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birthday lunch at esca, lupa or manzo...which one and why?

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we'll be in the city during the day for my wife's bday, which is the best and why? I guess babbo is closed for lunch so that leaves esca, lupa and manzo.

tia

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Lupa
170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

Esca
402 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036

Manzo
200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

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  1. Why not Del Posto? It is because it will be a weekend day?

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

    1. Why only Batali restaurants?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Simon

        The 3 Batali restaurants that the OP picked are not very good. I'm suprised Otto is not very good as well. With all due respect to Batali, he manages to fill the seats every night. Babbo and Del Posto should be on the list. And agreeing with Simon, why only pick Batali restaurants? There are so many good restaurants in NYC. Go to Osteria Morini, they have delicious food.

        -----
        Babbo
        110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

        Otto
        1 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003

        Osteria Morini
        218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

        1. re: foodwhisperer

          I don't agree at all with your opinion of Manzo. We recently had lunch there (our third time eating there), and the food was outstanding. However, I wouldn't choose it for a birthday meal because its location doesn't say "special occasion" to me.

          Manzo photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

          Haven't been to any of the other Batali Italians except Esca. That was many years ago, and I wasn't thrilled. We have been to his Spanish spot, Casa Mono, a few times. The food there is excellent.

          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

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          Casa Mono
          52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

          Esca
          402 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036

          Manzo
          200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

      2. so, what are you looking for? i am not a big fan of any of those three places (though my bad experience at Manzo dealt with service at the bar, so I haven't written it off, and it very well might be the best of those three), but if I had to choose, i would probably go to esca. but what i would do is not what you should do, so let us know more about what you are looking for (especially if you are willing to look outside those three places)

        -----
        Esca
        402 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036

        Manzo
        200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

        1. wow, tough to get a recommendation. Del Posto would be fine as would another Italian restaurant.

          Looking for food that favors soul over precision, flavor over presentation, comfort over cool decor. Looking for food where if we closed our eyes, it would be easy to imagine we're in rome rather nyc. The only batali restaurant we've been to was Po (when he owned it) and I thought it this kind of restaurant.

          tia,

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          Po
          31 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

          2 Replies
          1. re: vinouspleasure

            I've only been to Lupa but I did enjoy it. Nice wine list and good, simple pasta dishes. Sit at the bar/front room for a more lively atmosphere or in the back for a more sedate meal. I think it meets your criteria. Del Posto is nice for lunch but not a place where you can wind down and relax.

            1. re: vinouspleasure

              If you want Roman, I'd say Lupa or Maialino would be good bets for a birthday. Maialino is a bit less casual than Lupa, but not by a lot.

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              Lupa
              170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

              Maialino
              2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

            2. I love Lupa for lunch. It's much more chill than it is at dinner and the pastas and wine list are very good. Enjoy!
              JeremyEG
              HomeCookLocavore.com

              1. I've never been for lunch, but the food at Manzo during dinner hrs is better than what I've had at Lupa and Del Posto. It's an excellent restaurant for food, though the location is a little funky. (It's in the middle of Eataly, though there are partial dividing walls that separate it from the market.)

                Manzo v. Maialino is a close call, but IMHO the former might win by a nose b/c Maialino's kitchen tends to oversalt.

                3 Replies
                1. re: michelleats

                  The menu at Manzo is the same at lunch and dinner. Having had both dinner and lunch there (and dined at the bar as well), I can say that the food is uniformly excellent

                  http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                  1. re: RGR

                    It's usu. not the menu offerings that determine whether a meal at a restaurant, at a particular time of day, is good or bad, but rather who's on duty in the kitchen. There are some excellent restaurants fo dinner that are far less excellent at lunch or near holidays because the A team's not in. If you've eaten at both times, though, I of course trust your experience!

