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Nov 8, 2004 11:39 AM

Emilio Ballato - Terrific!!

  • s

Has anyone else eaten here? It's a little hole-in-the-wall on West Houston (at Mott). It looks very unfinished, inside (plaster spackle on spots on the wall & ceiling), but the food is fantastic, the service is wonderful, the wine selection is exhaustive (from $23 a bottle) and did I mention the food?

I've been twice in the last week. Both times I had the linguine with frutti de mare (squid, shrimp, clams). My companion had the spaghetti & meatballs (special of the day) and another friend had the veal parmigiana. Everything is homemade, the sauces don't need *any* additional seasonings (so rare to find), the portions are enormous (I've taken leftovers, both times).

Highly recommended. It'd be fine for friends, but it borders on being a romantic nook, so it's a great date place. Entrees average $20.

Emilio's Ballato
55 E Houston St, New York, NY 10012

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  1. Yes, it is great, I love the interior!

    1. Just to be a pedant: it's on East Houston.

      I live nearby and hang out at Milano's Bar fairly often -- I've been meaning to eat at Emilio's Ballato for a long time. Thanks for the review.

      Incidentally, I believe they're supposed to have one of the best cannolis in the city.

      Milano's Bar
      51 E Houston St, New York, NY 10012

      3 Replies
      1. re: big o

        has anyone been here recently? I just heard about it through a blurb in the NY Times.

        how are the prices? and are the dishes to get the veal parmigiano, and spaghetti and meatballs?


        1. re: kevin

          Am curious about this as well. I used to walk by when friends of mine lived in Nolita, and I presumed it was a pre-gentrification artefact that would soon be swept away by the rising tides of money.

          The first time I walked by, actually, I presumed it was an antiques shop. It does look rather marvellous.

          I gathered from the article that if Mr Vitolo took a liking to me, I could probably get a very good red-sauce Italian-American meal there. Otherwise, he would make it clear my presence was superfluous.

          1. re: kevin

            Don't miss the fried zucchini or the pork chop with peppers/onions if it's one of the specials. It's not cheap, and overall the food is secondary to the atmosphere. However, those two dishes are outstanding.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. Ballato is terrific.

            The original was legendary. Really good. Uncle John and Lucy were one of a kind NYC characters. At the time in the 60s and 70s, Houston St was as far south as anyone would go. And you would see the Rolls Royces and Mercedes lined up outside (Sammy's was like that too).

            There was a period of time after Aunt Lucy sold the restaurant that is was nothing special. It was sold to another NYC restaurant family for the sons to run. Emilio rescued it. While his menu is nothing like the old one, it is really well rendered Italian American style food.

            And he has the BEST cannolis in the city. No kidding.

            Emilio's Ballato
            55 E Houston St, New York, NY 10012

            3 Replies
            1. re: sushiman

              how are the prices now?

              and what to get off Emilio's menu?


              1. re: kevin

                Not sure how up to date -New York-'s menu page is, but they've a copy of Ballato's bill of fare:


              2. re: sushiman

                Since the NY Times review, there has been a huge crowd (on Saturday night there were 30+ people in the street) and I'm a little sad that it has blown up. I hope the quality doesn't go down due to it's new-found popularity

              3. i'd been meaning to try this place for ages, and now the NY Times has beaten me to it...a couple questions for people who have gone:

                -- do they really serve food all day, as the chowhound listing hours indicate?...(i'm always looking for places downtown that serve a full menu around 3pm tp 5pm in the afternoon...

                -- from what you've eaten/seen, is possible to construct a fun pescatarian/vegetarian meal for 2 or 3 people sharing courses?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Simon

                  There's a hand-written note on the door that they are closed from 3:30-5 (or is it 3-5:30 - either way, they don't serve all day)

                  As for your second question, I'd say yes...there are definitely cheese options for appetizers, and fish options for mains. Many pastas are vegetarian or pescatarian friendly.