Meet the 29-Year-Old Behind One of Brooklyn’s Hottest Restaurants

When she was a little girl growing up in Tbilisi, Georgia, Netty Davitashvili’s father, a diplomat, traveled to New York City. When he returned to their hometown he brought her a gift and told her about New York.

“I remember that very clearly,” she told RealClearLife. “That kind of ignited the love for the American things.”

Davitashvili, now 29, recounts this story one afternoon from a table at her restaurant, Cheeseboat, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which she opened when she was 27. After decades of idealizing New York City from afar, the Georgian native finally visited New York by herself for the first time at 19-years-old.

“I fell in love, it was insane,” she said, her Georgian accent still apparent. “It was so diverse, it was the America I loved, mixed with the European flair. It’s a melting pot, so you can find anything you want. It was freezing, I was not dressed properly and I got sick, but I still loved it. So I decided to move here.”

Davitashvili started attending Parsons School of Design. She willingly admits she made mistakes, but added that  you have to figure things out in New York or “it will break you.” A lot of Davitashvili’s friends in the design and fashion world moved out of New York because they couldn’t find jobs, and she realized that she had to find sustainable work that would let her both live a comfortable life and allow her to pay off her student loans.

Hence Cheeseboat. The restaurant, which is just over a year old, came about when Davitashvili and her friends started going to Georgian restaurants in New York, and Davitashvili noticed that the places would do things in a way that wasn’t actually done in Georgia anymore. They were very traditional, but Davitashvili didn’t think it translated well to people who were not accustomed to it. So she decided to start a place that would showcase her country’s food in a way that people would understand — and more importantly, enjoy. The namesake is a classic Georgian dish: an open-faced khachapuri. It is a boat-shaped hunk of bread, with a deep pool of melted sulguni cheese in the middle, and though it sounds like it would be 2,000 calories, it adds up to be about the same as a large margarita pizza: somewhere between 400700 calories, depending on size and toppings. The classic boat has an egg cracked in the middle after the baking is done. Other menu items include dumplings, soups, dolma (stuffed cabbage rolls), elarji (Georgian cornmeal w/ mozzarella and feta cheese), and more.

(Diana Crandall/RealClearLife)

The cheeseboats and soup dumplings are the best sellers, and for good reason. The cheeseboat is a gooey, salty, cheesy mess that is best eaten by hand — you pull the bread off the sides and use it to grab hunks of melting cheese — and though the Imeruli Khachapuri (or classic cheeseboat, which costs $16) is always a safe bet, both the spinach ($16) and the bacon ($19) cheeseboats provide a twist on the traditional meal. The soup dumplings, on the other hand, are almost impossible to eat without the the soup drips down your chin with the first sumptuous bite. (Though with enough practice, you can learn to tilt it away just in time). Perfectly seasoned with Georgian spices, they are worth the $12. Along with the warm atmosphere of the restaurant itself, the meals are perfect comfort food for even those of us who have never been to Georgia.

(Diana Crandall/RealClearLife)

It took Davitashvili two months to find the space on Berry Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s hipster epicenter.

“Imagine this girl in Doc Martins going up and looking at spaces,” she said, laughing. “They were like, ‘What are you doing here?’ and I was like, ‘Starting a restaurant.’”

Davitashvili knew very little about the endeavor she was about to undertake, but found help and resources within the community, including the Brooklyn Allied Bars and Restaurants. There were what felt like endless aspects to starting the eatery, including neighbors, noise, and permits. So many permits.

“It costs time,” she said. “Then it costs 100 dollars, 200, 1400. If you’re a small business, that’s a lot of money.” That’s the reason, Davitashvili added, “a lot of young people cannot start businesses.” Davitashvili had no safety net. She sold her apartment in Georgia and used her savings to start Cheeseboat. It was terrifying.

But Davitashvili found another form of support as well: her family. Slowly, they all moved here, and have been helping with the business ever since. They drive her crazy sometimes, and it took time to figure out boundaries—like not using the company credit card for Uber rides—but they all pitch in. Davitashvili’s mom writes all the recipes (Davitashvili herself comes up with the mix of cheeseboats), and her sister and her brother help run the place. Walk into Cheeseboat any night of the week and you’re guaranteed to find family members and many of Davitashvili’s close friends.

