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Apr 6, 2007 08:09 PM

First time post - Bringing Mom to NYC

I am bringing my Mom to NYC for her birthday next weekend (75th!) and this will be her first visit to NYC! I have traveled to the city occasionally on business but am not a bona fide foodie. I want my Mom's weekend to be memorable - places that offer good food, but also feature warm service, laid-back surroundings/neighborhood spots, so she will really enjoy the trip. We both like seafood and Italian. Staying in mid-town, but no problem going to other parts of Manhattan. Don't want to break the bank, but don't want touristy places, either. I'm looking for lunch spots, dinner, and brunch on Sunday (especially jazz brunch). So far, I've noted places like Blue Water Grill, Norma's (brunch), Moran's, and the Bar at the Modern. I know I'm asking basic questions that are probably asked too often on this board, but I appreciate everyone's help in making my wonderful Mom's trip to NYC special. Thanks!

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  1. Agree with the "Norma's" choice...How about one of Mario Batalia's restaurants...They are all very well reviewed...

    1. Mario Batali's Babbo is a terrific dining experience. Start calling the reservation line now and keep hitting re-dial until you get through. Last time in NY I had a great vegetarian dinner at Gobo. There are two locations in Manhattan. We ate at the 1426 Third Ave. (81st St.) location. It's close to the Whitney and Metropolitain Museums.

      1. Though I've not been to Babbo, nobody I know would consider it a "neighborhood" spot. Its high profile definitely screams "destination restaurant!" Furthermore, from what I've read about it on this board, I can't imagine it will give you the kind of "laid back" ambiance you have in mind. This is not to disparage it in any way, and if you think you and your mom would enjoy it, by all means, try getting a reservation.

        Instead of Babbo, I highly recommend L'Impero, on Tudor City Pl, b/t 42nd & 43rd Sts., which serves superb contemporary Italian cuisine. (The wild mushrooms with polenta are not to be missed!) Lovely, elegant decor, and while it is not a "neighborhood" restaurant, it does have very laid back, comfortable atmospherics.

        For a neighborhood Italian, you might consider Campanile, on 29th St., b/t Madison & Park Av. S. In my view, a "hidden gem." The traditional Italian food served there is solidly-prepared and delicious; service is pleasant and efficient; and the space has warm, inviting decor, comfortable seating, and conversation-friendly noise level.

        Though there are better places for seafood in the city, the food at Blue Water Grill is quite good They do offer a jazz brunch on Sunday, so you can kill those two proverbial birds (or maybe I should say fish) with one visit. If you want to do Norma's, you can do brunch there on Saturday.

        Best wishes to your mom on her 75th Birthday! Hope you both have a wonderful weekend in NYC

        5 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          Wow, RGR, you really know your stuff! I also love Blue Water Grill and I bet that would be a great place to take Mom on her 75th or just about anyone. I've never had a bad meal there, and now you're reminding me that I need to go back.

          1. re: CNJFoodie

            Thanks for the compliment, CNJFoodie! :-) Frankly, I wouldn't choose Blue Water Grill for the actual birthday dinner, but it's definitely a decent place for seafood. Also, the space is very impressive, i.e., a former bank turned into a really attractive restaurant. Plus, since Beechwood said he's specifically looking for a jazz brunch, as I said, he can get both there.

          2. re: RGR

            RGR always came up with these great suggestions that I keep adding her recommendations to my "to-go" list! =D Anyway, I completely concur with Limpero - excellent food without the outrageous price. While I enjoy Babbo a lot, it is definitely one of those more expensive restaurants. Other Batali's restaurants such as Otto and Lupa are more casual and less expensive, but they are by no means "laid-back", and "warm service" is not guaranteed. If you want a Batali's experience in NYC, then Lupa and Otto will be great, but just keep in mind that you may experience noisy environment and ok service.

            An option for "warm service, laid-back surroundings/neighborhood" is Crispo. Food there is delicious, and service, in my experience, was always warm and attentive. Decor is unpretentious and causal, and you can enjoy sitting in the garden if they open it up for spring.

            Not sure why you picked Moran's as the last time I went there (which was two years back), I wasn't impressed with the food or the service. May be we can suggest some other places that are similar to Moran but with better food and services if we know why it is on your list?

            Completely agree with RGR on Blue Water Grill. For better seafood without breaking the bank, I think Esca will do it. The Mermaid Inn is an even less expensive option, though the selection there is quite limited. Other seafood restaurants like Pearl's Oyster Bar or Mary Fish Camp are loved by locals, but I am hesitant to recommend them as the service can be spotty, and you surely do not want your mother to wait too long for a table. I mentioned them here just so if you want to look into it for consideration.

            In any case, definitely tell the restaurants (when making reservation) that it is your mom's 75th birthday. You never know what kind of surprise you will get!

            Hope you have a wonderful weekend with your mom, and Happy Birthday to her!

            1. re: kobetobiko

              Hey, kobe, We part company with your Esca rec. lol As I've said many times before, our one dinner there was so disappointing on all fronts that we've never gone back. Aside from so-so food, the seating was sardine-line, and it was definitely *not* laid back. Anything but. However, to be fair, it was pre-theater, and steve h., whom I like to think of as Esca's "press agent," insists that if you go after 8, the place calms down considerably. He is hell bent on convincing me to give it another chance. So far, no dice! lol

              Your mention of Pearl's and Mary's, neither of which I've been to, reminds me about about Tides, the teensy fish "shack" on the LES. The meal we had there was delicious. The decor has clean lines and an almost elegant feel, along with a truly unique ceiling, and the overall ambiance is very laid back. The owner, Stephen, is a terrific guy who goes out of his way to make sure diners have a wonderful experience.


              1. re: kobetobiko

                To Kobe, RGR and everyone who has so kindly responded - thank you so much for your help! I threw out Moran's for board reaction because one of my colleagues say it is "one of her favorites" in NYC, but I had no clue if it was worth a try. When we are enjoying NYC next weekend, I will explain to my Mom what "Chowhound" is, and that we are dining at "'hound-approved" spots. She actually uses the internet now, so she will get it! lol... I will report back!

            2. I'm a strong believer in Réné Pujol for birthdays for "older" parents. we took mom there for her 92nd and she loved it (she never made it to 93). It's French with an old feel, but with modern touches in the menu. The prix fixe dinner will get you out for $75 to $100 pp with a decent wine. (Note that about two years ago it was sold to its employees. We've only been back *once* since then and didn't feel any change).