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Old fashioned Red Sauce Italian Restaurant

w
Whitemarshjohn Jan 14, 2008 08:58 AM

Is there a red sauce restaurant that is worth driving over an hour to get to – a place that can make ravioli, lasagna and spaghetti and meatballs as good as your Italian Great-grandmother's? I'm not interested in caviar, truffles, fau gras and other new trends, but a good old fashioned Italian American experience - the type you would have found in Working Class neighborhoods in the middle part of the 20th Century.

  1. the queen Feb 17, 2008 12:18 PM

    I just thought of another place in Astoria called Cinema Paradiso on 35th Avenue, in Astoria.
    It's fairly new, about 1-2 years old and has not yet caught on. So it's not really crowed. They serve wine and beer only, but thats fine.
    Try their famous grilled calamari, served on a fresh salad of arugula, radicchio and endive. And the menu is very extensive.
    Also a good place for Brick Oven Pizza.

    1. Astoria Lurker Feb 17, 2008 12:08 PM

      Try Manducatis in LIC, it is great and old school red sauce Italian.

      1. w
        Whitemarshjohn Jan 23, 2008 07:48 PM

        This is a great sampling and gives me lots of options. If you expanded our geographic area - say to cover Manhattan and other areas/states around the Outer Boroughs, is there one place that would be the "Holy Grail" of all "red gravy" restaurants?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Whitemarshjohn
          t
          Tay Jan 24, 2008 09:28 AM

          whitemarshjohn
          As you can see from all the varied responses, there is no one place that would be THE definitive place. We all have our favorites. :-}

          1. re: Tay
            h
            hopegoode Feb 2, 2008 05:24 AM

            One more vote for Ponte Vecchio. While it is quite pricey, I have never been disappointed with any dishes. Much better than the average Italian restaurant!

        2. k
          KellyBelly Jan 17, 2008 09:40 AM

          Another vote for Joe's Restaurant on Forest Avenue, in Ridgewood. Great lasagna. Also just a few blocks away from the Burek spot under the M train.

          Make sure to go to the original Joe's off of Madison Street (across from the school). The newer Joes's a few blocks up is more modern, not red sauce at all.

          1. j
            josh L Jan 17, 2008 07:20 AM

            while i am not a huge fan of most old fashioned red sauce joints, you might enjoy the following spots:
            cono pescatore- old world williamsburg spot, good seafood and great half price wine night on tuesday.
            ortobello- the food is uneven but it doesnt get more old world brensonhurst 50's/60's italian american. order off the specials list and prepare to bring food home.
            queen- the best of the lot bec in recent years they have been influenced more by italy but i'd still consider it an old brooklyn spot
            2 toms, it is what it is and one of the most unique joints in town, get a pork chop smothered in peppers and wash it down with a cold budweiser.

            1. Cheese Boy Jan 16, 2008 08:56 PM

              'No Credit Cards Accepted' ... is many times, but not always, indicative of a *GOOD*
              old-fashioned red sauce Italian restaurant. I suppose it's all in keeping up with that Old World or old school tradition of 'Cash Only' please. ... That's been my experience.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Cheese Boy
                t
                Tay Jan 17, 2008 09:32 AM

                Cheese Boy
                Agreed. There are still, "Old School" places that have not, do not and will never accept Cr Cds. I think that's great. They are unable/unwilling to pay the % to the Cr Cd Co's. I guess they have enough of a loyal customer base to allow them that luxury.

                1. re: Tay
                  p
                  pds8232 Jan 17, 2008 02:03 PM

                  Jaded and negative as I've become, 'cash only' tells me that somebody doesn't pay their share of sales/income tax as the rest of us poor schlubs.
                  As long as we're complaining, 'no reservations' is a sure sign that the customer doesn't come first.

              2. h
                HankyT Jan 16, 2008 07:08 AM

                Joe's of Avenue U is currently our favorite.

