Writer/producer/director Salvatore Stabile may sometimes work in L.A., but the Coney Island born-and-raised Stabile lives with his heart firmly rooted in New York no matter what his geographic locale is. "It's just a part of me," Stabile says nostalgically of the birthplace of Nathan's hot dogs and the legendary Cyclone roller coaster. "It's the attitude, the culture that I love the most here. To me, it's a very exclusive place to grow up."
This month, his own homecoming has special significance as his new film Where God Left His Shoes premieres at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. "It's the first time I've actually attended Tribeca with a movie and it's so much more about filmmaking than any other festivals around the world," says Stabile, who currently splits his time between coasts. "You can go to Sundance and Cannes but they're such spectacles—everybody cares about the celebrity part of it or the swag and the films come a distant third, whereas at Tribeca everybody is so dedicated to promoting films about New York City. We shot Where God Left His Shoes in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan and it's been a wonderful experience showing it to a New York audience. They understand the film better than anybody else."
At an astonishing 19, his first film Gravesend, a gritty street flick about four Brooklyn teens and an accidental murder, attracted kudos from Hollywood heavyweights Steven Speilbergand Oliver Stone. Since then Stabile—who cites other savvy New Yorkers such as Martin Scorsese, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro as his film idols—has written for television on such notable, and decidedly tough-talking, series as The Sopranos and Rescue Me, all the while honing his screenwriting skills for his next film. The result, Where God Left His Shoes, a powerful story about New York, homelessness and ultimately the power of family, stars John Leguizamo as a struggling boxer and takes place on Christmas Eve.
One holiday Stabile himself would never miss in the city is the Fourth of July. "I always end up going to the hot dog eating contest which is fun," he says. "But I enjoy Coney Island best when no one is there—especially after midnight. I go down to Nathan's at 12 or 2 in the morning and just hang out on the boardwalk. There's something peaceful about it."
Not quite as peaceful is his worship of local sports. "I'm a diehard Yankees fan and love the Jets, the Giants, the Knicks. I'm a New York fan in general," the passionate Stabile admits. "If I wasn't a filmmaker, I would be a sportswriter. Or I'd be working for the Yankees—I would have Brian Cashman's job! I would undermine the whole system in order to take over as general manager of the New York Yankees," laughs Stabile. Cashman, consider yourself on notice—this scrappy Brooklyn kid has a way of making things happen.
Veniero's is always jam-packed, especially Easter or Christmas, so I would go the day before—I had a system down. Otherwise, you’ll have to get a number and wait outside for an hour or two just to get cookies, but it’s worth it—I've gone all over the city and I've never found anything better. …more
For sushi, I've never gone wrong doing the omakase at Sushi Gari on the Upper East Side. It's pricey, but if you are a sushi snob like me, you won't be disappointed. …more
Because I really need cupcakes or chocolate after every meal—or at least something sweet or sugary—I walk down Bleecker Street and go to Magnolia's. It's fun and personal, with very good service and fresh cupcakes at all hours—day to night. …more
When my mother's not cooking, and I'm in the mood for Italian, my heart is in Little Italy. Yes, it's a tourist trap, but who cares? …more
The food, the dessert, the coffee—in fact everything—is great here. …more
My grandmother lived two blocks from Eileens and would always buy cheesecake there. I don't think I've ever had cheesecake anywhere else. …more
It's a really cool, bohemian place with good service, and great coffee, sandwiches and amazing desserts. …more