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Advanced NYC tourist has specific questions!

I've learned not to ask questions like "I have 2 days..where should I eat?" so here go some specifics:

1. We LOVE Prune for brunch on Sunday. But since we only eat a few meals a year in NYC (if we're lucky) I feel I should branch out. Please suggest something similar in tone and cuisine to Prune, downtown, and opened at least by 10:00 on Sunday am.

2. Staying at the Tribeca Grand, are there any gems in the area? Not necessarily for dinner, but maybe morning pastry, after dinner drinks, desserts, etc?

3. I'll be there on the last day of restaurant week...Fri Aug 1st. I looked at the list of restuarants, and the names that stood out to me were Morimoto and Del Posto...do you think either of these would be great bargains for lunch on Fri? Any others I've missed?

4. It's been a LONG time since I was in NY in the summer...although the best food is always the most important thing, if there are al fresco options w/ stellar food, please clue me in. (We like almost everything, particularly French and Italian)

5. Bouchon Bakery : worth the trip uptown? How do their doughnuts compare to the Doughnut Plant?

6. I've become obsessed w/ salted caramels...name your favorite source.

7. My husband loves John's Pizza. We were quite disappointed by Lombardi's last year. With that knowledge, how do you think he will like Otto?

Many thanks!!

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  1. Re: 6 - Not salted caramels, but if you like salt in sweets, the smoked salt chocolates at Kees (which is on Thompson in Soho) are wonderful. A reasonable walk from your hotel.

    1. 2. Bouley Bakery Market has the morning pastries and desserts. I also like Petite Abeille if you'd like to sit down for breakfast or a simple meal--great waffles. For after dinner dessert, you could also try Blaue Gans--great Austrian pastries.
      7. I haven't been to John's or Lombardi's. I personally like Otto a lot, but be warned that their pizza is not authentic Italian or Italian American style. It's sort of its own breed with a very thin, crackery crust and nice topping combinations. I'm not sure if your husband would appreciate that. That said, the small plates, some of the pastas, and the gelato might be worth going for even if you don't try the pizza.

      1. 2. If you're staying at The Tribeca Grand I'd be remiss if I didn't point out Pepolino just around the corner - excellent fresh italian. There's also an amazing little sandwich shop on W.broadway called Columbine (don't be thrown off by the name). It truely is a hidden gem - fresh made/ baked sandwiches/cookies/cakes every day. You'll be in line for about 15-25 minutes if you go at lunchtime - and it's pretty much takeout only - most people take out and eat it the park down the street.
        3. I'd skip Del Posto for reasons too numerous to get into here.
        7. If he's particular about pizza I'd pass on Otto. Instead you may want to take him to Una Pizzeria (12th & 2nd) - it's true pizza napolitana (not NY style), they make their dough every morning and close up as soon as they run out. It's no frills, and very few options - but it's a mecca for pizza purists.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Spends Rent on Food

          I definitely second Pepolino, and I would definitely skip Otto.

          1. Drinks in Tribeca - B Flat has some excellent "high-end" cocktails (former Angel's Share people) and I think is across the street from your hotel.

            I'd also consider Anthos for restaurant week.

            Del Posto is somewhat disappointing I think when you go with 2; it seems the best dishes are some of the giant meat items that are for large parties. Morimoto is pretty solid, actually much better than I expected. I would also consider giving Anthos a try for a RW dinner.

            Barolo (in Soho, fairly convenient to your hotel) has a huge al fresco dining area. I like the food at I Tre Merli, which they also own, and I think it's also a restaurant week place, so you could try that and kill two birds with one stone. Anyone else have comments on the food?

            5 Replies
            1. re: jonasblank

              I think there was just a post over the weekend about the food at Barolo being mediocre and expensive for what it is, though it is a lovely dining area. I always have a hard time coming up with good suggestions for al fresco dining plus good food!

              1. re: MMRuth

                Outdoor dining + good food seem nearly mutually exclusive in Manhattan. The restaurants know they'll be packed because they have a sidewalk cafe, so the kitchen doesn't try very hard at all. The exceptions are more notable. A few off the top of my head are are Nice Matin, Pastis, Morandi, Chinatown Brasserie, 'inoteca.

