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In March, Elisha Ortiz was 3 months pregnant. She was locked down at home with her husband at their one-bedroom apartment in Hell’s Kitchen covering breaking news for NBC. She documented her rapidly changing tastes and own PPP (Pandemic Pregnancy Pizza) in our Best Pizza story. Now, baby Laila has arrived and is ready for her first interview.
Elisha and Laila (2 weeks old)
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
Laila: I’m probably the only person who can say BOTH. I was born on Sept. 28, 2020, at Mount Sinai West.
Elisha: I was born on Long Island, have lived in Manhattan for more than 12 years, and have lived in Hell’s Kitchen for nearly five.
How did you end up in Hell’s Kitchen?
Laila: My parents live here!
Elisha: My husband and I work for NBC News at 30 Rock. When we were looking for a place together, we knew we wanted to be close to work. I migrated from Chelsea, and he came down from West Harlem.
What’s your favorite thing about Hell’s Kitchen?
Laila: My apartment is warm and cozy. And in the morning, the chair where mommy rocks me gets basked in sunlight.
Elisha: I love the community. It’s the most neighborhoodly place I’ve ever lived in Manhattan. When I go out, I inevitably see someone I know well enough to wave to.
And what’s your Hell’s Kitchen pet peeve?
Laila: So far, I’ve noticed it’s loud. What’s with all the construction?
Elisha: Recently, well, it’s not feeling so safe.
Did you stay put when the pandemic hit or did you find an escape for some of the time?
We went to Connecticut for five days, but other than that we stayed put. We watched what seemed like years’ worth of history unfold in just six months, while reporting on it from our one-bedroom. It wasn’t an easy time to be here, especially while pregnant.
What did you do for work pre-COVID? What are you doing now?
I’m a breaking news reporter for NBCNews.com. I report out and write three to four news stories a day. Currently though, I’m on maternity leave.
What’s the most interesting thing that you’ve learned during the pandemic?
Oh man, is this city and the people in it ever-resilient? I was here for Sandy, but in Manhattan, that was not as long-lasting or indefinite as the pandemic. Watching businesses reopen and people start to venture out again seemed incredible. I cheered in the street when Food King on 10th Avenue reopened, and I cried when I saw Mercury Bar had survived. My husband and I went there a lot with work friends for trivia night before we even started dating. It’s a special place.
Tell us one thing that’s given you hope during the pandemic?
I would randomly see Louboutina (the Hugging Dog) and her owner while out walking or sometimes, even when I looked out my window. Seeing that dog put me in a better mood every time.
What’s your closest brush with world fame and celebrity?
I was featured in an issue of W42ST magazine last year : ). There was a full-page photo of me with the “Playlist.”
What’s your superpower?
Now that I’m a mom? I provide the sole source of food for a little human.
What song do you sing at the top of your voice in the shower?
Recently, I don’t have time to sing an entire song in the shower. But I’ve been singing a lot of Taylor Swift’s “folklore” album to baby.
Do you love Times Square? Why, or why not?
No. Although it’s been more bearable in recent months.
Do you love Hudson Yards? Why, or why not?
Sure. We got to go a few times before the pandemic. Momofuku Kāwi is really good. We’re happy to have a Whole Foods there now, and I may take advantage of that Equinox.
If you could bring one thing (person/place/event) back to HK that is no longer around, what would it be?
Method Japanese Sake Bar. It was my favorite restaurant and closed in early January – a sign of things to come.
Add your shameless plug or personal profile?
You can find me under my byline Elisha Fieldstadt on NBCNews.com
Anything we missed?
DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Elisha’s West Side Happy Places
Tradisyon NYC. We have been waiting for Filipino food to come to this neighborhood for years. The wait was worth it. The food is amazing, and the owners and staff are fantastic.
Cellar 53. They have a great selection of wine, and the owner, Peter, is a doll.
Down the Road. Something about this new-comer just makes me grin, even if I’m just passing by it. I have great pre-pandemic memories there.
Bar Dough. Another new arrival. The pizza checks all the boxes, and this is another place with great staff and owners.
Delphinium Home. I’ve sung their praises to W42ST more than once before. If I need a card or gift, I go here.
Tell us your West Side Story. Click here to find out how you can feature.