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Coming to NYC with the whole family

NYC is my favorite place in the world hands down! I have many places that I love to go when I visit. I'm usually there by myself and therefore can go to all my favorites with no worries. Coming for spring break with my husband and two boys, very excited but just don't know where to go?? Pizza is my husbands' passion so we have to have the absolute best! The kids love burgers so we will go to Serendipity. Love the frozen hot chocolate there as well! Now we just need a great family Italian restaurant for dinner and maybe a couple others that are family friendly with atmosphere and great food. Look forward to your suggestions!

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  1. Price point for the Italian restaurant? How old are your sons? Well-behaved children who appreciate good food are welcome in the great majority of restaurants at all price points.

    As for pizza, look through these search results:


    You won't get New Yorkers to agree on which place has the best pizza or bagels. We like to argue about such things.

    Keep in mind that just about all Chinese restaurants are "family friendly," and the same is true of Korean restaurants.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Pan

      They are 9 and 10 and eat out all the time. They appreciate good food but are also not always up for the "dining experience" if you know what I mean.

      The older one and his dad love pizza, it's their favorite of all time, especially good NY style pizza because it's very hard to come by in our parts. The younger one and I are the foodies and could eat out at the best of the best every night and still not get enough. But this is our family vacation so we will try to agree and all enjoy our meals.

      We will also be in Philly for 3 days, any absolutes or suggestions??

      Thanks for all the feedback, I am new to chowhound and really enjoyed reading and look forward to hearing more.

      1. re: bellabella525

        I had a couple of good meals the last time I was in Philly, but if I were to post about that here, my post would be removed for being off-topic. Anyway, I think I can put myself in your sons' shoes: It sounds like they like good food but can find the ritual and length of luxury dining tiresome. The good news it, that leaves about 95% of New York eateries to choose from.

        Anyway, my 2 cents on pizza. I live downtown and enjoy going to Arturo's on West Houston and Thompson. Their pizza is solidly good, including some unusual pies, such as their clam pie, which is like really good clam sauce without the pasta (it probably won't be on the menu, but they'll make it for you if you ask). If you want something other than pizza, their eggplant parmigiana is perfectly good. The pizza really is the main thing, though. The place oozes old-time New York character, and there is good live jazz there.

        For an uptown place that I haven't been to as recently, there's the original Patsy's, in East Harlem on 1st Av. between 117th and 118th Sts. Their crust is a good deal thinner than Arturo's (which is already moderately thin), but their pizza is even less about the toppings than Arturo's. The 4 of you could share a couple of pizzas and some salad easily - possibly 3 pizzas. Again, the place positively oozes old-time character.

        But of course, every New Yorker has their favorite pizzerias. It's a given. And there are some highly-praised places I haven't been to yet. One of these days, I will stop short of walking to my usual Chinatown haunts and check out L'Asso, for example.

    2. Carmines on UWS or Times Square would fit your bill from the sounds of what you like. They don't take reservations for small groups but if you avoind pre and post theater times you will be fine-besides you can have drinks at bar while waiting anf both have HUGE bars.

      1. Maybe I'm biased, but I think the Upper West Side is great for families. You have Central Park, The Museum of Natural History and plenty of beautiful neighborhoods to walk through. My favorite family-friendly restaurants up there would be Nonna for a wonderful Italian meal and I also like Cilantro for a relatively inexpensive, sit-down family-friendly fresh mexican spot.



        P.S. There's also a Ray's Original Famous Pizza on the corner of 82nd and Columbus. But they're all over NYC.

        7 Replies
        1. re: UWStoSONO

          do not eat in any pizzeria named rays.

          1. re: thew

            or Italian restaurants named Carmines

            1. re: thew

              Hey, I didn't say I ate there. I just said it's called Ray Famous Original. And I second the thoughts on Carmine's

            2. re: UWStoSONO

              Any other pizza suggestions? How is that Patsy's? I'm going to a friend's on Friday night (86th & CPW) and she's ordering in pizza after a basketball game at Columbia - I've been asked to look into places. I think she maybe also mentioned a place called Dean's?

              1. re: UWStoSONO

                Is Primola on the Upper West Side? Had a great meal there several years ago. As for Ray's, I'm a native New Yorker and know all about Ray's, not for me, too mainstream and everywhere - terrible sauce!

                1. re: UWStoSONO

                  Agreed, the USW is great for families...but Cilantro is a really bad restaurant choice. We went last night, and were hugely disappointed. We went a couple of years ago and the food was fresh and innovative. Now its uninspired and tired. The queso fundido was yellow and looked like and tasted like melted velveeta. My friend's chicken fajita was dry as a bone, my husband's salsa "roja" on his enchilada tasted like marinara sauce out of a jar, and my salsa "verde" was tomatillo with huge chunks of onion and something that resembled vinager...we just got back from California last week and I have been quickly reminded of how bad the average Mexican is on the East Coast. Since you will be in Manhattan and not venturing to the outer boroughs, if you want decent mexican on the UWS and don't want to pay Rosa Mexicano prices try Cafe Frida, its right across from the Natural History Museum and pretty good. But yes, Cilantro does have a specific kids menu, and there were toddlers and infants there at 9pm last night.

