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Help plan a New York weekend?

I will be visiting my boyfriend over the Easter long weekend.

I’m looking for some recommendations from native New Yorkers/Manhattanites(?).

Here’s some of the types of places we’re looking for:

- A nice place. We love food, but past a certain price point (150 a person), I don’t think we see the value. Also, we’re not into places that are incredibly noisy, as seems to be the trend for high-end places in Toronto these days.

- An authentic deli. Carnegie’s? The pastrami at Katz’s? Somewhere we can go get amazing sandwiches and pickles to take with us into the park.

- A great bagel

- A place with Naples-style pizza (thin-crust)

- A good sushi place (possibly for a meal before seeing that movie about the Tokyo sushi chef!)

- A great bakery for hot cross buns! Maybe on a tree-lined street, in a quaint neighbourhood we can explore...

- Above all, we like eating at little relaxing places, tucked away, unknown to many tourists, where the food is fresh (possibly locally sourced) and inventive, not prohibitively expensive and not necessarily trendy.

- It would be nice to have drinks or eat at a restaurant in a historic space!

We are staying in the financial district but happy to learn of places in far-off neighbourhoods worth getting lost in.

I should say too, if it's any indication, in Toronto our favourite place right now is Ici Bistro or even the less trendy Le Paradis. Also, we refuse, on principal, to go to no-reservations places and wait on a list for 2 hours (also a trend right now in Toronto, unfortunately!)

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  1. I would highly reccommend Keste for Naples style pizza. It was recommended to me by my brother-in-law when I went to NYC in July. Great pizza and ambiance and very reasonably priced. Service was good too. You can watch them make the pizza which is neat too.

    We had the Keste pizza and one other. Both were very tasty and crust was done just right.

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

    5 Replies
    1. re: TeacherFoodie

      I would also reccommend Carnegie deli. Get a pastrami sandwich and cheesecake. Delicious.

      -----
      Carnegie Deli
      854 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019

      1. re: TeacherFoodie

        Thanks so much!

        I should say too, as an indication, in Toronto our favourite place right now is Ici Bistro or even the less trendy Le Paradis. Also, we refuse, on principal, to go to no-reservations places and wait on a list for 2 hours (also a trend right now in Toronto, unfortunately!)

        1. re: InToronto

          We went to Keste for dinner either Sunday, Monday or Tuesday and were seated right away.

          1. re: TeacherFoodie

            Thanks--it's not so much going to a busy place that bothers us as the fact that some places have policies such that they don't take reservations.

            Also, it concerns me slightly that an Italian place would be called Keste given that there is no letter "k" in the italian alphabet! ;)

            1. re: InToronto

              Don't be concerned. It's Neapolitan dialect.

      2. > - A nice place. We love food, but past a certain price point (150 a person), I don’t think we see the value. Also, we’re not into places that are incredibly noisy, as seems to be the trend for high-end places in Toronto these days.

        $150pp BEFORE tax (nearly 9% here), tip (20%), wine/drinks? Or after?

        If it is $150pp before tax, tip, wine/drinks, your options are still pretty open.

        For example, Eleven Madison Park's dinner prix fixe is $125pp. Jean George's dinner prix fixe is $108pp. So is Daniel's. Le Bernardin's is $125pp. Del Posto's prix fixe is $115pp (or you can do a la carte upon request I believe).

        Any preferred cuisines? Neighborhoods? Favorite foods?

        The rub will be getting into some of these places (3 Michelin star, 4 NYTimes stars). If you are coming Easter weekend (April 6-8), many of the popular upscale places have had their books open for that weekend for a few days already, and are getting booked up as we speak. Our most popular fine dining establishments tend to become fully committed a month in advance.

        Your top choices may already be fully committed or have only the less desirable times remaining.

        Note also that many of the fine dining destinations do NOT serve Sunday dinner.

        > - An authentic deli. Carnegie’s? The pastrami at Katz’s? Somewhere we can go get amazing sandwiches and pickles to take with us into the park.

        Katz's isn't really near a big lush park where you can picnic on the grass. I assume you mean Central Park? Or a different park?

        Also, spring in NYC can be rainy, so I would have a backup plan (such as dining IN at Katz's).

        > - A great bagel

        There's a great article on Serious Eats: New York, where they basically conclude that the best bagel is the freshest.

        Best bagels in NYC:
        http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/1...
        Summary: the freshest bagels are the best; bagels don't age well at all.