Would she do it all over again? Davitashvili is thinking about creating a “fast-food version” of Cheeseboat in Colorado or Texas that would be a hole-in-the-wall place; selling only cheeseboats and dumplings. If she does, she’ll be more prepared, having picked up valuable lessons from the challenges she faced as a young business owner.

“Fear is a big part of it,” she explained. “You’re scared of something because you’re thinking. Do not be afraid of that fear, there will be fear.”

She also learned to use that fear to jump in.

“A lot of times before we make that step, open a business, start a new job, get into a relationship or a breakup or whatever, we dwell and think and after a certain time it becomes a burden and then it will stop you,” Davitashvili said. “So jump into it. I think that’s the best advice anyone has given me. And I did jump into it and it was terrifying. But guess what, if you’ve failed, at least you tried.”

Jay-Z: Trump’s Presidency Could Lead to Better Conversations About Race

In an interview with the New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet, Jay-Z expressed hope that the presidency of Donald Trump will force Americans to confront the realities of racism. Over a 35-minute discussion, Jay-Z also touched on Obama’s presidency and the status of his relationship with Kanye West.

The mogul connected Trump’s presidency to the expulsion of former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the NBA in 2014 after a recording revealed Sterling making explicitly anti-black remarks. Jay-Z argued to Baquet that Sterling’s removal allowed people not to confront the content of what he said. “The great thing about Donald Trump being president is now we’re forced to have the dialogue,” Jay-Z told the New York Times. “Now we’re having the conversation on the large scale; he’s provided the platform for us to have the conversation.” He added, “What you reveal, you heal.”

Baquet went on to ask Jay-Z if he had been disappointed in Barack Obama’s presidency. Jay-Z responded that the expectations placed on Obama as the first black president were unreasonable. “He’s there for eight years. And he has to undo what 43 presidents have done. In eight years. That’s not fair,” Jay-Z told Baquet.

When asked about his public beef with Kanye West that began when West took aim at him during an on-stage tirade late last year, Jay-Z acknowledged the tension, but spoke strongly about their bond. He referred to himself as West’s big brother, the title of a song West wrote about Jay-Z on 2007’s Graduation, and told Baquet, “hopefully when we’re 89 we look at this six months or whatever time and we laugh at that.”

Movie Review: Is Louis C.K.’s ‘I Love You, Daddy’ a Cry For Help?

Let us all praise famous men – and pillory the infamous. And then let’s talk about disgraced serial harasser Louis C.K. and his self-doomed film, I Love You, Daddy, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival only two months ago. It’s hard to believe that was an entirely different cultural landscape, pre-Harvey, where a don’t-ask, don’t-tell policy on sexually abusive behavior helped to bolster white male privilege not only in Hollywood but also in the “cultural products” that influence how Americans view the world and the world considers Americans.

The black-and-white film shot on classy 35mm hinges on a neurotic, narcissistic wildly successful TV writer named Glen (Louis C.K.). As this alter-ego schlemiel in the Woody Allen vein tries to whip up a new series and struggles against writer’s block – oh, the agony! — he’s coping with his nubile 17-year-old daughter China (Chloe Grace Moretz), exasperated ex-wife (Helen Hunt), tough-love ex-girlfriend (Pamela Adlon), seductive next girlfriend (Rose Byrne) and oppressed producer (Edie Falco). Perched to join the ranks of taboo cinematic artifacts, the film will sit in the vault beside Jerry Lewis’s Holocaust film, The Day the Clown Cried, Al Jolson’s blackface routine in the first feature-length talkie, The Jazz Singer, and even the disgraced Disney animation I watched as a child, Song of the South that faced pickets as early as the year of its premiere, 1946, for its tone-deaf and utopic portrayal of Southern racism.

