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Feb 26, 2010 11:42 AM

Best Italian for my NY Foodie trip

Alright. This will be our third trip to NY and they are always purely foodie trips. We have eaten at Lupa and loved it as well as Frankies Spuntino and thought that was pretty good. I would love to pick one really good Itallian restaurant to eat at for our trip and I just don't know where to pick. I have read about so many. How would you say these places are and please give suggestions.
La Pizza Fresca
Il Tinello
Please Help!

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  1. You mean Patsy's Italian Restaurant on 56th not Patsy's (Pizzeria) in Harlem, is that correct?

    1 Reply
    1. re: boccalupo

      Yes. Forgot about the pizza place.

    2. i prefer italian food in bklyn to manhattan. if you're willing to leave the island, i recommend al di la.

      1. Eh. Weak list with the exception of Maialino. Felidia is old and played. Barbuto I think more of for the chicken. Do a search for these best of Italian right now:
        Locanda Verde
        dell anima

        2 Replies
          1. re: chow_gal

            I like this list too! I would add L'artusi (and after sunday, I might add Marea)

            1. re: popcornsutton87

              Ok now I am going between Babbo and Roberto's on Arthur Avenue. Which should I pick?

              1. re: dezineliz

                Totally different leagues: Babbo is one of the most lauded restaurants in the country, with long waits for reservations. At the end of the day, Roberto's is an Italian American red sauce joint in the Bronx. It's like asking, should I buy a nice little dress for myself at the mall, or should I have a couture gown made for me?

                1. re: chow_gal

                  Roberto's is really much better than "an Italian American red sauce joint." Are you confusing it with Dominick's?

                  1. re: chow_gal

                    Chef Roberto Paciullo grew up in the Salerno area of Italy and came to the USA in his late teens. He therefore has a bit of a different background than most 2nd or 3rd generation Italian-Americans and his cooking reflects this.

                  2. re: dezineliz

                    Babbo for a dinner, Roberto's for a lunch. Spend time in both neighborhoods.

                2. You must add Babbo, Crispo, and Convivio.

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: steakrules85

                    Second these three and add Lupa. Definitely skip Felidia.

                    1. re: apple342

                      Just had dinners on two separate nights at Babbo last week and definitely think the quality is going downhill. Pasta still had a good bite whether it's ravioli or spaghetti, but the flavors are out of balance and the execution is just downright sloppy.

                      Then again, I wouldn't say Scarpetta is necessarily doing much better. Went there on two separate occasions as well and thought the pastas were okay, but their signature spaghetti with tomato and basil was so disappointing. For $26, I expect nothing but the most delicious and fullest tomatoes--but these ones were only slightly above average. If tomatoes are not in season, take this dish off the menu. I had this dish a couple of other times in the past, and everytime I go back to the restaurant I make the mistake of giving it another try. Well not again.

                      As for Michael White's restaurant, I'm also not sure if they are that great, either. Had dinner at Convivio recently and loved the arancini with saffron risotto and grilled quail, but thought the pastas were subpar. The only exception was the signature dish of saffron gnochetti with crab and sea urchin, which was decent.

                      Still frustrated and disappointed that none of these restaurants are up to par with the good ones in Italy, but I guess it's the same with Japanese in NY -- people rave all the time about places like Yasuda, but at the end of the day they would be a dime a dozen in Japan.

                      1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                        I couldn't agree more. Italian food in NYC is, generally speaking, a far cry from what one gets in Europe. I was very disappointed with both Convivio and Locanda Verde. Have not been to Babbo in quite some time because i can't stand the noise and the attitude and the food is not good enough to warrant tolerating the place.

                        I did enjoy Maialino though, and Al Di La usually makes me happy. Marco Canora turns out some good Italian food at Hearth too.

                        Yasuda is so overrated it's ridiculous.

                        1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                          Excuse me? This is New York. This is not Naples.
                          It's the same way I feel when I chanced upon a bad bagel in Rome that doesn't compare to H&h or Ess-a-Bagel. Or try to find a good brunch place in Florence. Let's not even talk about Southern fried chicken or burgers-and-fries.

                          Oh, and by the way, I'm also jaded by the fact that there's no French bistro anywhere in New York that comes close to the ones in France. But our French restaurants are as good as the best there is outside of Europe.

                          Even if they don't compare to the ones in Europe, we still have some of the best European restaurants outside of Europe.

                          Hence, I don't think it's fair to say that our Italian places are not as good as the ones in Italy!

                          1. re: RCC

                            Italian food is, relatively speaking, disappointing in NYC. As is French food in NYC. It's not "fair" or "unfair" - it's just the truth.

                            And although I have not sampled it myself, it is my understanding that there is very fine Italian and French food to be had outside of Europe, Tokyo being the prime example.

                            And in any case, even if the "best outside of Europe" were to be found in NYC, that still doesn't make it good.

