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Italian Restaurants in Manhattan

My girlfriend and I are going to be going out for dinner on Saturday night prior to a Broadway show. We're coming to the city for the weekend. We're both from Toronto.

Anyway, I want to take her to a nice, semi-romantic, Italian restaurant for her birthday in Manhattan and I'm looking for some advice. I want it to be reasonably priced. I am not overly particular.

My sister recommended Lil' Frankie's, a place that she went three years ago when she was in the city. I was just wondering if this is still a good restaurant to go to, or whether it had gone downhill over the past few years.

Thanks for any advice.

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  1. For pre-theatre dining, it's best to eat close to the theatre so you don't get caught in traffic or by a late subway train. Lil' Frankie's will be quite a hike to the Theatre District.

    What is the most you are willing to spend including tax, tip, and drinks? That will help inform our recommendations.

    15 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        I'm leaving for the city tomorrow, so I would really appreciate any help! Thanks.

        1. re: manhattanbound

          Trattoria Trecolori, on 47th St., b/t B'way & 8th Av., is a Theater District favorite of mine and many other Hounds. The homestyle Italian fare is delicious, and the staff provides friendly, efficient service. While the ambiance is not particularly romantic, the decor is very attractive, and tables are well-spaced.

          http://www.trattoriatrecolori.com

          Enjoy the show and Buon Apetito!

          1. re: RGR

            I agree that's a good choice but probably less fitting as a romantic restaurant - it tends to be very family-friendly and not really the greatest spot for a couple's romantic dinner. The food is very good though!!

            1. re: RGR

              I think that I may have overstressed the "romantic" aspect. The food is definitely the most important part!

              1. re: manhattanbound

                Imo, most of the restaurants in the Theater District -- Italian or otherwise -- are not exactly high on the romantic quotient scale. Romantic is nice, but for me, delicious cuisine is first and foremost. In that regard, you can't go wrong with Trecolori.

                1. re: manhattanbound

                  Recommend ViceVersa on W.51st. St....quality, delicious food, elegant room, has a back garden if the weather is warm enough....satisfies all your criteria.

                  1. re: drumwine

                    Second Vice Versa...ate there for the second time a couple of weeks ago and loved the food, friendly service...and quiet even when crowded. And I would definitely call it romantic! The $35 pre-theater menu is a steal.

                  2. re: manhattanbound

                    Trattoria Trecolori is very nice and the service is exceptionally warm and friendly, but in the theatre district, we prefer Roberto Passon (9th and 50th) for very good, reasonably priced Italian cuisine (if you're ordering a "special", though, do ask for the price, as they tend to be higher than the regular menu items).

                    1. re: Striver

                      We've only been to Passon once. The style of cuisine served there is more contemporary than Trecolori's traditional Italian-American. I do agree that it is very good food; however, service fell short, i.e., not very attentive, and the cramped seating made it much less comfortable than the well-spaced tables at Trecolori.

                      ETA: We've not been to ViceVersa.

                      1. re: RGR

                        The seating is tighter at Passon, no question, but not uncomfortably so - and I must say that we've dined there more than a few times and never had service issues.

                        Again, I'm not knocking Trecolori - it's certainly got its positives, particularly the service, and there are dishes there we enjoy having from time to time (I like their signature Veal Martini; my wife likes their carbonara) - but for food in general, we prefer Passon.

                        1. re: Striver

                          I also like Passon and I'll add Boca di Bacco which has the same ownership as Passon but is less cramped. It has a wine-bar feel but with great pasta choices.

                          1. re: Striver

                            I read you loud and clear, Striver. :)

                            1. re: RGR

                              I assumed you would, RGR - you're high on the list of my trusted posters here at CH. :)

                              1. re: Striver

                                Right back at ya, Striver! :)

              2. If you are looking for pre-theater you could try Osteria al Doge, which is located in the theater district but has very nice homemade pasta and has a more romantic atmosphere than most of what you will find in that area. That would be my top recommendation in the immediate area.
                http://www.osteria-doge.com/

                You can also try walking over to 9th ave for Puttanesca (but I will admit my last trip there was not as good as previous visits, so maybe others can chime in?) or Basilica which is quite small but has good Italian food.

                1. If you are in the northern part of the theater district, Insieme. If in the southern part, Esca. They are a bit above your budget, but this is NY and a special occasion.

                  1. Firstly, Lil Frankies is really not that great -- and it's also loud and usually quite crowded. Second, we also have a hard time finding restaurants that are romantic in Manhattan, but I think that's just how it goes unless you are willing to spend a considerable amount. That said, some places where you could eat fairly well for 2 for $100 are Perbacco, Bar Stuzzichini and Lupa. Please report back -- and enjoy!!