It’s easy, even compulsory in the current climate of outrage, to dismiss Louis C.K.’s film, which distributor The Orchard yanked from a theatrical run in the wake of the comedian’s confession of pulling out his weasel and whacking off in front of a stream of female co-workers. It has a 38 percent rotten ranking on Rotten Tomatoes and the post-revelation pile-on has been massive. But, watching an awards screener dispatched too soon — yes! An awards screener because without the Harvey this movie wouldn’t have been pulled — it’s like seeing a canary in a coal mine. I Love You, Daddy is Exhibit A for what’s twisted in Hollywood culture and, in that regard, may be worth examining.

Only two months ago at Toronto, the movie had minimal impact on the status quo despite its candid portrayal of a necrotic and predatory culture – in glistening black and white. The most obvious, or full-frontal, examples are the scenes set in Glen’s luxurious Manhattan office where his wisecracking sidekick Ralph (squeakily puckish Charlie Day) mimes masturbation. This isn’t just the quick jerking off motion so many of us do from time to time, but a full on wank that continues in athletic detail to climax even as Glen’s long-suffering producer (a heartbreaking and authentic Falco) walks across the room collecting abuse like lint on Velcro. It’s jaw-dropping because it’s funny, disgusting – and a prescient if unapologetic portrayal of the very behavior that torpedoed the comedian’s career.

Consider this an unlikely example of masturbation making one blind. C.K. is simultaneously outing the kind of “locker room” behavior that we’ve come to understand has long been standard operating procedure at the expense of the workplace safety of female co-workers. With the appealing Day, C.K. winks at the boys’ gone wild culture of white male privilege that spans from the casting couch to the Oval Office carpet. However, C.K. wants to have his cake and scarf it, too. He wants to expose what the culture is really like, to give the audience an insider peek, but doesn’t go so far as to condemn it. He’s aware enough to see what exists but not self-aware enough to understand how this unsavory and discriminatory behavior in real life will be his downfall.

What is even more cringe-inducing to me as a mother of an 18-year-old college freshman is the treatment by the real-life father of two daughters of his latter-day Lolita. Moretz enters the film in a knit bikini with a panther’s walk. She’s an actress self-possessed enough to know that she is both the sex object of male ogling and, to a certain degree, aware and in control of her power over men. It’s a cunning, beautiful performance – even if you never get a chance to see it because it’s collateral damage courtesy of the writer-director’s penis.

What interests me is that this central relationship between father and maturing daughter comes to a crisis because Glen is unable to see sexualized women as individuals. His dick keeps getting in the way and there’s no effective system in place to keep it in check because he is in the power position – as boss, as gatekeeper, as father. That’s the definition of white male privilege in a corporate setting. It is this lack of empathy and compassion that defines the current larger crisis: to see women as equals first you have to recognize them as humans detached from male need and control.

Perhaps when Glen’s daughter was young, he could shower her with unconditional love unthreatened by the unformed individual underneath, instead of basking in her uncritical adoration. But when she grows a pair (of tits), he’s incapable of maintaining the necessary father-daughter boundaries. She says the title catchphrase, a manipulative “I Love You, Daddy,” but the real tragedy of which the man isn’t aware is that his immaturity, his compulsion to see post-pubescent woman as objects of his desire, totally screws the pooch on his relationship with his daughter right as she needs him to be the adult in the room.

The sexual maturation of China is actually a threat to her father and his virility. Because, in the culture of his industry, he’s been free to ogle all breasts, he doesn’t know how to compartmentalize those of his curvy daughter, or even say, “Hey, honey, can you put on a sweater?” Having achieved college-and-free-love age, she becomes a symbol of the father’s mortality and diminishing virility. If she rises, certainly he must fall – and C.K. plays into that contemporary male anxiety that’s actually as old as Tevye’s musical plaint “is this the little girl I carried” in “Sunrise, Sunset.” Only, as far as I know, Fiddler on the Roof lacked the icky incestuous undercurrents.

The tension escalates when, at a Hampton’s soiree, Glen introduces China to his idol, the 68-year-old auteur Leslie Goodwin (a mischievous John Malkovich with a cat-eating-the-canary-in-the-coal-mine smirk). Unafraid of calling the kettle black, C.K. has created a marvelous stand-in for Woody Allen, who has already been invoked in the film’s black-and-white style, lush music and Manhattan setting. Malkovich — like Moretz, Falco and Day — does a brilliant job of individuating this character. Goodwin’s a practicing pervert with a penchant for hanging around upscale women’s dressing rooms (calling Roy Moore) and grooming teens half a century younger than himself for his pleasure. But Malkovich resists playing a cliché, in no way “doing an Allen,” like, say, Jesse Eisenberg in Café Society.