                2. For pizza with the boys, you could head to Angelo's. Casual, sit-down, not pricey and broad menu...Really good pies: www.angelospizzany.com


                  1. For Pizza i would say Lombardi on Spring St. will be a good choice.. For family style Italian,, hoping i wont get boohed by the chowhounds,,, Carmine;s is family friendly ,,the 3 meat sauce is the best thing there with pasta. Don Peppe's is my favorite family style place in NYC.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                      I'm not going to lash out at you. Instead, I'm going to ask you two questions and then make a point. So, first of all, do you really like Carmine's? And is Lombardi's your favorite pizzeria in New York, or for that matter, within a 10-block radius of its own location? Also, I don't think that a family of 4 needs a "family style" Italian-American place; just a restaurant that's comfortable for their kids. Which probably could include Lupa - informal, good food, good service, maybe a little loud in front but quieter in the back.

                      1. re: Pan

                        The point of me recommending Carmines was that although I would not consider it fine gourmet dining-thousands of people love it -just look at the crowds there! The staff has always been wonderful and the portions great for groups without a humongous bill. I love fine dining and I have and always will enjoy Carmines.

                        1. re: UES Mayor

                          This is a family of 4, not a large group. But I'll take the point that you really like Carmine's. By the way, I don't think "thousands of people love it" is a good argument for ANYTHING'S quality. Millions of people love McDonalds.

                        2. re: Pan

                          Lombardi's pizza i like the best , i like it better than Grimaldi, John's, Otto. Grand Daisy and Sullivan St are totally different so I cant compare, i love their potato pizza.
                          I did have excellent pizza the other day at Inatesso and recommend that highly.
                          As far as Carmine's goes, Carmine;s is typical New York. The poster asked for a family italian restaurant , which to me meant family-style, Carmines I think is better than Tony DiNapoli and those are the only 2 I know of in Manhattan. Don Peppe's is the best but in Queens. Is Carmine's in my top 10 italian restaurants ,,the answer is No ,,but I do go there, when i have a big group, or people who want reasonable and a lot of food, of typical italian-american food, especially near the theatre district,,

                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                            The Tony's di Napoli on the Upper East Side, based on one visit, is not great but OK; the one near Times Square SUCKS.

                            Where's Inatesso, and what style of pizza do they offer?

                      2. Otto on 8th street is a good option....great family spot, especially for brunch. You have good pizza, pasta, salumi/cheeses....you name it. It is one of Mario Batalli's places and while it is probably the most relaxed of them all, you still get the standard of care and food one has come to expect from one of his places. if you go, make sure you try the olive oil gelato....just do it.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: NYCFORKER

                          I second Otto. It is a great place for families to go as they offer things that children and adults will appreciate. As far as Serendipity goes...just be advised that they were closed twice due to "Health Code" violations. I read the report and it looks like they were infested with rodents! Just thought you should know. Although they have reopened so may have cleaned up the place.

                          1. re: westchesterdiner

                            Here's an article for you. After being in teh restaurant business for over 20 years, I can tell you that cleaning up a place with this kind of mess is almost impossible. You can clean it up for when the inspectors come back - just long enough to get reopened - but after that it will fall right back into the old patterns of mess.


                        2. Oh and I would probably recommend you take the kids first to PJ Clarks for the burger and then Serendipity. Easily walkable and a much better overall dining choice, especially if you like NYC.

                          1. As for pizza, there is a classic debate between Lombardi's in Manhattan and Grimaldi's in Brooklyn. Personally, I prefer Lombardi's, but Grimaldi's is still really good. Grimaldi's also has the advantage of being right under the Brooklyn Bridge - if the kids are up for it, you can make the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and top it off with pizza at Grimaldi's. Kind of a fun, touristy activity. Another pizza option is Di Fara in Brooklyn - I've never been but have heard great things about it. More of a neighborhood joint, whereas Lombardi's and Grimaldi's get quite a bit of tourist attention. Co. is a newer restaurant with great reviews so far - but it is a bit trendier and may not be great for the kids.

                            For some reason, I haven't eaten too much Italian that's not high end (i.e. Babbo, my favorite!). Someone mentioned Otto which isn't a bad idea, and there is also a big emphasis on pizza there (of the less traditional kind). Good pastas and very reasonable prices. Another idea is Max in the East Village - pretty classic pasta dishes that are really good and really inexpensive.

                            1 Front St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                            Di Fara Pizza
                            1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn, NY 11230

                            1 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003

                            51 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                            32 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                            230 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

                            1. Thanks all for the great suggestions. We are very excited about your trip and your help has narrowed our choices tremendously. Look forward to letting you all know how your suggestions worked for us.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bellabella525

                                Otto - Pizza
                                Continental Bar in Philly - fun for all ages