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Italian dinner for 13 including kids

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Looking for a moderate priced but really good Italian restaurant to take extended family for my brother's 50th birthday, on a Tuesday night in a couple weeks. Ages in our party of 13 range from 4 to 85, so someplace family friendly with festive atmostphere would be ideal. Traditional Italian food and atmosphere is fine. We'll be on the Upper East Side but willing to travel for the right place. It goes without saying here, but really good food is a must.

Last year we stumbled into one of the Mulberry Street restaurants and had a very nice time, but I'm looking for a bit of an upgrade in terms of culinary quality this time, yet without breaking the bank.

Thanks for your suggestions.

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  1. Otto

    1 Reply
    1. re: gutsofsteel

      Otto is a good call and they have their food and drink packages online, so you can see if the price range is right for you:
      http://www.ottopizzeria.com/group_lun...
      http://www.ottopizzeria.com/group_bev...

    2. All depends on your budget. At the mid-range (by that I mean, say, entrees under $30 - and yeah, I'm old enough to realize that calling that "mid-range" sounds ridiculous, but welcome to NYC in 2010...) you've got Il Buco, Locanda Verde - any of them would be a step (many steps) up from just about any Little Italy "red sauce" joint. Convivio is slightly higher in price, but in the same neighborhood. It's the cheapest of the Michael White options, certainly. Barbuto would be a little outside-the-box - it's equal parts seasonal American to Italian, but they sure are good.

      If you're willing to venture to Brooklyn, Noodle Pudding is a great option, and easy to get to (only one stop into BK) in Brooklyn Heights. I've seen a lot of big family groups there in the past, they seem pretty kid-friendly.

      For Little Italy, Il Cortile is probably the best, or at least the most interesting. They're Northern Italian, so there are going to be things on the menu you won't see at the cookie-cutter red sauce clones that run the rest of the length of Mulberry. Because they still have to cater to the tourist trade, they have the usual mix-and-match pasta-and-sauce and meat-and-sauce menus, so for those who prefer that style, it's good. Especially for the kids. And for the adults who want something a little more interesting, there's that as well.

      Going a little cheaper, Chelsea Ristorante is decent, if nothing terribly original, and they have special prix fixe "party menus" to make things easier for big groups.

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      Il Buco
      47 Bond St., New York, NY 10012

      Il Cortile
      125 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

      Convivio
      45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

      Chelsea Ristorante
      108 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011

      Locanda Verde
      377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

      3 Replies
      1. re: sgordon

        Thanks very much for all these suggestions. Otto looks a bit pasta and pizza heavy for us -- not much in the way of secondi piatti. But I appreciate the suggestion.

        I'd be interested in what others think of Chelsea Ristorante. The menu looks good and the price is about right, but sgordon does not seem enthused.

        I'm also considering Roberto Restaurant and Zero Otto Nove, both in the Arthur Avenue area of the Bronx. I realize that I am straying over the river and thus to a different board, but would welcome any general thoughts on whether this is a good direction to go before I in fact "leave" Manhattan.

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        Chelsea Ristorante
        108 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011

        1. re: DCTransplant

          My cousins hosted a large family gathering last year at Cucina de Pesce. The guests ranged in age from kiddies to octogenarians, with a range of tastes and levels of sophistication, and everyone enjoyed their meal. They have an extensive menu and it is very reasonable.

          1. re: rrems

            I've had a couple horrible meals there. Do you know specific dishes that your cousins enjoyed? I may have ordered the wrong things but I had one pasta and one fish dish and both were really bad.
            JeremyEG
            homecooklocavore.com

      2. We have a toddler so Chelsea Ristorante is in regular rotation. Sgordon's description nails it - it's nothing special but they are family-friendly and reasonably-priced. I've taken my parents and grandmother there on several occasions and they were all happy. I wouldn't call it festive, though, and there's something a little cheesy about it, but the food is solid and the service attentive. The other family-friendly Italian place we frequent is Gradisca. It's probably a bit pricier than CR but the staff is fantastic with kids and the food is far better. Also take a look at Intermezzo. I haven't been there since they changed management but believe there was a recent posting here about how good it was.

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        Gradisca
        126 W 13th St, New York, NY 10011

        Chelsea Ristorante
        108 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011

        1. Tony's Di Napoli is your basic Italian red sauce place. It's on 2nd Ave and 83rd St. It is a perfect place for 13 people including kids. Many people here may look down on this place but it has good food, is reasonably priced and most of the parties there are large groups.

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          Tony's Di Napoli
          1606 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10028

          1 Reply
          1. re: ajs42548

            The service at Tony de Napoli is a joke. You're better off at Carmine's in that category.

          2. How about Peasant? Might be too loud but that food is really great.
            JeremyEG
            homecooklocavore.com