Seaport Report, Week of Sept. 24, 2015

Photographer Debra Florez and Arthur.
Photographer Debra Florez and Arthur.

BY JANEL BLADOW  |  AcQua for Breakfast…September was big for firsts on Peck Slip.

The new Peck Slip School, P.S. 343, opened its doors on Sept. 9 to 161 kindergarteners through third graders after a $58-million overhaul of the former U.S. Post Office building.

Across Water St., at Acqua Restaurant and Wine Bar (21 Peck Slip), managing partner Nicholas Berti stood by the doorway, waving and welcoming parents and neighbors. The Italian bistro, a neighborhood fixture since 1999, had officially opened for the first time that morning (7:30 – 11:30 a.m.) for breakfast — continental style (Sept. 8  was the soft opening).

As a breakfast stop, it was an immediate hit.

“The response from the community is very good,” said Berti, noting that about two dozen parents stopped in Sept. 9.

“The first day of school, everyone is in disarray,” he said. “Good to have a place to come to and relax over a coffee.”

From coffee Americano to a zippy Espresso, Acqua uses only the Italian brand Anèri Tricaffe, one of only ten wood-roasted coffees in the world. Ceci Cela Bakery and Patisserie in Brooklyn supplies chocolate and butter croissants and other pastries. They are then baked each morning in the restaurant’s own ovens. House-made biscotti and baguettes also fill the air with the sweet smell of fresh baked bread.

On a recent Thursday, neighbors Alicia and Chris Saddock stopped in for coffees and muffins before dropping their two children off for their second day of school.

“The school is beautiful and teachers wonderful,” said Alicia. “And we really like being able to stop for a moment with the kids. We’ll be back.”

While some locals took advantage of the free Wi-Fi at the tables, others gathered for coffee and conversation at the bar. Anne Jackley and David Richter, who both live along Water St., gave two thumbs up to the idea of an early morning place to chat and meet with neighbors.

“It’s one of the best things that happened to the neighborhood since Sandy,” joked Richler.

Acqua Restaurant managing partner Nicholas Berti, left, and Water St.
Acqua Restaurant managing partner Nicholas Berti, left, and Water St.

Berti has big plans in store for mornings at Acqua. He plans to buy chargers so people can not only recharge themselves but also their phones and tablets.

Look for eggs and oatmeal additions in the next few weeks.

And that bread that is so popular with lunch and dinner customers? He’s selling those too – $2.50 a baguette.

Acqua Restaurant & Wine Bar, 21 Peck Slip, Monday-Friday, 7:30-11:30 am, 212 349-4433

dog Photos!…Pup parents, if you are like me and I know you are, your cell phone is filled with snaps of your dog — playing in the dog run, sitting on a chair, sleeping on the couch, even begging at the dinner table. But those are fun photos, not proper portraits.

Thanks to a local photographer who loves Fishbridge Dog Park and wants to give back to our canine community, we’re having a pup portrait party in the run. Photographer Debra Florez, a Seaport resident for the last two years and mom to golden retriever Arthur, is bringing her camera and expertise to pose your pup and bring out his or her best.

The photo session takes place in the run (Pearl & Dover Sts.) on Sat., Oct. 10, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. R.S.V.P. for a spot by submitting a friend request on her dog’s Facebook page, Arthur Dugless McMurray Bach.

A suggested donation is $20 per pet. Donations benefit the community maintained dog run.

“It’s a great park, very communal and I love how all the people participate,” Florez told Seaport Report.

“I could never make a cleanup event and I thought I could make more money for the park doing this than just writing a check. This was a no brainer.”

Florez primarily photographs dogs these days, “because I love them.

“I like photographing dogs because they don’t care about how they look. They all have their own personality.”

Arthur — “the most photographed dog in the world” — is the reason she started taking pics of dogs. She adopted him while living in California from the rescue group, Project Taiwan: Bring Them Home, which rescues goldens abandoned there.

Before the shoot, Florez suggests that owners have their dogs groomed and their business done. If they are frisky, give them a nice walk to calm them. Bring along a sweater, coat, favorite toy or whatever, if that’s their style. And only one pet parent should be on hand.

“I find the hardest part of taking dog photos is the parent who wants the dog to behave. When there’s more than one, it is pandemonium.”

Each dog will be prescreened to get an idea of his or her personality. Florez will spend about 10 minutes capturing shots of each dog. She’s still working out the details for signing up and retrieving the photos on a Facebook page. Check out her web site or the Fishbridge Dog Run for details.

“Parents will get a high res photo they can have printed,” she said. “I think it’s important to see a beautiful portrait. I’m tired of seeing dog pics on phones.”

Schooner Pioneer Sails…The historic schooner Pioneer spent last week (Sept. 14 – 20) up the Hudson River in Haverstraw. The sail was a special mission to bring aboard school children so they could learn about New York’s maritime history and environment.

Students hauled lines to raise sails, learned the science, math and technology of sailing, measured water quality, and experienced the river from a new point of view.  The 90-minute educational sails were for sixth graders from Willow Grove Elementary, St. Gregory’s and Haverstraw Elementary.

“Everyone was so gracious and made us feel so welcomed,” said Laura Norwitz, director of education at the South Street Seaport Museum, who was busy keeping things running by cell phone while onboard. “And the weather’s been great.”

The school groups got hands-on experience and a close-up look at history.

“The kids …learned about the early settlers and the river’s history,” Norwitz said.

Dockside, they heard about how vessels in N.Y. harbor connected people and cargo from all over the world and made New York grow. They also learned about how Haverstraw was the center of brick-making in the mid-19th century.

“All their bricks were brought down to the city by ship on the Hudson,” Norwitz said. “So the town of Haverstraw basically built New York City.

The sail upriver took the schooner eight hours against the tide. The Pioneer’s crew — Captain Kristen Johnsrud, a staff mate, two deck hands, three volunteers and another educator — also enjoyed the learning experience.

“The crew learned so much from sailing somewhere else,” said Norwitz. “Watching the professional growth of our crew and volunteers from getting to sail new waters was great. 

“We love New York City but it’s so quiet up here. So peaceful…Going somewhere adds so much to our lives as sailors.

“As beautiful as the upper Hudson is, the lower Hudson is our home. This is our waterfront and all New Yorkers should enjoy it.”

The Pioneer ends its public sailing season October 4.

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