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Dec 7, 2009 05:37 PM

Family Style Italian

Just saw Throwdown with Bobby Flay and the episode was about Rao's. It got me craving a family style Italian restaurant now. Seeing all the posts on how impossible it is to get into Rao's, what are the good family style Italian restos in the city or out? I've been to Carmine's and Tony Di Napoli's, I know they're touristy but I liked them. What else is out there?

(I've posted something similar on the Manhattan boards but want to see what's out in the boroughs as well. And before anyone starts on it, yes, I know I won't get Babbo or Scarpetta type Italian. Frankly, I'm not looking for that type in this case either.)

Thanks in advance!

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    1. For this genre of Italian, I think it's hard to do better than Dominick's on Arthur Ave.

      2335 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458

      4 Replies
      1. re: jaingmaster

        Probably true but I also like Queen in Downtown Bklyn and Park Side in Queens. At Queen, you can not only get the traditional red sauce dishes but some wonderful specials. Park Side has the old world atmosphere and pinky ring ambience.

        If Carmines or Tony Di Napoli's are the benchmarks, then there are at least another dozen or more places in Bklyn and Queens that are better. They're both very mediocre, in my opinion.

        1. re: Steve R

          Unless Queen has changed since I last ate there, Queen is not a family style restaurant. It might be Brooklyn's best Italian restaurant, and families are certainly welcome there, but Queen is not "Family Style".

          1. re: pizmet

            No, it's not. But neither is Rao's, which was the OP's original comparison to what is wanted. I take the "family style" question to have meant large, sharable portions of a certain style of cooking, which Queen definitely has. Every group I've gone there with has shared apps and usually entrees as well.

            1. re: Steve R

              It's been two years since I last ate at Raos. At that time, and all the times before that, our party of six received at least two orders of each dish -- all house choices -- on communal serving platters. This includes the fish salad appetizer and maybe some mozzarella, pasta, chicken and veal or fish, and escarole.

              Are they insisting everyone order their own dishes these days? I wouldn't put it past them. They're charging an enormous amount of money these days. Back in the '70s, when Vinnie and Ann were alive, the food was not expensive at all. But by that time the place had become somewhat exclusive already and part of the cost was gratuities which ran about 200%+.

      2. While not necessarily "family" style, i.e., huge portions enough to feed a family, if you like red sauce Italian, then I recommend Dani's House of Pizza on Lefferts Blvd in Kew Gardens. The name doesn't sound like it would be appetizing, but the food definitely is. The veal parm is the best I've ever had. Get a slice while you're there. It's about the best I've ever had as well.

        1. Thanks guys!

          Has anyone tried Enoteca Maria out on SI? I've heard some good things so far, plus, how can you not love that Italian Nonnas are cooking for you? Haha...

          3 Replies
          1. re: ssp242

            Don Pepe's on Lefferts- They have good food ( not my fav, but I have family members who swear by it) and they are family style portions.

            1. re: ssp242

              Enoteca Maria is a very good restaurant with some interesting menu options, but I would be hard pressed to classify it as a conventional red-sauce Italian restaurant. It is also quite pricey (as well as cash-only), considering its modest portions, location, and competition (specifically on Staten Island, I can identify at least 5 or 6 Italian restaurants at which I can get a much better meal for half the price, e.g. Trattoria Romana, Da Noi).

              As far as red-sauce Italian places are concerned, I would heartily recommend Gargiulo's in Coney Island. It is somewhat upscale for the offerings, but the food is consistently delicious, portions are generous and the service routinely engaging. I have been going there for years for dinners and even special occasions and have yet to be disappointed.


              1. re: JPT25

                Tommaso in Bensonhurst is pretty great -- excellent osso bucco, wild boar pasta, extensive wine list. Definitely a few notches above typical old school red sauce place, but the atmosphere is probably what you're looking for: