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First Trip to NYC, Need suggestions for Best Italian, Best Steak, American Foodie

Three Southern Women staying for a week, in Midtown. Want good food, great quality, and great drinks, just don't want to "break the bank". Coming in May 2010, want to be sure and make reservations ahead. Live in Coastal Area of NC, Love good fresh seafood, kinda picky since we know fresh. Have read the boards, but I see alot of foreign food, no sushi please. Thanks for your help, and "Bless your Hearts" LOL

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  1. For Italian, how much do you want to pay? For a meal of about $60pp (before tax, tip, wine), Babbo or Scarpetta are more gently priced than some upscale Italian, but still maintain a high quality, have nice atmosphere, aren't super formal, and both have liquor licenses. Babbo has a rock'n'roll soundtrack which some find off putting, though, and it can be a little cramped on the ground floor so request to sit on the 2nd floor if you wish to dine there.

    For best steak, it depends what cut and atmosphere you're looking for and how much you're willing to pay.

    For American cuisine, have you considered Craft?

    5 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      For Italian, that sounds very reasonable, thanks. Steaks we like prime rib, filet, and ribeyes. Have not looked at Craft, I will do that. Coming on a Saturday and wanted a good brunch on Sunday, but boards don't have alot of good things to say about the brunches. We have to do pizza,bagels, and a memorable meal, one that we will always say was the best place we ate in NY. We will doing theatre, sightseeing, so a prix fixe dinner suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

      1. re: Taylordayne

        Hmmm...what brunch spots were you looking at? If you let us know what caught your eye, it may help us guide you.

        For your memorable meal, is that where you were looking for an Italian, steak, or American recommendation?

        Best brunch:

        Best bagels:

        Don't leave NY without eating these foods

        Best pizza:

        I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour:

        Manhattan for 5 days over New Year

        Other hounds' itineraries/reports:

        1. re: kathryn

          Need to look for brunch ideas, staying in Midtown, 37th street. Thanks for pulling together all the posts. Need all the help we can get!!

          1. re: Taylordayne

            Perry St. has a wonderful 3-course prix-fixe brunch for $26. Check out the menu and see if it appeals.

      2. For Italian food, I'd try Crispo. I want there last week and it was great. The prices are totally reasonable. My wife got fresh pasta and I got the duck with fig and port sauce. Fantastic. Very authentic Italian. I'd also go for a nice steak at Peter Luger's (Brooklyn) or Wolfgang's (Manhattan). Finally, for the best good old-fashioned American burger, I definitely wouldn't miss Corner Bistro. For me, it's one of the best burgers I've ever had.


        9 Replies
        1. re: CantStopEating

          I had looked at Peter Luger's looks great,guess we would take a taxi, right? Will definately try the burger too. Live in a tourist area, and just want to stay away from touristy places and go where the locals go.

          1. re: Taylordayne

            Crispo is a local place. Lugar's and Corner Bistro are so delicious that you'll find as many locals as there are tourists. They are 2 places that can't be missed by anybody. And yes, you'll have to take a taxy to Lugar's but it's worth the fare. Make sure you make reservations at Lugar's well ahead of time.


            1. re: Taylordayne

              You don't really have to travel to Brooklyn for great steak. Just go to Keen's, the food is great (you mentioned prime rib and theirs is sensational) and the atmosphere is wonderful. There are so many great Italian restaurants you just need to pick your price range, check out the menus for Crispo, Scarpetta, SD26, Convivio. For "American foodie" I think of Perilla and Dovetail.

              1. re: rrems

                Perilla is great but I always think of it as Asian-influenced American. It's a good restaurant, so maybe the OP should check out the menu to make sure it's what she wants.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Checking out the menus now, thanks for the info. Fun to explore so much great information from New Yorkers

                  1. re: Taylordayne

                    Crispo is a very good local place - particularly like their carbonara - and definitely very reasonable for NYC, but Scarpetta,Babbo, and Convivio are at another level. Check the menus (and pricing) and see what works for you - and be aware that Crispo will also be an easier reservation.

                    I agree on Keen's versus Luger's - particularly for prime rib - unless you're absolutely in love with porterhouse (Luger's specialty).

                    1. re: Striver

                      I'm not a fan of prime rib myself, but my parents also thought Keens' prime rib was excellent, one of the best they've ever had.

                      Stick to raw bar at Grand Central Oyster Bar. Their entrees are pretty mediocre.

                      IMO you'll find other tourists almost everywhere you go, especially if a place is often discussed on Chowhound. Doesn't mean you won't also find plenty of locals eating there.

                      For Italian I'd do one Batali spot (Babbo, Lupa, etc.) one Michael White spot (Convivio, Alto, Marea) and Scott Conant's Scarpetta.

