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"New York" Italian?

My wife's family is coming to NYC and wants to try "real New York Italian food". Where do I take them that won't be a rip off "Il Mulino" or a tired old wreck of a place "Patsy's" "Gino's"? I'm stumpted.

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    1. re: notsochubbychubette

      Babbo is not really New York Italian or Italian-American.

    2. I haven't been to John's of 12th Street in a while, but it used to be a standby. Or is that more "tired old wreck" than you're looking for?

      6 Replies
      1. re: CalorieBurner

        I went within the last year or so with a large group and had a good experience.

        1. re: CalorieBurner

          It's still a reliable standby. Can't go wrong with a place that just celebrated 100 years and has enough of that NY Italian authenticity that they filmed a scene from the Sopranos there. Food is good and prices very reasonable.

          1. re: CalorieBurner

            I love John's of 12th street but you gotta be careful what you order and not expect too much. The spiedino with anchovy butter sauce is a classic. The chicken and veal rollatini or pollo mimosa (saltimbocca in champagne sauce) are good. But the last time I went, Mrs. GG ordered an osso buco over my objection and it was a train wreck.

            1. re: guttergourmet

              Some people got Osso Buco when I went there. It wasn't what I expected - for example, it had red bell pepper slices in it - but I thought it was fine. What was wrong with it when you got it?

            2. re: CalorieBurner

              John's is as tired old wrecky as it gets. I recommend Ennio and Michael's for New york Italian. I agree that babbo isnt NY italian, but it;s good. Villa Mosconi is NY italian, although I'm not a huge fan of that place, but some chowhounders have liked it

              1. re: chocolatechip

                I second Ennio and Michael's on La Guardia Place. I guess in little itlay there's Il Cortile, Angelo's, Grotto Azurra ( none are great if they are still all there) but its NY ittalian and probably better than John;s. D;Andrea is a good one too on Hudson St.

              1. Il Cortile in Little Italy. It's very good Italian food, and there' isn't a "veal cheek ravioli" in sight. (Not that I dislike designer Italian food...)

                1 Reply
                1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

                  Second Il Cortile. Lots of fun to stroll around Little Italy (what's left of it anyway), the the food at Il Cortile is outstanding.

                2. go to piccola venezia in queens near laguardia aiprort and triboro bridge

                  1. i don't know what real NY italian food is, but i really like gradisca. on recent yelp postings, they got smashed b/c they are making people wait at the bar for 10 min before seating to try to make more money from drinks. a total pet peeve of mine, but we're in a bad economy so who can blame them?

                    1. If it doesn't have to be downtown, Italianissimo 84th bet. 2nd and 3rd. Real NY Italian food. They will make anything, not limited to the menu at all. My husband says it is the best Veal Parmagian in the city

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: JC2

                        Piatto d'oro, Rao's

                        Piatto D'Oro
                        349 E 109th St, New York, NY 10029

                        Gran Piatto D'Oro
                        1429 5th Ave, New York, NY 10035

                      2. Additional links

                        455 E 114th St, New York, NY 10029

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Uptownflavor

                          The chances are better that I will be invited to the White House to join the Obamas for dinner than for the OP to get into Raos. And even if he did manage to get in it's nothing special.


                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                            I know of their rep...but there are been cases where ppl have been able to get in through persistence and sheer luck. You never know.

                          2. re: Uptownflavor

                            Uptown,,,,, If you;ve ever been to Rao;s you know that if you do not have a permanent table or know someone who does , you cant get in,,,, so the poster shouldnt waste his time trying to call there.

                            1. re: chocolatechip

                              Not always the case. See response above.

                          3. I'm not sure that what you're thinking of as "real" New York Italian food is any different than Italian American food that you can find just about anywhere in this country. It's basically red sauce, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, etc... and I don't know why you would want to come to New York and eat this given all the other options - especially in Italian cuisine. Try Lupa, or Babbo, or Crispo or any of the other favorites discussed on this board.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: psawce23

                              I have to agree. I'm not exactly sure what you are looking for... see the other post about NY red sauce joints if that's what you are looking for. Honestly though, there are so many great Italians in NYC that offer something you really do not find in many other cities in the U.S. I would tell you to consider going for Babbo or one fo the many others. If you're looking for great pasta, try i Trulli on 27th. The hand made pastas are excellent and the wine list is stellar. John's is a mess, il cortile in Little Italy is just okay, has been getting worse over the years.

                            2. Make a trip of it: take them up to the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx, and then walk a couple blocks west to Arthur Avenue. You can search on the Outer Boroughs board for recommendations (personally I'd try Roberto's if you can do it on a weekday/night, or Umberto's on a weekend as Roberto's can get overcrowded), but a whole bunch of the restaurants up there are great in terms of "real New York Italian food" like I think you're describing. Just think of it as: Little Italy in lower Manhattan packed up and relocated to the Bronx; that's not far from the truth.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: cjd260

                                Arthur Ave. is the "real" little Italy. Lots of good places tucked away in The Bronx.

                                1. re: Uptownflavor

                                  johnpressman if you're looking for old fashioned, red sauce Italian check the Outerborough Board (Bronx and Brooklyn). Ecco near City Hall downtown is good.

                                2. re: cjd260

                                  Love Roberto's (both places), but sounds like the OP is looking for something more like Dominick's (very old school) or Mario's. Haven't eaten at Umberto's.

