HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >

Italian Waiters

hazel1 Apr 21, 2011 12:59 PM

My husband enjoys speaking Italian with the waiters at a few of our favorite Italian restaurants here in California, and he'd like to be able to do the same when we're visiting NYC next month. Does anyone know of a decent place that might meet that criteria? I'm flexible as to where it is/how much it costs, but I don't really want to travel outside of Manhattan.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. kelea RE: hazel1 Apr 21, 2011 01:07 PM

    Celeste on the UWS is by no means a destination restaurant but the matrie'd/manager is italian as is a few of the wait staff. it's tiny and cosy and i've see plenty of people exchanging in italian.

    I love the food, it's inexpensive and close to my apt. However, just to reiterate, NOT a destination resto just so your expectations are fair

    502 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

    8 Replies
    1. re: kelea
      hazel1 RE: kelea Apr 21, 2011 01:23 PM

      Well, that would certainly be convenient, since we're staying at On The Ave in the UWS. We'll put it on our list.

      1. re: hazel1
        harrison RE: hazel1 Apr 21, 2011 01:57 PM

        I 2nd Celeste...and you're only 7 blocks away. Carmine is the owner/host and will talk your ear off. Try to go early and just know that it's cash only.

        Stick w/ the homemade pastas or pizza. Highly recommend Tagliatelle Con Gamberi e Verza egg noodles with cabbage shrimp and pecorino cheese. Fantastic!

        1. re: harrison
          kelea RE: harrison Apr 21, 2011 02:28 PM

          I do love him. I brought my parents there cause i LOVE their pasta vongole..it's simple and a little spicy. and that's my mom's fave dish. and Carmine was chatting up my parents throughout the meal.. And refuse to let us leave unless my mom had the homemade tiramisu (also her fave dessert). And I'm glad we did, she left the place absolutely stuffed and delighted

          1. re: kelea
            harrison RE: kelea Apr 22, 2011 08:14 AM

            Big 2nd on the tiramisu. My wife still aches for it since we moved to the burbs..

          2. re: harrison
            JMJD RE: harrison Apr 21, 2011 07:20 PM

            Go early or late (or on a weeknight, early in the week) if you want to catch Carmine in a chatty mood. Sometimes he's out of town too....

            1. re: JMJD
              harrison RE: JMJD Apr 22, 2011 08:13 AM

              Carmine travels to Italy often - has to smuggle back the cheese!!

              Did I say (write?) that out loud?

        2. re: kelea
          melo7 RE: kelea Apr 21, 2011 01:54 PM

          The Manager at Celeste's sister restaurant Bianca on Bleecker speaks Italian as well.

          5 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

          1. re: melo7
            Simon RE: melo7 Apr 21, 2011 05:53 PM

            Bianca served me possibly the second worst meal food-wise of my entire dining history in NYC...(the Worst Ever honors go to the hopefully-defunct King Seafood in Chinatown)...

            Cacio e Vino on 2nd Ave, near 4th St in the East Village is a cute, charming Sicilian place and the owner Gusto is usually there and would surely love to speak Italian with your husband...(there may be one or two other Italians on the staff too, but fwiw, the waitresses aren't usualy Italian, but are very nice)...

            Cacio e Vino
            80 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003

        3. k
          kathryn RE: hazel1 Apr 21, 2011 01:09 PM

          The guys who run Keste speak Italian and are very nice.

          Keste Pizza & Vino
          271 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

          1 Reply
          1. re: kathryn
            michelleats RE: kathryn Apr 21, 2011 02:39 PM

            Every waiter I've had at Keste has spoken Italian, as well. And the folks who run (manage?) the place are VERY nice. They caught me staring in fascination at their cool wood-fired oven while waiting for the restroom and offered to show me how it worked, up close.

          2. r
            ryansm RE: hazel1 Apr 21, 2011 01:45 PM

            I've had several Italian waiters at Babbo, and at least two of them were more than happy to engage in a quick conversation in Italian.

            110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

            1. Motosport RE: hazel1 Apr 21, 2011 02:07 PM

              Rossini's on E 38th St may be a good option. It's an old school red sauce Italian place with Italian speaking waiters. Take a look a their web site as they have live opera performers some nights.
              You will probably find that most of the Little Italy restaurants have Italian speaking waiters.

              108 E 38th St, New York, NY 10016

              1. sgordon RE: hazel1 Apr 21, 2011 03:43 PM

                I've had Italian waiters at Falai (I think 90% of the staff is Italian), Babbo, and probably every LIttle Italy "red sauce" joint I've been to. Babbo was some time ago, though - last couple times we've been they've been American kids taking our orders, IIRC.

