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Boston hound looking for help with Times Square suggestions

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Coming to the city in February for a conference. It's been 30 years since my last visit so I obviously need help. I'll be staying at the Marriot Marquis and would prefer to eat at a non-hotel restaurant for dinner. Bobby Flay's Mesa grill looks somewhat interesting, but I guess what I'm looking for is the opportunity to experience New York style compared to Boston style. The Boston board is filled with requests for NY style pizza for instance. Since I'll be cooped up all day, I would love a casual place, good wine or cheap wine and the perfect slice of NY pizza. So, can anyone help me out. I'll be happy to return the favor when you come to the Boston board.

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  1. Wow, I really didn't expect an entire day to go by without a response. Does it help if I say that I'm on an expense account and if there is no pizza in the immediate area a casual place with pasta or sandwiches would work just fine.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Pegmeister

      Your query is a very common one, and a quick search for "Times Square" on this board will get you started.

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6461...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5938...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5878...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5679...

      Pizza is also one of the most frequently discussed topics on the Manhattan board, so you can search for that as well. There is no intersection between "perfect slice" and "Times Square," though, as far as I know.

      1. re: small h

        Thank you, and your right it's difficult to solicit comment on a board when the question has been asked so many times before. I had been lurking and searching the boards for a bit but was having trouble figuring distances etc. So, it appears that 9th Ave may be the way to go. I was looking at Marseille and as far as a spot for pizza I guess I'll just wing it and see what spot looks appealing.

      2. re: Pegmeister

        While small h is correct that pizza requests are common here, I think your particular query did not get any responses because (1) the best NYC pizza is not to be found where you are staying, i.e., Times Square/Theater District, and (2) the best pizzas are sold by the pie, not by the slice. There are places that serve whole pies sized for one person. But, again, not in your vicinity.

        For excellent pastas, I recommend Trattoria Trecolori, on 47th St., b/t B'way & 8th Av.

        http://www.trattoriatrecolori.com

      3. There's a John's Pizza on 44th east of 8th Avenue that rivals the original Regina Pizza in the North End.

        5 Replies
        1. re: guttergourmet

          Do they do slices? I thought it was pies only.

          1. re: kathryn

            It doesn't have to be a slice. I'll just drag along some coworkers and grab a whole pie. Having the day off today, with really lousy weather, has given me more time to search the board. My impression is that Times Square doesn't have a lot to offer. I'm okay with grabbing a cab and have found some places that sound interesting. Wish I was going to have more than just a few days there. Thanks to the poster above for the various links. It really has been helpful. Now I need to spend some time checking out maps and understanding the way the streets are laid out.

            1. re: Pegmeister

              You can definitely check out a map but I would also look at a train map as well. If you are able to take a 15 minute train ride, you will open up LOTS of amazing choices (including very good pizza by the slice). The trains are good and fast and can lead you to delicious things! Is a train ride an option for you?
              Eat well.
              JeremyEG

              1. re: JeremyEG

                Absolutely. In fact I'm taking the Acela into New York from Boston, I welcome any suggestions you may have.

                1. re: Pegmeister

                  Cool. I love Hopstop.com for subway directions. Mesa Grill is expensive for what it is but the drinks are really good. Search the board for best pizza recs but you might want to try Co. on 9th Avenue. Also Joe's in the village has very good pizza by the slice. Other hounds will know a lot more about pizza but I've also heard good things about Keste on Bleeker.
                  JeremyEG

        2. The original Lazzara's pizza is not far from Times Square (open weekdays only). They now also have a take out spot on 9th Avenue in the 40's. Thin, square "grandma"-style pizza is their thing.

          1. Blue Fin's right there in TS - it's pretty much the only good restaurant in the square. I recommend it if you need to get somewhere to eat in a hurry (it's fish though not pizza). John's Pizza is right there too.

