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White tablecloths. Poster-size menus. Bread served with a side of breadsticks. Ray Siegel, CR Fashion Book's online director, has met us at Novita, a spot we never would've even joked about potentially being on our list of "off-the-beaten-path-NYFW" places. We'd never even heard of it. But Ray isn't your typical fashion personality, which you might expect seeing as she works for one of the industry's most unique editors, Carine Roitfeld, who has famously been at the helm of some of fashion's most controversial photoshoots — including Lily Donaldson smoking two cigarettes while caring for a newborn.
Ray's resume includes stints at Vanity Fair, Lucky and Nylon so you could say that she's an old pro, so to speak, at this whole Fashion Week thing. She's the second of three fashion insiders we're profiling during New York Fashion Week with Waiting for Saturday, a project by best friends Nicole Benuska and Olivia Villanti with a simple goal: sharing the off-duty habits and interests of creative people. Read on for Ray's favorite Fashion Week pit stop.
The first time I came to Novita was after the Victoria's Secret show — the armory is so close so whenever something is happening there, my friend Jen [Vogue Japan editor Jennifer Berk] and I make a plan to come after for dinner. There's always a mad dash to go somewhere after the show, and this place always has tables. Jen first introduced me to it, she loved the seared tuna which is so good, and the carbonara. It's always a point of disagreement, whether we start with the baby artichoke salad or the calamari. I like the salad.
Every time I come I see really old couples having a date night. Like really old couples. I remember one that was all dressed up and they were just sweet. I love seeing couples get really dressed up and going out. When I lived in the West Village there was an older woman who used to go to a restaurant by my apartment and the maitre'd would always walk her home. Every week. Every time she was there. Isn't that sweet?
Besides this place, I go to the Milk backstage area a lot during the week, and get water and snacks and stuff. I kind of hate all the places in [nearby] Chelsea market. I don't eat much during the week, I don't have time to do a spa treatment or anything. If I happen to have an extra five minutes before a show, I'll stop at a bodega and pick up snacks: Martinelli's apple juice, Babybel cheese, salt-and-vinegar chips, Haribo gummy bears (the green ones are my favorite), Fig Newtons, and a can of Coke. I drink a Coke every day during Fashion Week, it's horrible.
My equivalent of Novita, when in Paris — a place that doesn't feel like part of the Fashion Week circuit — is Buvette in the 9th. There's actually one in New York that I haven't even been to, but I love it in Paris. It's not conveniently located to where things are happening [during Paris Fashion Week], but it's delicious and worth the trip. Paris is such a traditional old city so people tend to go to the same places, whereas in New York if you bat an eyelash there's a new place that's in or out. Year after year I go to Cafe de Flore in Paris. And here, it’s Novita.
Spot: Novita, 102 E. 22nd Street between Park and Lexington Avenues, NYC
Ray's order: "Baby artichoke salad, seared tuna, any pasta at all!"
Ambiance in five words or less: "Classic. Old school. Warm. Delicious."
Insider tip: "Don't avoid the people watching. There's always the cutest older couples there on date night."
What she's looking most forward to after this season is over: "Sleep, Netflix, cooking at home with friends."