First Trip to NY
Going for first time for wifes 40th. Staying at The Mansfield. Looking for a good local Deli on a Saturday afternoon and good Italian on Sat Night that I can get in before a play. Also open to any suggestions or local favs on Friday Night.
Don't live there, but after many visits, I think one of the absolute best restaurants in NYC is Union Square Cafe. It is reasonably priced, great friendly service, superb food and lots of choices, and a local favorite.
Union Square Cafe was a favorite of mine many years ago, but I feel it has become very ordinary over the years, and have not gone there in some time. If you search this board you will find many similar opinions. If you are looking for Italian in the theater district, the ones I recommend are Vice Versa and Orso. For Friday night you might want to consider Marseille.
The Mansfield is located on 44th St., b/t 5th & 6th Avs. Katz's, a NYC deli institution, is located some distance away, on the LES, but a short cab ride will get you there. If you decide to go, it's all about the pastrami! When you enter, you will receive a ticket. Do not do table service. (That's for tourists. lol) Instead, do what the natives do and get on line for counter service. When your turn comes, put a $1 per sandwich into the counterman's tip cup and order pastrami on rye. The counterman will give you a piece to taste. The best pastrami has some fat on it and is juicy. If you feel it's too dry, tell him and he will find a fattier hunk of meat. Once you approve, he will make your sandwich, give you some pickles, and mark your ticket. Then, continue along to the left for sides -- the cole slaw's good -- and drinks. (Dr. Brown's sodas are classic favorites. I prefer cream.) Your ticket will be marked as you go, and you must hold onto it in order to pay at the end. Once you have your food, find a table in the middle of the room. (The tables along the wall are for waiter service.) After you finish, turn in your ticket at the front cashier where it's cash only. If you need to pay by credit card, go to the take-out counter at the back. Note that sandwiches are huge, so unless you have a gargantuan appetite, sharing one sandwich is a good way to go, especially since you'll be having dinner early before the show.
All that said, if you don't want to travel that far, closer to you, and a very good second choice, is Sarge's, on 3rd Av., b/t 36th & 37th Sts. The place is a bit well-worn, but the pastrami is excellent. Sandwiches are big but more manageable for one than at Katz's. Table service is the way to go.
For your Saturday night Italian prior to the show, I highly recommend Trattoria Trecolori, on 47th St., b/t B'way & 8th Av. Nicely prepared, homestyle fare is served by a friendly, capable staff in a space with attractive decor and comfortably-spaced tables.
For Friday night, you might want to consider dbBistro Moderne, which is on the same block as your hotel. dbBistro is 4-star chef Daniel Boulud's restaurant featuring his take on contemporary French bistro cuisine. The food's excellent, and while it is upscale, prices are not nearly as high as they are at his eponymous temple of haute French cuisine.
The suggestion of Marseille is a good one. It's further west, on the corner of 9th Av. & 44th St. A bright, attractive, bustling brasserie serving very good French/Mediterranean cuisine.
Happy Birthday to your wife! Hope your first visit to NYC is an enjoyable one and Bon Appetit!
No need to take a cab to Katz's, unless you want to. Take the F train from 42nd St. and 6th Av. to 2nd Av. Stay at the front of the train, so you can get out on Allen St. and Houston. The corner of Ludlow is just two short blocks east of the other side of Allen St. And yes, that is your good local deli.
I know you're looking for restaurants, but since you're staying at the Mansfield, stop at the M Bar right by the lobby and try their signature blueberry martinis before heading out for the evening. They are a gorgeous color, and a nice balance of flavors - not too sweet, but you definitely get a taste of blueberry.
Also, DB Bistro Moderne just on the opposite side of the street from The Mansfield has excellent food at relatively reasonable prices. It's a great way to get a taste of Daniel Boulud's style of cooking without paying an arm and a leg.