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Jan 23, 2009 02:58 PM

Italian dinner in or close to Little Italy

Hi everyone.

I have read some previous threads about dining in Little Italy, and not all of them have been positive. I have also read loads of customer reviews about various restaurants and am getting more and more confused!

I wonder if anyone can recommend somewhere with a good atmosphere which serves Italian food on a Friday evening. We are coming from England and want to experience a meal in or close to Little Italy. There will be 4 of us - 3 adults and one 11 year old. I am keen to make a good choice so we can have a decent meal to remember.


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  1. From your post - "we want to experience Little Italy"- I have a feeling that you are anticipating a neighborhood filled with Italians and Italian food and culture. Italian . Alas, that Little Italy is long gone. Nowdays it is only a shadow of its fiormer self. What is left is a handful of very mediocre, overpriced restaurants that only survive because of tourists. (There is however, one terrific food store Da Paolo's thatis absolutely the real thing.)
    Most of what used to be Little Italy is now part of Chinatown.
    No problem going there, just know that it is unlikely to be the Little Italy you may be expecting.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ann900

      Totally agree with what Ann said. If you are looking for Italian food in particular, there are plenty of great ones, just not in Little Italy. I did however live in the area for a year, and tried out about 8-10 LI restaurants. My favorite was Vincents, the oldest surviving restaurant of the bunch (over 100 years standing). La Mela has huge portions and solid fare, Benito II was fine. Regardless, there are far better Italian meals to be had in New York than the ones in Little Italy. I highly recommend eating Italian outside of that neighborhood.

      Some restaurants to consider looking into:

    2. I agree with other chowhounders Little Italy is not what it once was. Although there are some restaurants there that have endured. Like Benito, Grotto Azzurra, Vincent's ( not even close to how good it once was). Vincent's was good when all we got was fried seafood in hot sauce. The pasta is bad and so is the other food. Il Cortile is probably the most high end , and Taoramina is popular and probably the best Little Italy experience, but just mediocre. Puglio's was always fun with the sing a long stuff, but the food not good. I'd eat italian in the village , maybe at Il Mulino for memorable and go to little italy for dessert at Roma or Ferrara. Da Paolo is a good store, but I had thought they made their own ravioli, then I heard they buy it from Pastosa in Staten Island. The ravioli is excellent in any case.

      10 Replies
      1. re: foodwhisperer

        thanks everyone - I will have a look at the suggestions you have provided, and I will take all of your advice and go for an Italian elsewhere. I saw a good report for a place called Cacio e Vino - not sure it it qualifies for Little Italy status but it received a good write-up. Will look at others though and make my choice. Thanks again,

        1. re: amandajj

          Cacio E Vino is a good place, and the owner/manager and some of the staff are Italian...Malatesta, in the Far West Village is a also a solid medium-price choice w/ Italian staff and a cute vibe...

          also, i've never been to Peasant, it's been recommended by others here as a place to go if you want to pass through Little Italy and then walk nearby to eat (it's on Elizabeth St)...

          1. re: Simon

            Lombardi Pizza on Spring St I think is in what is considered Little Italy. They have good high quality pizza, using san marzano tomatoes and good cheese ( pies only) and giant calzones.

            1. re: foodwhisperer

              I think Lombardi is terrible. Haven't had the calzones, but the pies I had on 2 fairly recent trips were horrific.

            2. re: Simon

              Peasant is a wonderful restaurant. I second Simon's suggestion.


              1. re: fourunder

                Peasant for sure.

                t is an excellent Italian restaurant that happens to be (thankfully) just outside of Little Italy, but it is one of New York's top 10 Italian restaurants and would be if it were located in a different neighborhood (although, while I despise Little Italy, I rather like Nolita).

          2. re: foodwhisperer

            Especially if you're already in the Village, there's absolutely no reason to go to Little Italy for pastries, when Rocco's on Bleecker is better.

            For the record, the store you want to recommend is Di Palo.

            Amanda, Cacio e Vino is in the East Village, and I do recommend it.

            1. re: Pan

              Hi Pan
              Just to let you know I have just returned from Manhattan today and had a thoroughly enjoyable meal at Cacio e Vino last Friday night. The 4 of us in my party were very well looked after and the food was lovely. Many thanks for the recommendation you made back in January - I am pleased I took your word on how good the restaurant is. When I return to Manhattan I will make sure I book a table there again.
              Thanks alot,

              1. re: amandajj


                I'm glad you had a good time. What did you have?

            2. Pepolino is just a few blocks west of Little Italy, and the food is excellent.

              1. Has anyone been to Forlini's recently? It used to be quite good. Any recent reports?

                1. While Little Italy might not be the best food in the city the original poster specifically said he already knew that, and I assume he wants the atmosphere. ITs still packed with tourists on weekend evenings and can be fun. Buono Notte is my favorite.