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It's my wife's 50th but she doesn't like Lamb's Brains

I've taken my wife to several great Italian restaurants in the city but she can never seem to find something on the menu that she would enjoy. She is more of a Veal Sorrento, Pasta Bolognese, Oso Buco, Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage kind of gal.
Where can we find a good place that serves this type of food? Price is no object.

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  1. I haven't been to Il Mulino but the menu might suit your wife. You can search the threads for comment.


    Il Mulino
    86 W 3rd St, New York, NY 10012

    1. If you're willing to go to Brooklyn, you might want to ask for some recommendations on the Outer Boroughs board.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Pan

        We split off some Brooklyn recommendations to the Other/Outer Boroughs board. You'll find them here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/828272 . Please post more Brooklyn recommendations to that thread; they're off-topic here.

      2. The menu at Scarpetta has plenty of approachable dishes. Check their menu.

        355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

        11 Replies
          1. re: kathryn

            I don't sense from Nunzio's description that Scarpetta, really good though it is, is what his wife is looking for. It sounds like she wants very good traditional Italian-American food. That's why I was thinking Outer Boroughs.

            Nunzio, you can help us a little. What are the names of some of the great Italian restaurants your wife hasn't enjoyed?

            1. re: Pan

              Christmas Eve we went to Osteria Morini and she hardly ate a thing.

              1. re: Nunzio

                I haven't been there but have loved Michael White's cuisine elsewhere, most recently two exceptional dinners at Ai Fiori while he was Chef there.

                Osteria Morini's menu looked straight-ahead to me at first, but I see that they aren't serving a straight tomato-based meat ragu, but one that includes chicken livers. Though you mentioned sausage, and they do have this on the menu on their site:

                GRAMIGNA macaroni, pork sausage, tomato, cream, black pepper

                And most of the meat secondi look pretty straight-ahead:

                POLLETTO pan seared cornish hen, cippolini, mushroom, brussels sprouts 26
                PETRONIANA crispy veal cutlet, prosciutto cotto, buttered spinach, parmigiano, truffle cream 28
                BRACIOLA grilled duroc end-cut pork chop, fingerling potatoes, greens, olives 28
                STRACOTTO sangiovese-braised beef short rib, potato, caramelized root vegetables 28
                GRIGLIATA MISTA mixed grill of side pork, sausage, lamb, skirt steak 30

                The sides also look straight-ahead:

                INSALATA MISTA 10
                WILD ARUGULA 12
                ROASTED ACORN SQUASH 10

                Does that look like the menu they were serving on the 24th? What made the menu a problem for your wife?

                Osteria Morini
                218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

                1. re: Pan

                  I think the problem is she rather go to an Italian American Restaurant. Are there any good ones out there?

                  1. re: Nunzio

                    I agree. And I think your best bet is the Outer Boroughs board, though I will give you a Manhattan recommendation which some hounds probably won't like: John's of 12th St. It is not anywhere close to the level of Italian restaurant you obviously prefer, but it oozes character and history, and I've been there a few times and always had very helpful, friendly, gracious service. Not all of their food is better than OK, but it's honest food and a lot of it is tasty, real, and certainly generously portioned and a good value. They have some decent wines (by my standards, anyway), and I would recommend getting recommendations of food from your waiter - we did that last time and were steered very well. I've never had anything less than a pleasant experience there, so far. It's not a fancy place for a special occasion, but a lot of birthday dinners happen there, and it's really old-school (well over 100 years old now).

                    But if you want something more upscale, I know that in the past, Queen on Court St. in Downtown Brooklyn has been recommended, and they have both Italian-American classics and upscale Italian food. They cost more than John's but still quite a bit less than a place like Osteria Morini. Maybe that would be the perfect place for the two of you, but inquire on the Outer Boroughs board and see whether it's kept up its quality.

                    John's of 12th Street
                    302 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                    1. re: Pan

                      I second John's if she'd prefer Italian-American. It has an old-school (but not cheesy) atmosphere and does the Italian-American staples well. I remember liking their garlic bread and shrimp Parmesan.

                      1. re: Pan

                        The food is good at Queen but don't think the atmosphere is nice enough for a 50th bday.

                        1. re: missmasala

                          It's fancier than John's of 12th St. Do you have another suggestion?

                          1. re: Pan

                            fancier perhaps, but less charming than john's? I find the decor and atmosphere at Queen to be fairly tasteless/uninspiring. (though the conversations one can overhear are pretty amusing.) Just saying I wouldn't travel from Manhattan for it.
                            I don't, unfortunately, have another suggestion. And it's true the food is good at Queen, so if that's the only consideration, it might work.

                      2. re: Nunzio

                        Picolo Angelo, on Hudson off Jane. Full menu of all the favorites for the missus while you will be more than fine with the quality of the kitchen. Moderate price, relatively loud place, boisterous owner.

                        Piccolo Angolo
                        621 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

            2. Second Scarpetta, and add Da Silvano. I haven't been to Crispo, but many recommend it, and Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Sausage is right there on the menu.