                1. re: kathryn

                  -- Malatesta has outdoor seating and good Italian food...crowded but lovely on a warm summer night...Far West Village

                  -- 'inotecta is also a good call

                  -- i'd avoid Chinatown Brasserie at all costs...

                  1. re: Simon

                    I have been to Chinatown Brasserie for weekend dim sum several times and the things I've eaten have all been top notch, albeit pricey.

                    1. re: kathryn

                      Yes, I think that CB is just one of those places about which CHs are sharply divided. I've enjoyed both my meals there, though the first one more - we were a bit constrained in our ordering by our dining companions the second time.

            2. 1. You might give Five Points a try for brunch. It's in the same vicinity as Prune. Make a reservation.

              1. 7. Arturo's is an even better version of John's. (Thicker crust than the thin Patsy's/Grimaldi's/Angelo's)

                1. 1. Clinton Street Baking Company, Five Points, Cookshop, Balthazar, just to name a few.

                  5. The regular donuts are kind of boring. They look like they should be soft and fluffy but are more cake-like than they appear. Very different from the Donut Plant. I haven't tried the jam-filled ones though. For a great donut, try perhaps Casa Cupcake / Cupcake Cafe? (Two locations).

                  6. Go to La Maison du Chocolate and get the salted caramel macaron. Divine. Also check if salted caramel is available at the Shake Shack as a custard flavor of the day while you are visiting.

                  7. No. Otto's crust is very crackery. It is a griddled/grilled (or something) pizza.

                  1. Danna, I could tell you did some great research already.

                    2. Second Bouley Bakery. If you want dessert late at night, Landmarc is not a bad place. Desserts are not outstanding, but they're satisfactory. They offer tasting size portions so you can try more things. They also have one of the best priced wine lists in town.

                    6. I also love salted caramel and really haven't found too many sources here. I had a delicious salted caramel tart last week, but it was in Brooklyn. Recchiuti in Dean and Deluca has delectable fleur de sel caramels.

                    7. I would not do Otto. Perhaps Patsy's, Arturo's or Pizza Napoletana.

                    1. If you want GREAT Napolitana pizza, beautiful sides and pastas and are looking for al fresco garden options, Franny's in Park Slope is well worth the trip out to Park Slope Brooklyn. It is quite special. My brother is a true New York pizza geek and has been EVERYWHERE, and Franny's is one of his favorites (won his vote for best sausage pizza in NYC) but he also recommends that if you try Una Pizza Napoletana in the East Village and the wait is too long (or the chef runs out of dough...this happens alot on weekends) then try Luzzo's around the corner. It's less of a pizza destination, but the pizza gurus really like it and it has a more extensive (and less expensive) menu. UPN just has pizza...all over $20 per individual pizza, but worth it.

                      Otto pizza is a totally different thing (although I do like the clam pizza)...Otto is actually better for the antipasto and salads but more special is the fantastic and very extensive Italian wine list (they do flights) and the terrific gelato. Try the ricotta and olive oil gelato with salt...interesting and excellent!

                      As for the salty carmel, if you haven't had it, pick up a pint of the Jeni's salty carmel ice cream at Dean and Deluca. It's from Columbus, OH and it's terrific. Worth a mail order if you are really salty carmel obsessed.

                      And a decadent al fresco lunch... Jean George off Central Park is quite civilized if you find yourself uptown. Or the back garden of August is lovely on Bleeker in the West Village...it's a good brunch choice for your Prune alternative actually (eggs baked in their wood oven are really nice), but I don't think they are open by 10 a.m.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: perrystreet

                        Jean Georges has an al fresco area?

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I believe that Nougatine does, not Jean George proper.

                      2. 1. Clinton St Baking Co is a great choice, but get there by 9:30 on the weekend. otherwise, I prefer Jane to Five Points. Very good brunch and slightly more refined than atmosphere than Clinton St Baking Co. - more similar to Prune. Though, Five Points is ok, too.

                        7. Agree with all on Otto. Good, but not very comparable to the other two pizza joints. Arturo's is comparable and quite good. I'd give it a shot. If you want something different, Una Pizzeria Neopolatana is fantastic.