While idealizing the craft of Allen as a filmmaker, C.K. indicts his fictional straw man. Surely, masturbating in front of women can’t hold a candle to cradle robbing (or, by extension, the rapacious activities of alleged serial rapist Weinstein)? C.K.’s Glen projects his animosity on Goodwin, hypocritically righteous when confronting an unapologetic predator that’s dangerous precisely because he sees and listens to these young women, seducing them as if he were, in his own metaphor, a pig sniffing out rare truffles. The young women’s sole purpose is to be consumed and discarded.

And, even then, while Glen condemns Leslie, when given the choice of warning him off China or having the filmmaker read Glen’s script-in-progress, the father opts for the careerist latter. He’s weak. Offered the chance to make a moral choice, Glen caves – and so does Louis C.K. And so did the many men who heard the rumors, saw the actions, and did nothing because there was no upside to bucking the system that benefitted them.

C.K. is demonstrably smart enough to exploit Allen’s technique and craft to indict the master, using elegant imagery and romantic music to camouflage a perverse pairing of older men and younger women hiding in plain sight. But he’s not wise enough to make the logical leap and indict himself – or Glen for that matter. Despite his trappings of power – his Hollywood success, his Manhattan duplex, his sexy movie star girlfriend – he paints himself as a lovable schlemiel, rather than a man in full with the power to change the culture rather than merely comment on it. C.K. had the power to keep his dick in his pants and resist waving it at nonconsenting women. He failed.

Whether this is a geschrei for help, or a self-outing, I Love You, Daddy captures Hollywood masculinity at a tipping point. It’s mortifying, and funny, and, ultimately, cowardly. In some ways, it has to be seen to be believed – and discussed. I’m saving my screener. Someday in the not so distant future it may be a valuable curiosity, a cultural artifact, like The Day the Clown Cried. At the very least, it’s a cautionary tale that shouldn’t profit C.K. but shouldn’t be buried either, along with the sharp performances of Moretz, Falco, Byrne, Hunt and Adlon, Malkovich and Day.

Long-Lost Leonardo da Vinci Painting to Sell for at Least $100 Million

Someone is getting the opportunity to own Salvator Mundi, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci that was thought to be long-lost, reports The Washington PostThe painting is going up for auction through Christie’s in New York City and is guaranteed to sell for at least $100 million, so the auction house will make up the difference if it goes for less.

The small painting shows Jesus raising his right hand in blessing and holding a crystal orb. The name is Latin for “Savior of the World,” and it is one of 15 known surviving paintings by da Vinci. The auction house is billing it as “The Last da Vinci,” reports the Post. Da Vinci painted it in the early 1500s, and there are about 20 known copies, but the original was thought to be lost for good. However, it was rediscovered in 2005 and went through a six-year restoration process.

In 2005, New York-based art collector and da Vinci expert Robert Simon and art dealer Alexander Parish found and purchased it for $10,000. Simon did not think it was a real da Vinci, but Dianne Dwyer Modestini, a professor of paintings conservation at New York University, set about carefully restoring the portrait in 2007. After chipping away the varnish and overpaint that had been covering the original, she realized that she was restoring the original. A series of tests proved her idea. In 2011, when it was proven to be a da Vinci, London-based art dealer Charles Beddington told The New York Times that, “It’s the most unimaginable discovery of the last 50 years,” reports The Post. 

Not everyone thinks it should be worth $100 million, however.

Charles Hope, an emeritus professor at the Warburg Institute at the University of London, wrote, “Even making allowances for its extremely poor state of preservation, it is a curiously unimpressive composition and it is hard to believe that Leonardo himself was responsible for anything so dull,” according to The Post. 

The auction is tonight.

