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City Break

First time in New York City? Here’s what you can’t miss!


New York City has so much to offer it is impossible to experience everything on your first trip. This ‘to do’ list takes you on an adventure from the southern tip of Manhattan up to Midtown.

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Singer-songwriter Billy Joel summed up visiting the city in his hit song, “New York State of Mind”. There is a lot to say about the unique emotion created by the city. There is no other place in the world like New York. Visit these must see destinations and you will walk away with a glimpse of New York’s beating heart.

Lady Liberty, symbol of New York

New York City has five boroughs, with Manhattan being its most famous. As mentioned, New York is huge. For your first trip, all the sites recommended are on the island of Manhattan, well, almost all.

It's impossible to think of New York without the image of the Statue of Liberty coming to mind. France gave the statue to the United States as a symbol of friendship. It sits on Liberty Island, between Manhattan and Staten Island. Next to Liberty Island you find Ellis Island, home of the Immigration Museum. Admission to the islands is free, but you will have to pay for transport, which runs around 25USD. You can also take the Staten Island Ferry from Manhattan and back again.

The ferry is free and runs 24/7. It takes you right past Lady Liberty, allowing for spectacular pictures. Not to mention, the trip back to Manhattan provides you with an amazing view of the New York skyline. As you wait for your return ferry, enjoy the renovated terminal. It offers restaurants, shops and a beautiful view of Manhattan.

Jonathan has since started more than 25 restaurants. He was behind the first sushi wave in Norway when he co-founded the country's most famous sushi restaurant, Alex Sushi. Later, Jonathan was awarded a Michelin star for the restaurants Sabi Omakase, in both Stavanger and Oslo.

He has recently embarked on a whole new adventure by opening an uncompromising fish restaurant, Aquarie. In a room reminiscent of an aquarium, close to Kontraskjæret park and Akershus Fortress in Oslo. Romano readily admits that this was not how he intended his life to be.

"I had left the military and needed a job. I never planned or thought about becoming a chef. It really happened by chance," says Jonathan.

There were yet more life-changing meeting awaiting Jonathan on the same day. More on that later.

All seven in a two-bedroom apartment

It all started on another continent. Romano was born in the Philippines and moved to Norway with his mother and two siblings when he was just two years old.

"I can’t remember anything from when I lived in the Philippines," says Jonathan.

Three of his siblings stayed behind while their mother worked to get them to Norway. It took years before the whole family was together again. Their living space was as cramped as it is in a hectic restaurant kitchen. All seven members of the family shared a small two-bedroom apartment.

"The apartment didn't feel small or different at all. It was all we knew. As a Catholic family, we were close-knit, and the apartment was our home," Jonathan said.

The journey then continued to Holmlia in Oslo. Jonathan remembers wanting to play sports, but his family couldn't afford it. He realised that he had to help support his family if he wanted to play football with his friends.

Hard work and dedication

"It was at this time that I began to see the differences between my family and the traditional Norwegian family. There were a lot of kids in my family, and I realised that if I wanted to play sports, I had to do my part. I learned early on what hard work and dedication were. Nothing came for free," says Jonathan.

He got his first job when he was 13. It in turn provided his entry into sports. His competitive spirit, which has driven some of Norway's best restaurants, quickly became apparent. Although he got off to a late start, Jonathan managed to achieve no less than becoming the Norwegian champion in taekwondo.

"I’ve gained a few pounds since my National Championship," laughs Jonathan. "I thought the sport was exciting and had a chance to bask in the feeling of success. The success has since followed me through the military and what would unexpectedly become my career as a chef."

He knows how important sports are for children and young people and supports several sports clubs today. His hope is that all children will have the opportunity to participate.

The road to becoming a master chef

After the military and officer training, the day came when he needed to think about something he had not thought that much about before. Namely, how to make a living. The original plan was to study to become a real estate agent. However, that was not how things turned out.

It started as these things often do, through relationships. A friend of a friend knew someone who worked in the Government Quarter, where there was a vacancy in the canteen. Jonathan got the job and was ready to start his first day as a server. He was very excited, because the canteen also served food to the Prime Minister himself.

Jonathan can clearly remember his first day of work:

"I came to work and was very ready to become a server. My boss gave me a chef's uniform. 'What is this,' I thought. I told him I was supposed to work as a server, not a cook. To which he replied, 'No, you're going to be working in the kitchen.'

He remembers putting on his uniform and immediately feeling pretty good. He thought, 'This uniform suits me.'

The first thing he sees when he enters the kitchen in his new uniform is the woman who would later become his wife and the mother of his children. It wasn't just Jonathan's career that happened to be staked out that day. But the whole rest of his life. 

First kitchen experience

In the government canteen, everything was made from scratch. Romano's first task was to make sandwiches for lunch.

‘I can do this,’ he thought.