            1. As you consider all the suggestions above, please remember that you're in the theater district and won't be able to get a walk-in table until after 7:30 or 7:45, and will be well advised to make a reservation at anyplace like Marseille or Trattoria Tre Colori or even some pizza places.

              If you want to travel a little out of the neighborhood - head for Angelo's Pizza @ 57th between 6th & 7th. You can take the 8th Ave bus uptown & walk 2 blocks. I have great difficulty explaining to out-of-towners that we don't count distance in miles, but in blocks. 10 uptown/downtown blocks equals 1/2 mile. About 6 crosstown blocks the same.

              Many restaurants in town, including the best ones, now have dinner prix fixe menus for under $40.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Jane A.

                i second angelo's on 57th....worth traveling the extra blocks and definitely the best pizza in theater district

                1. re: Jane A.

                  Oh, hadn't thought about the need for a reservation, that's really helpful. In Boston, it's easy to walk right in, if you're there before 6:00 pm, as will be the case when I'm in NY. I have a pretty good list compiled so if I don't get reservations for my first choice, it will just mean a return visit and not when I'm tied down to a business conference. Thanks for all the help!

                  1. re: Pegmeister

                    I think John's is the best but Lazzara's and Angelo's are good calls too.

                    1. re: guttergourmet

                      Agree with that. And if you are looking for NY style coal oven pizza and are willing to take a 15 minute subway or cab ride, John's of Bleecker St. is a great choice. The original branch is currently the oldest continuingly operating pizza place in NYC (Totonnos of Coney Island is older but still closed after a fire) and still serves a good old-school NY thin curst pie. Places like Co., Keste, Luzzo, Motorino, for whatever their merits, are really not "NY style."

                      1. re: guttergourmet

                        dont go to john's..the time squre location lacks..soggy and greasy...they want tourists in and out and totally lack on quality. Any other john's location i would reccomend though.
                        If you want pizza midtown, go to lazzarra's
                        lazzaraspizza.com
                        221 West 38th Street

                  2. Thought I should report back. I found NYC to be a little overwhelming and had difficulty figuring out the street layout, but at least now I have a better feel for next time. Anyhow, the first night we walked around, peaked into Blue Fin which I would have loved to try, but DC wasn't into seafood. We settled on Pasta Lovers Trattoria and I had a really good veal parm. The pasta however, had an odd aftertaste so I just set that aside. My dc had the chicken parm, but thought the chicken was pounded too thin so that the chicken wasn't tender. So, this place was a bust. The second night I made reservations at the Bryant Park Grille. Really liked the space, it was relaxing and felt good after a very long day at the conference. I went with the baked stuffed chicken with whipped potatos and spinach, and was totally happy with my meal. My dc opted for the pork chops, served with mashed sweet potatos and spinach and was quite happy with the meal as well. Unfortunately, just had the 2 nites, wish I had time to try Bubba Gumps or Marseille. Guess I'll be better prepared for the next trip. On a side note, the Acela was a great way to travel to NYC. Thanks for the help, enjoyed your city.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: Pegmeister

                      I just stumbled into this post and thought I might throw this out there on Bubba Gump's.
                      There are a few nationwide.. none in Boston though.
                      I've dined at the one in New York as well as San Francisco and Gatlinburg, TN.
                      I can say the food is consistent at all three, so would imagine it's the same everywhere. After all, it is a chain.

                      The differences came in from the wait staff and the seating.
                      I'd have to say Gatlinburg had the most personable wait staff and made the afternoon very enjoyable.

                      San Francisco has a beautiful view as their restaurant sits right on the pier, staff was not as much fun as TN but the view was much better.

                      New York.. busy staff.. felt cramped.. basically like any other chain restaurant.

                      Here's the link for the locations if you ever travel anywhere else.
                      http://www.bubbagump.com/locations.html

                      I've been to Boston with a friend of mine.. we were up in Burlington and ate at the Cafe Escadrille.. very nice and the food was really nice, though desserts were on the heavy handed side.. I see this place gets mixed reviews on the Boston Board.. but I have to say our meal was good that night.

