding the front of the space nearest Canal Street–go to the back where the standing tables are located and try your luck.  Or grab something to go.

In the end, Canal Street Market is not a comfortable space and some of the food options seemed pricey for a food court. The space borders Chinatown, so you have lots of dining options.  Proceed with caution.

HOURS

10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. everyday (retail market hours differ)

LOCATION

Street (betw. Broadway and Lafayette Street), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Canal Street Market

Archestratus Books + Foods — 70.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Archestratus Books + Foods is a very calm space, even with unnecessary music playing in the background. It should be calm, as it is a cafe burrowed into the back of a bookstore.  There is a short menu offering a few savory and sweet treats during the day, and a selection of coffees and teas.  Service is friendly and relaxed.

Archestratus Books + Foods offers a well-liked dinner on Thursday nights.  We’ve never been, but given the rave dinner reviews on Yelp and other rating sites, it’s on our short list to try for this year.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The bookstore portion of the space features books on food and cooking–it’s easy to get lost in the space for hours.  There is also a small selection of interesting gift items on offer.  Overall the entire space is quiet and comfortable.

There were only a couple of people sharing the cafe when we visited, so we can’t say conclusively that the space would be comfortable when full.  Still, the cafe soundscape should be fine even when crowded, as it only seats 12.

Archestratus Books + Foods is highly recommended.

HOURS

Monday and Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Dinner is available Thursday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Manhattan Avenue and Franklin Street), Brooklyn, NY 11222

WEBSITE

Archestratus Books + Foods

Kinokuniya New York — 61 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Bliss.  Kinokuniya is a Japanese-based retailer selling books, magazines, and Japanese pens and stationery.  Those of you who love to try out new pens and pencils already know that Japanese stationery products are compelling, and Kinokuniya has an excellent selection that is unmatched in the city.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

That said, what makes the store so delightful is seeing the interesting array of products displayed in such a peaceful space.  Books and magazines are on the ground floor, stationery and novelties are in the basement. Give yourself some time to look around, because there is a lot more on display than you may first appreciate.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

This delightful store is located directly across from hectic Bryant park, a beautiful park marred by constant, jarring street noise.  Check out the park and then escape to Kinokuniya for some peace and more–a recent visit revealed a cafe on an upper level, and quick look around convinced us to come back to check it out.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

LOCATION

(betw. 40th and 41st Streets), New York, NY 10018

WEBSITE

Kinokuniya US

Three Lives & Company — 61.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Simply the best bookstore in New York City.  It’s smaller than most, so it doesn’t have the same selection as a megastore, thank goodness.  None of the tat, just a great selection of fiction and nonfiction classics and newly published books.  There is a small but excellent collection of cookbooks, and a wonderfully curated selection of books about New York City.  Most importantly, Three Lives looks and sounds like a bookstore should: quietly creaky wooden floors, very low and appropriate background music, small niches where you can sit and preview your potential purchase, and staff and customers (usually) talking at a whisper.  No surprise that it registered at a calming 61.9 decibels.   A must visit for the book lover.

HOURS

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Monday and Tuesday: 12:00 p.m. to 8:00

Wednesday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

LOCATION

154 W. 10th Street (at the corner of Waverly Place), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Three Lives & Company

Eataly Downtown– 74.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Eataly Downtown is an American take on an Italian food hall.  Gone are the stucco walls, thick wooden beams, and big bins of olives, instead this location of Eataly is located in a mall and has all the warmth and allure of a giant food court.  It’s a chaotic, often loud, tourist-filled space pockmarked with various stalls or displays–produce, cheese station, bread station, pastries, etc.–interspersed with restaurants and more casual eating options. We have recorded higher decibel readings before, but Eataly Downtown is uncomfortable in its own special way–not solely due to noise level–though it was loud in spots–but mostly due to the crowds.

It’s clear that Eataly would best be enjoyed during an off time (though we doubt that one exists) or if one is comfortably numb. If you are the type who likes to keep an emergency Xanas in your bag, take it and wait a half hour before entering. It may make things better.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We did a complete circuit of the space twice–yes, we forced ourselves round more than once just for you. The main restaurants, which are located closer to the entrance, are live, loud, and packed. Eataly is co-owned by Mario Batali, who, it is rumored, is responsible for the unforgivably loud music in New York City restaurants. Click the link in the previous sentence to find out why.  Even if we didn’t mind having our ear drums assaulted, that was not an option as just about every seat was taken in the restaurant dining spaces. Pressing on, we saw a better option.

I Ravioli is a stall offering three types of ravioli and the promise of a quieter meal. There is no dedicated seating space. Rather, there are two seating areas located within a short distance.  Avoid the seating immediately nearby and walk about 25 feet away to a dining area a near the display of packaged cookies. You will still hear the unnecessary music there, but the volume is much lower.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

As for the ravioli (we opted for ravioli made with peas in a butter and pecorino sauce), they were tasty. And the seating area we chose was fine. In fact, this relatively calm spot could have approached comfortable if the music was turned off, but that won’t happen. So recharge in this  relatively relaxing chunk of the space, and gird yourself for the run to the exit. The rest of Eataly is filled with slow-moving people, too much noise, and lots of lights and shiny things.  We were suffering sensory overload by the time we left.