 He showed the result to the head chef, who was, however, not satisfied. Jonathan couldn't understand why. The chef explained that the edges of the bread would be dry. Jonathan did the job again, spreading butter all the way to the edges of the bread. Once again, the chef said the job wasn't done. He had to put on a garnish. Many might have been discouraged by the experience, but Jonathan once again gained the feeling of mastery.

"I really felt like I had really succeeded. My boss gave me a task I had never done before. I didn't know how to do it, but I managed. That feeling left its mark on me, the feeling of immediate success," says Jonathan.

Romano had the opportunity to use his willingness to learn and focus on detail over the next year. He worked hard and earned a scholarship to a cooking school, where he became the best in his class both years. After graduating, the plan was to work for two years as an apprentice, but he completed his apprenticeship in just one year and received top grades on his exam.

Exclusive restaurants in Oslo

Later, Romano worked at several well-known, exclusive restaurants in Oslo. Top restaurants such as Bagatelle, Statholdergaarden, Hotel Continental and Grand Hotel are all on his CV. His next job was at Bagatelle, which was by far Norway's best and most famous restaurant at the time.

It was celebrity chef Eyvind Hellstrøm who hired him.

It was at this time that he met someone who would become an extremely important person and mentor to him, Alex Cabio. The two later opened Alex Sushi together. According to Romano, Alex Sushi was a combination of Cabio's sushi knowledge and his own experience in fine dining. The menu he and Alex put together back then remains unchanged to this day. The two are credited with dramatically raising the level of sushi in Norway. Romano subsequently went on to open a large number of sushi restaurants.

One of the biggest highlights of his career was when Sabi Omakase in Stavanger was awarded a Michelin star.

"It's a moment that's hard to beat. Being awarded a Michelin star is something I will never forget," says Jonathan.

His culinary career has also led to many TV appearances, including on the popular Norwegian TV series Gutta på tur and, not least, as a judge in the Norwegian version of the world-famous Masterchef. This has made Jonathan a familiar face.

From sushi to seafood

After launching numerous sushi restaurants in Oslo, he wanted to return to his favourite food, seafood. And in January 2022, he opened Aquarie. The restaurant is located in downtown Oslo with a beautiful view of the fjord, close to the famous landmark Akershus Fortress. Large parts of the square building are made of glass, which gives it an aquarium feel. The Oslo native opened the restaurant with a clear goal in mind.

"I wanted to serve uncompromising, fantastic seafood with the freshest possible ingredients. See what we have right outside the window, the Oslofjord. It's full of culinary treasures," Jonathan said. 

Jonathan promises that guests at the new restaurant will be amazed by the simple and clean flavours of the food.

A master chef in MasterChef

His signature dishes include two ingredients he loves: raw shrimp and halibut. The shrimp dish is very simple and consists of only three ingredients. The halibut dish is more complex, and it is the sauce that makes up the dish. Romano calls this dish "food porn".

He believes that the very best dishes are simple and often have six or fewer ingredients. Aquarie's menu also features oysters, with several sauces to choose from. The wine cellar contains a rich selection of champagne and wines from around the globe.

Many credit Jonathan Romano with helping put Norway on the gastronomic map. He says the success has had a domino effect. He found something he was skilled at, developed a passion for it, and threw himself into it wholeheartedly. Romano believes that to be successful, you have to work hard, something which has done his whole life. Right now, it's his latest and most beloved project that is getting all the focus.

"Guests who come to Aquarie will be served some of the world's best seafood. We have a good wine selection and a beautiful view of the place where the food comes from," says Jonathan.

Jonathan has since started more than 25 restaurants. He was behind the first sushi wave in Norway when he co-founded the country's most famous sushi restaurant, Alex Sushi. Later, Jonathan was awarded a Michelin star for the restaurants Sabi Omakase, in both Stavanger and Oslo.

He has recently embarked on a whole new adventure by opening an uncompromising fish restaurant, Aquarie. In a room reminiscent of an aquarium, close to Kontraskjæret park and Akershus Fortress in Oslo. Romano readily admits that this was not how he intended his life to be.

"I had left the military and needed a job. I never planned or thought about becoming a chef. It really happened by chance," says Jonathan.

There were yet more life-changing meeting awaiting Jonathan on the same day. More on that later.

All seven in a two-bedroom apartment

It all started on another continent. Romano was born in the Philippines and moved to Norway with his mother and two siblings when he was just two years old.

"I can’t remember anything from when I lived in the Philippines," says Jonathan.

Three of his siblings stayed behind while their mother worked to get them to Norway. It took years before the whole family was together again. Their living space was as cramped as it is in a hectic restaurant kitchen. All seven members of the family shared a small two-bedroom apartment.

"The apartment didn't feel small or different at all. It was all we knew. As a Catholic family, we were close-knit, and the apartment was our home," Jonathan said.

