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casual meet the parents dinner

Hi - I'm new to this site and need help! My parents are coming in town from LA and I'm trying to set up the "meet the parents/family" dinner w/ my boyfriend's family (there will be 9 of us). Looking for a casual, good value place that's relatively quiet so we can all hear one another and have good conversation. His parents don't live in the city and are really low-key, and not at all into trendy or expensive dining so I want to pick somewhere they will feel comfortable. Thanks!! Any kind of food, central location - 20s to 60s, 2nd ave to 8th or 9th or so.

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  1. I would do something along the lines of tapas or Artisanal (Murray Hill area).

    1. Giorgio's of Gramercy is always a good place for this type of occasion. Moderately priced, not too noisy and something for everyone to eat.


      I have to disagree with the Artisanal suggestion. I like the place, but it is very noisy.

      6 Replies
      1. re: valerie

        Giorgio's does have really great food and I also use them for business catering, but the atmosphere would make me nervous for "the first meeting" dinner.

          1. re: valerie

            A bit stuffy and too quiet...but maybe a super quiet atmosphere is what the poster wants. It makes me nervous and I end up talking anxiously b/c of the lack of noise. But hey, we're all different!

            1. re: LFeinberg

              I don't think Giorgio's is stuffy at all, just calm and civilized. Servers are really friendly and down to earth, so I'm not sure how you get stuffy from that. I think it's a great meet the parents rec.

              1. re: LFeinberg

                "Looking for a casual, good value place that's relatively quiet so we can all hear one another and have good conversation."

                Since this is in the original post, I suppose that this is what the poster wants.

          2. re: valerie

            Valerie, I agree with you that Artisanal is totally wrong for this occasion. I also agree with you and Lucia about Giorgio's. She hit the nail on the proverbial head when she described it as civilized and not at all stuffy.

            That said, I'll throw out another suggestion. Campanile, on 29th St., b/t Madison & Park Av. S., is what I would describe as a neighborhood "hidden gem." They serve traditional homestyle Italian food, which is well-prepared and delicious. Service is pleasant and efficient. The space has attractive decor, nicely-spaced tables (actually better than at Giorgio's, where, I think, they are a little close together), and low-key ambiance perfect for conversation.


          3. Beppe on 22nd and Park Ave S. is pretty great. The menu can skew pricey (pastas around $20, entrees around $30), but the atmosphere is relaxed and the service is phenomenal.

            1. You can also try Crispo for Italian. The food is delicious and the atmosphere is causal and unpretentious. There are also a few appetizers that can be shared so that may encourage some conversation going! You can find their menu and see some pictures of their decor on their own website:


              1. This might be totally off base, but just an idea I want to throw in the mix: how about one of NY's really really good pizzerias? A sit-down place that doesn't serve slices, but only whole pies? NY pizza is so much better than anything you can get in LA, so there's a bit of the touristy/regional food showing off, and if your boyfriend's parents are low-key and not comfortable with expensive and trendy, you can't go wrong with pizza.

                I would recommend John's Pizzeria on 44th between Broadway and 8th, and make a reservation for a booth or a table upstairs where it's quieter. The location is really gorgeous, in a converted church/theater space. I think when the pizza is really good you're not coming off as cheap, but as a lover of good pizza.

                There are other pizza places I'd recommend further downtown. Lombardi's is outside of the area you mention, but very easily accessible by the 6 train Spring St stop. Also, I just tried Cronkite around Norfolk and Rivington last Thursday and it was fantastic.

                  1. re: Lucia

                    I disagree with Red Cat. I went with my girlfriend for our anniversary expecting big things and we were disappointed. The food was ok but very greasy, and on top of that, it was loud and we couldn't hear each other at all.

                    1. re: erlinflask

                      I've only been there once but I had a similar experience to yours. I found it to be kind of loud and the food was just ok.

                  2. Hudson Place on 36th and 3rd is very good. They have a nice selection of food at reasonable prices, and the atmosphere is very nice without being trendy.

                    1. I had a "meet the parents" dinner at Beacon - 56th between 5th and 6th, and I was happy with the choice. It is a comfortible space and the food is good and simple.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: maxine

                        I second the Beacon suggestion. Unpretentious, good food. Nice environment.

                      2. otto would be great, in my humble opinion

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: joe_restaurant

                          i like Otto: it's a fun place and great for a group...but it doesn't fit the OP's criteria: it's deafeningly loud and it's trendy...

                          1. re: Simon

                            I concur and same thing with Crispo. Extremely noisy. I think, I'd recommend a neighborhood Italian place like Cibo on 2nd Ave and 39th - 41st St. I think it's a cozy place with decent enough food to have a meet the parent's dinner and prices are pretty moderate as well. I don't see them rushing anyone out as well. For a higher end alternative, L'Impero on Tudor City place will suit the quiet criteria to a T.

                        2. i'd suggest Borgo Antico: mellow Italian on 13th St (slightly south of your location zone but easy to get to via Union Sq subway)...lowkey, moderate prices, quiet w/o being stuffy...

                          1. Some good Gramercy places (centrally located) might be Novita, Beppe, Giorgio's. Periyali (Greek) is delicious and relatively quiet too. You could also go to Friend of the Farmer, which people always think about for brunch, but they have a great dinner too. I went w/ my boyfriend's family when they came in from out of town. The upstairs is definitely quiet and the "comfort" food will be good. Good luck w/ your dinner!

                            1. I will throw another nice little italian place into the mix - Ottimo, on 24th st. btw. 5th/6th. Delicious, authentic neapolitan food in an unpretentious semi-upscale environment at a decent price.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: food_for_thought

                                I agree with Red Cat. It's comfortable and welcoming with very good food that everyone will recognize. We have gone with family groups and celebrated birthdays there. For the parents who live outside of NYC, it's usually easy to get a parking space in the neighborhood.

                                1. re: nancyl126

                                  I used to love Crispo, in fact my wife and I organized a huge dinner there in the summer of 2004. That being said, my past few meals there have been totally disapointing. In your original post you requested Tapas and Alta in the W Village is great, tough maybe a touch loud. See if you can be in the private area upstairs.