Upper West side restaurants for first time visit to area
This trip, we will be staying on Upper West Side for first time. Any breakfast, lunch or dinner suggestions for adventurous eaters? Sightseeing in area?
Breakfast - Nice Matin 79th/Amsterdam. Be sure to try the 'bowl of cafe au lait', berries and granola with yogurt, any egg dish, or the to die for orange buttermilk french toast. There's a Sarabeth's near by. Manhattan Diner (74th/B'way) is a nice conventional diner. Pasteries and coffee at Silver Moon (105/B'way), Georgie's (89th/B'way), Pain Quotidion (85th?/Amsterdam), or Zabar cafe (81st/B'way).
Lunch - Slice of pizza from Sal & Carmine's 101/102 and B'way. Pastrami on rye at Artie's 85th/B'way, be sure to eat lots of their wonderful cole slaw with pickles.
Dinner - Italian at Genaro (93rd/Amsterdam), Lisca (across street), or Acqua 95th/Amsterdam). At Acqua be sre to try their amazing individual thin crust pizzas, or the wonderful pastas. The value is among the best in the city at $10-14/dish. Peruvian at Pio Pio (94th/Amsterdam) - the ceviche is amazing, and the rotisserie chicken with the green cilantro/lime sauce is fantastic, the sangria is excellent too. Fairway's restaurant (75th/B'way) can be a nice experience. Boat Basin Cafe (79th/river) is sublime simplicity during the Spring/Summer months. Indian at Mughlai (?/Amsterdam), or Earthen Oven (72nd/Columbus).
Dessert and drinks with your SO at Shalel (70th/Columbus). The chocolate covered dates, and martinis are wonderful, but the romantic atmosphere is to die for at this subterranian candlelit bar with a Moroccan theme.
That's all I can muster for now!
My take on Acqua, for what it's worth, and thanks for your comments, hounds, which helped us decide to give the place a chance:
I've been to this establishment at on 95th St. and Amsterdam twice so far. It's not worth a trip from another part of town, but if you're in the neighborhood, it provides quite acceptable to very good food. For example, the Rigatoni Delizia con Funghi (wild mushroom and meat sauce) is tasty and has some of the flavor profile of good Greek pastitsio, and the Gnocchi ai Funghi Selvatici have a nice texture and a very appetizing mushroom flavor. We also found a contorno of Sautéed Spinach with Toasted Almonds and Golden Raisins (also sliced garlic, which is not mentioned in the menu but very welcome) quite good and superior to most Manhattan Italian restaurants at similar price points. They also have a wood-fired brick oven. When they don't leave the pizza in long enough, it's merely good (for New York, pedestrian if it were in Naples), and when they do, it's very good, such as the Quattro Formaggi pizza I got on my second visit. For desserts, the Mascarpone Cheesecake is good but the Panna Cotta, which is their most popular item, had run out both times we were there, so if you want it, you could try calling in to reserve a portion. Service is inconsistent. The first time we went there, we had a completely incompetent waiter, who couldn't remember what we ordered or who ordered what, didn't bring things, etc. The next time, we had the delightful waitress who had also stepped in to partly rescue things for us the first time, and the owner was gracious when we were disappointed at the fact that the panna cotta had sold out once more. But the bottom line is, this is a good value for your money and seems to provide dependably good-to-very-good food.
718 Amsterdam Avenue, at 95th Street
i live in the nabe and agree with all of the recommendations here but i feel compelled to steer folks away from acqua. i've gone in there three times. the food is just ok but, more importantly, the manager is very rude in my opinion. we had a very bad experience just getting seated for absolutely no reason; the place was half empty as it usually is. apparently, they won't seat 2 people at a four-person table even when it's half empty and near closing, when there's no chance that all of those tables will be taken. but, if they know you, they'll immediately seat you (sans a reservation) at any table and ahead of anyone else who may have been waiting a long time. i'll spare you a long story. i question any positive reviews on this place from this experience and other observations i've made while dining here and passing by. many of the reviews on menupages also jive with our observation if you can get beyond the positive reviews that seem similar to each other and posted after every negative review...hmmmm...
since i never tried the pizza there, it can very well be perfectly fine but the pasta dishes, salads and other appetizers are nothing special at all. if you want good pizza in a restaurant setting, i recommend patsy's. again, there are some problems with the service here at times and as well, but nothing like what we experienced in acqua.
Well, being that a very knowledgeable poster has clearly covered many fine choices in the upper 70's to '90's category, I'll hone in on my territory (the '60's to 70's).
Yes to the upscale Telepan, Picholine and Compass.
Italian: La Fortuna at 72nd or 73rd & Columbus. ( A cute little place with dining out back in an enclosed garden) Great for lunches too.
Another Italian: Il Violino (70th & Columbus)
Neighborhood Italian where one can sit outside and watch the world go by:
La Fenice (68th & Broadway)
Fiorello's (a popular hangout with the Lincoln Center crowd)
Josephina's (also across from the MET)
Mexican: Rosa Mexicano (also across from the MET)
Mediterranean: Gabriela's (59th & Broadway)
Upscale Asian: Shun Lee (off 65th & Broadway)
Seinfeld-like Diner: 69th & Broadway
Turkish: Zeytin (85th & Columbus)
Brunch,Lunch, Snacks: Le Pain Quotidien (across from Shun Lee)
I have only eaten in the restaurant at Acqua once or twice. The service was okay, nothing special. I do catch something of a negative vibe from the staff. I've gotten take out, probably close to 20 times. The rigatoni with mushroom-meat sauce is delicious. Somtimes I find myself craving that single dish. The sardinian pasta with sausage is also excellent. The balsamic vinegarette dressing that comes with the insalata mista is great. The pizza is the best in the immediate area, but doesn't travel well. It is so thin you need to eat it almost immediately, or the cheese gets that 'cold pizza' look. It's still very good. Delivery is slow, so I always pick up my food when I order from Acqua.
One more addition for the OP - Mama Mexico on 102/B'way is always a treat. Stick with the fajitas and sangria, and enjoy the mariachis.
I too like many of the recs already made by the above posters. I'll just add a few ideas. First, if it's a nice day, head to Fairway/Citarella/Zabars (any or all), grab a few things and have yourself a picnic in Central Park -- lovely for breakfast, lunch, whatever.
Other ideas -- for a different type of Italian, try La Grolla (80/Amsterdam) where they have rabbit, venison, etc. For handmade pasta (and if you can stand a crowd and a wait) go to Celeste (84?/Amsterdam). For drinks outside and some snacks (we aren't keen on their entrees but apps are fantastic, esp. tomato & avocado quesedillas, as are the drinks), go to Gabriella's (94/Columbus). If you can't get up to Silver Moon (best croissants, imo), then go to Fairway Cafe (upstairs) or Zabars Cafe. For a nice brunch (usually live jazz) try Roth's Westside Steakhouse (94/Columbus) which is also good for dinner. For tapas, we love love Sol y Sombra (83?/Amsterdam) which also has terrific sangria.