                      1. re: Pegmeister

                        I'm a native but I've never heard of Pasta Lovers Trattoria before. Not a place that has been discussed here. Sorry it was a disappointment. Our "go to" Italian in the Times Square/Theater District area is Trattoria Trecolori, which I recommended upthread. Perhaps, next time?

                        We've never been to Bryant Park Grill, but our daughter and son-in-law have, and they found the food to be pretty bad. I'm glad that your experience was a good one.

                        I think it's a mistake for visitors to go to nationwide chains like Bubba Gumps here. There are so many excellent singular restaurant options, including those which are very "New York."

                        Come back soon!

                        1. re: RGR

                          Interestingly enough, the first night we were headed to Trattoria Trecolori and headed, of course, in the wrong direction. I had sprained my knee a few weeks prior so just wasn't up to treking back. I was disappointed as their menu looked good. Didn't realize that Bubba Gumps was a chain, so you're right it's not a place to try when going to the city. My list for the next trip is: Bubby's; Veselka; Havana Alma deCuba and Mr K's. Let me know what you think.

                          1. re: Pegmeister

                            The only one I've been to is Veselka. The food's fine but, imo, nothing special. What are your reasons for picking these four?

                            1. re: RGR

                              A poster on the Boston board who travels frequently to NYC recommended them. His recommendations for Boston area restaurants have always worked for me. I've heard so much about the great restaurants in NYC, I feel a little disappointed, but again my time was really limited.

                              1. re: Pegmeister

                                " I've heard so much about the great restaurants in NYC, I feel a little disappointed, " Seriously, dude. It's because you are choosing real clunkers. Bubba Gump? V eselka?

                                1. re: chow_gal

                                  For the next trip, I think he means Bubby's in Tribeca, which is pretty good. But on the other places, it sounds like he got a bum steer from the Boston hound.

                        2. re: Pegmeister

                          Sorry - you picked some losers. None get recs on this board. And Bubba Gumps!!!?? It would really be a shame to come to one of the world's culinary capitals and go to a chain restaurant.

                          1. re: chow_gal

                            I have to agree with this.. it wasn't my first choice. Though I do have to give them credit for a decent shrimp poboy sandwich if there's one around and all you are looking for is lunch and not a "dining experience" somewhere new with opportunity for something really great.

                          2. re: Pegmeister

                            I haven't heard of any of these restaurants either (and I'm pretty restaurant obsessed!). Looked on the boards and couldn't find any reviews of any of them. I would avoid Bubba Gump Shrimp. Not a good restaurant and very overpriced for what it is (as is the case with many places near Times Square). Let us know when you can come back!
                            JeremyEG

                            1. re: Pegmeister

                              You wrote: " I found NYC to be a little overwhelming and had difficulty figuring out the street layout" HUH? NYC is a grid, Go North and the streets get higher. West to East the Avenues get higher except for Madison, Park and Lex. Boston is tough compared to NYC.
                              My advice, stay away from Times Sq. The best food is outside that area. Just walk over to Hells Kitchen 8th and 9th Ave and you'll find some fabulous non-chain restaurants.
                              Another suggestion: Don't wear a Red Sox hat.

                              1. re: Motosport

                                I agree totally that Boston is a nightmare compared to NYC. We made what turned out to be an insane decision to drive there. Driving around Manhattan is a breeze in comparison.

                                If you are referring to Times Square directly, I would agree with you about the food options being poor. However, there are many very good to excellent restaurants on the sides streets going east and west. So, visitors do not have to avoid the area as long as they know how to pick correctly. But going to other neighborhoods is, of course, a good idea.

                            2. Thanks all. I'll now go home to my Boston board. If anyone is headed to Boston in the near future, please post on the Boston board and I will do my best to steer you in the right direction,