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authentic italian in bay ridge or bensonhurst

HI,
We are coming in to visit relatives and want to surprise them with a great italian dinner. They are from Italy, so where is a good place to take them?

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  1. Venture over the VNB and enjoy an outstanding dinner at Trattoria Romana on Hylan Blvd.
    prepared by Chef Vittorio, a bonafide Italian Chef,, who never fails to dazzle.. It's only a 15 min drive from BR and the ease of parking and diniing in a great neighborhood more than makes up for the toll.

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    Trattoria Romana
    1476 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10305

    1. Ignoring the Italian vs Italian-American food debate for a moment, here is a good place:

      Tommaso Restaurant
      1464 86th St. (cross street: Bay 8th St. )
      718-236-9883

      http://www.tommasoinbrooklyn.com/

      1 Reply
      1. re: Scagnetti

        tommaso's is solid, love this place. have yet to have one bad meal there. and the owner sure can belt some tunes. i think this occurs on friday nights? next door, at mona lisa's, they have an extensive bakery. i'm a sucker for the cannolis there.

      2. There are no Italian restaurants that can be recommended in Bensonhurst or Bay Ridge without numerous caveats. If you're talking about relatives from Italy who want a good Italian restaurant meal, then you would honestly be far better served in Manhattan (either East or West Village... many reasonably priced places such as Gradisca, Cacio e Vino, Cellar 58, and the list goes on) or one of the gentrified (formerly Italian) neighborhoods of Brooklyn such as Carroll Gardens (such as Savoia on Smith Street). In those areas, you will find good restaurants that, while not catering to Italian Americans, are often owned by Italians and the wait staff tend to be young hipsters from Italy. The playing field in Bensonhurst, however, is much different. There you will find a large Italian immigrant population (albeit in serious decline), and if you know anything about Italian immigrants, you know they don't like to go out to eat. I have relatives who have been in this country for 30 or 40 years and have never been out to eat, aside from the copious number of weddings, banquets, etc. So, restaurants are few - in fact, fewer as the 'hood goes through demographic changes - and far in between. You would want to come to Bensonhurst for raw ingredients and food products, which are among the best Italian in the city and delivered without pretense. The only restaurant I could recommend would be Il Colosseo on 18th Avenue by 77th Street. It's Sicilian-owned and the waiters are usually always off-the-boat Italians. You need to ignore the menu and engage them in Italian to find out what you should eat or just plain tell them what you want. It does seafood well and usually has a good selection of fresh fish. I can't give this place a 100% vote of confidence, but whenever I have folks in from Italy and want to go out in the neighborhood, I go here and it's usually fine. Just remember: ignore the menu and speak Italian. Bay Ridge of course has many Italian places on 3rd Avenue, but I can't recommend any with any confidence. I've sometimes had good stuff at Zio Toto' - also Sicilian-owned - but then again, it's let me down. Good Luck!

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        Savoia
        277 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

        Il Colosseo
        7704 18th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11214

        Zio Toto
        8407 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

        2 Replies
        1. re: rosmarino

          >>>>the wait staff tend to be young hipsters from Italy<<<<

          I like a little Italy in my hipsters.

          1. re: rosmarino

            Second the vote for Il Colosseo--frantic but attentive and professional when busy, but a very satisfying, unpretentious urban Italian (ie, like eating out in a residential nabe in Naples, Bari, or Catania) experience. Excellent brick oven pizza, good grilled seafood and fish, pasta, cheap decent house wine. Loaded with Italian families having a good time. Loud when crowded.

          2. Since they are from Italy, why not take them to some place they can't find at home? Any Italian food you bring them to in NY is going to be disappointing compared to what they get at home.

            Think of it this way - if you were going to Italy, would you want somebody to take you to a burgers and steak place, or would you want to eat the specialties of the region?

            10 Replies
            1. re: gutsofsteel

              This is a good point, although when my relatives visit from Italy, we NEVER eat outside of the home and we eat the same stuff they would eat at home! Some of my younger cousins want to try different types of food, you know, "American food" which is basically anything that is not Italian. Then again, some of them enjoy being in the Italian community here and seeing what the immigrant experience has brought... I agree with you about eating the specialties of the region, but at the same time, with over 100 years of Italians in America, is not our food also a specialty of this region?

              1. re: rosmarino

                Love your point about Italian food being the food of the region, even if it's "just" Brooklyn. Or America. I vostri parenti should be much at home at Il Colosseo.

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                Il Colosseo
                7704 18th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11214

                1. re: bob96

                  Italian-American food bears little resemblance to Italian food as prepared and served in Italy.

