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East 50s / 60s for dinner

I am looking for suggestions for a place for dinner in the East 50s or 60s with friend in from overseas. It is not an area we tend to eat in often. We prefer smaller new'ish places. No steak houses or Japanese/Thai/Chinese. Getting a bit over-Italian'ed recently too. $50 to $70 a person, all in, I can handle...$100 pp is out. Thanks in advancce....

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  1. I like Fig & Olive very much. They are on Lexington and 62nd. It's a casual place but the room is very pleasant and the food is really good. You can check their webpage:

    1 Reply
    1. re: Toot

      I also highly recommend Fig and Olive... I wrote a more detailed post in response to an olive oil tasting restaurant request about a week or two ago...

    2. Not new but Montparnasse, on 51st St., b/t 2nd & 3rd Avs., is a pleasant French bistro with good food.


      1 Reply
      1. re: RGR

        Think that restaurant is gone.

      2. Meltemi, 51st and First is good Greek restaurant.

        1 Reply
        1. re: serious

          Meltemi moved someplace. Another Greek, Ethos, is in that spot.

          1485 York Ave, New York, NY 10075

        2. You might like Dona which is located on 52nd off third. Mediterannean cuisine from Donatella Arpaia and Chef Michael Psilakis...combining greek and italian flavors in what they describe as "southern european" cuisine.

          1. Agree about Dona. Especially if you are a seafood lover. Runs rings around Meltemi..far more interesting..

            1. Jubliee on 54the and First
              it's smallish, but not new. it's French bistro fare.
              good mussels and frites. and it won't break the bank.

              dona is a good choice, but expensive and italian

              Maybe Pompano would work. Upscale Mexican on 49th bet 2nd and third. Good fish in a beautiful room. Same owner as Maya

              1 Reply
              1. re: jenniebnyc

                Jennie, I do not think Dona is Italian...Mediterranean with Greek influences, perhaps...I think it has some of the best food in the area, although we know that is not saying very much..

              2. I hear ya on that one. It's hard to find a good meal around here.

                I haven't been to Dona yet, but recently watched a tv interview with Donatella and she was stressing the fact that Dona would have lots of pasta on the menu and looking on menupages that seems to be the case. I guess with all if the fish they have to offer it could be Mediterranean. I look forward to trying it soon!!!

                10 Replies
                1. re: jenniebnyc

                  There is this one Italian restaurant I would like to try in the neighborhood called Felida. Its the same owner as Becco and I think they got great Italian food. Its one of Lidia Bastianich's restaurants.

                  1. re: designerboy01

                    I have known Lidia for years. My parents traveled to Italy with her a few times on food and wine tours before she was "famous" and I hate to say it but the atmosphere at Felidia has gotten drab, the wait staff has gotten grumpier and although the food was good the last time I went for lunch...I have had better elsewhere. She was actually in Italy when I last ate there, so no special treatment and now I know where some of the negative reviews come from.

                    I do love her though and love to watch her cooking shows.

                    1. re: jenniebnyc

                      I also LOVE Lidia... I do not really know her, just that my uncle eats there often (convenient for business) and they know him and I meet him for lunch every so often at Felidia...so I have eaten there in total many times...

                      I have to agree, I was a bit disappointed the last time I ate there a few weeks ago... It was more about the service which used to be beyond terrific, it has changed. The captain basically refused to check on a cheese in a salad for me (I am pregnant and wanted to know if it was pasteurized). He said "Let's just assume all the cheeses are not..." I very nicely repeated my request and he "pretended" to go and ask in the kitchen and about 30 seconds later max he returned to tell me they were not... FYI: EVERY other time I have asked a waiter this same thing, I have gotten nothing short of congratulations and over the top service in this regard. In a recent dinner at a steakhouse, the server even came to let me know which of the house sauces I could and could not have if I had been thinking about it...

                      Though the food was good - never goes below that mark, I have also had much better eleswhere and that did not used to be the case...

                      I will still support Lidia though and love to watch her shows but I will think twice about dining at Felidia in the future.

                      As for dining in the area, I love Jubilee and highly recommend it. It is terrific for what it is, a fun bistro type place with great food and good service. I do not eat mussels but everyone else I know does and loves them. Their fries are the best and they have escargot which makes them top notch in my book. Their other entrees are all very good as well, steak, salmon, etc..

