Maman — 74.1 to 74.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Maman is a French-American bakery/coffee shop/cafe located on Centre Street in Nolita.  There are sister locations downtown and in Greenpoint, a couple of which have more extensive menus; the Centre Street location has sweet and savory breakfast items, pastries, tarts, and a nice selection of lunch offerings (salads, sandwiches, and quiche).

On our first visit to Maman, we found the space to be mostly calm.  There was music playing in the front of the space by the kitchen, but that area is divided off from the back seating area by a  glass partition.  Unfinished wood floors and some plants help to keep the space from being too live.  Chatty friends sat near us as we lingered over coffee, but they weren’t too distracting.  There was, however, an industrial vent that ran constantly throughout our visit.  While it was not loud, it did provide a low background hum during the whole of our visit.   It wasn’t terrible, and in an odd way it sort of operated like white noise, but it’s something to note if you find low rumbling noises to be distracting or uncomfortable.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We arrived for our second visit slightly after 2:00 p.m.; the meter clocked in slightly higher than the first visit, at 74.8 decibels.  Once again we found the space to be very comfortable, despite it being noticeably more crowded than our first visit.  About half of the seats were taken when we arrived, then a couple got up and left.  They  were replaced by a group of six co-workers who sat down at the large communal table where we were seated and began discussing a work project.  Nearby, two friends chatted and laughed their way through lunch.  This time, however, the vent noise wasn’t as noticeable.  Perhaps it is more pronounced in the colder months?  We aren’t sure, and, for the most part, it really doesn’t matter.  As with our first visit, and despite the chatty couple and the work party, the space was absolutely comfortable.

Overall, we enjoyed our visits to Maman.  The space would have been even nicer if the music volume were a little lower, but our visits on the whole were pleasant.

Maman offers very good coffee and a fairly extensive selection of sweet and savory treats in an attractive space, which is hard to find in this neighborhood.  Definitely worth a visit.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Grand and Broome Streets), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Maman

Elizabeth Street Garden — 65.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Looking for a really peaceful enclave in Nolita?  Then run, don’t walk, to Elizabeth Street Garden.  The garden’s future is uncertain, so use its now and help those who are trying to preserve it.   The garden is the biggest green space in Nolita and, unsurprisingly, it is under threat of development.  Unlike other green spaces, Elizabeth Street Garden is not a city park though the land is city-owned.  We hope that it is preserved, because it’s a calm oasis in the middle of busy downtown Manhattan.  It also stands out among neighborhood green spaces because of all the statues that are dotted throughout.  At first the effect suggests a lack of restraint, but it very quickly feels charmingly quirky.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The garden is obviously well loved and used.  There aren’t many chairs or benches, but people make do and have impromptu picnics during their lunch breaks. Some traffic noise intrudes, but it’s more than manageable as the garden runs between Elizabeth to Mott Streets, mid-block. Neither street is heavily trafficked, so there was no honking horns, sirens, or motorcycles during our visit.

Crowded yet calm, Elizabeth Street Garden is definitely worth a visit.

HOURS

10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day, weather permitting

LOCATION

Elizabeth Street (betw. Prince and Spring Streets), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Elizabeth Street Garden

Nom Wah Nolita — 77.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We went to the original Nom Wah Tea Parlor last year and enjoyed our meal, so when we heard that the owner opened a smaller space in Nolita, we wanted to check it out.  Nom Wah Tea Parlor wasn’t quiet, but the space was fine and we enjoyed our meal.  No so at the Nolita location. The space was live, the music was loud, the traffic noise was unrelenting, and the food was not good enough to make up for it.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Nom Wah Nolita is very obviously geared for a young crowd who want a club like atmosphere with their dumplings. The menu at the Nolita location is not as extensive as the original place, and the execution left a little something to be desired. Unlike the original Nom Wah, which stayed true to its original design after a thoughtful renovation, the Nolita space embraces the still popular industrial look (that seemingly will not die.) Hey, we like some of the design elements of the industrial look, but we understand that it comes with a price. And to be frank, when the price is an uncomfortably live space with pulsating music, our love for polished cement floors, glass, and subway tile goes out the door.

Nom Wah Nolita

Sometimes we are willing to accept a live space when the food is exceptional. But when it isn’t, there is no reason to put up with an uncomfortable meal. Nom Wah Nolita was simply adequate, and that’s not good enough. Though the reading for our visit was under 80 decibels, we felt uncomfortable the entire time we were there.  It’s just not suitable for adults who want to preserve their hearing.

So skip Nom Wah Nolita and go to the original Nom Wah Tea Parlor instead. Your stomach and ears will love you for it.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Bowery and Elizabeth Street), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Nom Wah Nolita

Maman — 74.1 to 74.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Maman is a French-American bakery/coffee shop/cafe located on Centre Street in Nolita.  There are sister locations downtown and in Greenpoint, a couple of which have more extensive menus; the Centre Street location has sweet and savory breakfast items, pastries, tarts, and a nice selection of lunch offerings (salads, sandwiches, and quiche).