              2. re: Taylordayne

                subway going, and maybe taxi going home is how i would do lugars.....

                1. re: Taylordayne

                  Just be careful of your hack driver..a couple of years ago I got a cab at E 50th and headed to Luger's. The driver apparently got some directions via cell phone from the Home Office in a foreign tongue and then headed over to FDR. When he passed the Williamsburg Bridge (which is what you want) I asked him how he was getting to Luger's..he said he was going to take the Brooklyn Bridge..not on my nickel. I took over the navigating at that point.

              3. Keen's is good, Peter Luger is superb. For Itaian, try Bianca at 5 Bleecker Street, most reasonably priced, and the lasagna is the best I ever had.

                1. For Steak you must go to Peter Luger. It is simply the best without question. Keens, Strip House, and Old Homestead (best prime rib) are also some of my favorites if you would rather stay in Manhattan.

                  For Italian- Babbo, Convivio, and Crispo are all terrific. I am glad to see Crispo getting some props on the board again. Seems like awhile since I have seen anyone recommend them and they are the most reasonably priced of the three. However, both Babbo and Convivio ($62 prix fixe, see my review here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6894... "bargains" for the incredible food they turn out.

                  American- I highly recommend Craft and Gotham Bar and Grill. Two of my absolute favorites.

                  If you are really looking to splurge on the "best meal in NYC" then you can always scrap together a few extra bucks and try Eleven Madison Park (French inspired) as well.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: steakrules85

                    The foie gras at Craft is one of my favorite renditions. Very simple preparation of a beautiful piece and elegantly presented with a picturesque braised apple. The short ribs are fantastic as well. I like the copper pots and rustic serving ware. I definitely second the recommendation for both Craft and GBG. They are both wonderful restaurants with beautiful decor (although GBG is long in the tooth).

                  2. Welcome, fellow Southerners! I'm a Texas expat who has lived in the city now for about 6 yrs. Here are some ideas for you:
                    (reference www.menupages.com for menus and information


                    Steak: I'd head over to Keen's. You cannot beat the "old NY" atmosphere, history, and great food. If you feel that you MUST do Peter Luger, then I'd head there for lunch and enjoy one of the world's BEST burgers.

                    Best Italian: that's tough, and I have a hard time with picking just one...plus, you may want to ask folks about their favorite pizza spots, as well. This is not my area of expertise, but here are some spots that I like: Angelo's Pizza, Malatesta Trattoria, Maialino, Apizz, Tanti Baci, Otto, Babbo, L'Artusi

                    Best American foodie: Eleven Madison Park (higher end), Apiary, Commerce


                    6 Replies
                    1. re: LeahBaila

                      We are fortunate that we are going to be in New York for a week, so we have lots of time to eat in these wonderful suggestions that have been made.Maybe we can try Keens and Lugers. I guess it is hard to pick just one Italian when there are so many to chose from in NY.

                      1. re: Taylordayne

                        Agreed. You could make a little trip out of Luger's for lunch...grab a burger (as they're only offered during lunch)...then walk over the Williamsburg Bridge back in to the city. The view is priceless...and free.


                        1. re: LeahBaila

                          another vote for Keens over Lugers here. Keens NY Sirloin is one of the best steaks i've ever had hands down.

                          The Luger burger was good though! The Prime rib sucked!

                        2. re: Taylordayne

                          You would do well to try both. Peter Lugers has the best porterhouse in New York and is my favorite steakhouse. Keens is very good as well hence the spirited debate, but I give Lugers the edge.

                          I've had good steak all over the city, it's really hard to go wrong. Really, you could go to practically any of the top restaurants and get a great steak.

                          It's much easier to get mediocre Italian food and horrible pizza.

                          1. re: Pookipichu

                            Given where you are coming from, I think a tour of some ethnic eateries would be interesting also, especial for a heavy lunch anf then you can have a lighter dinner at higher end places which will cut some costs. Manhattan Chinatown has good food at great prices and is certainly an interesting place to explore. Katz's Deli for a pastrami sandwich and some Dr. Brown's Cream Soda. Grand Central Oyster Bar for a different seafood traditon such as oyster panroasts.

                            1. re: tautog

                              Wonderful idea...second Katz's Deli. It's a must.


                      2. Given where you are coming from, I think a tour of some ethnic eateries would be interesting also, especial for a heavy lunch anf then you can have a lighter dinner at higher end places which will cut some costs. Manhattan Chinatown has good food at great prices and is certainly an interesting place to explore. Katz's Deli for a pastrami sandwich and some Dr. Brown's Cream Soda. Grand Central Oyster Bar for a different seafood tradition such as oyster panroasts and smoked fish in a busy NY setting.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: tautog

                          Wonder if the oyster panroasts is like our "oysters roast" which is when we steam the oysters?