                2 Replies
                1. re: HankyT
                  the queen Jan 16, 2008 11:21 AM

                  Try Don Pepe's in Queens. It's really great.
                  But the don't have a bar and no credit cards are accepted. i find that to be ridicules in this day and age. But they still pack em in. And I still go there.
                  And by the way.. I agree with Piccola Venezia also in Queens

                  1. re: the queen
                    c
                    Carol Gardens Jan 30, 2008 12:03 PM

                    Wow! Piccola Venezia! I haven't been to that place in over 20 years. I remember it well from when I lived in Astoria in the 80s. I recall some great baked clams. I will have to trek over.

                2. d
                  d18black Jan 16, 2008 05:03 AM

                  the Clinton on Clintonville in Whitestone

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: d18black
                    j
                    JSHAFT78 Jan 16, 2008 06:41 AM

                    Ferdinando's on Union certainly would account for the "old fashioned" experience the OP is looking for. I posted La Palina earlier in this thread, which is pretty darn old school. The list included Fiorentino's, which was okay, but depends on whther you're into sharing the huge platters type of set up they have. Hey,some people just like to have thir own plate and all. I was okay with it, just wasn't crazy about the food. As an aside, across the street from La Palina on Ave O is Monte's Deli. Their Italian subs are the best I've ever had, the sopprasatta and freshly made mozzarella hero is the way to go. And for about $7.50, it feeds two big eaters

                  2. NAtiveNewYorker Jan 15, 2008 10:32 AM

                    Here's a list of old school Italian places (restaurants, pizzerias, and delis) that have been recommended to me but that I haven't tried yet. Maybe other chowhounds can comment:

                    Ponte Vecchio Restaurant
                    8810 4th Ave
                    Brooklyn, NY 11209
                    (718) 238-6449

                    Villa Fiorita Restaurant
                    7720 18th Ave
                    Brooklyn, NY 11214
                    (718) 837-7950

                    Monte's Italian Restaurant
                    451 Carroll St
                    Brooklyn, NY 11215
                    (718) 624-8984

                    Tonio's Italian Restaurant
                    306 7th Ave
                    Brooklyn, NY 11215
                    (718) 965-4252

                    Gino's Restaurant & Pizzeria
                    7414 5th Ave
                    Brooklyn, NY 11209
                    (718) 748-1698

                    La Sorrentina
                    1406 86th St
                    Brooklyn, NY 11228
                    (718) 837-1084

                    Rocco's Italian Cafeteria Inc
                    6408 Fort Hamilton Pkwy
                    Brooklyn, NY 11219
                    (718) 833-2109

                    Queen Marie Italian Restaurant
                    84 Court St
                    Brooklyn, NY 11201
                    (718) 596-5954

                    Red Rose Restaurant
                    315 Smith St
                    Brooklyn, NY 11231
                    (718) 625-0963

                    Joe and Joe
                    65 E Central Ave
                    Pearl River, NY 10965

                    Ferdinando's Focucceria Rstrnt
                    151 Union St
                    Brooklyn, NY 11231
                    (718) 855-1545

                    Lioni Latticini Inc
                    7803 15th Ave
                    Brooklyn, NY 11228
                    (718) 232-1166

                    Mona Lisa Cafe
                    1476 86th St
                    Brooklyn, NY 11228
                    (718) 837-9053

                    Ravioli Fair
                    1484 86th St
                    Brooklyn, NY 11228
                    (718) 256-5288

                    Gargiulo's Restaurant
                    2911 W 15th St
                    Brooklyn, NY 11224
                    (718) 266-4891

                    Joe's of Avenue U Sicilian
                    287 Avenue U
                    Brooklyn, NY 11223
                    (718) 449-9285

                    Bamonte's Restaurant
                    32 Withers St
                    Brooklyn, NY 11211
                    (718) 384-8831

                    Fiorentino's Ristorante
                    311 Avenue U
                    Brooklyn, NY 11223
                    (718) 372-1445