              240 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

              Da Silvano
              260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014

              355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

              1. What about Rubirosa?

                235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

                1 Reply
                1. re: detroit1010

                  I love Rubirosa but agree it might not be right for the request

                  (And... I was tempted to answer the original poster with... "what an odd gift for a birthday, I think a necklace might be better)

                2. Rubirosa is awesome, but i think its both a little too hip and a little too modern for this request.

                  I recommended it recently in another thread, but id check out Zero Otto Nove - they have quite good pizzas in a pretty traditional neopolitan style, but they have really excellent non-pizza food as well. On our recent visit we had a home made pasta that came out in a foil wrapper (i cant say why, but it was delicious) some really great grilled octopus (though not as good as Rubirosa's which is probably my current favorite octopus anywhere) and the dish which impressed me the most (enough that i tried my hand at recreating it last night) was their mixed meats in gravy - a sausage, meatball and braciole in probably the single greatest tomato sauce ive ever experienced in a restaurant. Its an interesting mix of italian (the decor and waiters) and italian american - there isnt much on the menu id describe as particularly modern but we found the execution to be impeccable.

                  235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

                  Zero Otto Nove
                  15 W 21st St, New York, NY 10010

                  1. Check out the menu at La Masseria (235 W 48th). We had an excellent meal there recently and enjoyed the service and the space.

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

                    1. What about Il Cortile. I had a great meal at Il Punto a couple of weeks ago. If she likes Italian American you could go to - gasp - Carmine's or the other "family style" Italian off Times Square - I can't remember the name, Nick's I think.

                      Il Punto
                      507 9th Ave, New York, NY 10018

                      200 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

                      Tony's Di Napoli
                      147 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036

                      Il Cortile
                      125 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

                      1 Reply
                      1. Ecco on Chambers St. No innards on the menu. Old school Italian American though no red checked table cloths. Here's the link to the menu


                        124 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007

                        1. Fiftieth birthday? Calls for a special place. Think she can find suitable dishes at Del Posto?
                          I think so. Or, take her to Arthur Ave. if she wants traditional red sauce type of places.

                          1. What about Piccolo Venezia in Astoria? Super old-school Italian, with old-fashioned waiters and decor. I haven't been in years, but it used to be very good.

                            1. Nunzio, I don't have any suggestions, but you get my vote for the best subject header of 2012 so far. ;-)

                              1 Reply
                              1. Da Silvano - such a lovely room and they have sausage with broccoli rabe on the app selection!

                                Da Silvano
                                260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014

                                1. i Trulli could work.

                                  I Trulli
                                  122 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

                                  1. what about capucine's on 19th and 1st or sam's place on 37th and lex?

                                    327 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                    Sam's Place
                                    132 E 39th St, New York, NY 10016

                                    1. Would Torrisi or Parm be too low key? The prix fixe might work, and you can reserve.
                                      I also think of Supper and Frankie's Spuntino.

                                      Frankies 17 Spuntino
                                      17 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                                      156 E 2nd St, New York, NY 10009

                                      Torrisi Italian Specialties
                                      250 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

                                      248 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

                                      Frankies 570 Spuntino
                                      570 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: dbdtron

                                        definitely not Torrisi, where the diner has no control over their meal.

                                        what about Marchi's? i've never been, but have been curious...


                                        251 E 31st St, New York, NY 10016

                                      2. You might want to check out Volare in the Village. While I know it has it's haters, I have always enjoyed it. It is so old school Italian that you almost feel as if you are in a Godfather movie with the waitstaff fawning all over you. My father is a HUGE Oso Buco fan and has always loved the dish there. I have never had a bad meal there. I will say that I haven't been in a few years, but it was always consistant.

                                        147 W 4th St, New York, NY 10012

                                        1. Il Giglio. Apparently, Il Giglio was owned by the wife of the owner of Il Mulino or something like that. There's a history between the two, though now they are owned by completely different people. Il Giglio was good and definitely more old school. My boyfriend loves Il Mulino and knew of the shared history between the two which is how we ended up there for a last minute dinner. The portions are on the large side, so be careful not to order too much.

                                          If you want the old school Carroll Gardens type Italian-American fare, you might want to check out Marco Polo for the experience. The food was fair, some better than others (the fried mozzarella was great), but the experience was priceless. Where else will you have a waiter serenade you on an electric violin playing popular pop songs from the 60s, 70s and I think 80s. It was a fun night and the people were nice.

                                          Another option is Sfoglia in the UES. It's not Italian American, but I do think the food is good.

                                          1. Has anyone been to Piccolo Angolo?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Nunzio

                                              That's the place I recommended (see my above post). Very lively, good food of the type your wife wants.

                                            2. I suggest Villa Mosconi on MacDougal Street in the Village. I haven't been in many years, I would love to return, but it's about as homey and traditional as they come. Nothing the least bit hip or "nuovo" about it, just so you know.

                                              Villa Mosconi
                                              69 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

                                              1. Lusardi's Restaurant
                                                1494 2nd Ave
                                                New York, NY 10021
                                                (212) 249-2020

                                                One of the best Italian meals I've had. A very nice setting for a birthday; elegant, simple, romantic. It's quaint, but the food is outstanding. I hope you find this helpful!