                      I have fond memories of when the space was Cafe Europa, an eclectic restaurant where they used stones as coat check... Used to eat there with my first boss three times a week for years...he loved their baby lambchops and tiny noodles...

                      1. re: Michele4466

                        In the area I also love dining at L'Impero and believe it or not Baraonda in the e 70's makes some really good pasta!


                        1. re: Michele4466

                          OOOH, Michelle, I remember Cafe Europa, too! We are giving away our ages, I am afraid, but I thank you for the memory of that place! Do you remember the string of Italian places along First Avenue in those days? And Louise, Jr on 53rd Street? And Hobeau's? Please don't tell me I am the only one who has been here that long!! Also, later there was a good cafe on Second between 54th and 53rd...Chez Louis, maybe?

                          1. re: erica

                            Erica -- I was a bartender (BILL) at Hobeau's (53& 1st Ave) from 1970 to 1973. It was a great inexpensive seafood place. The clientele were a bunch of wacky, eclectic sorts. New York back then was a fun place to be -- I still miss it. BTW --From 1978 to 1982 I owned Dustin's Cafe (52 st & second Ave) which I modeled the menu after Hobeau's.

                          2. re: Michele4466


                            I had to respond to my post... but I loved Louise Jr.s... I remember eating "shrimp louis" there...the cold app. salad with shrimp and russian dressing and some veggies/beans...

                            I remember all these.places.. I worked on Third and 51 st for years...I was a pup in media then and my boss was the best and took me to restaurants all the time for a nice lunch...


                            1. re: Michele4466

                              Oh, the memories of Louise Jr.s. During the 60s, I ate there at least once a week.

                              No matter how packed the bar was with patrons waiting for a table - Paul (owner/manager?) always gave the two of us a table almost immediately.

                              What a fantastic spread of appetizers that were put in front of us.

                              1. re: toitoi

                                Oh, how I loved Louise Jr. and "Mr. Paul." I was thinking of him this morning, googled the restaurant and found this post. Mr. Paul would greet the ladies with a big "Hello, so nice to see you again!" Of course he didn't remember me, but more than once I was asked by my date if I went there often. And what I remember most fondly about the menu was the appetizer with cracked crab, hard boiled eggs and shrimp sauced with that silky pink dressing.

                      2. re: jenniebnyc

                        I took a look at the menupages menu and you are right, many of the dishes are listed in Italian. but it is really not what you would think of as an Italian place. I ate there once and thought the food was very, very good..I wrote a report on it but not sure if yu can find it. Service was not good, but this might have been because it had just opened. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

                      3. I Love Pampano, a nuevo-latino restaurant on 49th just off lex. The food is always flovorful, fresh and should be interesting for an over-seas guest. Sit outside on a nice night.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: tbear

                          I agree that the food at Pampano is delicious -- creative Mexican cuisine with an emphasis on fish. And, yes, the terrace is lovely though the tables are quite closely spaced.


                          1. re: RGR

                            Agree - had a lovely lunch there a month or so ago - very reasonable prix fix, though I'm dying to try the lobster tacos.

                        2. There's a great little French restaurant - Cafe Joul - on 1st around 58th or 59th. The food is consistently good and the atmosphere is cozy. They have a fantastic brunch on the weekends.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: tewald

                            I went there for dinner a few months ago and I didn't think it was that great.

                            Maybe I will have to give it another try.

                            1. re: tewald

                              Café Joul is my go-to place, although the service for Sunday brunch can leave a lot to be desired. Another little french in the neighborhood is La Mangeoire on the corner of 53rd & 2nd. Been there a long time, but they have a new chef which has perked it up a lot.

                              La Mangeoire
                              1008 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10022

                            2. Since this thread has been bumped up, I'll take the opportunity to post that we've been to La Mangeoire twice since 4-star Chef Christian Delouvrier took over. He is not cooking haute cuisine. Rather, he is putting out very well-prepared, delicious Provençal-style bistro fare. Service is very friendly and efficient, and the dining rooms are charmingly decorated.

                              La Mangeoire photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                              and here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...