                    Catene Italian Deli
                    237 9th St
                    Brooklyn, NY 11215
                    (718) 788-0929

                    Europa Pizzeria
                    2007 65th St # 2007
                    Brooklyn, NY 11204
                    (718) 232-7206

                    II Colosseo Restaurant & Pizza
                    7704 18th Ave
                    Brooklyn, NY 11214
                    (718) 234-3663

                    Villa Paradiso Restaurant Inc
                    1969 Bath Ave
                    Brooklyn, NY 11214
                    (718) 837-2696

                    La Casa Bella
                    2579 Cropsey Ave
                    Brooklyn, NY 11214
                    (718) 449-0200

                    Tommaso Restaurant
                    1464 86th St
                    Brooklyn, NY 11228
                    (718) 236-9883

                    La Palina Restaurant
                    159 Avenue O
                    Brooklyn, NY 11204
                    (718) 236-9764

                    Gino's Focacceria
                    7118 18th Ave
                    Brooklyn, NY 11204
                    (718) 232-9073

                    Areo Restaurant Corp

                    Vesuvio Pizzeria & Restaurant
                    7305 3rd Ave
                    Brooklyn, NY 11209
                    (718) 745-0222

                    Mama Rao Cucina Italiana
                    6408 11th Ave
                    Brooklyn, NY 11219
                    (718) 745-2269

                    Embers
                    9519 3rd Ave
                    Brooklyn, NY 11209
                    (718) 745-3700

                    Russo's Pizzeria
                    40 Avenue B
                    New York, NY 10009
                    (212) 358-8325

                    Joe's Restaurant & Pizzeria
                    6653 Forest Ave Ridgewood, NY

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: NAtiveNewYorker
                      NAtiveNewYorker Jan 15, 2008 10:36 AM

                      This place gets RAVE reviews:

                      -----
                      Mama Rao's
                      6408 11th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11219

                      1. re: NAtiveNewYorker
                        f
                        fourunder Jan 15, 2008 10:38 AM

                        Whoa.....

                        1. re: NAtiveNewYorker
                          m
                          MShapiro Jan 15, 2008 11:05 AM

                          I would add Manducatis (1327 Jackson Ave, LIC NY) to that list. An old school traditional Italian restaurant. Someone recommended we try their daily specials the next time we go.

                          1. re: NAtiveNewYorker
                            m
                            msv Jan 15, 2008 12:09 PM

                            You picked some great spots. I haven't visited some of them in a while, so this is a nice to do list for 2008.

                            1. re: msv
                              t
                              Tay Jan 15, 2008 09:12 PM

                              NAtiveNewYorker. Good Grief!
                              That's not a list of recc restaurants. Some of the 32 listings aren't even restaurants. They are pasta stores and Deli's. There is even a Steakhouse!.
                              The OP is asking for CH recc, not a random list pulled off a web site

                              1. re: Tay
                                NAtiveNewYorker Jan 16, 2008 04:30 AM

                                Take a deep breath, Tay.

                                My post mentioned that I'd include delis. And this list is compiled from past chowhound posts, not some random list from a website.

                                Check chowhound.com. Embers is supposed to have great red sauce pasta and great atmosphere. And why not include pasta stores and delis? They are both related to an Italian red sauce craving. (They sell traditional Italian food, after all.)

                                Do you have any *restaurant recommendations*, in addition to your criticism?

                                1. re: NAtiveNewYorker
                                  t
                                  Tay Jan 16, 2008 08:07 PM

                                  NAtive
                                  I do need to take a deep breath....From reading your list outloud, lol!
                                  Seriously... No need to get all defensive... It wasn't a criticism so much as it was astonishment that you sort of came up with a random, 'kitchen sink" of 'recommendations' AKA: Places previously mentioned on Chowhound. .
                                  For your future reference, Embers is a Steakhouse. They are not known for their red sauce., or their atmosphere. It's an "all about the beef" place.
                                  There would be nothing wrong with including pasta stores and Deli's, except that's not what the OP requested.
                                  As I wrote in an earlier post, we're in total agreement RE: New Corner Restaurant. I have actually eaten at about 1/3 of the places on your list.
                                  Many would meet the OP's criteria. As a rule, I do not recc a restaurant I have not tried.