                  1. re: bob96

                    Would you take Japanese visitors to a sushi restaurant in NY? Or Chinese visitors to a Chinese restaurant? It just makes no sense when they can get those foods so easily, and such better quality, at home. If I travel, I am not interested in how hamburgers are prepared in other countries.

                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                      That is you, and that is also me, but the original question asked for an Italian restaurant in the Bensonhurst area. You'd be surprised how many Italian folks, old and young, have no interest in eating anything but Italian food (though I am surprised that the person who asked the question is even daring to bring them outside the home!).

                      And I disagree with you about "Italian American food bears little resemblance to Italian food as prepared and served in Italy." I'm an Italian American, lived in both countries, large immigrant family here, and the place I suggested serves food that any Sicilian would find much like home. Heck, the whole restaurant - decor, sounds, smells - will remind them of home. This is what an immigrant community is about! There are scores of places in New York City where you can have meals that resemble in every way shape and form the food of Italy. Not sure what your points of reference are for "Italian American" food.

                      1. re: rosmarino

                        < I can personally vouch for Il Colosseo being an exceptional restaurant where everything is prepared fresh and in front of you. I'm a first generation Sicilian from Bensonhurst. My parents were born in Sciacca. Colosseo, Europa on 65th st and 20th ave, and Joe's Focacceria Palermitana on Ave U and Mcdonald are among the most authentic Sicilian restaurants in the city.

                        1. re: joeyBK

                          Ponte Vecchio in Bay Ridge 4th Avenue between 88th and 89th Streets

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                          Ponte Vecchio
                          8810 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

                        2. re: rosmarino

                          I understand. The OP did not say if her relatives are Sicilian or not.

                          (FYI, I have spent a great deal of time in Italy, over many decades)

                        3. re: gutsofsteel

                          this seems perfectly rational to me - many, maybe most people in the world have a comfort zone with their own cuisine or closely related cuisines and arent very interested in exploring beyond. Some years ago a family member had sophisticated Japanese visitors - they most enjoyed their visit to Nobu. For that matter, many Americans travel and want meat and potatoes,

                          Maybe the Italian visitors would appreciate NY-oriented but Italian-operated and flaovred Brooklyn places like Al di La, Frankies or Aliseo? Of course there are NY alternatives.

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                          Aliseo
                          665 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

                  2. Since the OP mentioned the word "authentic" in the title, I'll assume she wants Italian rather than Italian-American. I think the whole authenticity debate is a moot point as any cuisine done right can be excellent, but w/e

                    Piattini is a Sicilian restaurant in Bay Ridge which fits the bill and hasn't been mentioned yet (cash only). Another is Bella Sicilia, a new place in Bath Beach. Il Colosseo and Tommaso would also be fine choices.

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                    Il Colosseo
                    7704 18th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11214

                    Tommaso
                    1464 86th St, Brooklyn, NY 11228

                    Piattini
                    9824 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

                    Bella Sicilia
                    1647 Bath Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11214

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: razeup

                      Piattini is a place I'd only recommend with a serious caveat: in my experiences there, I found it very over-priced and the food, while it looks good, lacked salt and the robust flavors I would associate with Sicilian food. In fact, it was downright bland and unsatisfying. But that was a year or so ago; hopefully it's gotten up to speed.

                      I recommended Colosseo because it's right smack in the middle of the target area specified in the initial inquiry, and one can conduct all business in Italian, which is the way it should be in an Italian restaurant, IMHO. Plus, like a good Italian restaurant, the menu is a decoy for the novice. You go in, you engage about what's fresh, and you make your meal that way. Never order off the menu in that place!

                      Europa, which someone else mentioned, on 65th and 20th, also Sicilian-owned, is still a solid pizzeria, but they watered down their dinner menu, removing traditional Sicilian items, perhaps in an effort to pander to non-Italian palettes (not a bad move given the demographic changes in this area, but disappointing for one who knows better).

                      Not sure about the other places (Bella Sicilia and Tommaso, though at last glance the menus of both don't exhibit much by way of inspiration). Obviously, when one gets out of the neighborhood boundaries established by the initial inquiry, the possibilities are limitless (and in many cases probably tastier... see my initial response).

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                      Tommaso
                      1464 86th St, Brooklyn, NY 11228

                      Piattini
                      9824 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

                      1. re: razeup

                        I wouldn't recommend Piattini. Every time I have been, I have found that they "tried too hard". Wish that I could be more specific.

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                        Piattini
                        9824 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209