On our first visit to Maman, we found the space to be mostly calm.  There was music playing in the front of the space by the kitchen, but that area is divided off from the back seating area by a  glass partition.  Unfinished wood floors and some plants help to keep the space from being too live.  Chatty friends sat near us as we lingered over coffee, but they weren’t too distracting.  There was, however, an industrial vent that ran constantly throughout our visit.  While it was not loud, it did provide a low background hum during the whole of our visit.   It wasn’t terrible, and in an odd way it sort of operated like white noise, but it’s something to note if you find low rumbling noises to be distracting or uncomfortable.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We arrived for our second visit slightly after 2:00 p.m.; the meter clocked in slightly higher than the first visit, at 74.8 decibels.  Once again we found the space to be very comfortable, despite it being noticeably more crowded than our first visit.  About half of the seats were taken when we arrived, then a couple got up and left.  They  were replaced by a group of six co-workers who sat down at the large communal table where we were seated and began discussing a work project.  Nearby, two friends chatted and laughed their way through lunch.  This time, however, the vent noise wasn’t as noticeable.  Perhaps it is more pronounced in the colder months?  We aren’t sure, and, for the most part, it really doesn’t matter.  As with our first visit, and despite the chatty couple and the work party, the space was absolutely comfortable.

Overall, we enjoyed our visits to Maman.  The space would have been even nicer if the music volume were a little lower, but our visits on the whole were pleasant.

Maman offers very good coffee and a fairly extensive selection of sweet and savory treats in an attractive space, which is hard to find in this neighborhood.  Definitely worth a visit.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Grand and Broome Streets), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Maman

Elizabeth Street Garden — 65.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Looking for a really peaceful enclave in Nolita?  Then run, don’t walk, to Elizabeth Street Garden.  The garden’s future is uncertain, so use its now and help those who are trying to preserve it.   The garden is the biggest green space in Nolita and, unsurprisingly, it is under threat of development.  Unlike other green spaces, Elizabeth Street Garden is not a city park though the land is city-owned.  We hope that it is preserved, because it’s a calm oasis in the middle of busy downtown Manhattan.  It also stands out among neighborhood green spaces because of all the statues that are dotted throughout.  At first the effect suggests a lack of restraint, but it very quickly feels charmingly quirky.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The garden is obviously well loved and used.  There aren’t many chairs or benches, but people make do and have impromptu picnics during their lunch breaks. Some traffic noise intrudes, but it’s more than manageable as the garden runs between Elizabeth to Mott Streets, mid-block. Neither street is heavily trafficked, so there was no honking horns, sirens, or motorcycles during our visit.

Crowded yet calm, Elizabeth Street Garden is definitely worth a visit.

HOURS

10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day, weather permitting

LOCATION

Elizabeth Street (betw. Prince and Spring Streets), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Elizabeth Street Garden

DeSalvio Playground — 69.9 decibels Under Renovation

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

DeSalvio Playground is not a pretty space, nor is it bucolic.  Street noise abounds, so the space is rarely calm, but there are four picnic tables and at least 15 benches available for the weary to rest or enjoy a nosh.  Street noise can’t be avoided at the playground as it’s on the corner of Spring and Mulberry Streets.  A quieter option is available nearby at the Elizabeth Street Garden, but that space has only one or two tables available should you wish to eat.

DeSalvio Playground

DeSalvio Playground

DeSalvio Playground would be a good stop if you have small children to entertain, as the playground has swings and other play equipment to keep them occupied, and spray showers are provided in the summer for the kids to cool off.   As a consequence, it may be crowded with screaming children, so proceed with caution.   If the space isn’t overwhelmed by children, bring your lunch, a coffee, and a book and chill.

HOURS

8:00 a.m. to dusk every day

LOCATION

Street (at the corner of Mulberry Street), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

DeSalvio Playground

 

Lombardi’s Pizza — 80.5 decibels

Lombardi's

Lombardi’s

Lombardi’s claims to be America’s first pizzeria as well as the birthplace of New York style pizza.  It’s been going strong for over 100 years and is an established tourist destination, which explains the almost full main floor dining room during a midweek lunch service.

The restaurant’s design features mostly hard surfaces–tile floor, glass, metal–and they are unforgiving.  When completely packed, which is likely most evenings, the noise level must be unbearable as there is a full bar along one wall that must be jammed with people waiting for an available table.  And there are always people waiting for a table on nights and weekends.

If you are doing a pizza history tour and absolutely must visit Lombardi’s Pizza, go during off hours and hope for the best.  Otherwise, bring your ear plugs or avoid.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

Street (at the corner of Mott Street), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Lombardi’s Pizza