                110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                4 Replies
                1. re: sgordon
                  Simon RE: sgordon Apr 21, 2011 05:57 PM

                  in all my visits to Batali's restaurants (i've been to all of them except Del Posto), i've never once seen/heard/met an Italian staff member of any kind...i have however met at least a dozen obnxious hosts/hostesses/servers, etc

                  1. re: melo7
                    il Trifulau RE: melo7 Apr 22, 2011 07:07 AM

                    It's not Simon. It's the savvier-than-though wasps they hire and teach how to pronounce Italian food terms that work the floor.
                    Ma, il cibo e' buonissimo. Non posso permettere che mi preoccupa.

                    1. re: Simon
                      ttoommyy RE: Simon Apr 22, 2011 06:28 AM

                      There are definitely Italian wait staff at Del Posto.

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

                      1. re: Simon
                        sing me a bar RE: Simon Apr 22, 2011 08:17 AM

                        Agreed. Another reason Babbo always feels like a faux Disney Italian venue. The servers are fresh-scubbed almost kids and seem as if they're from So. Cal. They are capable of pointing out the difference between parmesan & Romano cheese as if it's the most arcane info anyone ever learned. When I assured them in Italian I had lived in Italy and it wasn't my first time at the circus, they looked at me in total bewilderment.

                        110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                    2. s
                      sam1 RE: hazel1 Apr 21, 2011 05:56 PM

                      il posto accanto, da andrea...those are some other places with italian speaking waiters and staff.

                      Da Andrea
                      35 W 13th St, New York, NY 10011

                      Il Posto Accanto
                      190 E 2nd St, New York, NY 10009

                      1. d
                        DavyTheFatBoy RE: hazel1 Apr 21, 2011 06:18 PM

                        At Da Umberto my waiter was from the Arthur Avenue part of Italy, I'm sure he speaks Italian.

                        Da Umberto
                        107 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: DavyTheFatBoy
                          Jay F RE: DavyTheFatBoy Apr 23, 2011 08:14 AM

                          >>>>the Arthur Avenue part of Italy<<<<


                        2. g
                          gutsofsteel RE: hazel1 Apr 21, 2011 07:17 PM

                          San Matteo
                          One of them barely speaks English

                          San Matteo
                          1739 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: gutsofsteel
                            bob96 RE: gutsofsteel Apr 21, 2011 09:23 PM

                            Il Gattopardo, midtown for classic Neapolitan. Keste, San Matteo, Luzzo pizzeria on 1st Ave, Sandro's E 81 St.

                            211 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                            Il Gattopardo
                            33 W 54th St, New York, NY 10019

                            306 E 81st St, New York, NY 10028

                            San Matteo
                            1739 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128

                            1. re: bob96
                              jinglejangle RE: bob96 Apr 23, 2011 07:51 AM

                              2nd Sandro's and San Matteo.

                              San Matteo
                              1739 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128

                          2. t
                            tonycalzone RE: hazel1 Apr 23, 2011 07:32 AM

                            Cacio e Pepe is all italians. And the titular dish is the best outside of Rome.

                            Cacio e Pepe
                            182 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: tonycalzone
                              ttoommyy RE: tonycalzone Apr 28, 2011 06:47 AM

                              So is Cacio e Pepe's sister restaurant, Bocca.

                              39 East 19th Street, New York, NY 10003

                            2. j
                              jinglejangle RE: hazel1 Apr 23, 2011 07:50 AM

                              Tiella, First Ave @ 61 St. where you have to order the namesake Tiella, Stracciatella E Tartufo and the fresh pastas. Everything is wonderful. Small but very cozy.

                              1. h
                                hazel1 RE: hazel1 Apr 27, 2011 04:18 PM

                                Thanks, everyone - this is a great list! I just wish we had enough time to try them all. Now I just have to narrow it down...

                                1. GoodGravy RE: hazel1 Apr 27, 2011 04:23 PM

                                  The waiters at Malatesta speak Italian. Verrrry casual place in the W. Village. Tasty food too.

                                  649 Washington St, New York, NY 10014

                                  1. b
                                    bronwen RE: hazel1 Apr 28, 2011 09:14 AM

                                    I'm pretty sure they chat away in Italian at Il Vagabondo

                                    1. h
                                      hazel1 RE: hazel1 May 3, 2011 10:32 AM

                                      Someone at work recommended Lattanzi for a pre-theatre dinner, whereas I was just about set to go to Il Gattopardo for my hubby's "parlo italiano" fix. Does any one here know whether there are Italian speaking waiters at Lattanzi? How's the comparison in food, service, price etc. for an early dinner?

                                      Il Gattopardo
                                      33 W 54th St, New York, NY 10019

                                      361 West 46th Street, New York, NY 10036

                                      Show Hidden Posts