Although we haven’t taken a decibel reading at the original Eataly location in the Flatiron district, we think Eataly Downtown matches it with regard to noise and crowd level. There is no question that the Eataly sites have almost anything you would want for your Italian pantry, but at a price.  Yes, there are few bargains at Eataly and fighting your way through the crowds is a chore. Still, the selection is pretty damn good and the food is well done.  So if you must go, know what to expect and be prepared for the crowds and noise.

We suggest that you proceed with caution with either Eataly space.  Aim for a less crowded time–perhaps at 7:00 a.m.?–and look for a quiet niche somewhere in the sea of people.

HOURS

7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

4 World Trade Tower, 3rd Floor (Street at Church Street), New York, NY 10007

WEBSITE

Eataly NYC Downtown

Archestratus Books + Foods — 70.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Archestratus Books + Foods is a very calm space, even with unnecessary music playing in the background. It should be calm, as it is a cafe burrowed into the back of a bookstore.  There is a short menu offering a few savory and sweet treats during the day, and a selection of coffees and teas.  Service is friendly and relaxed.

Archestratus Books + Foods offers a well-liked dinner on Thursday nights.  We’ve never been, but given the rave dinner reviews on Yelp and other rating sites, it’s on our short list to try for this year.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The bookstore portion of the space features books on food and cooking–it’s easy to get lost in the space for hours.  There is also a small selection of interesting gift items on offer.  Overall the entire space is quiet and comfortable.

There were only a couple of people sharing the cafe when we visited, so we can’t say conclusively that the space would be comfortable when full.  Still, the cafe soundscape should be fine even when crowded, as it only seats 12.

Archestratus Books + Foods is highly recommended.

HOURS

Monday and Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Dinner is available Thursday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Manhattan Avenue and Franklin Street), Brooklyn, NY 11222

WEBSITE

Archestratus Books + Foods

Pearl River Mart — 65.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Pearl River Mart’s Soho store was a New York City institution. Why was? Because like many longstanding and fabulous shops, their landlord demanded a criminal increase in rent and they were forced to leave. Well, they’re back!

Pearl River Mart’s new space isn’t nearly as big as the old location, so there is a smaller selection of the Chinese clothing, kitchen ware, gifts, tchotchkes and the like on offer.  As a result, instead of spending hours poring through the store, you can look at everything in far less time.  While it’s disappointing that Pearl River Mart has had to limit their inventory, it still is a good place to find inexpensive gifts and interesting housewares, and we are happy that it’s back.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Pearl River Mart’s former location was a pretty relaxed place to shop. and we are happy to tell you that the new location is too.  Classical piano played softly in the background during our weekend visit.  The place was busy but not packed; there was some chatter but it wasn’t distracting.  Overall we had a pleasant shopping experience, which isn’t a given in Manhattan.

A sea of calm on otherwise loud and busy Broadway, Pearl River Mart is well worth a visit.  Go!

HOURS

10:00 a.m. to 7:20 p.m. everyday

LOCATION

(at Walker Street), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Pearl River

Idlewild Books — 65.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Idlewild Books is a travel bookstore and langauge school which was located on 12 W. 19th Street but recently moved to 7th Avenue in the West Village.  They were in the process of unpacking some of the boxes and arranging the space when we visited, but they were open for business and customers were streaming in.  As with their older location, books are arranged by continent and country, with each section offering guidebooks, fiction, and nonfiction.  They also sell gift items (a selection of maps and cards), and offer language classes (all levels) on site in French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The decibel level during our visit registered a very quiet 65.6 decibels even with several customers browsing and chatting.  Because language classes will now be held in dedicated classrooms in the back of the space, visiting while class is in session should be fairly quiet.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

If you are looking for books about a specific country or region, or just want to get inspiration for your next vacation, Idlewild Books is not to be missed.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 12:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Idlewild Books

McNulty’s Tea & Coffee — 68.2 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

You’ll step back in time as you enter McNulty’s, a West Village tea and coffee purveyor that has been in business since 1895.  Looking around the small but well stocked store confirms the suspicion that much of that time was spent at the current Christopher Street location.  Look up and you will see the patched tin ceiling, look down and observe the dinged brass scale still serviceable after decades of use.  And be sure to breathe deeply as you wait for your order and enjoy the musky smell of freshly ground coffee comingling with the clean scents of the black, green, and herbal teas.  There are a range of coffees from all parts of the world (and flavored coffees for those who like that sort of thing).  There is also a large selection of loose, tinned, and bagged teas, coffee makers, tea pots, and related goods.

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

McNulty’s has two grinders and when both are working there will be noise.   That said, during a  short visit that included the use of one of the grinders the decibel reading was a very manageable 68.2.   If you love tea or coffee, McNulty’s is not to be missed.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Sunday: 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Summer hours: Closed Tuesdays

LOCATION

WEBSITE

McNulty’s Tea & Coffe