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Apr 21, 2011 12:59 PM

Italian Waiters

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.

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  1. 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

      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

        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

          I do love him. I brought my parents there cause i LOVE their pasta'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

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

          2. re: harrison

            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

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

              Did I say (write?) that out loud?

        2. re: kelea

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

          5 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

          1. re: melo7

            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. 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

            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. 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. 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. 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

                  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

                    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

                      There are definitely Italian wait staff at Del Posto.

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

                      1. re: Simon

                        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