        I would encourage you to instead focus on getting a good bagel sandwich with some excellent smoked salmon, at Russ & Daughters. I'm fond of red onion, capers, regular cream cheese, and tomato on mine. Try a few smoked salmons before you settle on one, they're surprisingly different (and belly lox is not the same as smoked salmon, because belly lox is salmon cured in salt brine, and most people actually prefer the more modern, Nova-style smoked salmon). Takeout only, but they have two benches outside.

        > - A place with Naples-style pizza (thin-crust

        )

        People here are very fond of Keste; I find it to be too wet/heavy for me. The wait at Keste can be pretty hairy as well. Lunch is better than dinner. Earlier is better than later, for dinner.

        My personal preference is for Motorino. Crimini and sausage, spicy soppressata, brussels sprouts/pancetta, or whatever their special pie is. Wonderful crust, quality toppings. Whole pies only. They don't take reservations, either, but there's usually little to no wait at lunch time. Go earlier for dinner if you don't want to wait an hour.

        > - A good sushi place (possibly for a meal before seeing that movie about the Tokyo sushi chef!)

        What is your price range, per person, before tax, tip, drinks/wine/sake? What day of the week do you plan to do this? For example, 15 East and Ushiwakamaru are closed Sundays.

        Not all the well known sushi places serve lunch, so I assume this is for dinner, before seeing Jiro Dreams of Sushi? (It's pretty popular in NYC right now, buy tickets in advance, and definitely make your sushi reservations in advance).

        > - A great bakery for hot cross buns! Maybe on a tree-lined street, in a quaint neighbourhood we can explore...

        Tough inquiry, some leads here:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/387939

        Note that Bouchon Bakery now has an outpost in Rockefeller Center.

        > Above all, we like eating at little relaxing places, tucked away, unknown to many tourists, where the food is fresh (possibly locally sourced) and inventive, not prohibitively expensive and not necessarily trendy.

        Here's a thread on good "neighborhood" finds:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/838483

        The catch might be that a lot of them are on the louder side, more cozy/cramped side, and/or they don't take reservations.

        > It would be nice to have drinks or eat at a restaurant in a historic space!

        Keens steakhouse is excellent and they have a massive scotch collection, as well as loads of atmosphere. Good for a full dinner or for a drink before or after dinner. Check out the pipe collection on the ceiling or the old newspaper clippings posted everywhere or the black & white photos...

        Another old school NY space is Minetta Tavern. It was overhauled and taken over by Keith McNally a little while ago (Balthazar, Pastis, Morandi, etc). Lots of great atmosphere; think: Rat Pack/Frank Sinatra. Excellent food but very loud, crowded, bustling, and it's hard to get a reservation. Perhaps it is better for a late night cocktail if you're near the Village.

        -----
        Russ & Daughters
        179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

        Katz's Delicatessen
        205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

        15 East
        15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

        Eleven Madison Park
        11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

        Keens
        72 West 36th St., New York, NY 10018

        Jean Georges
        1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

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

        Minetta Tavern
        113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

        Le Bernardin
        155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

        Ushiwakamaru
        136 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

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

        Motorino
        349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

        Bouchon Bakery
        1 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112

        2 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          Oh my--this is great--thank you! It sounds like we'll have to try and see what availability is like...

          As for your questions:

          - We recently were at a place and paid 150 per person, all in (given taxes are comparatively high in Ontario), and didn't really feel like the experience was commensurate.
          - Preferred foods--maybe you would call it bistro style French, Italian. As for neighbourhoods, we're too new to know any better. I remember loving the Tribeca/Soho vibe while visiting previously. That probably doesn't tell you much.

          - As for the sushi, we are not experienced enough to know the difference between good and very good, so we're probably looking for value in this category. Even Sunday sushi lunch might work if we find a matinee of Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

          I will spend some time looking into the links you sent and thinking about reservations...

          1. re: InToronto

            For the best sushi experience, you should definitely consider doing dinner, instead of lunch, and on Friday or Saturday, instead of Sunday.

            It sounds like you prefer downtown neighborhoods, and I think if you like Tribeca and Soho, you might also like West Village, maybe East Village.

        2. With the caveat that I haven't been to Carnegie Deli in a bunch of years (and had no reason to want to go), Katz's is very much worth going to.

          For bagels, you might consider getting mini bagels at Absolute, if it's convenient for you to be there in the morning when they're fresh. There's also an excellent bakery nearby where you can get sweets: Silver Moon bakery.

