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Help me, I'm a tourist...

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  • ptrap Feb 22, 2008 07:17 AM
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Taking my first trip to NY in two weeks. We are Broadway bound and are seeing Avenue Q at 2pm and then Curtains at 8pm on Sat March 8. These theaters appear very close to each other on W. 45th Street. So after the first show, we'll stay in the area and have dinner before the next show. I realize I will be part of the "theater rush" so can someone recommend a good place? We like just about anything...I am a fan of your brasserie-type places, but really, I'll go anywhere. I'd like something memorable since this is my first trip to NY and obviously we have slight time constraints. We are staying at the London and trying to have dinner Friday night at Gordon Ramsey (we are on the wait list). Any recs are greatly appreciated!

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  1. I'm a big fan of BECCO on West 46th Street. The three fresh pasta (all you desire) dinner is one of NYC's greatest culinary values...and the food's quite good. My favorite in this neighborhood is a place called "Hell's Kitchen" that serves inventive Southwest cuisine in a lively atmosphere. For food that's a bit more upscale, try DB Bistro Moderne or the lovely and romantic Piano Due.

    1. Becco is an excellent choice. If you are looking for something moderate and more of an american style of food there is Rachel's on 9th Avenue. Very easy walk to the theater and a homey experience.

      For more reviews of restaurants in Manhattan: www.hermanweb.us/category/food-reviews/

      1. I've been to Becco many times over the years even though it doesn't have the greatest food. I guess I'm a sucker for thse two words "unlimited pasta"--haha.

        Hell's Kitchen is nice too, albeit a little overpriced.

        There is another place you should check out called Taboon. It's an upscale (sort of trendy but comfortable) pan-Mediterranean/Middle Eastern place on Tenth Avenue. It's a 10 minute walk from the other places mentioned here. I haven't been there in a year but I've heard that you have to call ahead for a reservation now.

        1. Marseille is a brasserie with great food and great atmosphere.

          www.marseillenyc.com

          7 Replies
          1. re: rrems

            Good suggestion!! I love Marseille.
            Also good and near the theatres is Bond 45 which is on 45th between Broadway and 6th. The pizzas are really great...such amazingly thin crust.
            I think I just decided waht to have for dinner....

            1. re: Tex in the City

              The assorted mozzarella platter for the table at Bond 45 is heavenly.

              1. re: LNG212

                how big are the pizzas at Bond? Are they personal size or does one feed 2-3 people?

                1. re: eternalX

                  I think they were a bit bigger than "personal" but not quite big enough for 2 or 3. I ordered a pasta (ravioli, the last time I was there) and a friend ordered a pizza and we shared, along with a third who had a fish dish. Really, for us, the mozzarella platter anitpasta for the table was the highlight.

              2. re: Tex in the City

                Went to Marseille last night.

                Great atmosphere but can't rave about the food like others.

                My sweetbreads were good as were my braised shortribs but neither were standouts. My wife's mussels were cooked perfectly other than the fact they'd forgotten to clean the sand from them. Overall, it was a good meal but not one to rave about.

              3. re: rrems

                I really enjoyed marseille too.

                1. re: rrems

                  Yet another vote for Marseille, a favorite of mine. Not the most special or spectacular, but very good at what they do. A fine meal indeed.

                2. If you like brasseries, you should consider Marseille on 9th Ave & 44th Street. The food is terrific and you'll love the bustling atmosphere.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Foodboy

                    Thanks! Great recs!

                  2. Hey, ptrap,

                    Please, please, please, do not go to Becco! When it opened years ago, Becco was a good destination. But it has become a victim its success (Lidia Bastianich having become a t.v. personality is part of it), so that at this point, it isn't anything like it used to be.

                    While the ayce special is extremely popular, the pastas are mediocre. In addition, they jam as many tables as is humanly possible into each room which makes seating uncomfortably cramped, and the noise level is so hideously high that normal conversation is virtually impossible. Not my idea of a pleasant dining experience.

                    There are many places in the Theater District with much better pasta and far pleasanter ambiance. So, if you are going to go for Italian food, the restaurant I highly recommend is Trattoria Trecolori, on 47th St., b/t B'way & 8th Av., a favorite of mine and many other Hounds. Delicious homestyle fare (especially the pastas) is served by a friendly, efficient staff in a large dining area with well-spaced tables and very attractive decor.

                    http://www.trattoriatrecolori.com

                    The Marseille recommendation is a good one. It's a bright, bustling brasserie on the corner of 9th Av. & 44th St., serving excellent French/Mediterranean cuisine.

                    You might also want to consider dbBistro Moderne, on 44th St., b/t 5th & 6th Avs. This is 4-star chef Daniel Boulud's restaurant which focuses on contemporary French bistro cuisine. It is, in my view, the best French restaurant in the Theater District area. Upscale, but not nearly as expensive as his eponymous temple of haute French cuisine.

                    http://www.danielnyc.com/dbbistro

                    Enjoy your first visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: RGR

                      Ah, thanks for the info on Becco...the loudness level sounds like it would irritate my sound-sensitive boyfriend. Love your recs, will check them out.

                      1. re: RGR

                        I agree. Becco is pretty mediocre.

                        1. re: psawce

                          Wow...all these Becco haters. I stand firm with my Becco reco. Granted it is crowded, but the service is always efficient, all the wine is priced at $25 per bottle (and there are scores of great and unknown Italian wines here), and the pastas --on a good night--can be flavorful. A recent night offered pumpkin and walnut ravioli, a vibrant lasagna, and a fresh linguine with a tasty ragu. This place offers great value, something lacking in most of the theater district restaurants, where the cost of one pasta dish can top $20. This restaurant is not a quiet, romantic bistro...but it can be quite fun.

