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Need Italian restaurant for out-of-towners - not touristy

Hello. I need some help. Some friends of my family are in town and I'm meeting them for dinner. They are staying in Times Square and I work in the UES, but I don't want them to have to travel too far to meet me. They are Italian, own restaurants, and they are in town because their daughter is going to CIA and has studied in Italy. I don't want to go too overboard on price because they are treating, but I also want to impress them. Any suggestions?

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  1. I love Strata 57, on 57th and 8th. It's great. (Way more west side, obviously, but the best gnocchi I've had in Manhattan.)

    1. This is not located between you - but I recently had a lovely meal at Novita (33rd and Park)

      1. Do you have a sense of the upper limit that you'd like to spend per person, with drinks/wine? That would help us narrow things down a bit.

        1. Even though it's not in your requested area, I would suggest Peasant. Real Rustic Food.

          1. Celeste on Amsterdamn bet'n 84 and 85th sounds good - they can take the 1/2/3/9 up from Times Sq. Authentic Italian food with pasta entrees starting at $9. Great wine list, cheeses that are flown in from Italy, very good meal. Owner of the place has a restaurant in Rome actually...

            FYI - is cash only, and no reservations, so might wait awhile if you go during prime dinner hours, but really is great.

            1. Thanks so much for the recommendations - I'll look into all of them. Price isn't so much an issue, but maybe no more than $35-$40 per person (not including wine).

              1. I went to Nino's of Tuscany when I was in town a couple of weeks ago and I loved it. Irving Fields plays piano there 6 nights a week and it adds to the atmsophere of the place. The service was impeccable. I was dining alone and I started with a glass of wine at the bar and some pleasant conversation with the bartender and they set me up at a table for my dinner and they were very nice through out all the meal. I had linguine vongole and it was excellent. It is less expensive than most midtown restaurants. Entrees are under 25$ mostly and there are many appetizers under 10$. I am going back with my parents in a couple of weeks and will be bringing them there.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cricri7

                  It's a shame because the most impressive Italian happens to be in Chelsea(West Village) -- Crispo. I think they would certainly appreciate that place.

                2. If you want to stay in the TS area, I think Insieme is an obvious option. The food is upscale, creative and well-prepared. I wasn't wowed, though, when I ate there. If you want to wow them, I agree with the suggestion of Peasant (I have taken Italians there, myself). Lupa might also be a great idea (some very authentic Italian fare that is not normally found in the States), as is A Voce. But none of these are in West Midtown and Peasant will definitely cost more than $40 PP. FYI: all of them will require a reservation, and the sooner you call the better!

                  EDIT: I forgot to add that there is no neighborhood *more* touristy that TS- since you say that making a good impression is important to you, I think you would do well to take them out of that neighborhood. If they should have some objection to travel, then Insieme would be your best bet.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: vvvindaloo

                    Thank you so much for the great recommendations! I would really like to go to A Voce, myself. I'm going to give them the option - traditional/intimate, upscale/modern or something in-between. Cibo might be a good option as it's close to Grand Central Station. Have you eaten there?

                    1. re: vegetaryn

                      Actually, I did eat at Cibo once, and really can't recommend it. I went with friends who live in that neighborhood, which is really the only reason I can think of to eat there. The food wasn't "bad", it was just nothing remarkable (I have no memory of what I ate, either). The service was pleasant, as I recall. But it was quiet, and well, kind of boring. I definitely wouldn't bring guests from Italy there.
                      Are you sure that Italian is the way to go? If so, and with budget in mind, I recommend leaving the neighborhood. Crispo is a short train ride for them (14th St. just east of 8th ave) and serves excellent food. I can't think of one item on the menu that has disappointed, and I've probably been there 15 times over the past 5 or 6 years. Reasonable prices, lively, warm atmosphere. Should you decide to go there, I would recommend that you call and speak to someone to make a reservation, and request *not* to sit in the bar area- it's uncomfortably crowded and loud at times.
                      If it turns out that upscale is the way to go, I say Peasant :) I think you'll have an easier time getting a reservation there, assuming this dinner takes place in the next week or so. Also, Elizabeth Street is one of the most charming places in the city, IMO.

                      1. re: vvvindaloo

                        I completely agree with you about Cibo. It's in my neighborhood and we've not been back for years as there was really nothing to write home about the dishes that we've had. "Boring" would also be the word that I would describe our meals, too.

                        Crispo is many notches better and which I endorse.

                        1. re: RCC

                          i third cibo, not worth the trip.

                  2. I loved Tony's Di Napoli on 2nd and 83rd the one time I went. Everything on our table was delicious...the red sauce in particular was fresh and clean. Glancing around to the other tables, everything looked really appetizing. We didn't order any wine, but I think even with a bottle, the evening would fit within your price range.

                    1. I'll second Crispo and throw in Gusto in the WV, on Greenwich Ave at Perry St. Love it. www.gustonyc.com It's my friends from Italy who found it and take me there.