When you return to New York to shoot, what's the first restaurant you hit? My favorite restaurant is Babbo. I'm very good friends with the chef, Mario Batali. It's a cute story. He's one of the people who turned New York into a neighborhood for me. I used to live on Waverly Place in the West Village, and I'd come home every night, and there's this guy on my stoop with red hair and orange high-top tennis shoes and shorts, no matter what time of year it was. I had no idea who he was.

What was he doing on your stoop? Sitting there talking with other chefs and having a glass of wine. It got to the point where I'd come home from work and I'd be so tired, I'd sit on the stoop and he'd bring me a glass of wine and a plate of prosciutto and figs. I'd thought I had just about gone to heaven. And you know you can't find good prosciutto at a lot of places, because they just don't get it. This tasted like I was in Italy.

Did you eventually ask who the heck he was and why he was on your stoop? Yeah! I was like, "Who the heck are you? I live here … move!" He's like, "Oh, no, this is my stoop." He's funny and sweet. The restaurant was right next door. That's why he was hanging out on my stoop.

So when you come home from a late night of filming and have the munchies, where do you go for midnight-hour comfort food? First of all, I work so late, I go home and beg my husband to make me food. This is an awesome perk. But my other favorite restaurant is a place called Bar Americain. It's Bobby Flay's restaurant. It's low-key and really groovy. The food is insane. The skate was crazy. I don't order skate! Everything was amazing. Of course, the wines were amazing. I'm a girl who likes a red wine.

What's your favorite brunch spot? It will surprise you. My favorite spot for brunch is this place called Olives. It's in the W Hotel. I just hate that it's in a hotel, because other people know about it. The food is off the charts. I go there a lot on Sundays.

New Yorkers are very opinionated about their pizza joints. Yours? First of all, every single pizza joint is called Ray's Pizza. That's an enigma to me. Ray is the famous one, but every pizza joint is called Ray's! I never got that. I feel that New York is like Italy. You can't really get a bad piece of pizza in New York. People get it. It's so competitive and famous for that. But my favorite is breakfast pizza! No, actually, the best pizza is in Brooklyn, at Grimaldi's Pizzeria.

I assume Ray is quite upset by that. So give me the lowdown on the Mariska Hargitay city tour. I'm from L.A., so the fact that New York is an island blows my mind. I love bridges, and I love seeing the city, so I would take the Port Imperial ferry across the Hudson River to New Jersey. Get on the free blue-and-white bus up to Boulevard East, get out onto the promenade and take a picture of Manhattan. The view is unobstructed, from the George Washington Bridge down to the Statue of Liberty. Incredible. There is this great restaurant in Jersey called Marco & Pepe - it has the best mac and cheese I have ever had in my life.