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Italian dinner in or close to Little Italy

a
amandajj Jan 23, 2009 02:58 PM

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.

Thanks,
Amanda

  1. a
    Ann900 Jan 23, 2009 04:50 PM

    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
      s
      silencespeak Jan 23, 2009 07:05 PM

      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:
      Convivio
      Insieme
      Scarpetta

    2. f
      foodwhisperer Jan 23, 2009 08:08 PM

      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
        a
        amandajj Jan 24, 2009 12:19 AM

        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,
        Amanda

        1. re: amandajj
          s
          Simon Jan 24, 2009 07:12 AM

          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
            f
            foodwhisperer Jan 24, 2009 09:10 AM

            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
              Slob Apr 21, 2009 04:17 PM

              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
              f
              fourunder Jan 24, 2009 12:06 PM

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

              http://www.peasantnyc.com/

              1. re: fourunder
                j
                Jorel Apr 21, 2009 01:51 PM

                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
            p
            Pan Jan 24, 2009 09:09 AM

            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
              a
              amandajj Apr 21, 2009 01:47 PM

              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,
              Amanda

              1. re: amandajj
                p
                Pan Apr 21, 2009 06:23 PM

                Amanda:

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

            2. re: foodwhisperer
              squid kun Jan 30, 2009 07:04 AM

              Taormina closed in 2007.

            3. r
              rrems Jan 24, 2009 11:46 AM

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

              1. d
                DavidT Jan 24, 2009 12:07 PM

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

                1. s
                  secondbecky Jan 24, 2009 02:11 PM

                  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.

                  1. s
                    secondbecky Jan 24, 2009 02:11 PM

                    To the OP - also note that Convivio, Scarpetta, etc are alot more expensive....

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: secondbecky
                      p
                      Pan Jan 24, 2009 03:45 PM

                      Right, but Cacio e Vino and several other East Village places are cheaper.

                    2. bobjbkln Jan 26, 2009 06:11 PM

                      If you really want to experience a real Little Italy, you will have to go to Arthur Ave. in the Bronx. Go for lunch or get there in the late afternoon and walk around the shops for a couple of hours before dinner. Interested? Ask on the Outer Boroughs board.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bobjbkln
                        k
                        KTinNYC Jan 30, 2009 08:15 AM

                        Even Arthur Avenue isn't really Italian any more. Most if not all the immigrants up there are Albanians.

                        1. re: KTinNYC
                          bobjbkln Jan 31, 2009 12:29 PM

                          While many of the Italian residents have moved away, unlike the Little Italy tourist area in Manhattan, Arthur Ave. is still the "old neighborhood" to which former residents and their children come back to to shop and eat. The restaurants, food stores and the indoor market still have the feel, the products and the clientèle that you would expect in a Little Italy.

                      2. s
                        steakrules85 Jan 30, 2009 07:09 AM

                        Little Italy isn't the best Italian, however Il Cortile is decent.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: steakrules85
                          bobjbkln Jan 31, 2009 12:32 PM

                          Il Cortille is actually very good, by far the best Italian restaurant in Little Italy. But it is more expensive than most and IMO has an upscale (as opposed to neighborhhod) feel.

                        2. s
                          susan robin Feb 1, 2009 08:51 AM

                          Don't know your budget but I generally agree re the comments about Little Italy. Cacio e Vino is a good choice. You might also want to consider both Aurora and Ama in Soho (not too far from Little Italy). Scarpetta (recommended above) is wondeful, but not near Little Italy and it is fairly expensive.

                          1. NYJewboy Apr 21, 2009 02:44 PM

                            Do yourself a favor and walk up from that area to Lupa. It is not very far. It fantastic. Creative, delicious, and a broader spectrum of what is considered 'Italian'.

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