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Family from Italy visiting - Need dinner recommendations in Theatre District

INNeed Dec 1, 2010 06:57 AM

Hi All, we have family coming from Italy who have never been to NYC or the States for that matter. I don't believe they are adventurous eaters but own a restaurant and recognize quality.
Right now the choices we are looking at are:
La Masseria
Trattoria TreColori
Criteria is good quality food that won't send us to the poor house as we are a part of eight (adults ). Would love to find a restaurant w/modern ambience - not too loud - but having trouble finding the menu and the atmosphere that work near the theatre. Can you help shed some light on these choices? I've read most the reviews which is how I gathered this list. Any suggestions on Italian or steakhouses w/character are so welcome.
Thank you, thank you!

355 West 46th Street, New York, NY 10010

La Masseria
235 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036

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  1. g
    gutsofsteel RE: INNeed Dec 1, 2010 07:21 AM

    I would recommend that you do not take them to an Italian restaurant.

    Consider DB Bistro Moderne or Keens.

    DB Bistro Moderne
    55 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036

    4 Replies
    1. re: gutsofsteel
      INNeed RE: gutsofsteel Dec 1, 2010 07:41 AM

      Thank you. Is that because you don't think these restaurants will live up to what they are used to or because they should try something new :)

      1. re: INNeed
        kelea RE: INNeed Dec 1, 2010 08:14 AM

        Probably a combination of both. Places like Red Cat, Perilla or Little Owl would be good. New America cuisine where the entrees run in the 20s.

        9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

        Little Owl
        90 Bedford Street, New York, NY 10014

        Red Cat
        227 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

        1. re: INNeed
          Pan RE: INNeed Dec 1, 2010 06:20 PM

          Definitely a combination of both. But seriously, if you're visiting the U.S. from Italy, why on Earth would you want to have Italian food? I would never look for an American restaurant in Italy!

          There are a bunch of places that are regularly recommended in the Theater District - mostly on 9th Av. But please, be as specific as you can on what prices you are willing to pay and what preferences the family has, other than liking Italian food. Would they want to eat very spicy Thai food, for example? Would they like Middle Eastern food?

          1. re: INNeed
            gutsofsteel RE: INNeed Dec 1, 2010 06:26 PM

            Because no Italian food in NYC will live up to what they can easily get at home, and also since they can and probably do eat Italian food all the time in Italy, why wouldn't they want to eat something they don't have so readily at home?

        2. j
          Jane A. RE: INNeed Dec 1, 2010 06:55 PM

          I definitely would not go for Italian food. How about Marseille on the corner of 44th & 9th? They have a $35 prix fixe.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jane A.
            rrems RE: Jane A. Dec 1, 2010 07:15 PM

            My first thought is Marseille too. Not Italian but not overly adventurous either, and in the same price range as the places the OP lists. In any case, I would take Becco and Beacon off the list. Haven't been to Masseria or Trecolori. If Italian is required, how about Orso? Keen's is a great steak house with lots of character, but will be more expensive.

          2. g
            gutsofsteel RE: INNeed Dec 1, 2010 06:58 PM

            There is no steakhouse with more character than Keens. And it is truly American, and one of the oldest restaurants in NYC.

            But what is your budget?

            2 Replies
            1. re: gutsofsteel
              Jane A. RE: gutsofsteel Dec 1, 2010 07:04 PM

              In my experience Europeans are often turned off by the huge slabs of meat served in American restaurants - and this meal is supposed to be pre-theater. You might leave the steakhouse scene for another time.

              1. re: Jane A.
                gutsofsteel RE: Jane A. Dec 1, 2010 07:19 PM

                That is the opposite of my (extensive) experience. The vast majority of our European friends ask for "American steak" when they come. Keens and Lugers are particularly appealing to them. And I'm talking about quite a few people, over many years.

            2. c
              citykid426 RE: INNeed Dec 1, 2010 07:30 PM

              Swizz has great fondue and it's near your 'hood. Also, their beer and wine selection is pretty good. Also, I've been to Bar Americain which is also close by to where you are thinking of. I went for lunch and it was very nice. I think it's owned by Bobby Flay. Very classy (it's business casual).

              As a true New Yorker I generally wouldn't be caught dead going to eat around the Theater District and would especially not suggest going for Italian there, but hey to each his own. Where you take your family is up to you, after all you know what they like best. But my suggestion would be to venture out a little bit, even if it's just a few avenues or blocks. It will make a difference.

              For steak (since you mentioned it), I have taken my in-laws to Quality Meats on 58th Street and they loved it. We got steak, sides, salads, seafood, and each person was satisfied with his pick. We had a couple bottles of wine at decent prices and the service was excellent. Also, in terms of "steak" restaurants in the city, this place is spacious, modernly designed, spans two floors, and has a big walk-in cellar that you can tour (I think). It's extremely classy yet understated.

              Anyway, best of luck!

              Bar Americain
              152 W. 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019

              Quality Meats
              57 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019

              1 Reply
              1. re: citykid426
                kelea RE: citykid426 Dec 2, 2010 08:18 AM

                I love Quality Meats!! It's a little more hip than most steakhouses in my opinion and AvroKO did an AMAZING job with the design. I did think it was a little on the pricy side though for the OPs price range.

                And like gutsofsteel, whenever my European colleagues are in town, they are always asking for American beef. They laugh at the comically large portions too but they always appreciate the beef

                Quality Meats
                57 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019

              2. h
                hungrycomposer RE: INNeed Dec 2, 2010 11:41 AM

                This is an issue I deal with a couple times a year - my sister married an Italian and her family often visits from their home in Milan. I don't know much about where to eat in the theater district, but here are some general tips:
                Stay away from Italian food, it will never live up to what they are used to eating in Italy. An old fashioned, unpretentious Italian-American place is usually a better choice, even if they just find it "amusing". My in-laws are always happy with hamburgers, especially in an old fashioned American setting. They loved Corner Bistro and Pete's (I didn't, but it was convenient). They also love Chinese food, and since I've stopped trying to steer them away from the American menu at Grand Sichuan, our meals are more enjoyable (not tastier, but more democratic and convivial). I've broken the no-Italian rule by taking them out for a good espresso and pastry. Last time we went to Tarlucci e Vino and it was enough for them to get their fix without the food being too much of a disappointment.
                Good luck!

                Corner Bistro
                331 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

                2 Replies
                1. re: hungrycomposer
                  bob96 RE: hungrycomposer Dec 3, 2010 11:49 PM

                  Excellent strategy! I'd also just ask the visitors what they might enjoy--you never know. I do know from personal how fussy about Italian food Italians in NY can be, so sticking with good espresso, maybe some of the city's competitive pizza napoletana (Keste, La Pizza Fresca) or even a wine bar with good spuntini (snacks) might assuage any longings they may have. I'd recommend L'Asso on W 56th St as a decent choice if an Italian restaurant is the only answer.

                  1. re: hungrycomposer
                    hungrycomposer RE: hungrycomposer Dec 4, 2010 11:29 AM

                    I'd also add that we have the opposite situation in our family - the Americans are a restaurant family, the Italians aren't, which generally means that the Americans are more interested in the restaurant experience. I concur that you should ask them what they are interested in, as restaurant owners they might be totally into how we interpret Italian food here. Or maybe they'd love the novelty of spaghetti and meatballs... (I had a classic moment overhearing my brother-in-law explaining to his family that they ate the spaghetti WITH the meatballs in America...)

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