                        1. 1. While its received its share of smacks, there's always Bubbys for brunch - near your hotel
                          2. Give Brandy Library a try if you like single malts and the like
                          5. Bouchon Bakery is good - maybe take some sandwiches/pastries to go and hit Central Park for a picnic (which may be the best alfresco dining for #4)
                          7. Una Pizza has been mentioned several times. Not sure when you're coming but they close for a 1 month vacation in August. I agree that Arturos is worth a try. Otto is good for a great antipasti and gelato along with their take on pizza.

                          1. Thank you all! The help on this thread has been fantastic! So far I'm settled on an Otto/John's double-lunch (this is not uncommon for us...shamefully) one day, the other is still open. Many of you said "skip Otto" but did you just mean because of the non-traditional pizza? Do you like it on it's own terms?

                            We'll try Bouley Bakery rather than Bouchon, and have drinks at B Flat.

                            Too bad about the lack of al fresco, I don't know why I was invisioning that as so easy to come by. What about Cafe Boulud? I ate outside there when it was Daniel for lunch once...how does it stack up these days? I've read bad reviews for Bar Boulud.

                            Brunch: I finally made flight res, and I have a 1:30 flight out of Newark, so I think I need to find a place that opens by 9:00. Rules out a lot of places.

                            Now, for dinner: I have failed at Babbo res and at Lupa. I still need to find a stellar Italian place. Please advise.

                            For the other dinner, I'm thinking of Cru...please comment. Other evening suggestions are welcome...husband is not bringing a jacket, so Daniel, JG and Le B are out. Husband really likes a lot of seafood choices...shellfish in particular. He's not super impressed by the new pig-centric comfort food (rejected Little Owl last year to my dismay.) I considered Degustation, but since dinner is our primary evening entertainment, I'm not sure bar seating does it for me. Comments?

                            25 Replies
                            1. re: danna

                              I like Otto--but I recommended it above, so that's already clear. Except for an overcooked pasta once and they bread they give you, I've never had a bad dish.
                              I believe Clinton St. Baking Co is open at 9.
                              Peasant for Italian.
                              For seafood, Aquagrill is good. I wouldn't say Little Owl is pig centric at all--a good pork chop, yes, but their chicken, fish, scallops, etc. are also very good. The bar at Degustation is short--e.g. around normal table size--so it's more comfortable than other bar seating might be. That said, seating is also tight, and if you get a neighbor who's a space invader, well... I truthfully wasn't in love w/Degustation when I went, but I've only tried it once.

                                1. re: Lucia

                                  Another for Aquagrill if he likes seafood.

                                  #2 - Danube is so romantic for a pre or after dinner drink. Better than the TriBeCa Grand lobby (do they still have the Seven Deadly Sin cocktails?). There are better places for dinner.

                                  Instead of Peasant I'd go to Bacaro on Division at the end of Orchard Street. I believe they have the same owners. If you are walkers, you could even walk there. We went to Cru recently and their wine list is amazing. If you want to spend that much on dinner go to Robouchon instead.

                                  What about Falai? Next to Robouchon my favorite food a/o 2008. Need to get back to Degustation again.

                                2. re: danna

                                  My comment about Otto is based on the pizza being bland. I haven't been to Cafe Boulud but have heard good things about it. I liked Bar Boulud, but it is more basic food, very high quality but not especially creative, with a very casual atmosphere and moderate prices. For high-level Italian, I would go to L'Impero. Cru is one of my favorite restaurants, so I would also recommend it highly, along with Picholine, which has a more formal ambience but no longer requires jackets. You may want to reconsider Degustation. We just had the 10-course tasting last week, and it is quite a bargain at $75 for the food quality and the originality of the dishes. It is heavily seafood-oriented. The seating is not uncomfortable and watching the cooks prepare the food in front of you is very entertaining. Hope this helps in your decision-making.

                                  1. re: danna

                                    I like Otto's pizza on its own terms but fully recognize that it's not "a New York slice" or anything similar. It's redeemed by the toppings, IMO.

                                    Brunch: Clinton Street opens at 10am on Sundays. (Just checked their web site.)

                                    Early weekend (Saturday, Sunday) spots for breakfast and brunch:

                                    I like Cru a lot but even though it's not as formal as the others you listed, it feels a little little bit stuffy in terms of atmosphere.

