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San Gennaro, Spotted Pig, and need a few other recs

Hi, its me again...

I'm headed back to the city for another weekend food extravaganza. My sister and I are staying in Tribeca and will arrive Friday early afternoon. I am thinking about lunch at Momofuku Noodle Bar, (I've been before), but am open to other suggestions in the area. Any ideas for fun, casual but off the beaten path food? Nothing high end.

Friday night we are going to see Aretha at Radio City and I'm thinking we'll need something light to eat (and adult beverages) before the show so something around Radio City that would be good. After the show I think we may do Blue Ribbon Brasserie for the bone marrow, oysters and whatever else suits us.

We're staying near Canal & 6th and will need breakfast (not brunch) for a couple of days. Anything close by? Saturday my sister wants to go to the Feast of San Gennaro. Now I would prefer to avoid this mess but she is hell bent and determined. What can you tell me about this festival? Will it be mobs of tourists? Ugh. Maybe I'll break free and wander off to Chinatown for some ice cream. Anything I need to check out, foodwise, in Little Italy? Are there any pubs in the vicinity that have decent fare and are fun to hang out in?

I've been craving a Spotted Pig burger, but would also like to try something new. What is your best rec for casual gastropub-like grub?

As always, you folks always give me the best advice. Thanks in advance!

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  1. lynn, to get you started on Friday night dinner ideas, check out the following thread - within in there are links to a bunch of previous posts that may help...
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/626055

    for breakfast, try this one - sounds like the OP was staying in the same location, and got many suggestions:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/607664

    2 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      To add to that, Locanda Verde's bakery area pastries, and is fairly close by.

      1. Mess is the word to describe San Gennaro. IMO to be avoided at all costs. Unless your sister's idea of a fun time is hordes of people (and I do mean hordes- streets packed so tight it is virtually impossible to move), drunks yelling at the top iof their lungs and worst of all, subpar food so bad that most of it is inedible. If you sister thinks it's a nice, little street festival where she can sit in a sidewalk cafe and enjoy a glass of wine and some decent food- San Gennaro hasn't been like that for many years. Only folks who don't know better and masochists go.

        1. If you have to do the festival go early. It's tolerable in the early to late afternoon. You'll avoid most of the drunks, frat boys and spikey hair types. There really isn't much too it, sausage and peppers, zeppoles, etc. etc. If you break off at Broome street you can get some really great food at Despana. Sandwiches and pintxos that are pretty good and it's technically Little Italy.

          Peasant, the well regarded restaurant has a wine bar in the basement not too many people talk about. It might be a good for a drink and some snacks.

          DDGB is pretty close to a gatropub. It's getting mixed reviews but it might be worth a visit. For some reason I haven't been there yet but I wouldn't hesitate to go.

          12 Replies
          1. re: KTinNYC

            KT, do u know of any no frills breakfast joints in the general vicinity of our hotel (canal & 6th)?

            Despana looks like the kind of place I would enter and never want to leave. All those cheeses, hams, sausages, oils, etc. I could spend the rest of my days there, I'm certain. As for Peasant, I checked out their website and my mother's maiden name was the same as the owner - that tidbit, along with an interesting menu make it tempting also.

            What's DDGB?

            1. re: lynnlato

              I think KT means DBGB.

              http://www.danielnyc.com/dbgb.html

              I won't go there because I don't like the CBGB's punny name. And they have Magnificent Seven on the website, which makes me angry for some reason (although I love the song).

              1. re: small h

                small h is correct, I did mean DBGB.

                1. re: small h

                  I think it's silly to boycott a brasserie just because you dislike their punny name, but whatever floats your boat. :-)

                  1. re: Pan

                    Oh, I have a ridiculous prejudice for every minute of the day. And if the menu at DBGB appealed to me even remotely, I might try to get past this one. I also probably wouldn't patronize a place called The Spudd Club or Max's Kansas Fried Chicken or Sibeeria, while we're on the subject.

                    1. re: small h

                      "if the menu at DBGB appealed to me even remotely, I might try to get past this one"

                      Fair enough.

                      I must admit, I was happy when the Dewdrop Inn closed, but I never had any reason to want to go there, anyway.

                        1. re: Scotty100

                          I'll take your word for it, having been there only once so far.

                        2. re: Pan

                          I went to the Dewdrop quite a bit, because I like drinking out of a mason jar. Other than that dubious thrill, you didn't miss much.

                  2. re: lynnlato

                    I don't know Canal & 6th too well. I hope someone else can help you but if you head east a little bit you'll be in Chinatown and you can get some pretty interesting Chinese breakfast.

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      lynn, there are a couple of traditional diners & old school coffee shops within close walking distance if you don't want a more adventurous Chinatown breakfast:
                      - Amelia's
                      - Vandam Diner

                      others a little farther away:
                      - Landmark
                      - Balthazar
                      - Grandaisy Bakery
                      - Le Pain Quotidien
                      - Aroma Espresso Bar

                      -----
                      Vandam Diner
                      12 Vandam St, New York, NY 10013

                      Amelia's
                      110 Varick St, New York, NY 10013

                  3. If it's at all possible for you to go to San Genarro on a weekday, do that. Otherwise, as KT says, earlier is better. I don't think it's horrible, food-wise (although it's not great). I like to sit at one of the raw bars & eat cheap clams & oysters, and I'm also a sucker for the stuffed artichokes, and the scungilli in sauce.