                    1. re: michelleats

                      As you probably know, Michael Toscano is leaving Manzo to work for another group. However, he was still there when we had lunch on Sat., 2/25 (he came into the dining room in his chef's whites), so I guess that would be the "A Team." It will be interesting to see what happens with the food once he leaves. I don't think his replacement has been announced yet.

                      http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                2. I happen to like all three restaurants you picked vinouspleasure. There are Batali haters on this board, so please do not let them discourage you. My first choice for lunch would be Del Posto, if you can get a reservation. Try Open Table first. If a table is not available, then try calling.

                  Of the three you list, I would pick Manzo first. You mention "comfort over cool decor." Although Manzo is in the middle of Eataly, it is set aside from the hustle and bustle of the market. The food is consistently amazing.

                  My next choice would be Esca (it's all seafood, though). We were there for my birthday just the other night and there was not a false note in any of the courses. Finally, Lupa. Always a good choice in my opinion.

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: ttoommyy

                    I suggest the OP read "Heat" written by Bill Bufurd, a personal friend of Batali who nonetheless highlights many of the reasons to avoid his restaurants or to, at the very least, not believe the hype :)

                    1. re: Simon

                      I have no problem with Batali. I find some of his restaurants are good and some are not good. He is a showman and celebrity and he does like good food. I've seen him eating in some good restaurants. All of his restaurants are successful. Eataly is amazingly successful. The man is a restaurant genius. However, although crowded, Otto is the worst of the lot. Manzo, and the other Eataly restaurants are not very good. Lupa is way overrated, Esca has some good fish dishes but overrall not really good, Babbo is excellent, although you pay a high price for small portions. Del Posto is really good as well. So it is nothing to do with Batali hater, I like Batali, just not all of his places. I have also had food that he cooked at food shows, it was simple but very good.

                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        I guess im not really a chowhound then since i love all the restaurants at eataly and i think otto is great....its my go to place on a sunday afternoon. The freshness and selection of antpasti at otto can't be beat, in my opinion.

                        1. re: ttoommyy

                          Second this. I love making a meal out of the veggie and seafood antipasti with some unusual and funky white wine I've never heard of. I think it's one of the great eating experiences and not one of the more expensive either.
                          JeremyEG
                          HomeCookLocavore.com

                          1. re: ttoommyy

                            Otto is very good. The pizza are not heralded, but always very good nonetheless.

                            1. re: RCC

                              Thanks JeremyEG and RCC. Glad to see I am not alone.

                              I think the pizzas are very good also. They are a type unto themselves and should not be compared with others. I've eaten pizza in Naples and Rome and they are great. But Otto is not supposed to be the same type of pizza.

                              And expanding on what i said before...I can just about enjoy any restaurant that serves good food and has good service. It does not need to be "mind blowing" nor does it need to be something I've never had before. I guess for someone who posts on CH my expectations are just not as high as others on this board. So be it. I'm happy. :)

                            2. re: ttoommyy

                              de gustibus non est disputandum> On tastes we can't dispute. Everyone has their own opinion on what they like and what they think is good. If you like Otto,that is great. Many people like it , that's why it is packed. I had several meals there and they weren't good to my taste. Way too salty for one thing. The pizzas are OK. That is only my opinion. I am no fan of many restaurants that CH'ers love. So what! We are all CH'ers, that's what food is all about. Some restaurants get so much hype or have big name chef, but are not really that good. Chowhound boards are to get lots of opinions. All opinions are helpful. Sometimes there are amusing posts as well.

                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                Love sitting at the bar on a sunday at around 3, antipasti, cheese course, trying interesting wines, with service from that great older, baldish bartender.

                                1. re: thegforceny

                                  "with service from that great older, baldish bartender."

                                  That's Dennis, the bar manager. lol I'll let him know you said so, force! ;)

                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                    The robust Italian wine list, at all pricepoints, with good help from wait staff that can help steer to your taste, is another solid ++ at Otto.

                                2. re: ttoommyy

                                  I've never had a bad meal at Otto...In my experience, it's been quite delicious...That being said, I don't go at prime time and maybe that makes a difference...I adore the veggies, the pizza, and the gelato...

