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Italian Recommendation on the UWS

Hi NYC-Hounders,

I'm visiting next week from London. I used to live in Manhattan, so know my way around the city a little bit. Just like real food, but since this is vacation and my Londoner husband's first time in NYC, I want to show him that New York can compare.

1. Looking for an old-style Italian, preferably on the UWS (we're staying at 79th & Columbus). The one place I can remember is Carmines. Any other suggestions? Want to show my husband NY/NJ Italian without actually trotting out to Long Island or Jersey.

2. New York style take away pizza-by-the-slice. Looking for a great slice of plain cheese pizza. Preferably UWS.

I also have the following down to visit next week. Your comments are welcome.
Striphouse for a special dinner out
Gotham Bar & Grill for dessert post-Striphouse
Buddakan for a group of us for a fun Saturday night
Gray's Papaya for a snack
Katz's for a lunchtime snack
H&H bagels for a "true" bagel
Chinatown icecream
Lalo's for dessert one late night
Drink at the Hudson Hotel (It was trendy in 2002 when I lived there)
Ocean Grill for an outside dinner

I am SOOOOOOOOO excited to be coming back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks in advance.

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  1. would recommend Celeste @ 84th/85th & Amsterdam Ave. Solid Neapolitan, but beware--no reservations...could mean lines. Also 'Cesca on 75th & Amsterdam.More upscale, Southern Italian, but you can make a res. & dine quite well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: drumwine

      I would second 'Cesca. Excellent food but service can lag at times.

      Not sure if you recall Vinnie's Pizza but, sadly, it is no more. I wish there were a nearby alternative for a great slice but, alas, I have not found it. I recall very good slices from Sal and Carmine's (95th-ish and Broadway). However, I have not been in ages so other Hounds should chip in here.

      Once you're up in the 90s you may want to consider continuing North to Absolute Bagels at Broadway and around 107th. It's still on my list of places to try but some people consider Absolute superior to H&H. Personally, I stopped going to H&H years ago.

      1. re: uwsgrazer

        Sal and Carmine's is fantastic. I believe it's a little further north, maybe 102nd or so.

    2. Nonna at 84th and Columbus. You won't be disappointed.


        3 Replies
        1. re: kathleen Kalagvano

          across st from genarro is Lisca, not old world italian but modern/fresh, ..its good

          1. re: kathleen Kalagvano

            Thanks Everyone.
            Will give Absolute bagels a try if I can get my husband to walk that far.
            Visited the websites: Nonna sounds like it hits the spot in menu terms of what I' looking for. Celeste and 'cesca sound fantastic as well - too bad I'm only there 5 days. Gennaro's sounds good, I think I went there a few times when I was lucky enough to live on the UWS.
            Will post back when I'm back.

            Will post back with my adventures when I'm done,

            1. re: kathrika

              As an aside, I would skip the Hudson Hotel if I were you. I'm not really up on what's trendy these days, but as you point out, the Hudson is definitely so... 6 years ago.
              Maybe the dreaded MePa (aka the Meat-Packing District) will give you a taste of current-day Manhattan trendiness. Or perhaps a cocktail at a really classic haunt like Bemelman's at the Carlyle or Keen's Pub could give you that only in NY experience (though not trendy).

          2. buddakan and hudson hotel as trendy as disney land...not good choices,also H&H not that good, do the bagels on bway and 106-107, do bacaro from wine and cichcetti, theres plenty of other places for drinks hudson hotel is not

            1. The guy who typed in all caps and can't spell is dead on. Gennaro's is one of the best in NYC, nevermind the price. Tops in pasta, grilled meats, and osso bucco. Great and refreshing salads. Tiramisu is among the best along with their chocolate desserts. Price is less than $50 a person including wine. A true gem and it can compare to the likes of the super-trendy heavyweights, such as Il Mulino, Babbo, etc.

              I'm a gourmet, chef, and resident NYCer for 15 years. If you're looking for UWS Italian, to not hit Gennaro is a mistake.

              1. As much as I like Celeste and Gennaro, I would not consider them NY/NJ Italian food. I think you should ask for recommendations for "red sauce Italian" if that's what you're after -- stuff like chicken or veal parmesan or marsala, spaghetti & meatballs, lasagna, etc. The only red sauce places I know on the UWS are Coppola's (not many fans here, but not bad red sauce italian) and I think La Vela, though I've never eaten there. If you search the boards you'll find some recommendations though maybe not in this neighborhood..

                Your other choices sound good, though I would skip Lalo on the UWS for something better -- if you want to stay in the neighborhood you could try Edgar's on 84th just off Broadway, or to the new Magnolia Bakery on Columbus.

                1. The good news: I was back in NYC after 6 years. The bad news: I only had 3 days.
                  Thanks for the recommendations ChowHounders - very useful.
                  Here are my comments.
                  Striphouse: Had the porterhouse. Seemed a bit charred on the outside to me. But the service was good and it satisfied my brother-in-laws and husband's steak pickiness.Doubt I'd make it a point to go back. Next time I'll make them truck out to Peter Lugers or try Keens which I have never been too.

                  Lalo's - still a good UWS dessert standby

                  H&H - lovely and chewy but had never noticed they were so sweet inside. Too sugary. Better than anything in London so I musn't complain.

                  Gray's Papaya - still fantastic. I love you Coconut Dream and the yummy relish on 2 crisped up franks......

                  Nonna's - great Italian food at 520 Columbus. Followed the recommendation of a hounder and was not disappointed as told. Relaxed atmosphere and the lasagna was outstanding. The boar dish was a tad salty. I'm still dreaming about the baked eggplant.
                  Thank you! Will try Gennaro's next time although we were a bit far from it this time round.

                  Cocktail at Carlyle: This was a fantastic suggestion after an afternoon pottering around the Met.

                  Saravana Bhavan: We're Indian and my brother-in-law had a dosai craving attack. Glad to see many new Indian places on Curry Hill which I used to haunt when I lived there. This branch was overcrowded with no good waiting area, but the food was better than the California branch, many many levels above the London one (which we refuse to go to), but of course not as good as the original Chennai/Madras branches. So go New York. Had idlis, vadais and masala dosais. The dosais are not too greasy here unlike the other lesser branches mentioned. They were very compliant about bringing extra sambar and chutneys.

                  Buddakan: Now this is what I'm talking about! This was a fantastic place to take people for a NYC experience! It was glam with all the beautiful people walking around. I was shocked to find that the food was excellent. We really enjoyed the greaseless dimsum. The lobster chowfun was as good as any I've had at San Francisco's best. My husabnd is still raving about the fillet of beef. Mapo tofu was outstanding. I enjoyed my ginton cocktail and shed a crocodile tear or two over my mis-spent youth in NYC. Overall far far better on the food front than expected.

                  Hudson Hotel: Why didn't I listen to the chowhounders and avoid this place. It is so 6 years ago. I didn't even stay for a drink in this overcrowded, gone-under meat market.

                  I can't wait to come back! Until then I console myself with my London finds.