                          1. re: Taylordayne

                            Oyster roast is good there but the raw are better I think. I agree with the post below, you may want to try a few ethnic restaurants (in addition to Italian) since you're coming all this way. This is coming from a small town NH boy who never would have dreamed of touching things like Korean, Japanese, or Indian until only a few years ago but wow. Most nights I'd take Korean BBQ over the food from my hometown almost any night of the week. What's the worst that can happen? You might just decide you prefer something different and head to the next place!

                            Re: Italian, I always like eating at Lupa. It's got lots of classics as well as some more interesting Italian dishes. The food is very close to the dishes I've had in Italian cities but it definitely has an NYC flair to it and the wine list is great and not at all overpriced. Just ask them to pick a bottle if you don't want to navigate the list.

                            Have a great trip! I wish I could ask what shows you're seeing but they don't like us to talk about anything other than food here. : )

                            1. re: JeremyEG

                              Raw Oysters are the best. I think you have talked us into trying maybe the Korean BBQ, I love Japanese, but don't think I can do sushi. Where do you suggest of the Korean BBQ. Would love the suggestions for shows, maybe we can talk about the wild game Lion, and the Mary Poppers Appetizers!!! Or cooking with Grease could be out or in!!!LOL

                              1. re: Taylordayne

                                Madangsui is tops for Korean BBQ in Manhattan. Don't go to one of those Korean restaurants that have everything under the sun AND BBQ -- go to a BBQ specialist.

                              2. re: JeremyEG

                                Thanks for all the great suggestions. We are coming in May, so all this great information will be a big help to us. I will respond back after our trip so you can hear about the girls from the south. Would make my trip if we get on the View. Wonderful website.

                          2. One of the great things about NY is that we have a large foreign born population and hence have a large number of "foreign food". So please don't discount many of these options that may seem strange to you as you might find something you really love and that you cannot get back home in coastal NC.

                            Also if you love good fresh seafood there really is no better way to enjoy it than as sushi.

                            For steak I would say Luger's is the quintessential NYC steak house and the food is very good. IF you happen to prefer a steakhouse for more than just the steak like the sides, I would recommend BLT Prime. They have a very good seafood tower appetizer which you would enjoy.

                            Have a good time in NYC

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: MVNYC

                              Suggestions for Korean BBQ, and a specific place in Manhattan Chinatown?

                                1. re: thew

                                  I agree with Madangsui for Korean BBQ.

                                  For Chinese there are a multitude of options but given your predilections there are a couple I would recommend that have a nice atmosphere as well.

                                  Peking Duck House-For the eponymous duck. They make one mean duck here and a meal here is really nice. The rest of the dishes are ok but the duck is the star.

                                  Ping's Seafood-All sorts of critters are available live in tanks, done a variety of ways. There are a number of live seafood places in Chinatown but this is one of the better ones and has a nice decor.

                                  A soup dumpling is a revelatory experience and I would suggest you try one. I have since moved on but my first one at Joe's Shanghai did it for me. Think a dumpling skin with hot broth on the inside surrounding a pork and crab meatball.

                                  If you want to get even grittier I have a number of other options but I think those would work well for a Chinatown beginner.

                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                    Soup dumplings AND scallion pancakes at Joe's Shanghai (on Pell St.) are incredible. I tried to order pork soup dumplings from Lan Sheng last night, but they told me that they don't make them anymore; apparently no one ordered them! They only carry crab soup dumplings now.


                                    1. re: LeahBaila

                                      I wouldn't ever think of ordering soup dumplings at a Sichuanese restaurant.

                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                        Agreed, however, I've had them from LS before, and they were great. I guess I was the only one ordering them! Haven't tried a crab version before, and not sure I'm ready to.


                                        1. re: LeahBaila

                                          I prefer the crab pork mixture, the crab provides even more of that nice umami. I would highly recommend it though I am not sure why you wouldn't be ready to? Is crab a weird item?

                                          1. re: MVNYC

                                            No, I like crab, but I guess I just couldn't picture it inside of a soup dumpling. It looks as though I'm the minority! You + the loyal crab-soup-dumpling-eating fans at Lan Sheng obviously know something that I don't. Thanks for the visual...will order next time I'm there.


                            2. I agree with Babbo and Scarpetta. I would also add Campagnola and if you are midtown Scalinatella. Seafood I would say go to Avra or Milos for fresh wonderful fish or down to Aquagrill in Soho. Way too many great steak places and I have heard Keens is great. I have also enjoyed Wolfgangs in Tribeca or Ben & Jacks in the 20s on 5th Ave. American food try Aldea.....Have FUN!!!

                              1 Reply