          However, these places are on the Upper West Side, and not really in an area that makes sense for you to travel far to, just for breakfast, and you said you liked SoHo and TriBeCa. Where will you be staying?

          -----
          Silver Moon Bakery
          2740 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

          Absolute Bagels
          2788 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

          1. - A nice place. We love food, but past a certain price point (150 a person), I don’t think we see the value. Also, we’re not into places that are incredibly noisy, as seems to be the trend for high-end places in Toronto these days.

            $150 before tax/tip = about $116 menu price. Hard to make any recommendations before knowing if that's to include drinks, and if so how many drinks / bottles of wine you'd usually consume during a meal. Two bottles of wine could easily cost $90 (on the cheaper end) which would reduce the pp menu price to $71 - a drastic difference. By-the-glass can cost around $15 per glass in a fancier place.

            That said, there are a few good options, looking at opentable.com's openings for that weekend: Aquavit, Blue Hill, Gramercy Tavern, SHO Shaun Hergatt, Public, WD-50, Marc Forgione, Marea, and Ai Fiori all stand out, and could be in your price range, depending on the drinks issue. Aquavit and SHO often run deals on savored.com for 30% off, though seatings on weekends for discounted tables are limited. Also, SHO often charges supplements for certain dishes, and the supps aren't listed on the website - so they can be hard to budget in advance. That said, they're in the FiDi, so they could be convenient for you.

            At the higher end I'm also seeing: Bouley, Cafe Boulud, Del Posto and Eleven Madison Park. They all might stretch the budget a little further. I think Del Posto and especially EMP are the ones most likely to impress. They're both four-course meals for the price, plus a number of mini-courses, while the other two are a la carte and quite expensive by the plate. Sometimes, paying for a whole meal at one price can feel like a better deal than paying, say, $50 for a plate, even if the bills come out the same in the end.

            - An authentic deli. Carnegie’s? The pastrami at Katz’s? Somewhere we can go get amazing sandwiches and pickles to take with us into the park.

            Katz's > Carnegie by a mile. When discussing pastrami, corned beef, etc, among locals, Carnegie is almost never mentioned. Katz's and 2nd Ave Deli are pretty much the two names that universally come up.

            - A great bagel

            Assuming by that you mean "with great lox" - Russ & Daughters, hands down.

            - A good sushi place (possibly for a meal before seeing that movie about the Tokyo sushi chef!)

            Depends how fancy you want to go. You could have a sushi meal for $35/pp or $200/pp in this town. My own current favorites: Kajitsu, Kyo Ya, and Soto - though the latter two are more known for their composed dishes rather than straight-up sushi. Kajitsu has an incredible selection of seasonal specialty fish on a seperate menu, though it can get quite pricey.

            - Above all, we like eating at little relaxing places, tucked away, unknown to many tourists, where the food is fresh (possibly locally sourced) and inventive, not prohibitively expensive and not necessarily trendy.

            Most of the more inventive places are not tucked away or unknown. In this town, word gets out pretty quickly about anything under-the-radar. That said, Brooklyn or Queens are your best bets if you're willing to wander out that way, since many Manhattanites refuse to cross the bridges. There are some great, cozy, local / neighborhoody places out there - check out the Outer Boroughs board for more info, but for now I'll mention Henry's End (Brooklyn Heights, Wild Game specialist), Convivium Osteria (Park Slope, hearty Meditteranean), & Brooklyn Star (Williamsburg, New American) as starting points. In Manhattan, you might check out Gentleman Farmer. Also - though they're trendy - ABC Kitchen. ABC is a good brunch option, too, if you can make a rez. (As is Public, which I mentioned above re: the fancy dinner - though they're no rez at brunch, it isn't terribly hard to get a table usually)

            - It would be nice to have drinks or eat at a restaurant in a historic space!

            Often "historic space" and "good food" don't go hand in hand - many of our historic restaurants have been coasting on their decades-old laurels for some time now. Keen's and Peter Luger's would be notable exceptions, but I generally dissuade tourists from hitting steakhouses, especially if they're from other major metropolitan areas where I'm sure they can find a decent steak. No sense using one of your few NYC meals on something you can get (nearly as good) at home.

