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Apr 8, 2009 07:36 PM

Red Sauce Italian not in Little Italy

I'll be in NYC for a few days at the end of the month and my parents are meeting me to visit, hang and eat. My tastes are a little more adventuresome than my folks, so I'm having to adjust my wishes for mom and dad.

Dad is a super fan of old school red sauced Italian food. He pretty much only wants to go to Little Italy. I know that there has to be other places! I've been to Crispo, Gusto, Del Posto and dad would find those a little too fancy for his taste. Can you recommend any down and dirty, even divey Italian places? Nothing fancy at all. Veal on the menu would be great. The place I'm thinking is Spirito's in Elizabeth. Anything like that in the city? We're staying in Chelsea, but I'm willing to travel.

How about pizza? Denino's on Staten Island is the best as far as I'm concerned, but don't really want to take the ferry over.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I think Becco would be perfect for you guys. Inexpensive, family friendly, and def meets the 'red sauce Italian' requirement. Another great option is Paprika in the EV (for a more New Yorky experience), though that's a hike from Chelsea.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ExFlexitarian

      Becco is a good choice, you might even see Lydia there. They do a 3 pasta assortment with what i think is all you can eat. I had 2 helpings. A less touristy , more down home choice would be Ennio and Michael's on La Guardia Pl. in a neighborhood that at one time had possibly as many Italian residents as little italy, so it's kind of little italy. Really good red sauce, and the head of the Genovese family likes the food there.

      1. re: foodwhisperer


        It's got its detractors, but Johns of 12th st. always works for me

    2. John's in the East Village is very old school. I haven't been there, but I hear it's very good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: egit

        John's is not so good. They don't seem to put a lot of attention to the food, and surprisingly their red sauce is a bit bland. I prefer a heavy garlic rich gravy. Theirs is kind of non descript. However they are very friendly and attentive, and their service is excellent.

        1. re: LeahBaila

          Le Zie in Chelsea may fit your needs
          La Bottega in the Maritime Hotel
          If I'm checking out a movie in the Chelsea area I always grab some pizza @ Patsy's

          La Bottega
          88 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

          Le Zie
          172 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011

          Patsy's Pizzeria
          318 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

        2. I'm going to second Ennio and Michael's, I think that's a great choice. If you do decide to go a little more upscale but very old school, Patsy's on West 56th Street. My parents love it, and although I hate to admit it, so do I!

          1. For a night like that, I really recommend either Trattoria Alba or Trattoria Dell Arte. The veal parmagiana at Trattoria Dell Arte is my favorite in the city. Alba is a quiet neighborhood spot that's been around forever in Murray Hill.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Spends Rent on Food

              I also recommend John's on 12th St. Nice atmosphere, good traditional food. Ennio and Michael's is pretty good as well. For pizza I like Luzzo's, on 1st Ave near 13th st.

              1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                Alba is really just so-so. John's on 12th is okay, but just okay. Here's the thing - the truth is that very few places that look like old school red sauce joints make good food. The good news is that there are definitely some red sauce type food places but maybe they don't exactly look like it. A few suggestions for you:

                Frank on 2nd avenue and 5th street - yes, yes... it has some issues. That said, stick to the basics, the ragu is great, the gnocchi is great. It's a bit of a dive. Difficult to get in at night on the weekends, so go for a lunch or early dinner. Cash only.

                Aroma - another east village spot with good, simple Italian food. Bit of a dive, but enjoyable nonetheless.

                Maltesta in the west village. Good food, simple dishes, lots of good old fashioned Italian food. They do have some more inventive stuff too, but the staples are what I like it for.

                Il Cantinori - this is good old school Italian. I have been about a half dozen times, but I have to warn you that the last time I went, things seemed off. However, all 5 other trips were good.


                1. re: Farfalle

                  i agree Frank is good but uncomfortably crowded. Maltesta has some good pastas,alot of them are too creamy or cheesy. Cantinori I havent been to in years but it was always thought of as high-end and excellent quality. They have really good red sauce and great veal chops. D'Andrea on Hudson St has good red sauce. I had a good zuppa de pesci at Accapella, But ennio and michaels is my favorite, if they have osso bucco sauce it's incredible ,,, their veal parmigiana ( yes veal parm even though it's considered a 'lame" thing to order) is amazingly good there. If you dont like fried and breaded they do it without also with fresh mozzarella. They make a good fettuccini a la matriciana also ,, and the spaghetti and meatballs are great.
                  I wish Paolucci's was still open they had a great fusilli with a filletta di pomodoro sauce

                  1. re: Farfalle

                    aroma on 4 th st?? place is not red sauce, place is not a dive, it serves good food, in a cool atmosphere,

                    1. re: intrepid

                      Aroma has solid food... like I said, simple Italian, not necessarily red sauce, but you'll find a few staples on there. As far as type of place, the walls aren't falling down or anything, but it is VERY tight and you eat on top of your neighbor. One man's "cool" is another man's dive.

                      1. re: Farfalle

                        for reference farfalle what is a cool place to you? what is a dive? whats high end? examples please-thanks