The journey then continued to Holmlia in Oslo. Jonathan remembers wanting to play sports, but his family couldn't afford it. He realised that he had to help support his family if he wanted to play football with his friends.

Hard work and dedication

"It was at this time that I began to see the differences between my family and the traditional Norwegian family. There were a lot of kids in my family, and I realised that if I wanted to play sports, I had to do my part. I learned early on what hard work and dedication were. Nothing came for free," says Jonathan.

He got his first job when he was 13. It in turn provided his entry into sports. His competitive spirit, which has driven some of Norway's best restaurants, quickly became apparent. Although he got off to a late start, Jonathan managed to achieve no less than becoming the Norwegian champion in taekwondo.

"I’ve gained a few pounds since my National Championship," laughs Jonathan. "I thought the sport was exciting and had a chance to bask in the feeling of success. The success has since followed me through the military and what would unexpectedly become my career as a chef."

He knows how important sports are for children and young people and supports several sports clubs today. His hope is that all children will have the opportunity to participate.

The road to becoming a master chef

After the military and officer training, the day came when he needed to think about something he had not thought that much about before. Namely, how to make a living. The original plan was to study to become a real estate agent. However, that was not how things turned out.

It started as these things often do, through relationships. A friend of a friend knew someone who worked in the Government Quarter, where there was a vacancy in the canteen. Jonathan got the job and was ready to start his first day as a server. He was very excited, because the canteen also served food to the Prime Minister himself.

Jonathan can clearly remember his first day of work:

"I came to work and was very ready to become a server. My boss gave me a chef's uniform. 'What is this,' I thought. I told him I was supposed to work as a server, not a cook. To which he replied, 'No, you're going to be working in the kitchen.'

He remembers putting on his uniform and immediately feeling pretty good. He thought, 'This uniform suits me.'

The first thing he sees when he enters the kitchen in his new uniform is the woman who would later become his wife and the mother of his children. It wasn't just Jonathan's career that happened to be staked out that day. But the whole rest of his life. 

First kitchen experience

In the government canteen, everything was made from scratch. Romano's first task was to make sandwiches for lunch.

‘I can do this,’ he thought.

 He showed the result to the head chef, who was, however, not satisfied. Jonathan couldn't understand why. The chef explained that the edges of the bread would be dry. Jonathan did the job again, spreading butter all the way to the edges of the bread. Once again, the chef said the job wasn't done. He had to put on a garnish. Many might have been discouraged by the experience, but Jonathan once again gained the feeling of mastery.

"I really felt like I had really succeeded. My boss gave me a task I had never done before. I didn't know how to do it, but I managed. That feeling left its mark on me, the feeling of immediate success," says Jonathan.

Romano had the opportunity to use his willingness to learn and focus on detail over the next year. He worked hard and earned a scholarship to a cooking school, where he became the best in his class both years. After graduating, the plan was to work for two years as an apprentice, but he completed his apprenticeship in just one year and received top grades on his exam.

Exclusive restaurants in Oslo

Later, Romano worked at several well-known, exclusive restaurants in Oslo. Top restaurants such as Bagatelle, Statholdergaarden, Hotel Continental and Grand Hotel are all on his CV. His next job was at Bagatelle, which was by far Norway's best and most famous restaurant at the time.

It was celebrity chef Eyvind Hellstrøm who hired him.

It was at this time that he met someone who would become an extremely important person and mentor to him, Alex Cabio. The two later opened Alex Sushi together. According to Romano, Alex Sushi was a combination of Cabio's sushi knowledge and his own experience in fine dining. The menu he and Alex put together back then remains unchanged to this day. The two are credited with dramatically raising the level of sushi in Norway. Romano subsequently went on to open a large number of sushi restaurants.

One of the biggest highlights of his career was when Sabi Omakase in Stavanger was awarded a Michelin star.

"It's a moment that's hard to beat. Being awarded a Michelin star is something I will never forget," says Jonathan.

His culinary career has also led to many TV appearances, including on the popular Norwegian TV series Gutta på tur and, not least, as a judge in the Norwegian version of the world-famous Masterchef. This has made Jonathan a familiar face.

From sushi to seafood

After launching numerous sushi restaurants in Oslo, he wanted to return to his favourite food, seafood. And in January 2022, he opened Aquarie. The restaurant is located in downtown Oslo with a beautiful view of the fjord, close to the famous landmark Akershus Fortress. Large parts of the square building are made of glass, which gives it an aquarium feel. The Oslo native opened the restaurant with a clear goal in mind.

"I wanted to serve uncompromising, fantastic seafood with the freshest possible ingredients. See what we have right outside the window, the Oslofjord. It's full of culinary treasures," Jonathan said. 

Jonathan promises that guests at the new restaurant will be amazed by the simple and clean flavours of the food.

