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West Coast friends visiting: where to take them?

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West coast hounds visiting in a few weeks: which spots in Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn really showcase the best that we have to offer in terms of food, wine and atmosphere?

We'd like something really great but not super extremely expensive, and leaning towards Italian, since we do that so well here. The ideas so far include Al Di La and Convivium in Park Slope, and Otto. Want to keep it to places where appetizer+entree+dessert come in under $50.

What are the latest discoveries? Thanks! and I know you will give it your best.

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  1. While none of the below are new discoveries, I think the following might be good options for consideration:

    Bar Pitti for Italian.
    268 Sixth Ave.
    (bet. Bleecker & Houston Sts.)
    Manhattan, NY

    Lombardi's for Pizza
    32 Spring St.
    (bet. Mott & Mulberry Sts.)
    Manhattan, NY

    Pearl Oyster Bar is a great place for seafood, New England Style.
    18 Cornelia St.
    (bet. Bleecker & W. 4th Sts.)
    Manhattan, NY

    Have fun!

    1. My foodie friend from LA visited in early December. I debated btw Degustation and Convivium. Ended up taking him to Degustation and he did NOT like it (I was amused though left hungry). I absolutely love Convivium. Applewood also had nice wine and nice atmosphere but I think the food is better at Convivium.

      1. I just got back from New York (I live in Los Angeles), and my friend and I really enjoyed our dinner at Otto -- it was my friend's favorite meal in NY (we also ate at Pastis, Balthazar, Blue Water Grill and Lombardi's Pizza). At Otto, we split a salad, a pasta and a pizza, and it was perfect for two. The pasta we had was the carbonara, and my friend declared it the best she'd ever had. It was very, very good. The pizza was a sausage and broccoli rabe, also very tasty. It gets crowded, but the seating is done efficiently and service was good. Price was definitely under $50 per person -- we each had a glass of wine and split three courses.

        We also really enjoyed Lombardi's pizza (although I fear it was no substitute for Di Fara, where I really wanted to go, but I couldn't convince my friend to make the trek to Brooklyn). Lombardi was a fun place to go for this L.A. girl, as there is NOTHING even close in Southern California. It also fits your price range.

        Balthazar and Pastis were fun, especially coming from LA where we really don't have a lot of options in the French bistro department (other than Comme Ca, which just opened and which has a menu that appears to have been directly copied from Balthazar). We had good meals at both, but I would probably give the edge to Balthazar, mainly because we were seated promptly and the service was better.

        I wasn't crazy about Blue Water Grill (it wasn't my choice). Our appetizers were good, but, upon the waiter's recommendation, we opted for the lobster entree, and it just was not good enough to warrant the price.

        Overall, it was a few good days of eating!

        1. I don't get all the recommendations for Otto. If you decide to go for Italian, I would highly recommend Crispo, for much better quality and creativity in the same price range. Lupa is also wonderful, but it will be difficult to get a prime time reservation, or if you don't mind a wait you may be able to do a walk-in. Also check out Punch, not Italian but with a very interesting menu and food, atmosphere and service are excellent, one of the best choices in the lower moderate price range. Blue Water Grill is out of your price range, and I agree with DanaB that it is not worth it.