                                3. Echoing some of the other respondents, I am not certain what you would consider "tired old wreck", but two suggestions (and please check them out with the "Search this board") are Lusardi's (www.lusardis.com) and Campagnola. With the former, you will be very well received (especially after the locals finish), with the latter, perhaps not, for it is a bit cliquey. I have had very good experiences (including recent) at both. If Campagnola is unavailable, Nino's is just up the street. None are "cheap".

                                    1. re: guttergourmet

                                      Cantinori is good, but is that NY Italian, hmmmm maybe , the veal chops are good there

                                    2. A group of us went to John's of 12th the other night, and believe me, it is BAD! I could tell instantly I was in trouble; not one real fish dish. Their fish dishes were, shrimp, some fried calamari. I ordered chicken parmigiana, as I could sense none of the pasta dishes would be al dente or subtle. This place could keep the antacid makers in business. Hours after getting home the acidity began burning! The side pasta was acid and overcooked. The portobello mushroom starter was over-cooked with none of the redolent juices you hope for, basically just some dry singed slices on iceberg lettuce. Oh god, you could sense the look the waiters give you on the way in like " here come some suckers", and we were. I thought I had read here in past posts that it was "feh" red sauce Southern, and man is it ever. Not even as good as Rocco's in it's worst days. 100 years of "feh" is what they should have on the sign out front. I opined they must have a leases of like $200 per month to survive this long with such bad food. It's edible, the same way a meatball hero from the corner Italian deli is edible, but really not toothsome in any sense of the word.

                                        1. Wow! I was just going to choose John's of 12th Street until I read the earlier post! In Northern California, Italian food means either pizza or expensive Northern Italian places. I wont even start with the number of chains up there. I was thinking of places that have atmostphere or history behind them. Good food WOULD be nice. Monte's? Minetta Tavern?

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: johnpressman

                                            Minetta Tavern has new owners. The menu now features pricey French food and a $26 hamburger. That's right - twenty six dollars.

                                            FWIW I thought that the old place did very nice versions of Italian American classic dishes.

                                            1. re: johnpressman

                                              dont do John's ,, try ennio and michael's

                                              1. re: johnpressman

                                                Surprised about the poor review on John's. I've been there several times over the past few years, including fairly recently with a group of about 10. I ordered the branzino fish special which I thought was nicely prepared (and I can be an annoying pain when I get overcooked fish) and we enjoyed some really wonderful burrata cheese. Everyone else seemed happy with their veal parm or Tuscan meat sauce or whatever, the service was decent, and the check wasn't outrageous. I happen to like the food there and think it's a good value and will probably go back. Desserts are above average good.

                                              2. Trattoria on Carmine Street is the best! Classic NY Italian on a classic NY Italian block...Cash only.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: SouzieQ

                                                  I still swear by Toscana on Carmine. It used to be called Oreste. Where is Trattoria? I know Carmine intimately and don't know it.

                                                    1. re: sing me a bar

                                                      It's Trattoria Spaghetto, on Carmine and Bleecker, it's excellent!! Lots of character, a real classic. More casual than Trattoria Toscana which I hear is amazing...

                                                      1. re: SouzieQ

                                                        Trattoria Toscana is so not Trattoria Spaghetto.

                                                        Trattoria Toscana
                                                        64 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

                                                  1. I'm spending a weekend (5/1 to 5/3) in NYC with my family (wife, son is 18, daughter is 16)) and I'm having a hard time choosing restaurants that I think we will like.

                                                    On Friday evening we're going to a Yankee game, so we'll probably just eat at the stadium. I hear they have a food court and even some descent restaurants.

                                                    On Saturday, we're seeing a 2PM matinee, so we're looking to have a light lunch and an early dinner (say 6PM).

                                                    On Sunday, a casual brunch would be nice.

                                                    Being an Italian family, we prefer to have Sat. dinner at a nice Italian restaurant. We like good food and prefer a restaurant where the owner treats their guests as part of their family (like many of the restaurants in Italy). While we're into good food and a nice atmosphere, we're not into the whole NYC snooty scene, and especially not into snooty wait staff. Also, we prefer not to be squeezed into a place where we are rubbing elbows with other guests.

                                                    Our preference is either the Theater district or Little Italy. Price is not an issue, although we don't want to get ripped off.

                                                    When I've looked at restaurant reviews at this and other websites, I have been confused because it seems each restaurant has almost an equal amount of good and bad reviews (Lupa, Babbo, Becco, Crispo, Orso, etc.)

                                                    For Sat lunch, we're pretty open. Maybe a deli or a dinner.

                                                    For Sunday brunch, maybe something near the downtown shopping.

                                                    Please help!. Thanks

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: fundaddy22

                                                      For your Saturday after theatre dinner, I think you all might enjoy Trattoria Trecolori. It's right in the heart of the theatre district on 47th Street. The food is good, the atmosphere is very pleasant, and the service is warm and welcoming. Prices are very reasonable (for New York).

                                                      1. re: Striver

                                                        I dont thinl Lupa, Babbo qualify as possible eats given your request.

                                                      2. re: fundaddy22

                                                        not sure what you mean by the ny snooty scene

                                                        1. re: intrepid

                                                          Nothing beats Gino. The food hits the spot and the atmospheres especially the zebra wallpaper is fun.