                                  1. re: Tay
                                    NAtiveNewYorker Jan 17, 2008 04:20 AM

                                    Tay, do you have any restaurant recommendations?

                                    (I'll add Don Peppe's of Jamaica and Joe Abbraciamento's of Woodhaven Blvd. to my recommended list.)

                                    1. re: NAtiveNewYorker
                                      t
                                      Tay Jan 17, 2008 09:26 AM

                                      NAtive
                                      .Sheesh! Pay attention already! :-}... Relax: I'm kidding!
                                      I 've already given my #1 Recc:: New Corner. I'm a big fan of the place I often go there when I'm in the mood for classic "red sauce" Italian, I even posted their web site so the OP could check out their menu. If the OP was willing to travel to SI, I'd recc a few other places as well.
                                      Aside from New Corner, referencing your list, I have personally dined at. or had food from, the following places.

                                      Ponte Vecchio Restaurant - Very Good
                                      8810 4th Ave
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11209
                                      (718) 238-6449

                                      Monte's Italian Restaurant - Not Good
                                      451 Carroll St
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11215
                                      (718) 624-8984

                                      Gino's Restaurant & Pizzeria - Very Good
                                      7414 5th Ave
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11209
                                      (718) 748-1698

                                      Rocco's Italian Cafeteria Inc- cafeteria style- some very good things
                                      6408 Fort Hamilton Pkwy
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11219
                                      (718) 833-2109

                                      Queen Marie Italian Restaurant- Very good
                                      84 Court St
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11201
                                      (718) 596-5954

                                      Ferdinando's Focucceria Rstrnt If it's the place I recall.- Not good
                                      151 Union St
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11231
                                      (718) 855-1545

                                      Lioni Latticini Inc -Wonderful Deli Great place but not red sauce rest.
                                      7803 15th Ave
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11228
                                      (718) 232-1166

                                      Mona Lisa Cafe - Dreadful food
                                      1476 86th St
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11228
                                      (718) 837-9053

                                      Ravioli Fair - I believe it's the worst catering I've ever had!
                                      1484 86th St
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11228
                                      (718) 256-5288

                                      Gargiulo's Restaurant- Very good food One of a kind, CI institution
                                      2911 W 15th St
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11224
                                      (718) 266-4891

                                      Joe's of Avenue U Sicilian -Tums required after eating sauce here
                                      287 Avenue U
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11223
                                      (718) 449-9285

                                      Fiorentino's Ristorante Uninspired food. Gives seating pref to "regs'
                                      311 Avenue U
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11223
                                      (718) 372-1445

                                      Catene Italian Deli- Like Lioni's great Deli Outstanding hero's
                                      237 9th St
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11215
                                      (718) 788-0929

                                      Europa Pizzeria - Awful, awful awful!
                                      2007 65th St # 2007
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11204
                                      (718) 232-7206

                                      Villa Paradiso Restaurant Inc - Very 60's old school Ital. Good food
                                      1969 Bath Ave
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11214
                                      (718) 837-2696

                                      La Casa Bella - They have great thin crust brick oven marg pizza
                                      2579 Cropsey Ave
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11214
                                      (718) 449-0200

                                      Tommaso Restaurant - Pretty good- old school Bensonhurst staple
                                      1464 86th St
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11228
                                      (718) 236-9883

                                      La Palina Restaurant Not good sauce, but like walking back in time
                                      159 Avenue O
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11204
                                      (718) 236-9764

                                      Areo Restaurant North Ital. No one eats red sauce here. Overpriced

                                      Vesuvio Pizzeria & Restaurant -Everything tastes like pizza sauce.
                                      7305 3rd Ave
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11209
                                      (718) 745-0222

                                      Hope this helps :-}

                                      1. re: Tay
                                        NAtiveNewYorker Jan 17, 2008 10:12 AM

                                        Great post! Very helpful. And good to know about the (usually popular) Aero.