The Daily Show Takes on Chicago’s Murder Problem

Comedian Trevor Noah ditched his desk this week to host The Daily Show in Chicago, where he and his team are delving deeper into why the Windy City’s crime problem has become a political talking point.

“According to the president, Chicago is basically Syria, but with different pizza,” Noah quipped. “Does Chicago have the most murders? Yes, but it’s also the third biggest city,” he noted. “If you want to talk about the cities that are the most dangerous, you have to look at the murders per capita.”

Noah added that other cities have higher per capita murder rates than Chicago, including Baltimore, Memphis and Cleveland. “These people don’t care about Chicago’s murder rates,” Noah said. “They care about how they can use Chicago to score political points.”

Take a look for yourself.

Man Released By Taliban Didn’t Believe Trump Was Elected President

After spending five years in Taliban captivity, Joshua Boyle didn’t believe his captors when they told him that Donald Trump had been elected president.

“It didn’t enter my mind that he was being serious,” Boyle recounted in an interview with the Toronto Star. 

He and his American wife, Caitlin Coleman, were given almost no information about life in the outside world while they were held captive by the Haqqani network. 

Since being rescued earlier this month, they and their three children have returned to Canada to begin a new life; they were also unaware that Justin Trudeau had been elected as the country’s Prime Minister until they were rescued.

How Adventure Athlete Caroline Gleich Fights Online Abuse

Professional ski mountaineer and adventurer Caroline Gleich boasts a wealth of career highlights; she’s graced magazine covers, scored sponsorships from the likes of REI and Patagonia, and was the first woman to ski all 90 lines in “The Chuting Gallery,” a feat only completed by three other people in the world.

I love seeing the world from up here. The Canadian Rockies continue to capture my heart! Next, onto Jasper. #bugaboobootcamp

A post shared by Caroline Gleich (@carolinegleich) on

She also regularly deals with abusive and threatening comments from users online, according to Outside. They regularly insult her looks, her abilities, and even taunt her with the painful memory of a close friend of hers who died in an avalanche.

Three years ago today, the world lost a bright, shining soul when @liz_daley perished in an avalanche. It still feels hard to breathe when I think about it. Last night, while I was in Yosemite, we were talking about loss, about Dean Potter and the tourist who was killed in rockfall this week. One of the women I met asked me if Liz visits me in my dreams. She recommended I start talking to her more frequently. I was intrigued with the idea. Today, I listened to an episode of This American Life about a disconnected phone booth in a garden in Japan where people go to talk to their dead or missing family members in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami. It made me think about how difficult it’s been to deal with the grief of losing someone you love. Grieving is a complicated, messy process, and often, it’s a solitary one too. This year, perhaps I’ll try a different approach, pick up an imaginary phone, and make a call to let Liz know what’s going on, that we miss her, and we continue to celebrate her legacy with impromptu dance parties and smiles for miles. One of the most important things I’ve learned is to never wait to tell someone how you feel. Express gratitude, love and appreciation, and give big hugs generously. Life is uncertain. #livelikeliz

A post shared by Caroline Gleich (@carolinegleich) on

“A lot of people say that when you put yourself out there, you just need to deal with this kind of thing,” Gleich told Outside. “But even after deleting the posts and blocking the person, it still got into my psyche.”

Gleich has also had to deal with these online abusers making copy accounts, continuing to harass her and even moving from her Instagram feed to her real world. She received a voicemail from an anonymous man that calls her “cross-eyed” and a “silver-spooned spoiled bitch.”

After the voicemail, which you can listen to in the video above, Gleich decided she wasn’t going to take it anymore.

