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Sunday night dinner for 8 Aussies

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Hi All
I've checked the boards but hoping for a little more inspiration.
Our 2 families are looking for (perhaps) an interesting Italian restaurant on Sunday 2nd January. We will have eaten at Balthazar the previous night so similar price-point would be great. We're staying on east 39th but realise it will probably be better to travel.
Thanks in advance for any advice

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  1. Scarpetta would be great for a party of 8 (note that a lot of the Mario Batali restaurants like Babbo cannot seat more than 6). The entrees are in the high 20s (similar to Balthazar) but are large enough that I would recommend splitting them. It's one of the best Italian restaurants in town. Don't miss the house made potato chips at the bar, the polenta, the spaghetti pomodoro, or the the duck and foie gras ravioli. And the bread basket is also one of the best in town.

    http://www.scottconant.com/restaurant...

    I would call the restaurant to find out when their books open for January 2nd and then book ASAP over the phone. I wouldn't use OpenTable.com to book at Scarpetta since the restaurant seems to withhold tables for phone customers.

    -----
    Babbo
    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

    2 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Seconded! And please do not leave Scarpetta without trying the tomato basil spaghetti and the mushroom polenta

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

      1. re: kelea

        +1 for the polenta...i think it's the best i've ever had.

    2. I've been to the following and have never had a bad meal:

      - Sfoglia (UES, Lex and 91st)- menu changes frequently, the hot bread and olive oil is amazing, and they have this chicken dish that sounds simple but will knock your socks off! Also, go for any of their home made pastas and the house appetizers (changes every day).

      - Scarpetta- exactly as people say. On the expensive side, but that's because it's in a trendy location.

      - L'Artusi- another favorite, they also have fresh pastas. Slightly less expensive than Scarpetta. Also, they have a HUGE selection of Italian wines, their wine list is actually 20 times the size of their regular menu :-) You can never go wrong here with the pastas, "butter lettuce" dish, and crudo.

      Enjoy!

      -----
      Sfoglia
      1402 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10128

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

      L'Artusi
      228 West 10th Street, New York, NY 10014

      3 Replies
      1. re: citykid426

        Another second for L'Artusi!! Wow I'm so not for original ideas today. But those are my two favorite italian. L'artusi is more on a small plates format but their pastas the the mushroom appetizer is amazing.

        If you want to stay on the east side you can consider Alto or Convivio, they are a little pricier but Micheal White never disappoints

        -----
        Convivio
        45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

        L'Artusi
        228 West 10th Street, New York, NY 10014

        1. re: kelea

          Thank you all for this advice. I have contacted Scarpetta and was told to call back on Friday (my time). I was then tempted by Convivio for the convenience but thought the 2 fifteen year olds may have found it a little challenging though I was very keen! Is there somewhere I should consider close to East 39th - it doesn't have to be Italian.

          Many thanks again.....

          1. re: tony_brisbane

            Why do you think it would be challenging for the 15-year-olds? Also, what cross-streets are you nearest to?

      2. I agree, why would it be hard for two fifteen year olds? Are your kids handicapped perhaps or would you need special assistance? If not, then I really don't think this would be a problem. I remember growing up in New York and at 15, trust me when I tell you that your kids will want to see more and do way more than you. Manhattan is a fantastic place for young people, and all it takes is a quick taxi ride to get from place to place. Generally speaking, the best and most diverse places to eat in Manhattan are downtown. You've got Soho, Tribeca, West Village, East Village, and the Meatpacking district all with the hottest restaurants. Plus, if you don't like one place, you just walk down the block to another.

        If you're still stuck on East 39th Street, however, maybe try Artisanal, a French Bistro. I've been there for lunch and it was fantastic. It's on East 33rd Street so you should be able to walk over there in just a couple of minutes. Also, try Sakagura (211 East 43rd Street, #B1, underground) for Japanese, it's AMAZING. You walk into what looks like a regular commercial building, but when you go downstairs, it's a completely different atmosphere. I have never eaten sushi there actually, because the other dishes, like pork belly and diced steak, were so much better. Also, they have an extensive sake list that is impressive. Lots of Japanese people love to eat there, which should tell you something about how good it is.

        -----
        Sakagura
        211 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017

        1. By the way, you can also go to www.opentable.com and search/book restaurants in New York. I'm not sure if Aussies use Opentable, but it's very popular here and that's generally how I book reservations (unless it's hard to book online and I need to speak to someone about a large party).

          15 Replies
          1. re: citykid426

            Hi Pan & citykid426

            Thank you for taking the time to respond.

            Firstly we're at E39th and 3rd.

            Secondly, I guess my comments about the 15 year old finding Convivio challenging was based on my preconceptions of it being a Michelin one star. Whilst they have eaten well in both Australia and Europe they have yet to attain their first "star" perhaps this should be the occasion.

            I also greatly appreciate your other suggestions - Artisanal and Sakagura - they sound and look very interesting!

            Lastly opentable doesn't exist "downunder" however I am rapidly becoming more familiar with it.

            Thanks again for you advice......