A master chef in MasterChef

His signature dishes include two ingredients he loves: raw shrimp and halibut. The shrimp dish is very simple and consists of only three ingredients. The halibut dish is more complex, and it is the sauce that makes up the dish. Romano calls this dish "food porn".

He believes that the very best dishes are simple and often have six or fewer ingredients. Aquarie's menu also features oysters, with several sauces to choose from. The wine cellar contains a rich selection of champagne and wines from around the globe.

Many credit Jonathan Romano with helping put Norway on the gastronomic map. He says the success has had a domino effect. He found something he was skilled at, developed a passion for it, and threw himself into it wholeheartedly. Romano believes that to be successful, you have to work hard, something which has done his whole life. Right now, it's his latest and most beloved project that is getting all the focus.

"Guests who come to Aquarie will be served some of the world's best seafood. We have a good wine selection and a beautiful view of the place where the food comes from," says Jonathan.

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Cityscape, New York


This ‘to do’ list takes you on an adventure from the southern tip of Manhattan up to Midtown.

New York’s Financial District

The Staten Island Ferry is a great place to start your day, at the southern tip of Manhattan. Grab a coffee and enjoy the ride as you check one item off your to do list. When you arrive back in Manhattan, you will be at Battery Park. After a stroll through the park you will find two famous statues, the Charging Bull and the Fearless Girl. Both are iconic symbols of the Financial District.

One of the most famous attractions in the Financial District is Stone Street. Dating from 1658, it's one of New York's oldest and was its  first cobbled street. New York’s name at the time was New Amsterdam. Today, the area contains several popular sites, including the National Historic Landmark. You will also find a bustling vibe with amazing restaurants and hip bars.

Remembering 9/11

Moving further north on the island will take you to the site of the September 11th attacks. The 9/11 Memorial & Museum opened 10 years after the 2001 attacks and is a beautiful memorial to the victims. There are two pools, an acre in size, sitting in the footprints of the former North and South Towers. Engraved on the pools are the names of the victims of the 9/11 attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. You can experience the events of 9/11 through artefacts and personal stories in the museum.

Shopping in SoHo

If you like to shop, head to the SoHo neighbourhood. It is a short subway ride or walk from the 9/11 museum. New Yorkers refer to it as SoHo, which is short for South of Houston Avenue. Since the 20th century, the area has been home to many artists’ lofts and art galleries. It is well known for its trendy upscale boutiques and international chain store outlets. SoHo is also a great spot for anyone interested in architecture. It boasts the greatest collection of cast-iron architecture in the world. There are approximately 250 cast iron buildings in New York City, the majority of which are in SoHo.

If you are a fan of the TV show Friends, a 15-minute walk from SoHo will take you to Greenwich Village. There you can find the actual apartment building featured on the show.  What some call the second most famous building in New York is a 20-minute walk from Greenwich Village. When the Flatiron Building was built in 1902, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city. Its name derives from the building's resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron. Many architects use its design as inspiration.

New York City is a wondrous place, offering countless attractions and delights. A great starting point is Manhattan. If you have enough time, the other boroughs are also well worth visiting.

New York’s iconic Empire State Building

 A short subway ride north takes you to Midtown and the Empire State Building. It is the world’s most photographed building. The national landmark and pop culture star is home to more than four million visitors a year. In 2021, the building celebrated its 90th anniversary. You can buy tickets to the two observatories and take in the amazing views from the top. On a clear day, you can see a distance of up to 128 km from the 102nd floor. The Empire State Building is also home to several restaurants and shops.

 Spend some time in New York's Times Square

 Historic Times Square is within walking distance of the Empire State Building. Despite the name, it is not actually in the shape of a square.. It stretches for five blocks between 42nd and 47th streets. Times Square is a major tourist destination and entertainment centre. It is brightly lit by numerous giant billboards and advertisements. It is one of the world’s busiest pedestrian areas. If you are a fan of superheroes and famous cartoon characters, you are sure to find some costumed figures wandering around posing for photos.

 The area is also home to a number of comedy and jazz clubs. Times Square’s nickname is ‘the heart of the Great White Way’, because it is at the hub of New York's famous  Broadway District.

 Bustling Broadway

 Although The Theatre District starts in Times Square, there are only three theatres on Broadway itself. The rest are on adjacent streets. If you have time to catch a show, a matinée is highly recommended. That way, you will have the entire evening to experience the lights of Broadway and explore more of the city. Most shows are musicals, but you can also find the occasional play. A hidden gem sits inside the Marriott hotel, it’s called The Broadway Lounge. With an amazing view over Broadway, it is a great place to enjoy a signature cocktail after a show.

Near me when in New York


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    Restaurant

    House of Vegan

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    SIGHTSEEING

    Statue of liberty

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    SIGHTSEEING

    Statue of liberty

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    SIGHTSEEING

    Statue of liberty

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