                                    1. re: danna

                                      I second you reconsidering Degustation. I ate there last month and enjoyed it immensely! Also, while it is bar seating, the bar is normal table height, so you are sitting in regular chairs, not bar stools (if that makes any sense!). Very comfortable. Entertainment abounds in watching the chef prepare the fabulous dishes and watching all the clients enjoying them!

                                      1. re: meggie t

                                        That does make sense. It's the high chairs that I particularly dislike in bar-type seating. So...yesterday i made reservations at both L'Impero and Cru for dinners. I feel it's acceptable to cancel and change while I'm still over 3 weeks out...so...would you think Degustation would be a good choice to replace Cru? I fell in love w/ L'Impero's menu at first sight, and I'm slightly concerned about the reported stuffy-ness of Cru + my wine budget is somewhat less than 1st cru.

                                        Kathryn - thanks for helping me research the brunch! From those threads I came up w/ 'ino and Balthazar, but they say "continental only" before 10:00 at B. Would you take that to mean "no eggs, just bread?"

                                        Again, thanks for all the hand-holding. I need to start dieting NOW.

                                        1. re: danna

                                          For me, the choice between Cru and Degustation is purely an economic one. Either one would be a great choice, but you will spend a LOT more at Cru. As for stuffiness, I would not consider Cru to be particularly stuffy, but Degustation is certainly more casual. Also, you should not be put off by Cru's wine list. I usually spend between $50 and $80, usually for something from Southwest France or the Rhone Valley. The great thing about Cru is that they do not have any bad wines. If it is on the list you can be pretty sure it will be very good. If you are uncertain about what to choose, just give the sommelier a price range and taste preferences and you will get a good recommendation.

                                          1. re: danna

                                            There are plenty of delicious wines at non-astronomical prices at Cru, BTW, so you need not worry there. And the food is top-notch but probably not as exciting as, say, Degustation.

                                            I believe that Continental Breakfast means just that...no pancakes, waffles, eggs benedict, but their pastries/breakfast bread basket is divine.

                                            1. re: kathryn

                                              Kathryn - I've been studying your threads and it appears you are the undisputed queen of brunch. I'm still trying to figure that one out. Looks like my choices include Balthazar, 'ino (neither of us really like panino very much), Pastis, and Les Halles. Thoughts?

                                              Another silly question: My hotel is giving us free drinks at Church lounge ...is this a nice place for a drink, or typical hotel bar?

                                              1. re: danna

                                                Generally, I think that Balthazar is just that much better than Pastis - maybe slightly more expensive, but worth it.

                                                1. re: danna

                                                  Balthazar over Pastis unless you really must sit outside. Make a reservation, you'll be risking getting turned away if you show up too late in the day for Balthazar. Pastis has a lot more capacity if you can't make plans in advance. 'ino is great but tiny, cramped, charming, really nice location. But not somewhere to go if you don't like panini or bruschetta, and want pancakes or something!

                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                    Well, that's just it...i have to be there by 9:00a.m., that's why my choices are so limited. Do you still think I should reserve at Balthazar? I would like nothing better than to eat a loaf of their chocolate bread w/ some french press for breakfast, but I'm still trying to find a decent place that will give my husband some eggs at that hour.

                                                    1. re: danna

                                                      It never hurts to make a reservation, and perhaps while on the phone, you can ask if your husband would be able to order a simple egg dish (like scrambled or sunny side up)?

                                                      1. re: kathryn

                                                        There seem to be a number of egg dishes on their breakfast menu, so I'd think they'd be able to accommodate the request.

                                              2. re: danna

                                                According to this: http://nymag.com/daily/food/2008/06/l...
                                                L'Impero is already closed and preparing to transform into a new restaurant.

                                                1. re: Lucia

                                                  typical...just like when I buy a stock...two days later there's some crappy headline in WSJ. What to do, what to do? I was already eating the saffron pasta w/ sea urchin in my head....

                                                  1. re: danna

                                                    You should go to Alto instead - Same chef - Michael White - and the food is unbelieveable - best polenta of my life. I actually prefer Alto to L'impero - as the decor at l'impero was getting tired. Hopefully the transformation will help... But seriously - Alto.

                                                    1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                                                      I haven't been to Alto. You could also try Scarpetta, which I also haven't been to, but it's the latest restaurant of the first chef at L'Impero. It's gotten some good professional reviews, but I haven't seen much on CH yet.

