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NY Italian similar to SF's Delfina or A16

Hello New York Chowhounders,

My wife and I are visiting your great town from Montreal later this month and we want to make sure that our dinner plans are spot-on. So far, we’ve made reservations to Jean Georges and we plan on going to Spotted Pig and Momofuku Ssam bar. For our fourth night, we would like an Italian restaurant and this is where I need your help: Esca, Maialino and Marea are names I’m toying with. Ideally, I would like to find NY’s equivalent of Delfina, A16 or Quince, my three favorite Italian restaurants in San Francisco. All are set in a modern, relaxed atmosphere, with impeccable and innovative cuisine. Is there anything similar in New York?

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  1. Are you after the pizza from A16? If you are, I would suggest Keste. Although I haven't been there, what I've read describes exactly the pizza at A16. It's not formal/fine dining, but from the website it doesn't appear to be a hole in the wall or anything. I have read much about Delfina and sent a friend of mine there - although I haven't been to Delfina, my recommendation for something similar would be Convivio.

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    Convivio
    45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

    1. I lived in SF for four years and had the pleasure of dating someone who worked for Delfina. I know their food and A16's intimately (I think Delfina's pizza is superior, excluding bias). Now in NYC, I think Co. has a Delfina-esque vibe (a little Mission District, a little Marina) and darn good pizza.

      http://www.co-pane.com/

      Happy travels.

      9 Replies
      1. re: foxloaf

        I think A16 would be run of the mill if was in NYC at least I thought so when some of my SF friends insisted I eat there.. It's chef (Appleman I think his name is) is now at Pulino's in NYC. I think most folks here would concur, Pulino's ain't all that great.

        The three restaurants you mentioned are not really comparable to a16 either, none serve pizza and they are all significantly more elegant and expensive (and much better than a16) particularly Marea. If you want neopolitan pizza, there has been an explosion of good places in nyc...motorino and keste probably being a good place to start...I would also throw Locanda Verde on your list for an elegant place as well...

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        Marea
        240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

        Locanda Verde
        377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

        Pulino's
        282 Bowery, New York, NY 10012

        1. re: Cpalms

          Well, I realize that I should have been much more specific in what I was looking for, I'm sorry about that.
          I'm not necessarily looking for pizza. What I love about A16, Delfina or Quince is that although they are definitively Italian-inspired, they have a definitive San Francisco flavor to them. So basically, I'm not looking for a "rustic" or "authentic trattoria" experience, but a modern NYC take on Italian food... if that makes any sense!

          1. re: maimar

            "modern NYC take on Italian food" had me think of Del Posto off the bat.

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            Del Posto
            85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

            1. re: maimar

              Scarpetta, at the bar, has a nice vibe, not unlike A16 only better. No pizza but the house-made bar chips, sinfully rich polenta and killer short ribs apps may persuade you to drink more and maybe share a pasta with your date. Wine list is very good.

              Quince is pretty fancy (I'm a big fan) so I'll offer Babbo as a worthy counterpoint. Again, arrive early and sit at the bar (no reservation, queue up at 5 p.m.). Quince's David Lynch was a long-time wine consultant there. I have his book.

              Esca is another Batalli place. Best enjoyed after the theater crowd has left (after 7 p.m.). Pasternack has a way with fish. His crudos alone are worth the price of admission. His spaghetti neri is memorable as are his whole-fish specials. I like the wine selection.

              All of these restaurants reflect a bit of New York City.

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              Babbo
              110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

              Esca
              402 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036

              Scarpetta
              355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                1. re: Steve R

                  That's the place I thought of when I saw "a modern NYC take on Italian food."

                2. re: maimar

                  A16 and Quince counterparts are relatively easy, Delfina not so much.

                  For A16, if we're thinking relatively authentic and regional, in a super-casual, bustling environment, I'd go with Lupa.

                  For Quince - refined, glossier takes on Italian - I can recommend Alto and Marea, both of which I liked more than Quince (I have not been to Convivio but suspect it would work as well.

                  Delfina's the toughest - It's the most distinctly SF of the three because of its strong reliance on local, seasonal produce and sustainabily farmed/fished proteins and tends to take an Italian approach to locally available ingredients. I hate to invoke the SF:ingredients::NYC:technique duality, but it's true here. So, rather than looking for an NYC Italian restaurant that sources all of its ingredients from New Jersey and Long Island, I'd maybe look for one that uses more modern techniques with classic flavors - I haven't been to Falai in years, but I think I've seen enough positive recent mentions to recommend it.

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                  Lupa
                  170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

                  Falai
                  68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                  Convivio
                  45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

                  Marea
                  240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                  1. re: daveena

                    I was also thinking about suggesting Falai, or Falai Pannetaria. Worth checking out their menus.

                    When I think of Delfina, I don't automatically think of the pasta, so much as their main course entrees, and/or pizza. Savoy may be worth taking a look at.

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                    Falai
                    68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

              1. re: foxloaf

                Co.'s pizza is far superior to Delfina's!

              2. Well, having a former resident of SF, and now a frequent visitor to the Bay Area, I can say that you'd be hard-pressed to find similar, Cali-inspired Italian here in NYC. I've been many times to both Delfina and A16 because those were the few good Italian to go to in SF, but those Cali-style Italian cuisine just doesn't fly here in NYC.

                It's pretty much rustic/regional Italian take, or you will also find many good modern take but still very much within strict Italian modern-style dishes that are served in modern reraturants in italy.

                The only thing that I could think of that, sort-of, yells NYC-style are the red-sauced Italian restaurants ... far cry from Delfina's or A16's Cali-take..

                1. Already mentioned, but worth pointing out again so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle -

                  A16's celebrated chef, Nate Appleman, relocated to NY and opened Pulino.

                  It should be an obvious contender, though I can't vouch for the food, and find the reviews a bit hard to pin down.

                  If pizza is the draw, then Keste or Motorino would probably suit your tastes. Keste has the edge in my book.

                  Other options, Peasant and I Trulli.

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                  I Trulli
                  122 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

                  Motorino
                  349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                  Pulino's
                  282 Bowery, New York, NY 10012

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sugartoof

                    The best progressive, modern Italian food in the city is at Locanda Verde IMO....carmellini is killing it right now, could be the best italian restaurant in the city at the moment....

                    1. re: Cpalms

                      like a16, otto and pulino's imo

                      1. re: mrud

                        actually, Otto might not be a bad suggestion for that style Italian.

                  2. Maialino is what I would recommend. The food is really good, the room is relaxed and service is friendly and just right. Don't go to a pizza place. Scarpetta and Locanda Verde would also work. Hearth is also a good one for your requirements.

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                    Scarpetta
                    355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                    Locanda Verde
                    377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                    Maialino
                    2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010