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May 3, 2010 02:42 PM

Want to do a regional Italian cuisine food hop -- but where?

We're planning an Italian restaurant hop and want to hit a few different regional cuisines in one day. I know there are something like 22 different regional cuisines in Italy, but to simplify things, we're thinking about doing the Northern, Central and Southern cuisines. Does anyone have recommendations for restaurants that offer specific regional Italian fare (or certain menu items that deliver that)? We're willing and able to go to any nabe in any borough. Have metrocard, will eat.

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  1. For Northern Italian, specifically Venetian, try al di la trattoria in Park Slope. It's probably the best iteration of that region's cuisine in NYC and one of the best Italian restaurants in general.

    2 Replies
    1. re: micki

      I like Al di La very much, but its never seemed particularly Venetian to me. Northern italian yes.
      Ferdinandos Foccacceria and I think Joe's of Ave. U for sicilian street food - rice balls, panelle, etc.
      I think the Paneantico cafe on 14th St. around 64th also offers sicilian dishes.
      Di Faras for neapolitan style pizza as well as other dishes of that area.
      The thing is with Brooklyn, Italians came from all of the southern regions, Campania, Calabria, Apulia, Sicily, Molise - the neighborhoods can be all mixed up and most of the immigration was a while ago, and restaurant offerings have tended to get standardized so it can be difficult (for me at least) to say which region the so italian restaurants are identified with. Frankie's 457 is good.

      Aliseo on Vanderbilt Ave offers food and wine of the Marche.
      I Trulli in the E. 20s at least historically offered food of Apulia.
      Olio e Vini in Clinton Hill at least initially claimed to be Tuscan - Im not sure now there are others in Manhattan/
      In the past there have been restaurants in Manhattan serving the food of Emilia-Romagna - im not sure at present.

      Good luck and hope that others can expand this list.

      665 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

      1. re: jen kalb

        I can't expand, but I can second Aliseo. A charming owner will help you select a wine, and the food is homey and delicious.

        665 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

    2. You've got your hands full. As Jen notes, most places blend regional flavors and styles, save those few that are clearly connected to one (I'm not counting pizzerie that might have both authentic Neapolitan pizze and other dishes). "Northern" cooking has usually meant any Italian food that was not traditionally "red", but now there's so much blurring, it's useless to search out "Central" regional cooking. If there even is such a broad category.
      There are places that make a point of distinct regional dishes.
      Rome/Lazio--Sandro's, Sora Lello, Quinto Quarto
      Sardinia--Cannonau (formerly Assenzio)
      Tuscany--I Coppi
      Classic Neapolitan--Il Gattopardo, Naples 45
      Venetian--Remi, Le Zie
      All are in Manhattan, and you can check addresses and menus on

      Trattoria Zero Otto Nove on Arthur Ave in the Bronx has Salerno-style dishes and good pizza. In Brooklyn, alas, only Joes and Ferdinando's can be called Sicilian, though I'd recommend Il Colosseo in Bensonhurst for an experience closely resembling what you'd find in a neighborhood trattoria in Naples or Bari: brick oven pizza, excellent grilled fish and seafood, some unusual pastas, and a lively crowd mostly local, mostly first-generation Italian families. It's on 18th Ave and 77 St; a few blocks down, at 10th St, Villabate Pasticceria is the best Sicilian pastry shop in the city.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bob96

        Tra Di Noi on 187th in the BX (same area as ZON) offers several Roman-style dishes.

        Another Manhattan spot is Cacio e Vino for Sicilian cuisine.

        Tra Di Noi
        622 E 187th St, Bronx, NY 10458

      2. I cannot vouch for the food, but Enoteca Maria in Staten Island has a rotating crew of Italian 'grandmothers' from various parts of Italy that take turns cooking, and the menu changes for each one.

        Unless you live in Staten Island, I doubt there's anyone who can say how good it is overall....

        Enoteca Maria
        27 Hyatt St, Staten Island, NY 10301

        1. Hello navigeaters,

          Not sure where you're located but I've enjoyed ValDiano's in Greenpoint. It's very homey and looks like just a pizza place until you head to the back for the sit-down part of their restaurant.

          The cuisine is from Campania. My favorites have included mozzarella in carrozza and any of their pasta dishes.

          I've been going there every year or so since I read Sietsma's review back in the 90's. Hmm...haven't been there for a while now. Note to self—must go back again.

          Have a blast wherever you go!


          Glendale is hungry...

          1. Thanks, everyone! It's really helpful information! And I do realize it's quite the challenge to find restaurants that offer a specific regional cuisine, so we're also open to just finding special regional dishes on a more overarching Italian menu. So if you have menu item suggestions, feel free to pipe up!

            To those of you who mentioned Joe's of Avenue U, that one's already on our list! We met a Sicilian guy and his 80-something-year-old dad in a greek restaurant who told us we had to go to Joe's and get the vastedda, which is apparently some kind of spleen sandwich. Can't wait.

            Joe's of Avenue U
            287 Avenue U, Brooklyn, NY 11223

            1 Reply
            1. re: navigeaters

              You can also get it at Ferdinando's on Union St. It is exactly spleen, and if you have to eat it, try with ricotta and grated caciocavallo on a seeded Sicilian roll. At the samle time, try panelle (fried chickpea flour squares) the same way. And get an arancine special--with extra sauce and ricotta. Wash em down with a Manhattan Special.