                                                      1. re: Lucia

                                                        My one meal at Alto, last fall, was fabulous, albeit expensive.

                                                    2. re: danna

                                                      Yes, I forgot again that L'Impero was closing, but I agree with the others that Alto would be a great choice. I have also been to Scarpetta, like it very much and will be going again later this month, but it is much more casual than Alto, both in atmosphere and food.

                                                      1. re: rrems

                                                        I just ditched the L'Impero reservation that had magically become Convivio in favor of Scarpetta. Platt's commentary on the breads and spreads did me in. Do I have to order anything else? ;-)

                                                        BTW, I don't see anything about dress on the Cru website. Jackets required?

                                                        1. re: danna

                                                          danna, My SO wore a jacket. There were many diners with collared shirts. I didn't see many people in jeans. It looked like smart casual or business casual to me.

                                                      2. re: danna

                                                        They have reopened, by the way, per the NYT.

                                                    3. re: danna

                                                      danna, we did not find Cru stuffy at all. It's not formal like Chanterelle (don't get how people find it romantic). Cru has an excellent sommelier and they have wine in many price ranges. I went to Cru more for the wine then the food. The service was impeccable. Enjoy!

                                                2. 2. La Colombe has good cappuccino and pastries (though they don't make them there).

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: scrittrice

                                                    Their pastry source is Petrossian. I do like their cappuccino as well.

                                                  2. If your husband loves John's Pizza he will adore Patsy's in Harlem on 1st Ave at 117 Street. The crust at Patsy's is far and away superior to John's otherwise the pies are somewhat similar.

                                                    I agree with you about Lombardi's, and have never found it to be serious pizza.

                                                    1. 3. Do yourself a favor and skip restaurant week! I always avoid the participating restaurants during the dreaded week: there are exceptions of course, but NYC-RW can generally be associated with crowds of tourists, lower quality food, poor service, and angst all around. I prefer to enjoy the relative quiet and loads of extra attention at restaurants who aren't participating during those promotional times.
                                                      4. My favorite al fresco is at one of my favorite restaurants, the lovely garden at Blue Hill.

                                                      1. hey I live in Tribeca and for great drinks go to "Grace" on Franklin Street, great small plates too! There is a fantastic Vietnamese restaurant on Greenwich St call Viet Cafe, the food is incredible and easy to get a table. also Blau Gans on Duane Street is great food too!

                                                        for best pizza in this are I always head directly for Arturo's on Houston Street. in Tribeca though Dean's (on Greenwich st.) is pretty good too!

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: Jimper

                                                          Jimper, we always walk by B. Gans on our way to Duane Park or The Harrison. I keep reading good things on this Board. I don't eat red meat, is it out for me?

                                                          1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                            Not at all--Blaue Gans has some great pork dishes, and I've enjoyed some of the fish as well. If nothing else, go for dessert.

                                                            1. re: Lucia

                                                              Thanks, Lucia, We'll have to give B. Gans a try. Also need to check out Pepolino. We've eaten our way through the menu at Duane Park, though it remains a favorite.

                                                            2. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                              yes they have more than just red meat, from what I understand the chicken is supposed to be one of the best in the city, and the homemade sausages with saurkraut are to die for!

                                                          2. 5. Bouchon's donuts tend to be very heavy that it made me feel like I should walk even though I split one with my friend. I prefer the bomboloni from Caffe Falai.


                                                            1. Hey, danna,

                                                              #4. Delicious food and al fresco dining are not always mutually exclusive. Gascogne, on 8th Av., b/t 17th & 18th Sts., is a small French bistro with excellent food and one of the most charming, romantic back gardens in the city. In fact, we just had dinner there the other evening. As usual, a thoroughly delightful experience.


                                                              At Cafe Boulud, another of our favs, the cuisine is always stellar. Current Executive Chef, Gavin Kaysen, recently won the James Beard Award for Best Rising Chef. Deservedly so! Service is cordial and polished. The stylishly contemporary interior decor is totally different from the days when the space was Daniel. There is al fresco dining though I happen not to like eating on the sidewalk even if it is on a tony street on the UES.


                                                              Enjoy your visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!