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prefer a restaurant strong on pasta and a good red sauce

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  1. I haven't been in a number of years, but I recall having a positive experience at Gennaro on Amsterdam (92nd/93rd).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Desidero

      Gennaro is absolutely fantastic. Fabulous food. Way more than a 'red sauce' place.

    2. Are you looking for "red sauce Italian American" (e.g., veal parmesan, spaghetti & meatballs, etc.) or are you looking for just good red sauce? If it's the latter Gennaro might work and there's also Celeste -- they have a very nice red sauce that I think you can get on gnocchi and on penne with mozzarella. Sometimes it can be salty but I think they use San Marzanos and it's quite good.

      11 Replies
      1. re: JMJD

        shoot me ,,but the ragu meat sauce at carmines is probably their best dish and not bad,,, I cant believe i just recommended carmine's

        1. re: foodwhisperer

          i loveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Carmines!!!!!!!! and the staff is always so nice-been going there for years and will continue to do so.

          1. re: foodwhisperer

            honestly, i always had reccomending carminesm but I enjoy alot of the dishes there. Stay away from the stuffed mushrooms though. They put red pepper in the stuffing....Tastes like you'rte eating red pepper stuffed mushrooms...

            1. re: italianagambino

              is this chowhound? are you serious with Carmines? Gennaro is pretty bad to....Celeste good for the price, Cesca is ok, salumeria rossi is new and interesting However, none of these places fit the red sauce type of place the OP is looking for....UWS is rather devoid of quality italian places, but carmines sucks on so many levels...

                1. re: Cpalms

                  Yea I'm gonna have to second that. I boycott Carmine's for the mere fact they have those annoying vibrating pagers to tell you when you're table is ready. This is NY, not Florida.

                  Anyway, try Nonna on Columbus at 85th Street.


                  1. re: UWStoSONO

                    nonna is uneven. but worth trying....

                  2. re: Cpalms

                    I never said it was the best, but carmines, all be it a chain, it's NOT BAD food.

                    1. re: italianagambino

                      Not bad? since when is this board about finding not bad food? it's terrible and practically an insult to my Italian-American heritage....it's akin to what mexican's must feel about Taco Bell.... the best red sauce italian CLOSE to the UWS is Patsy's on 56th...

                      1. re: Cpalms

                        its all about expectations. if you are in the mood for big portions that have little depth of flavor, but alot of heavy flavor.. then a place like carmines works....

                        1. re: Cpalms

                          Clearly I'm italian american too......TO EACH IS OWN, Cplams..TO EACH IS OWN..Not here to argue.

              1. well, I dont know how far uptown you would go, but I love Max Soha- very old time grandma type cooking- always a wait though- cheap in price but so good-
                its on Amstedam and 123
                also -I always liked coppola's on W79th btw ams. and broadway- also just really good old school Italian

                1. i personally love celeste and think it has the best pasta on the UWS. i like their paccheri. it has a really nice, tomatoe-y sauce. their special pasta of the day is usually some sort of egg noodle and the sauce is generally not tomatoe-y. i wouldn't get the gnocchi either.

                  of course, i haven't been to 'cesca, so can't vouch for that. carmines? hmmmm, it's okay, but it's not what you'd call "quality". it's just your average comfort italian food. gennaro has seemed a little salty to me in the past. i know it sounds weird, but i had one really decent pasta at al dente on amsterdam in the 70's somewhere. i also heard that pisticci's up on la salle (two blocks south of 125th and broadway) was really good. i haven't been to salumeria rosi either.

                  let us know if you find something good! what are your favorite pasta places elsewhere in the city? i have a few favorites... :)

                  1. if the OP is looking for classic red sauce itailan, while I do like some of the places mentioned only Carmine's fits that discription. It's been a while since I ate there, but I'm thinking Capolla's on 79th would also fit the request which was for the best red sauce Italian, not the best Italian, and I'll add Deans to the list also. There non pizza items are pretty.

                    1. I'm really surprised by the recommendations here...especially for Carmine's and Gennaro's. Gennaro's is the equivalent of going to Carmines or Tony's in midtown - reasonably good generic Italian food with huge crowds. For a quality eating experience, go to Lisca - right across the street from Gennaro's. The atmosphere isn't amazing, but the food is delicous, fresh, the price is right, and the service is excellent.

                      1. Carmine's is literally revolting. It is as good as any Sbarros I have eaten at in an airport.. You will get better food heating up Stoffers Chicken Parm in a proper oven..

                        Gennaro's is one step up from Carmines but, it too is a joke of a restaurant.

                        Celeste is the best Italian for the price..

                        Though, I have had good meals at Spiga..

                        Bettola has decent pizza, a decent Cornish Game hen dish, and a farro and bean salad that is good.

                        Cesca is good but, expensive..

                        Celeste, is really the clear winner.

                        I have been to Regional a few times and was not really impressed.. It has been a couple of years, I should go back.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Daniel76

                          If you're willing to travel a little higher than the 90s hit up Campo between 112 and 113 or spiga (in 80s i think - cash only). Gennaro used to be my favorite until I revisited it a few weeks ago and was extremely disappointed by the service and the food. People can dog Carmine's, and while sure, it's big and chainy, I've never been disappointed with a meal here. max soha is also cute - up by columbia. to be honest, you're really not going to get that great of an italian meal on the upper west... you're better off going down to the village to some of my favorites like malatesta or gradisca.

                        2. Of the "high-end" places I like Cesca the most. Gennaro and Celeste are good but I dislike the jammed-in seating and I think both have a pretty limited menu..But lots do like them. Of the "plain ol' Italian" restaurants, I'm a fan of Coppola's as well (79th b/t Amsterdam and Broadway), and Papperdelle (75th and Columbus) is pretty good.

                          There is a brand-new Italian in the space that Neptune Room was in (Amsterdam between 84th and 85th) - I think the name is "Cafe Luna"? It may be opening tonight or tomorrow based on the appearance so that might be worth a look if you want to be experimental.

                          Not that it helps you much right now, but Accademia de Vino is opening a UWS branch in July/August that I'm sure will be great.

                          1. Man I can't believe all the Gennaro hate on here! To call it one step up from Carmine's! Pah! It's a great and consistent restaurant - much more consistent than Celeste (which also suffers from having a pompous owner). I'll admit that most of Gennaro's brilliance is the meat dishes. Excellent lamb chops, duck, venison, salmon. But the risotto is great as well (especially seafood), the bolognese sauce is good, the cacio e pepe is good. They also have several great appetizers like mushrooms and polenta or a warm goat cheese, beet and potato tart or both beef carpaccio variations, etc. The only dessert I would go out of my way for is the chocolate hazelnut mousse cake (though I admit that Celeste's mousse cake used to and may still be superior). There is one dish I tell guests not to order: the pasta with swordfish which is just pasta with little bits of swordfish.

                            The negatives about Gennaro are the noise and cramped quarters but I prefer that to raising prices. Also I'm not crazy about one of the waiters but the rest are really great. Maybe I'll get run over for professing my Gennaro love, but I'll gladly lay down for it.

                            I did enjoy Cesca for the huge amount of space, but wasn't blown away by the food enough to make it worth the extra price.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: johnnyonenut

                              I had a terrible experience at Gennaro's a few years ago. When I asked to see the manager, I was told that he was not in. I called a number of times in the days that followed asking for the manager. He/she was never in. I always left messages and my calls were never returned. I finally wrote a letter--twice---and again no response. I will never set foot in there again.