                                        1. re: NAtiveNewYorker
                                          t
                                          Tay Jan 17, 2008 01:15 PM

                                          Native
                                          My pleasure :-}
                                          Areo has good food, but it's expensive and overpriced and if you are not a "regular" fuggeddaboudit! You would be better off at another Bay Ridge restaurant like New Corner or Chianti. I forgot to mention Chianti. Huge portions designed to be shared. I really like this place. Warning: Parking is insane!
                                          Chianti
                                          8530 Third Ave. (86th St.)
                                          Brooklyn, NY 11209
                                          718-921-6300

                                          1. re: Tay
                                            j
                                            josh L Jan 18, 2008 08:18 AM

                                            Areo is a much better restaurant then New Corner or Chianti. They cook on a much higher level and focus more on Italian regional cooking then Middle Village or Bensonhurst.

                                            1. re: josh L
                                              t
                                              Tay Jan 18, 2008 08:25 AM

                                              josh
                                              I would agree that Areo's food is very good, but totallly different. New Corner and Chianti are more "red sauce based" restaurants, while Areo's features more Northern Italian dishes.

                                        2. re: Tay
                                          Bob Martinez Jan 17, 2008 01:55 PM

                                          I'm going to have to respectfully disagree about Gargiulo's.

                                          Gargiulo's used to be good long ago in a galaxy far away. No more. I went back in 2006 out of nostalgia. (I was attending the Friday show at Burlesque on the Boardwalk, but that's another story.) I took a friend and prepped him with stories of octopi on the ceiling, mafia guys at the tables, and great food. He trusts my restaurant recs. and we were both looking forward to the meal.

                                          The pasta starter was fine but the rest of the meal was steam table stuff that tasted like bad wedding food. Horrible stuff that we didn't finish. We both walked out of there shaking our heads.

                                          Avoid at all costs.

                                          (PS - the burlesque was good.)

                                          1. re: Bob Martinez
                                            t
                                            Tay Jan 18, 2008 08:37 AM

                                            Bob
                                            I'm sorry to hear that. I wonder if you hit on a bad night?
                                            I have occasion to dine there for business dinners somewhat frequently and a few "misses" notwithstanding, I've have very good food on a consistant basis. I hope you will give it another try. I dunno. Maybe my expectations have lowered somewhat.
                                            FYI... You're more likely to find the mobbed up guys and their, friday-late-night "Companions" at Areo's in Bay Ridge. :-}

                            2. bobjbkln Jan 15, 2008 10:14 AM

                              Frost in Williamsburg (warning, it's been a while since we ate there and there have been an occasional negative post here recently).
                              Piccolo Venetzia in Astoria.
                              Pasquale's Rigoletto on Arthur Ave.

                              -----
                              Pasquale's Rigoletto
                              2311 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458

                              Piccola Venezia
                              42-01 28th Ave, Queens, NY 11103

                              Frost
                              193 Frost St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

                              1. c
                                Claire Jan 15, 2008 07:27 AM

                                Monte's Venetian Room in Brooklyn. It's totally old school. Frank Sinatra sang there. The cheese cake is great.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Claire
                                  m
                                  Mr. Particular Jan 15, 2008 08:16 AM

                                  A word of caution about Monte's: unless it's improved a lot lately, the food is disappointing. Avoid it unless you're curious about the historic, old-school atmosphere. IMO a better choice not too far away is Queen.

                                  1. re: Mr. Particular
                                    t
                                    Tay Jan 15, 2008 08:21 AM

                                    With all due respect to Claire, the cheesecake may be great, but the red sauce is not, and basically it's all about the sauce.. Definitely not worth an hour's drive.