                    Yes, it will be mobs of tourists. It will also be mobs of people who live in Little Italy, or who used to live in Little Italy, or who heard a story about Little Italy on NPR once, or who are visiting New York for the weekend. Indulge your sister. It's worth doing once.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: small h

                      Ha! Well, I knew my CH's would give me the cold, hard truth. I guess my sister rates as a masochist becaues she has been going to the festival for the past 5 years. But they do go during the day. Uh, I hate mobs of people. I guess once again I'll be taking one for the team.

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        Decades ago, my family used to stealthily go before Rosh Hashanah dinner at my grandparents' in the Bronx (this will tell you how seriously my parents regarded the High Holy Days). And now I go because it's nostalgic for me, and I live pretty close by, so I can go at an off hour when the crowds won't make me nuts. Breathe slowly and deeply, walk on the sidewalk - behind the booths - instead of the street, and try to enjoy the exuberant trashiness that is Manhattan, sometimes, whether we residents like to admit it or not.

                        1. re: small h

                          Thanks, sh, I will heed your advice! Deep breaths. KT has painted a scary picture of spiky haired gumbas that so does not appeal to me though. But, if nothing else, I will enjoy the people-watching. And maybe a zeppole. :)

                          1. re: lynnlato

                            Go early. It won't really be bad. Can't wait to get your reports.

                    2. id probably steer you to momofuku ssam bar for lunch rather than noodle bar. not only have you been there but ssam bar has a pretty good 3 course lunch special for $24 or so. i still think momofuku is more hype than substance but its been slowly winning me over by some good meals ive had their recently. they have an egg dish with pork scrapple and candied bacon that was pretty damn enjoyable.

                      i suggest you try the blue ribbon bakery on bedford and downing rather than the brasserie. i think the kitchen closes just a little earlier (perhaps 2am?) and its a much more attractive restaurant on possibly the most perfect corner in nyc.

                      near your hotel, i tend to go to la colombe for coffee and pastries...on church and lispenard. their espresso is my favorite in the city and its a very chill place and yr pretty likely to be having coffee next to a celebrity.

                      as for san gennaro...it is crap. the best advice is to go early and then end it around 7ish and then have dinner in nolita. peasant is a good italian place...not in the classic tourist trap mode but it serves excellent italian on a nice block near mulberry. that should satisfy yr sister.

                      for burger, im pretty anti-spotted pig. for a pub burger, tavern on jane in the west village is my joint. very local crowd, excellent kitchen, great neighborhood spot. or closer to your hotel, there's walkers on north moore and varick...just one of those perfect nyc spots. great bar at walkers. if you want something a little more classy for drinks, across the street is brandy library and down north moore is smith and mills...a tiny place that is a nice place on a weeknight for a quiet drink.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: sam1

                        The feast is nuts on the weekend. You barely need to walk the crowd will literally carry you about.
                        Try ducking into the Italian Food Center on the corner of Grand and Mulberry. The smells alone are worth it. They carry a dizzying range of imported salami, ham, sausages, olives and cheeses, try the smoked. Mozzarella. They have two or three hot entrée each day, But this shop is best known for sensational sandwiches, like the best-selling New Yorker (ham, salami, prosciutto, provolone, peppers and mushrooms) or the Fireman (smoked turkey, smoked mozzarella and hot peppers). Try the semolina bread its fantastic. Its more of an Easter thing but they make Pizza Rustica that is mind blowingly good.

                        1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                          Italian Food Center changed hands at least two years ago and is a shadow of what it used to be. They're not much of a market anymore and the food is terrible. For a real Italian market, try DiPalo's on Mott and Grand, or walk up to Parisi Bakery/Deli on Mott near Kenmare for a great Italian sandwich.

                        2. re: sam1

                          I liked Ssam last time I was there, but I liked Noodle Bar just a little bit better. Although, that egg& pork scrapple dish sounds tempting.

                          I like the bare bones atmosphere of BR Brasserie and we had such a wonderful time last time I was there, that I look forward to going back.

                          Many thanks for the breakfast rec. While I could care less about a celebrity, coffee and pastries in a chill atmosphere sound good. :)

                          You don't like Spotted Pig? Has the food quality declined? I was last there about 2 yrs ago and I fell in love. That said, I've heard great things about Walkers. Brandy Library has looked interesting to me but I think its too high brow for my sister. Smith & Mills? I've not heard of this place but I will put it on the list.

                          1. re: lynnlato

                            i always found the kitchen to be inconsistent at the spotted pig...and frankly the crowd and the starf*cking makes it unbearable for me. there's no place in nyc that does a 'gastro-pub' well in my opinion...instead, i prefer great american bars with solid kitchens: tavern on jane, walkers, the redhead on 13th street...these all fit the bill for me. for british food, i miss allen and delancey with its original chef (on the upscale tip) and i enjoy tea and sympathy for british food on the casual tip.

                            smith and mills originally was a hot spot but the hype has died down considerably and became a great place for a quiet drink in tribeca. nothing crazy but a good option in the area.

                            1. re: sam1

                              Okay, good to know. I've also heard good things about The Redhead. As for SP, I have only been once, so I didn't pick up on the scene too much. I can appreciate your perspective.

                              KT, you know I'll be back with reports!