                                  1. re: jinet12

                                    We really never go to any restaurants at prime time so that could have something to do with my experience vs. others. Good point jinet12.

                          2. thanks for all the help. We have a reservation at lupa, I'll report back in this thread.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: vinouspleasure

                              Buon appetito!

                            2. We ate at Lupa for the first time this weekend...good, but not great. I would go back there - if someone else was treating, but wouldn't choose it again. The primi gnocchi was excellent, the cavetelli eh...the main courses like short ribs are much better at craft...fish - good, dessert - good but not great....I guess I was looking for extraordinary.

                              -----
                              Lupa
                              170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: 1cw

                                "I guess I was looking for extraordinary."

                                That's a problem when going to a place like Lupa. You will never get "extraordinary." I reserve that word for places on the level of EMP, Per Se, Del Posto, etc. Lupa is akin to a trattoria in Rome, Italy: you get good, solid home cooking-like food.

                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                  and yet...many places in NYC deliver extraordinary food at lower price points than EMP, Per Se, etc...

                                  1. re: Simon

                                    Of course this is all very subjective and hinges on one's personal definition of "extraordinary." Just curious though Simon, can you give me a few examples, in your opinion, of places "in NYC [that] deliver extraordinary food at lower price points than EMP, Per Se, etc..."

                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                      Scarpetta is the first one that comes to mind...when i go there i spend roughly the same amount as people spend at Lupa, as i like to share dishes at the bar...i get the soups, black cod, etc...

                                      What else...the suckling pig at Tia Pol...delicious raw oysters at Ten Bells or Balthazar or DBGB...the black pork curry at Sigiri...the inaka soba w/ kamo nasu at Sobakoh...i could go on, but i'd get too hungry :)

                                      -----
                                      SobaKoh
                                      309 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

                                      Balthazar
                                      80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                                      Tia Pol
                                      205 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                                      Sigiri
                                      91 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                      Scarpetta
                                      355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                                      The Ten Bells
                                      247 Broome St, New York, NY 10002

                                      DBGB
                                      299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

                                      1. re: Simon

                                        Thanks Simon. I've never been to any of those places so I can't comment.

                                2. re: 1cw

                                  I've found Lupa's carbonara and bucatini to be extraordinary on multiple visits, but I agree with your assessment of the other dishes.

                                3. we had our lunch, it was very good and exactly in line with what we expected.
                                  Mozzarella di Bufala, DOP with Grilled Leeks - great
                                  Escarole, Walnut, Red Onion & Pecorino - interesting, well-prepared, would not order again
                                  Bucatini All' Amatriciana - great
                                  House special ravioli - great
                                  tartufo - very great
                                  dark chocolate gelato - very good, would not order again

                                  wine by the mini-carafe - well chosen, interesting and well-priced

                                  yeah, it wasn't emp, but it's not meant to be emp, I think it's meant to be a neighborhood osteria and it functions very nicely in that regard. I saw a number of people sitting at the bar eating pasta with a glass of water. $14-$17 for a pasta at the bar is a steal.

                                  -----
                                  Lupa
                                  170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: vinouspleasure

                                    Glad you had a good meal...even though i'm ultra critical of Batali places, that meal sounds very yummy :)

                                    1. re: Simon

                                      it was very good, I think if you stick to one shared appetizer, pasta, share the mini-carafe of wine and split the tartfuo you can come in at very attractive price point (saw your post on value for quality). I'm not a big fan of Mozzarella di Bufala, but their version, a generous portion served on grilled rustic italian bread, drizzled with a little evo, maybe a hint of lemon, paired with the grilled leeks, was something special.

                                    2. re: vinouspleasure

                                      "we had our lunch, it was very good and exactly in line with what we expected. "

                                      So glad to hear that vinouspleasure.

                                      "I think it's meant to be a neighborhood osteria and it functions very nicely in that regard."

                                      My feelings exactly.