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Needed: amazing Italian or Chinese Restaurant Rec (mid-price) in Brooklyn!

A friend of mine is taking her mom out to dinner in Brooklyn in two weeks (77th birthday!). Her mom loves Italian and Chinese...I'm a Bronx gal, who know the local area, and Manhattan only. So any recommendations would be heavily appreciated! (She'll be splurging the cost for a few different people, so $20 an entree would be what she's looking for.) Thanks in advance!!

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  1. Frankie's Spuntino on Court Street in Carroll Gardens is one of my favorites. Lunetta on Smith St (Boerum Hill) is also good. Although the food at both is fairly traditional, neither is a "traditional" Italian restaurant -- there's not a terribly large variety of entrees, and you won't find things like chicken parm, veal rollatini, pasta primavera, &c. The price is right though, and they have a web site you can check out...

    1. East Harbor Seafood Palace - 714 65St. Bet. 7th and 8th Aves.
      Wonderful seafood and traditional Cantonese food - nice decor.

      1. For Italian, Al di La in park slope is outstanding. And very nice place. East Harbor listed below is great, but not sure Id go there for a 77th birthday.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ropa vieja

          Al di La is fantastic, but I'd worry about it for this event on price and practicality grounds.

          Price: The entrees average to just a smidge over $20, but that's an average, with more than half of them approaching $24-$25, and the specials tend to be around there as well. Pastas are in the teens, though--I don't know. It's not out there, but if one or two people get primi as starters (like I always do), it could end up squeezing the friend's wallet pretty quickly if $20/entree is really a splurge.

          More importantly, Al di La takes no reservations and is always busy (apart from being very close quarters, with not the most comfortable seating--somewhat rickety chairs and a rock-hard wooden banquette--for old bones). The only really surefire way to get in without too much of a wait on any night is to get there a bit before it opens (half an hour early on Fri-Sat); otherwise the wait for a "few" people can be 45-75 minutes (if, say, the group is 4-6--beyond that, good luck). They'll very cordially refer you to their wine bar around the corner, which itself can become SRO as the evening progresses, to wait or call your cellphone (on the assumption you'll go hang out at one of the 5th Ave. bars), but I would absolutely not chance this for a 77 year old's birthday, and particularly not for a first time visitor on a special occasion--too much risk that, ultimately, the wait will prove too long and the party will end up wandering 5th Ave. looking for a nearby replacement. The upside is that Tempo only a block away is a very good Italian replacement, but then I think it would be just better to plan on Tempo to begin with (they take reservations), and Tempo generally inches a bit further upward on the price point scale. Then again, I think there's some kind of deal happening there that Fleur posted about pretty recently (edit: yup--it's in her thread on the Henry's End prix fixe, and I think what it's saying is that Tempo is doing a M-Th $25 prix fixe--not sure what day of the week the OP is considering), and it's a very nice elegant atmosphere for a special occasion.

          Hey OP--any idea if your friend's mother prefers Northern or Southern Italian or will be happy with either one as long as it's excellent?

        2. I might look at Tempo if I were you - its very nice and Italian oriented (not red sauce, though) and I think fits in your price range . It also has good table spacing , is relatively quiet. and servings are ample. Im not sure a 77 year old wants noise, bustle and crowding a la Frankies or Al Di La, no matter how good the food is. . Pacifica in Sunset Park has a pretty calm atmosphere for Brooklyn Chinese.

          4 Replies
          1. re: jen kalb

            I too thought immediately of Pacificana (note correction of Jen's typo). It is quite a big place. Tables are well spaced. Many dishes are under $20. The food is most Cantonese so there is plenty of unadventurous dishes for those who require it. And, if needed there is a garage in the building.

            1. re: bobjbkln

              I would avoid Pacificana for dinner. In fact outside of the afternoons and weekends, for some reason the food is almost subpar when the dim sum carts shut down.

              1. re: bigmackdaddy

                great info, thanks. Maybe the top chef does not work weekdays or something. Have you had better weekday luck at any of the other newer chinese places in Sunset Park?

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Weekdays are fine, it's weeknights that are bland. It seems after the dim sum is stopped (between 3pm & 5pm) the quality of the kitchen food goes way down. To be honest I haven't been to many of the places in Sunset Park for dinner except for the Vietnamese place down the block on 8th Avenue. It's on the same side (east side) as Pacificana going one block north, or 8th Ave between 54th & 55th, It's pretty good. Sorry about forgetting the name.

          2. While many of these rec's are good choices and the OP's friend's Mom may be well versed in all sorts of cuisines, there is also a good possibility she may feel more comfortable with more 'Traditional ' Italian menu offerings. With that in mind, perhaps a place like Michael's on Ave R or Gino's on 75th and 5th might be more in her comfort zone.

            1. Lunetta and Frankies are excellent, you may want to checkout "the" Queen most underated Italian in NY, great food, nightly special menu is fantastic.

              1. Try Queen on Court Street for primo red sauce italian... there are many posts on "Chowhound".

                4 Replies
                1. re: savoryhash

                  I thought about Queen as well (I guess I was trying to ask the "red sauce" question too delicately), but keep in mind that Queen is most definitely above $20/entree (most in the mid- to high-$20s, with pastas in the mid- to low-$20s).

                  1. re: planetjess

                    Actually, their regular menu is a bit more moderate than that.
                    http://www.queenrestaurant.com/menu_d...

                    Their "specials" menu does fall into the price range you described.
                    http://www.queenrestaurant.com/menu_d...

                    I recommend Queen strongly although Tempo would also be a fine choice.

                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                      That's what I get for trusting menupages. My bad.

                      1. re: planetjess

                        No, you were *right* about the specials menu. I enjoy your posts.

                2. Al Di La has terrific food, but I don't think it would be appropriate for a special occasion for a 77 year old. Long, long waits, and no reservations.

                  I would suggest TEMPO. They have a lovely Menu, wonderfully delicious food and wine, and the setting is very comfortable and attractive. The owners, Michael and Robert are charming, and always go out of their way to please, and to make special occasions more special.

                  1. Has anyone been to New Corner lately?
                    They used to be wonderful - been in business for
                    50 years or more.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mike in brooklyn

                      Maybe I've just been lucky but every time I've been there the food has been good.. We usually start with a platter of frito misto for the table and order some of the blackboard specials and are always satisfied. I love the old time feel of the place though others might say it's somewhat 'shop worn.' It's what I imagine a 50's neighborhood restaurant must have been like.