                            1. re: gutsofsteel

                              I need to get more data on your understanding of the Italian and French food scene in Tokyo. I've not heard, read nor experienced such.

                              In regards to whether Italian is good or not good in NYC, my take on the OP's request is to pick the best Italian during his/her trip in NYC ... I don't see anywhere in the post where they need one that's as good as the ones in Italy. Is that how you read it?

                              1. re: RCC

                                It was simply a tangent started by hong_kong_foodie, that's all.

                                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                                    New York Italian is pretty good. Deb and I tune up our taste-buds every March in Rome whether we need it or not. I don't buy into your call that Italian food is "disappointing" here. I spend a bit of time every year in Asia, too. Italian here is both affordable and better tasting than most of the high-end shops in both Tokyo and Singapore. Italian, at the hotel casinos in Macau, is a joke in the sense it's predicated on selling expensive wine to very wealthy Chinese men and women. Hong Kong Italian is both expensive and unimpressive.

                                    At the end of the day, I'm not sure you've spent much time in either Asia or Italy. If you have, lets chat.

                                    1. re: steve h.

                                      In fact I have spent (and spend) lots of time in Italy. Since I was a child. Not Asia, as I said above.

                                      I'm not saying that some Italian food in this town isn't enjoyable. But it doesn't compare to good Italian places in Europe, as hong_kong_foodie said.

                                  2. re: RCC

                                    >I need to get more data on your understanding of the Italian and French food scene in Tokyo. I've not heard, read nor experienced such.

                                    Same here, based on my multiple visits and prolonged stays in Tokyo. Yes, there are some great Italian and French restaurants in Tokyo, but they are few and they are not nearly as affordable or accessible as they are in New York.

                                    No, Italian food in NYC isn't as good as what you'd find in Italy and Japanese in Japan. NYC still has the best Italian restaurants in the U.S. (remember, most visitors who come here for advice are from other U.S. cities) and to complain that our best Italian/Japanese restaurants aren't on par with those in the respective countries -- no city is perfect. Try finding a good bagel or NY-style pizza in Tokyo. Try finding the variety of produce (and groceries in general) that we take for granted in Tokyo.

                                    Back to the OP: I have finally made it to Scarpetta and Alto in past couple weeks and really liked both. I'd definitely add Scarpetta to your list.

                                    1. re: uwsister

                                      I'm not sure why this is a "competition" between cities. It isn't. It's simply true that when somebody has opportunity to eat Italian food in Europe, it's then somewhat disappointing to eat Italian food in NYC. It's not bad or good, it just is. The fact that you can't find a good bagel in Tokyo (I don't know) doesn't change any of that. The fact that Yasuda is overrated and would not be considered a good place in Japan doesn't mean that Yasuda isn't an enjoyable experience, it just means that when one has a frame of reference to compare with, it's disappointing.

                                      1. re: gutsofsteel

                                        >The fact that Yasuda is overrated and would not be considered a good place in Japan

                                        Yasuda wouldn't be considered a good place in Japan and that's a fact? I'm not sure where your "fact" comes from as it's certainly not based on your first-hand experience, as you've said. Actually Yasuda would be considered a good, solid, mid-priced sushi restaurant, even in Tokyo.

                                        No, it's not a competition between the cities -- I just think it's silly to write "NYC Italian is so overrated, nothing like what I had in Italy" when posters who are most likely from other parts of the U.S. ask about it.

                              2. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                Babbo used to be worthy of its praise without question. If you do not care for the music or the reservation system, fine, but originally and for some time, the food was there. Used to go semi-regularly. Have not been in awhile but I have a fear that they have slipped. In general, Italian restaurants in NYC receive too much praise. Every place has its proponents but based on the execution and ingredients there is no way they all deserve it. Generally speaking, people love pasta no matter how sloppy the dish is. The whole curve is brought down. I hope I am wrong if/when I go back to Babbo or wherever else but I would not wager on it. Italian food could easily be much better in NYC but when everyone goes and pays 20 for a plate of pasta no matter how it turns out, the temptation to let it go is too great. Greed over pride. As for Italy, there are just so many places that are really good, great or better whereas even if the best half dozen places in NYC reached near that ceiling, that is a very low number. Add in the whole country and the number is still very low. For me, just add SF because the rest of the pie is quite worthless. Flame on.

                                1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                  As i've opined in the past, Manhattan is a jack of all trades when it comes to restaurants...i'm a New Yorker, i love the city, i have tons of places i enjoy here...but the best thing about food in Manhattan is the variety and ease of access: not the's great that within a short walk/cab/subway, we can get Ethiopian or Roman or Isaan or ___ cuisine that at least corresponds somewhat to the cuisine at its origin...that's a great thing for a city to have...but with the exception of a couple things like bagels, quality is rarely above a "B" when compared to similar places elsewhere... i think that's the blessing and the curse of living in a melting pot...

                                  And when you factor in the generally awful service at Manhattan restaurants, it degrades the experience further...