Union Square Still the Best?
i dont think id ever consider barbuto as a place for 80 year old parents...unless possibly at 6-7pm on a warm night with the doors open. its very loud and id be hard pressed to find anyone under 45 years old.
for more upscale in union square, id do gotham...for something a bit more casual and comfortable, try perilla.
After not having been in many years, we had dinner at Union Square Cafe not too long ago. The menu not meant to be cutting edge or super-creative, but rather, more in the style of comfort food. And in that regard, it is solidly prepared and delicious. So, unless your foodie parents would prefer cuisine that is more sophisticated, I think USC is a fine choice. Btw, the noise level in the main dining room was higher than I expected but not enough to make it uncomfortable for normal conversation.
For superb French-inspired New American cuisine that is more "haute" and is served in an understated elegant setting, I highly recommend Tocqueville, on 15th St., b/t Union Sq. W. & 5th Av. It tends to travel under the culinary radar, which is a shame because Chef/owner Marco Moreira's splendid cooking deserves much more attention.
i went to Union Square Cafe last month with my family for my birthday. great service, tasty food, reasonable prices. they also have a special $10 corkage fee going on, great deal. i was impressed that a restaurant that has been open so long as kept up the consistency but Danny Meyer really excels at that.