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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!

                          1. "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?"

                            Yep, that's exactly what it will be. I actually think it's fun to walk through - once. But don't buy or eat anything there.

                            There is nothing you absolutely need to check out, food-wise, in Little Italy, but Di Palo's is a nice store.

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: Pan

                              Thanks Pan. I may need to venture off to Chinatown for some deliciousness - ice cream or something. do u have any faves there (aside from Chinatown Ice Cream Factory which I love).

                              1. re: lynnlato

                                I sure do. As an individual, you may do best at dinner by going to Great NY Noodletown; for lunch, if you want dim sum, Dim Sum Go Go (or otherwise, go to Noodletown). If you want something different, do a search for "Fuzhounese," "Fuzhou," and "hand pulled noodles" on this board. I've just started exploring the menu at Happy Garden Palace on East Broadway.

                                1. re: Pan

                                  Lynn, you can do much better than momofuku noodle bar...try ippudo on 4th and 9th...they dance all over the corpse of momo noodle...

                                  I had the spotted pig burger a couple of months ago. Happy to report no decline in quality. IMO, still top 3 in NYC.

                                  Brandy library is well worth a visit if you can swing it.

                                  1. re: Scotty100

                                    Many thanks. I've read up on ippudo. You may have swayed me. Admittedly, I'm a bit caught up in the Chang hype. We share a love for pig and expletives.

                                    Glad to hear Spotted Pig is still rockin' it. Glad a chick can still dish, if you know what I mean.

                                    Mmmm, dim sum, noodles... I'm swimming in choices with only 48 hours and one vial of insulin. What will I do? :)

                                    1. re: lynnlato

                                      I'm a fan of Chang too...love the Ssam bar and momo Ko is the best meal I've ever eaten. However, Ippudo's noodles are off the chart and their berkshire pig is superb. I was a big fan of momo noodle when it first came onto the scene but I think it has declined big time over the last 18 months.

                                      Oh, and Ippudo's version of the momo pork bun is superb. Definitely superior.

                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                        hey lynn,
                                        i suppose you've already nailed down your gastric itinerary this late in the day, but if by chance you do read this, just mosey over one or two blocks east from mulberry for fine dining. mott and elizabeth streets, between houston and spring have at least seven truly fine dining establishments among them; ignore all of us kibbitzers, and eat by chance.

                                        p.s. dante actually wrote about the san gennaro festival more than seven centuries ago: an inferno, not a paradiso. i avoid that thing like the plague.

                                        1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                          I'd love to see your list of fine dining establishments there, for my own reference, if you'd care to provide some names. :-)

                                      2. re: Scotty100

                                        "you can do much better than momofuku noodle bar...try ippudo on 4th and 9th"

                                        What's the comparison? Despite its name, Momofuku Noodle Bar is not known for its ramen, but for a bunch of other things. I say that as someone who hasn't been there but does recognize that - based on everything I've read and that people have told me - it is a different type of restaurant than a ramen house.

                                        1. re: Pan

                                          Momo noodle bar made its name with its bowl of "momo ramen" which is still the dish you compare this place to others. Their pork buns are probably just as famous. Granted they have switched up the apps and introduced the fried korean style chicken dinner but the pork ramen is still the focal point. Sadly, it just ain't what it used to be and gets its ass kicked by several other places in town. Of which Ippudo is best.

                                          Also, momo noodle's beer pricing is obscene. In fact, their pricing in general is waaayy over-the-top.

                                          1. re: Scotty100

                                            I don't believe it's true that Momofuku is mainly known for its ramen, and from everything I've heard, it shouldn't be. And a real ramen house doesn't have Chang's signature dishes.

                                        2. re: Scotty100

                                          We opted to try Ippudo over going to back to Momofuku. I'm a bit disappointed in the pork buns and ramen as they compared to those that I had at Momofuku Noodle a couple of years ago. The pork belly on the buns was very thin and topped with iceberg lettuce and a mayo. They were good, but in no way compared to the massive slabs of pork belly I had on the buns at Momofuku. The ramen was good but the broth didn't have the same dimension as momofuku and the hardboiled egg was way overcooked and had the green yolk I detest. It wasn't fabulous but it was good and I'm glad we tried it.

                                          1. re: lynnlato

                                            Go to Milk Bar to get your bun fix.

                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                              That's what I had planned on doing, but ran out of time. We grabbed a couple in chinatown but these were more like a jelly donut confection. There's always next time.

                                  2. I am back from my trip and grateful for all the advice. You all were 100% on in describing The Feast. Just walking down Canal St. to get there nearly sent me over the edge. We had to go down a couple of blocks just to avoid the clusterfuck on the streets. However, once we arrived on Mulberry, the # of people was overwhelming. I saw nothing that I had to eat - in fact just being there did only one thing for me - it made me need a big glass of wine!

                                    Afterwards we headed down into Chinatown and I found Ping's Dried Meats and stocked up on some spicy pork and beef dried meats. Good stuff and at $5/4 ounces it was a bargain. We walked over to Columbus Park and stopped by to listen to some of the music being played by various musicians in the park. Then on to a Steamer Bun place where we bought two pork buns and an egg custard tartlet for a whopping $1.90! As we headed off to Chinatown Icecream Factory we stumbled upon a man slicing up durian fruit for a bunch of women. We stopped and I described the fruit to my sister, who wasn't familiar w/ it. The Asian women chuckled at my "stinky" description and tried to convince us that it was delicious. At Chinatown Ice Cream Factory we had the ginger ice cream and the toasted sesame & peanut butter ice cream. Both were amazing!

                                    We had a late night dinner at Blue Ribbon Brasserie and enjoyed the bone marrow, fried chicken and the roast duck.

                                    Saturday morning we had breakfast at Bubby's. This place was overpriced and the service was slow. Too many screaming babies also. I mentioned above that we had lunch at Ippudo. We had the pork buns and the classic ramen. While it was good, it wasn't as good as Momofuku Noodle Bar. The buns had thin slabs of berkshire pork and iceberg lettuce. The ramen was tasty, but not as rich and velvety as Chang's. Our hardboiled eggs were overcooked.

                                    We tried to go to Vandam Diner on Sunday for breakfast but it was closed. So we headed to Kitchenette and what a welcomed surprise this place was. Great prices, great service and good food. The bacon and biscuits were awesome! I had scrambled eggs with scallions & tomatoes topped w/ an herbed sour cream. This came with homefries and a biscuit with a maple cinnamon butter. The bacon was thick and cooked perfectly - delicious!

                                    Our hotel was right around the corner from Walkers and we hoped to go there Sat. night for burgers but our feet said "hell no". We had walked way too much that day.