I’ve been quieter than usual on social media due to the presence of a persistent bully. These hateful comments leave a mark. I’m a strong person, but after awhile, harassment starts to take a toll. When your bully spends the time to find your phone number and calls to harass you during Thanksgiving dinner, it’s hard to ignore. I know my story is one of many and just the tip of the iceberg. It happens to so many people. I’m tired of being silenced by it and silent about it. I’m taking a stand against cyberbullying. This holiday season- I’m asking you- the @instagram community- to stand with me and fill your interactions online and in person, with love. It’s ok to respectfully disagree, but hate, harassment, and bullying is never ok. For anyone who’s ever been cyber bullied, I understand the pain and frustration. I’ve experienced it. It’s not right. Let’s take a stand together. Feel the love, spread the love. If you see a hateful comment, call that person out! Let’s go beyond deleting and blocking the trolls and support each other. If anyone ever needs someone to stick up for them against a bully online, message me. Together, we can build a community of love, tolerance, and respect. Photo: @louisarevalo

A post shared by Caroline Gleich (@carolinegleich) on

“When your bully spends the time to find your phone number and calls to harass you during Thanksgiving dinner, it’s hard to ignore,” Gleich said in an Instagram post last December. “I know my story is one of many and just the tip of the iceberg. It happens to so many people. I’m tired of being silenced by it and silent about it. I’m taking a stand against cyberbullying.”

See Marvel’s First Full Action-Packed Trailer for ‘Black Panther’

Tensions are running high in the first full-length trailer for Marvel’s ‘Black Panther,’ which dropped on Monday morning. In it, the revolution has begun in Wakanda, the fictional African nation where T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) reigns. He embodies the Black Panther to defend his home from Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who wants to overthrow it.

Boseman, Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o lead a stacked cast in the film, which includes the likes of Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis.

The movie hits theaters on Feb. 16, 2018. Take a look at the trailer above.

Jimmy Kimmel to Republicans: You Don’t Have to Watch My Show

After toning the jokes down to talk about gun control and healthcare, Jimmy Kimmel told CBS Sunday Morning that he’s seen his show’s ratings amongst Republicans plummet — and while it isn’t ideal, the late-night host says, he would “do it again in a heartbeat.”

“I’m nobody’s moral arbiter. You don’t have to watch the show, you don’t have to listen to what I say,” Kimmel told correspondent Tracy Smith. “I want everyone with a television to watch the show, but if they’re so turned off by my opinion on healthcare and gun violence, then, I don’t know. I probably won’t want to have a conversation with them anyway.”

Take a look at the clip above.

John Oliver Calls Out Academy For Expelling Weinstein, Keeping Polanski and Cosby

John Oliver slammed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Sunday for their decision to expel Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein from their ranks, but keep others who have faced similar allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

“Yes, finally, the group that counts among its current members Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby and Mel Gibson has found the one guy who treated women badly and kicked him out,” Oliver said. “So congratulations, Hollywood. See you at the next Oscars where — and this is true — Casey Affleck will be presenting best actress.”

Oliver was the first late night host to address reports of Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct.

Dubai Police to Patrol With ‘Star Wars’-Inspired Hoverbikes

The Force is strong with Dubai’s police force.

On Sunday, the department unveiled a batch of high-tech gadgets added to their arsenal during the emirate’s Gitex Technology Week conference.

Among them is a new flying hover-bike, the Hoversurf, which bears a striking resemblance to the fictional vehicles used in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

“It works on electricity and can fly at five meters height and carry a policeman during emergency situations and heavy traffic,” a spokesman for the Dubai Police told the United Arab Emirates’ Gulf News.

The hoverbike can fly at an altitude of up to six kilometers and reach a speed of 70 kilometers an hour.

Star Wars
Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) rides a hoverbike in ‘Return of the Jedi’ (Lucasfilm)

As Dubai positions itself as the “City of the Future,” police in the Middle Eastern metropolis will also get self-driving cars that can use facial recognition software to scan for criminals, according to the report.

‘SNL’ Clowns Around With Kellyanne Conway ‘It’ Spoof

Saturday Night Live writers were not clowning around with their disdain for White House advisor Kellyanne Conway this weekend.

The NBC sketch comedy show went for the jugular by parodying the hit horror movie, It, with Kate McKinnon’s Conway lurking in a sewer to snare Anderson Cooper (played by SNL cast-member Alex Moffat).

Kellywise, as she calls herself, is an obvious nod to the demonic clown Pennywise from the Stephen King novel on which the film is based.

“What did you do to your makeup,” Cooper asks in disgust.

“I toned it down,” she replies.

What follows is a near frame-by-frame riff off the grisly opening scene from the movie. See the video above.