                          1. re: Will4Food

                            Agreed. Give Becco a break. Another nice thing about their pasta special deal is that if you don't like an ingredient (e.g., shrimp) in one of the pastas, they'll make a batch without it for you. I always appreciated that.

                            1. re: jakew8

                              Will4Food, can I ask a dumb question? I love the look of Piano Due...how long would it take us to walk to it from the theater? It looks close on a map, but since I've never been to NY, I just dont know...thanks!

                              1. re: ptrap

                                ptrap,

                                Since you've never been to NYC before, it's definitely not a dumb question. :-) Your theaters are on 45th St., b/t B'way & 8th Ave. Piano Due is on 51st St., b/t 6th & 7th Avs. That's about a 10-minute walk.

                                1. re: RGR

                                  Oh great! No problem, then. Thanks again!

                                2. re: ptrap

                                  I just want to make sure you realize-Piano Due has a bar downstairs, which has the brightly colored Palio (that's what the place used to be called) frescoes, and the upstairs dining room, which is much more muted.
                                  I can't speak to the food since they've re-opened as Piano Due.

                                  1. re: David W

                                    Piano Due has wonderful food and it is still an "undiscovered" gem near the theater district.

                                    1. re: Will4Food

                                      Thank you David and Will...I have made Saturday night reservations there and I very much looking forward to it! I will write back on our experience!

                          2. re: RGR

                            I enthusiastically second the suggestion of db Bistro Moderne. We saw A Chorus Line recently and then walked over for dinner afterwards, and it was absolutely delicious. Be sure to have the potatoes Dauphin. And the duck confit. And of course the foie gras burger. Be hungry!

                            1. re: RGR

                              First of all, Lidia Bastianich never had anything to do with Becco. Her son, Joe, opened the restaurant and ran it without Lidia's participation. Your post intimates that she somehow left the kitchen. She never occupied it. Joe's restaurant credentials stand on their own.

                              I've been eating at Becco since a few weeks after they opened, years ago. I daresay I've eaten there 75 times or more. Like everywhere else, the prices have risen over the years, but it is still an excellent value. The noise upstairs can be a problem--and it has been, at times, even for me, a fan of the place. If you come with a large group, then you can have a wonderful, festive, food-sharing experience upstairs. Downstairs, it is a little quieter and the chance for an intimate dinner is better on evenings when theatres are dark or on off-hours.

                              The pasta is--and always was, wonderful. The main courses, particularly fish and veal chops, are a fantastic value by NYC standards. They are well-prepared, well-portioned, and often paired with fantastic sides. The bread is excellent. The Caesar salad is copious and well made. The dessert sampler is one of the best buys in New York City.

                              If you're looking for a quiet little corner for a romantic dinner, Becco is not the place. But if you want to have a wide choice of competently prepared dishes for a good value, with a list of Italian wines that are fairly priced--you are hard pressed to find better choices in New York than Becco. If you bring your own crowd with you, the noise you hear will be the sound of friends enjoying themselves.

                              1. re: rruben1

                                I never meant to suggest that Lidia, herself, was in the kitchen cooking up those mediocre pastas. But you are entirely wrong when you say she "never had anything to do with Becco." Joe may have opened it, but she has always been his financial partner, and over the years, she has been there with some regularity. In fact, the website used to announce her "Meet Lidia" appearances though they seem to have tailed off since she became involved with Del Posto.

                                In any event, if you're satisfied with mediocre pasta, seating that would make a sardine yell, "Uncle!" and a noise level that will leave you hoarse from having to shout to your dining companions in order to carry on a conversation -- to say nothing of the headache it will produce -- then, yes, Becco is the perfect restaurant for you. I will happily be going elsewhere.

                                1. re: RGR

                                  Your implication is that Lida's fame and success impacted upon Becco's "declining" food. How could that be true if she never had anything to do with the preparation of the food? She invested in her son's restaurant. Period.
                                  Your post took a gratuitous shot at a fine lady and a terrific restaurateur, who earned her fame. It had nothing to do with Becco. If you wanted to take that shot at Felidia, you could be right---or wrong. But at least you'd be relevant.

                                  1. re: rruben1

                                    There's no refuting the fact that Lidia's becoming a t.v. personality has brought a ton more patronage to the restaurant than might otherwise be the case, especially visitors from all over the country who have come to know her that way. (Not that that's necessarily a bad thing.) It's not a gratuitous slap at her. Just the way things are.

                                    As far as my views about restaurants, I can 'em as I see 'em based on my experiences. In the case of Becco, my earliest experiences were good, but the last time we went after not having been there for many years, the pastas had seriously declined, they had stuffed a boatload more tables into the rooms than were previously there, and the noise level was insanely high.

                                    You are certainly within your rights to adore Becco, but you are way out of line when you impune my motives and read into my comments things that are not there because I strongly disagree with you.

                                    That said, I'm done.

                            2. I've had nothing but good experiences at Rachel's on 9th & 43/44th
                              Pecan encrusted chicken was delicious

                              1. So all the options here are pretty pricey. What's a good deal in the area? We've been spending too much on food since we moved here and need to cut back and midtown is NOT where you get the most bang for the buck...

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: eternalX

                                  You might do better price-wise by going to the Ariana Afghan Kebab House or one of the Thai restaurants in the area (I'm really not sure which one is the best or least-mediocre or whatever). But best yet, if you have the time to walk to 51 St. near 10th Av. and go to Azuri Cafe, you'll get a terrific value meal that's delicious!

                                  1. re: eternalX

                                    Ended up at Vice Versa. Have been before. It's is not cheap but I really like the place. Great vibe, great food. The staff is also SUPER nice.