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Traditional Italian food in Manhattan

My wife and I are having dinner tomorrow with a colleague and his wife tomorrow night. We're staying in mid-town. He likes traditional Italian food. I like good food, good wine and moderate prices. We're not after a trendy, cutting-edge restaurant (like a Mario Batali place). Anywhere in Manhattan is fine but mid-town to the village is better. Someone suggested Nanni's Restaurant on East 46th but I've never been. Also, we'd prefer casual dress. Thanks in advance.

Bob M.

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  1. Roberto Passon is very reasonable, casual, and has very good food for the price. I believe it's at 50th or so and 9th Avenue. I've not heard of Nanni's.

    1. Here are three restaurants serving well-prepared traditional Italian food. All have friendly, efficient service; pleasant, non-trendy atmospherics; and moderate prices. Casual dress is entirely appropriate at all of them.

      Trattoria Trecolori - http://www.trattoriatrecolori.com

      Campanile - http://www.campanilenyc.com

      Paul & Jimmy's - http://www.paulandjimmys.com

      1. I'm not sure what your concept of traditional Italian food is, but to me Babbo's and Lupa's dishes (both Mario Batali places) are pretty close to what I would consider regional, authentic and traditional Italian is.

        Are you thinking of red-sauce Italian?

        1 Reply
        1. re: RCC

          I agree. Don't be put off by Batali's celebrity status. Lupa is pretty darn close to the tradiontal Italian I've eaten in Italy and I wouldn't describe it as very trendy at all. If it's too much of a scene, you could also try Crispo on 14th or Cacio e Pepe in the East Village. For even more affordabel Italian, I like Frank's as well. If you're looking for red sauce Italian, that's a whole different deal but you'll certainly get good recs here.
          Enjoy your meal and please report back!
          Jeremy

        2. Bar Pitti on 6th Av. and Bleeker in the Village is totally authentic Tuscan food. The owner is from Siena, as is the cuisine. There are more daily specials (written on blackboards brought to your table) than what's on the menu. It's very casual and not expensive. No reservations. Full of Italians.

          I also find Le Zie in Chelsea very good and authentic. A very inexpensive light(ish) meal would be to share their "Picci" appetizer, which is a tower of Venetian nibbles. Their pastas are also terrific, especially the daily specials (like Bar Pitti.)

          12 Replies
          1. re: mahler5

            Da Silvano which is basically same as Bar Pitti ( they had a relationship besides being next door to each other), Ennio and Michael, D'Andrea for the village,,,, Becco ( Lydia;s place) is good in theatre district ( not fancy just regular Italian-American), I'm no fan of Lupa, the menu is too limited.

            1. re: foodwhisperer

              Are you certain about the Bar Pitti/Da Silvano relationship? I had heard that they both denied it.

              1. re: mahler5

                Well, whether they once had one or not, they certainly do not any longer. They cannot stand each other.

              2. re: foodwhisperer

                Basically the same? One is a trendy celebrity place with high prices, one is a trendy regular folks place with more reasonable prices. I always find the food at Bar Pitti to be excellent, was not impressed by Da Silvano.

                1. re: DavyTheFatBoy

                  the owners of the two neighboring restaurants were from the same part of italy and partners.

              3. re: mahler5

                OK, you've got my attention. I spent two summers as a student in Siena and loved it! Does this place have really good pasta e fagioli and ribollita or/and zuppa di verdure? If Bar Pitti has really good Senese food, I want to go there.

                (Off-topic: mahler5 - are you a musician, perhaps a brass player?)

                1. re: Pan

                  Bar Pitti is great - when/if you go you need to order the spinach as a starter - I can't figure out how they get it to taste so good - not watery, just a yummy plate of goodness!!

                  1. re: harryharry

                    I absolutely agree. I get it every time I do there.

                  2. re: mahler5

                    Do you mean cicchetti? Love Le Zie, but be warned, it can get very loud.

                    1. re: scrittrice

                      Cicchetti, yes! I don't know what I was thinking. It's a wonderful value and very delicious.

                      1. re: scrittrice

                        Yes, way too noisy. Upstairs is much, much quieter, but it's very claustophobic.

                    2. Haven't been to Nanni's in more than a decade. Used to be one of my father's favorites. Definitely "old school" (great fegato a la Venziana), but prices were never what you would call moderate. It was somewhat pricey then, and I can't imagine it would be less so now.

                      1. I love Campanile for traditional Italian. It is a nice place where you go for a nice meal and where the owner greets people like they were family. It is a place for grown ups and not teenagers screaming!

                        I also loved Nino's of Tuscany on 58th street.. When I went there a year ago, there was a 93 year old piano player, Irving Fields, and it was so much fun. He went around the room asking people for suggestions and played them. The food was good and the prices reasonable. The service was excellent.

                        Both would be great.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cricri7

                          I believe he's still there. We went to Nino's of Tuscany in December and that lovely gentleman spent so much time with our table we almost invited him to join us! And he played every one of our song requests. It was a lot of fun. As for the food, while I thought it was good, I also thought that there are other places where the food is equally good at a much lower price point.