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Do you remember sitting in a restaurant and unpacking silver utensils elegantly folded in a white cloth napkin? Yes, me neither.

Since March 22, when the New York City and state stay-at-home order nearly closed – following similar orders in Washington state and California – restaurants and bars have been closed and later opened only for takeout or delivery.

New York City without restaurants is – or was – unfathomable. When I moved here from California, food was the main reason outside of my professional ambitions.

The best restaurants in the country are here, the best chefs, the most international cuisine.

I would eat like a queen at Pasha, an old favorite Turkish restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I would hop on the F-train from Brooklyn via Manhattan to Queens to enjoy delicious Indian curries at the Jackson Diner.

I went to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, shopped at Italian markets and stuffed myself with Marrone cannoli, and partied at Bacchanal Italian festivals in Puglia, a centuries-old house in Little Italy where resident pop singer Jorge Buccio happily led guests at “The Napkin Song “.

Then there is all the good food: Le Bernardin remains my favorite restaurant in New York City and making reservations there for myself, friends and colleagues brought such a sense of victory that I can hardly describe it. Imagine winning a gold medal, but you know, with an email confirmation from Resy.

We are here a week after New York City restaurants reopened to 25% capacity. I’ve been eating outside since July – not often – but enough to keep my restaurant madness in check. But now it was time to return to some semblance of reality.

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