Manhattan report, thanks to CH'ers for the suggestions: Ollie's, Tony's di Napoli, Landmarc, Carnegie, Shun Lee Palace
We just completed our weekend in NYC, with 10 people (including 4 kids), eating at each of the restaurants above. Our report:
1. Ollie's (formerly Ollie's Noodles): We arrived on Sunday in Times Square, looking for a quick lunch before the theater We had heard good things about Ollie's Noodles, turns out it has moved to 42nd Street and is now just Ollie's. They were nice enough to let us order the lunch specials, normally only a M-F thing, which made lunch very cheap, as each was about $7. I had the chicken with mixed Chinese vegetables, very good, light brown sauce, not too oily, great baby bok choi. Came with choice of soups, I picked egg drop (yuck, I should know better), and the veggie fried rice. Not the best meal by far, but everyone enjoyed it, the staff was fast and friendly, the place is very clean, and it was very cheap.
2. Tony's Di Napoli. It was crazy busy when we arrived at 8:00 for our reservation, but we were seated within 10 minutes on a round table in the lower level. The portions are huge, prices very reasonable and we had a very good, red sauce Italian experience. They have a surprising good wine list, and we had a Monetti Prosecco to start, and a Ruffino Chianti with dinner, both under $26. They had well priced brunellos and barolos as well. Everyone enjoyed the chicken parm (I thought the frying was a bit heavy), veal marsala (standard but well done), but the real surprise was the chicken pizziola. I thought it was delicious, with tender sauteed (not fried) chicken, big slices of red pepper, and a nice tangy sauce. I would definitely order it again. Service was friendly, and very good.
3. Landmarc: After much discussion, both on this board and among the participants, we settled on Landmarc for our "fancy" dinner on Xmas eve. It turned out to be a great choice for us, but ONLY because we got what is probably the best table in the place, on the right hand side of the restaurant, beyond the barrier that separates the big tables from the smaller ones, right against the window overlooking the big globe on Broadway with the park beyond. There are a couple of other tables there against that wall of glass,and they were all great. The meal itself was fun. The wine list is extensive, and reasonably priced, as is well known here. We had the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (the best wine from New Zealand, IMHO), very well priced at $36, and a Rosenblum Cellars Zinfandel, from Carly's Vineyard, San Francisco Bay, $35, a delicious, perfumy, almost raisin zinfandel, that reminded us of a very good amarone. We had oysters, goat cheese profiteroles, smoked mozzarella en carozza, and sauteed foie gras to start. All yummy, especially the oysters and the profiteroles, which we quickly gobbled up. I had the filet mignon, with bearnaise sauce, which wasn't the most adventurous choice, but went well with the wine. It was servicable, but not memorable, though the other 2 people who had it liked it. For dessert we had 2 of the dessert samplers, with a chocolate mousse, a berry cobbler, a creme brulee, and a lemon tart. They were all fine, though nothing blew me away. We then saw that the table next to us got cotton candy, and we ordered a couple, surprisingly tart, made with some citrus base, and they were also surprisingly good, and a really fun thing for the table to share.
4. Carnegie: Xmas day lunch. About what you'd expect. The meats were very good, the chicken soup overly salty, the matzo balls tough, and the latkes very oily. Everyone had fun, but if I'm back there again, it's only for the corned beef.
5. Shun Lee Palace: We had Xmas dinner there, and it was, unsurprisingly, a madhouse. They did a good job of handling the crazyness, we had very good, but not very unusual, Chinese food. The dumplings and pork ribs were very good, the ants on a log (a beef dish, with ground beef over cellophane noodles), which everyone but me liked, a noodle dish and chicken dish, neither very memorable. The highlight was when we asked if they happened to have a dessert for the birthday we were celebrating, and they had a chocolate cake (for $35). We said OK, and it was a delicious chocolate bombe, with an excellent filling of chocolate mousse, surrounded by yellow cake and coated with a delicious ganache. It was well worth the money.
I also brought home goodies from Sullivan St. Bakery, Amy's Breads, and Garrett's Popcorn, all of which we've enjoyed. Thanks for all your recommendations!