            1. re: tony_brisbane

              Convivio is an Italian restaurant....there is nothing "challenging" about it. And it's fairly casual too. It's not an "occasion" restaurant and it's not on the level with Michelin one-stars in Europe. The food can be good, but there is plenty on the menu which I don't find so special. But I don't think your or your 15 year old will find it challenging in any way.

              -----
              Convivio
              45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

              1. re: gutsofsteel

                Hi gutsofsteel (love the nom BTW)

                I've lurked for a long time on these boards and always appreciate and am intrigued by your comments (& kathryn's!) So thank you for your thoughts as well

              2. re: tony_brisbane

                Don't pay much attention to Michelin ratings of New York restaurants. Maybe they're somewhat accurate for French restaurants, perhaps, but that's about it.

                1. re: Pan

                  Pan, what Michelin 1, 2, and 3 star restaurants have you been to outside of the US, and in NYC, that you use for a basis for comparison with the NYC MIchelin ratings? Would be interesting to hear your comparisons.

                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                    OK, I haven't been to many and don't remember every place's name, but I'm making a more general comment about Michelin's New York City ratings, which are often strange, even in what they include and exclude from their guide.

                    The only 3-star I've been to is Grand Vefour in Paris. I went to a 1- or 2-star in Chablis twice - the first time, it was wonderful, the second, a week later, not nearly as good, and my brother found out that the whole line had quit! We also went to a 1-star somewhere in the French countryside which was a nice, rustic restaurant.

                    In New York, I've had lunch several times at Jean Georges, which I didn't find comparable to Grand Vefour (it seemed more like a 1-star than a 3-star, on the basis of my lunches) but is also way cheaper for lunch. I've been to Laut a few times (and probably will go again tonight) and find it utterly bizarre that it gets a Michelin star. I had dinner at 11 Madison Park some time ago and found it pretty disappointing, but it was a few years ago, though during Chef Humm's tenure. I'd have to look at Michelin's list again to see where else I've been that's gotten a star. Did Kyo Ya get a star? I forget, but that's a fantastic restaurant! I thought my meal at Degustation was star-worthy, but if it didn't get a star, I could understand that purely on the basis that the restaurant is really a counter in a kitchen, and I know that Michelin inspectors are supposed to take luxury into account.

                    1. re: Pan

                      In this case, the OP's understanding of what a Michelin 1-star means is based on European dining experience, so I think that it's helpful to have some experience contrasting Michelin starred restaurants in Europe with Michelin starred restaurants in NY, which you don't have.

                      1. re: gutsofsteel

                        I have only a little such experience, true, but I have the general sense that Michelin employed different standards here, and in fact, I believe they have admitted they did. I mean, have a look at my report on my meal tonight at Laut:

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/750972

                        You think a restaurant like that would have one star anywhere in Europe? Really?

                        1. re: Pan

                          To be fair to Michelin - and I'd rarely ever say that - it's likely they visited Laut sometime before your most recent meal there, and perhaps what they found was closer to your visit last year:

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5950...
                          http://www.chow.com/digest/7722/true-...

                          -----
                          Laut
                          15 E 17th St, New York, NY 10003

                          1. re: squid kun

                            I've had better meals there, but had to speak Malay to the staff to get them, and the place has never had the kind of luxe feel I experienced at every Michelin star-rated restaurant or even relatively high Gault Millau-rated restaurant I went to in France. Mind you, I don't care that much about a luxe feel, and in fact, eat most of my meals in restaurants that haven't even gotten a New York Times star, let alone one from Michelin, but because of its feel and quality of service, I can't imagine a similar restaurant in a French city, even if its food were really good, getting more than a mention and conceivably a Bib Gourmand. I suspect that right about now, our digression on New York Michelin ratings will be closed, though. :-)

              3. re: citykid426

                I don't think you can make a booking for 8 on OpenTable - usually the site will respond that you have to phone the restaurant.

                1. re: boredough

                  It's possible for some restaurants. They might ask for a credit card but I have been successful.

                  1. re: kelea

                    I wouldn't pay attention to Michelin stars. All the suggestions I received from Chowhounders when I booked my own trips were great no matter what level of stars they would have gotten on the Michelin scale. I say go where the locals go and just focus on having great food. Also, in terms of Italian, I heard that Maialino is pretty good. I've been meaning to book a table and go there myself....

                    -----
                    Maialino
                    2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

                    1. re: citykid426

                      Thanks for all the input - I've been able to get a table at Convivio - so fingers crossed!

                      I've also booked a pre-Rockettes dinner at Nios on the advice of a friend here in Oz - not much info on these boards about it - have I made a mistake???

                      Oprah' s just arrived down here and it's a big deal! Unfortunately all the reports are being driven/coloured by the sponsors/advertisiers (MacDonalds etc) so please don't judge Australia on all you see and hear over the next week or so ....... our food industry is exciting and vibrant and at the forefront of world trends with numerous excellent restaurants and cuisines to be sampled and enjoyed!

                      -----
                      Convivio
                      45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

                      Nios
                      130 West 46th St., New York, NY 10036

                      1. re: tony_brisbane

                        Pre-rockettes i would say the bar room at the modern is the prime choice.