                                    1. re: Tay
                                      c
                                      Claire Jan 15, 2008 08:35 AM

                                      You're probably right, Tay. I don't remember the red sauce, just the cheese cake, so that says something about the food.

                                      1. re: Claire
                                        t
                                        Tay Jan 15, 2008 08:48 AM

                                        Claire... Lol! Very good point
                                        Now that I think about it, I'm not usually a dessert person so anytime I only remember the dessert it's a bad sign. :-}

                                        1. re: Tay
                                          h
                                          HankyT Jan 15, 2008 10:48 AM

                                          I love Monte's for the vibe and what it represents (old Bklyn), but went last Saturday and was pretty disappointed with the food. The bartender was amazingly friendly and welcoming, the waiter (much) less so and the cheesecake still great. But like you Tay, I have a salt tooth, not a sweet one so if I'm talking about dessert it's a baad sign.

                                          1. re: HankyT
                                            prunefeet Feb 17, 2008 11:37 AM

                                            Yeah I agree, you can have an enjoyable evening here, but not if you are going to get bent out of shape if the food is not amazing. It's ok, just not great. And it's fun for the vibe, and yes, for the cheesecake.

                                  2. re: Claire
                                    b
                                    Brooklynhound Oct 19, 2009 02:05 AM

                                    Unfortunately, SADLY and did I saw UNFORTUNATELY for us all who grew up with Monte's it's now gone. I don't know what happened or why? Anybody know anything? Monte's was the real deal. Ate there as a little kid and up through early teens. Real Italian...Angelo and Angelina and their family....what history. So sad. Put all other Italian restaurants to shame.

                                  3. g
                                    gutreactions Jan 15, 2008 06:05 AM

                                    Mario's on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx may fit the bill...It has been around for almost 90 years serving classic Neapolitan cuisine...family run and very cordial...recent celebrity visits have included Mario Batali and the cast of the Sopranos filming one of their final scenes...interesting history here too.

                                    1. NAtiveNewYorker Jan 15, 2008 06:04 AM

                                      Colandrea New Corner Restaurant
                                      7201 8th Ave
                                      Brooklyn, NY 11228
                                      (718) 833-0800

                                      Great meatballs, manicotti, lasagna, garlic bread...and no veal cheek ravioli anywhere in sight.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: NAtiveNewYorker
                                        t
                                        Tay Jan 15, 2008 07:19 AM

                                        I second NAtiveNewYorker's recc of New Corner. It's like stepping back in time to a forgotten era. Very old school. Very good food.
                                        Added bonus: There is street parking. We eat there often.
                                        Order a platter of Frito Misto for the table and check out the blackboard Daily Specials.
                                        Here's their site.
                                        http://www.newcornerrestaurant.com/ab...

                                      2. c
                                        carfreeinla Jan 14, 2008 05:59 PM

                                        We love LB Spumoni Gardens. If you can ignore strange salads and specials ( they all seem to involve fruit). They don't understand "light on the oil" or "half order".

                                        1. a
                                          Anne Jan 14, 2008 12:53 PM

                                          While we were visiting family last month in Queens we went to Salerno's in Richmond Hill. The place has been open for 70 years, and has JUST the food you're looking for! The decor (and many of the servers) hasn't changed in at least 40 years. The food is very old school and absolutely delicious!

                                          1. f
                                            fourunder Jan 14, 2008 09:41 AM

                                            WMJ,

                                            I haven't lived in the OB since i was a baby, so I cannot help you there, but if you post on the Tri-State board, I can give you a place across the Hudson between the Lincoln Tunnel and the GW Bridge........A NJ specific post would be deleted.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: fourunder
                                              j
                                              JSHAFT78 Jan 14, 2008 10:33 AM

                                              La Palina on Ave O is about as old school as it can get. Has a great Italian bakery, The Boccia, next door as well for grabbing some bread to take home. Nice staff and parking next to the restaurant if it's not full. Street parking not too bad in that area otherwise

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