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help me feed picky grandma

ok, so picky is putting it lightly. She will be in town for 2 days and is rreally hard to feed. her requirements...
1. place must be crowded regardless of time fo day- but we'll be eating at regular times this trip so should be ok.
2. she will only eat "american" or italian food...no asian, nothing wierd or too modern/odd ingredients.
3. must not be ina secluded room- she loves t look at all the people in a bigger place or the street.

siiigh. she loves the olive garden. she is obsessed with times square (bless her heart we go there eveyr visit and she goes, ok now what? and we say um, thats it unless were going to a show there sint much to do here---and she gets annoyed lol)
She is OBSESSED with going to carmine's because we ate there once 8 years ago and she feels safe there. however we cant go for every meal--and going to times square more than once in a 2 day trip may make me cry. any good alernatives to carmines? should we try the west side location...is the area any nicer?

please give me some alternatives fitting these requirements, hopefully in village? and save me having to share massive plates at carmines (3 of us dining) for 2 nighs in a row!! :)

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  1. Houston's would probably fit the bill, and I think the food is actually very good. There are two locations...one on the SE corner of 54th and 3rd Ave, and one on the SE corner of 27th and Park. From my experience the 54th St location is usually more crowded.

    1. How about Il Corallo Trattoria in Soho? It's a cute little Italian place with great pastas. It's always crowded enough, VERY affordable, and I'd say it's safe for picky Italian grandmothers (I would know, I have one and they are veeerry difficult when it comes to the food).

      1. In the Theater District, Roberto Passon, on the corner of 9th Av. & 50th St., has very good Italian food. It's extremely popular, so it's packed at dinner, which will give your Grandma lots of people to look at. Reservations are mandatory.


        1. How about Tony's Di Napoli on the Upper East Side? Kind of a Carmine's knockoff (family-style Italian), although I think the food is better. You can tell grandma that it's a *real* neighborhood with *real* NYers to stare at, unlike Times Square. LOL!

          1. I consider myself somewhat of a picky eater too and tend to prefer Italian, American and steakhouses. Crispo would fit your grandmothers requirements nicely. It is a lively place in the Village (14th Street between 7th & 8th)and has a great menu selection with plenty of "safe" choices. You might want to check out their menu on menupages.com to make sure.

            1. I think Bobby Flay opened Bar Americain with you Grandma in mind.

              1 Reply
              1. re: KTinNYC

                The problem with Bar Americain is that the food is awful! (Not to mention *very* expensive!)

              2. Ok, working within the Times Square vicinity, I think Johns Pizza on 44th is a good call. It's in an old renovated theater (or church? can't remember) but the space is wonderful and huge, it's busy, it's italian food, and good people watching. Another one in the area is Juniors - nice, new, and big space, people watching, simple deli-diner style food. All within 2 blocks from Carmines.

                PS your posting was cute - I was chuckling while reading it.

                1. If you're looking for something like Carmine's, but not Carmine's you could try Sambuca on 72nd St. The UWS Carmine's will probably hurt your soul less than the one in Times Square, but your Grandma probably wants to go to the one she knows.

                  If she likes "American" food and Times Square, you could take her to Virgil's, if you like that sort of thing.

                  Also, if she likes to watch a lot of people and you're near midtown, what about the Michael Jordan Steakhouse, overlooking Grand Central Terminal?

                  1. What a cute post! Maybe granny can chow at Ottos or kick up her boots at the rainbow room? Kidding on the last one. But you still have to take her to favorite spots otherwise she'll remember you for it. One thing I've learned is elders are pretty set in their ways and they hate change. I prefer Carmines upper west or Tonys upper east but Time square dining seems to be her thing so I would just suck it up and dine by Times Sq. Dont forget to request a table by the windows at the olive garden, that way she can people watch beneath her. Then head over to THE VIEW at the marriot marquis for grannys nightcap and 360 view of the city. hahah