            -----
            WD-50
            50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

            Russ & Daughters
            179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

            Katz's Delicatessen
            205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

            Aquavit
            65 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022

            Cafe Boulud
            20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

            Soto
            357 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10014

            Eleven Madison Park
            11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

            Gramercy Tavern
            42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

            Blue Hill
            75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

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

            Second Avenue Deli
            162 E 33rd St, New York, NY 10016

            Kyo Ya
            94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

            Public
            210 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012

            Marc Forgione
            134 Reade Street, New York, NY 10013

            Kajitsu
            414 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

            Marea
            240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

            SHO Shaun Hergatt
            40 Broad St, New York, NY 10004

            Bouley
            163 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

            ABC Kitchen
            35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003

            Gentleman Farmer
            40 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

            Ai Fiori
            400 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018

            Second Avenue Deli
            1442 1st Ave, New York, NY 10021

            6 Replies
              1. re: squid kun

                Oops. Typing too fast. Meant Kanoyama.

                -----
                Kanoyama
                175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

              2. re: sgordon

                I made my reservations around the time of my original post, but now I hear it may be nice weather on Friday! Do you, or does anyone else, know a place with these other qualities that might have a pleasant outdoor space? I am getting very excited and I will of course report back after the weekend! Very grateful for all your help.

                1. re: InToronto

                  I skimmed through the recommendations above and none of them have outdoor dining except for Public. The outdoor space at Public is small (only a few tables) and strikes me as a weird, it's this elevated platform above the sidewalk, a bit industrial seeming.

                  Also keep in mind that most outside dining here is first come, first served, and you can't specifically reserve for the outside space.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    I see I see.

                    I guess, given it's such short notice, I was thinking we might find a smaller...less well-known...place for lunch where we might be able to grab a place outside. Or perhaps where there are large open windows...

                    1. re: InToronto

                      Locanda Verde might work, if you are willing to wait a little for a table. Or go on a weekday for lunch. Weekend brunch at LV is typically pretty busy.

                      An early dinner at Pastis, John Dory, Morandi, Pulino's, or dell'anima might also work.

              3. Hi there, I am from Toronto too. It's not a meal, but for a lovely drink in a historic place, we LOVED the Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Station. It definitely has the historic cachet, and the drinks were very good too. Maybe it is touristy but honestly I"m not sure all that many tourists know about it. Very quiet when we were there 2 yrs ago. http://www.grandcentralterminal.com/g...

                1. *Trip report

                  Wow, it was a fantastic trip. Food highlights:

                  - Friday--a long, late lunch at Grammercy Tavern. We thought we'd died and gone to heaven, the atmosphere was so lovely. It's a beautiful space, hushed, softly lit, the whole nine yards. We decided on the tasting menu. The portions were small and delicate, and the food very rich (arguably overwrought). Everything had great flavour. It was a certain type of meal.

                  - Friday night, late, after a show, we went to Minetta Tavern. This was a super fun meal. The place is completely dark outside--truly an old tavern--there's no line, no buzz, no windows, no nothing--simply a very large man standing outside the door to make sure you have a reservation. What a change from when you step inside, and find yourself surrounded by a Holly Gollightly-party cast of characters (and not many of them discernable tourists). Best manhattan I've ever had, a delicious steak (salty, but not so much that you taste it the next day), and a good portion of fish. It was difficult to hear in there, but it wasn’t frustrating—the atmosphere simply called for it.

                  - Saturday morning we made the amateur mistake of attempting to eat the famous pizza at the foot of the Brooklyn bridge. Mistake. We ended up at a little diner in Brooklyn instead. Nothing to speak of there.

                  - We did stumble upon a re-furbished old pharmacy in Brooklyn and tasted the borough’s finest: an egg cream. This was surprisingly refreshing, and the space was one-of-a-kind—a total time warp. We had an egg cream with ice cream in it as well—a delicious coffee flavour containing actual chunks of coffee.

                  - Saturday dinner we bought a nice bottle of wine and went to La Sirene. The food there was very good—simple, tasty—but the atmosphere that night was not so good. It wasn’t so loud that we couldn’t hear each other (keeping in mind that the space is very small), and the service was attentive, but the crowd was quite young. Much as I love hearing about the superficial exploits of the college junior, if I want to listen while eating, I’ll eat a sandwich and watch Gossip Girl. Please. It is in a good spot, and the molten chocolate-lava cake we had ultimately was exquisite. It was very sauce-centric French food, the whole meal through.

                  - For Sunday lunch we made our way to Katz’s, where we ate very well. The meat was plentiful and a lot more tender (or greasy?) than what they serve at Schwartz’s in Montreal. The pickles were delicious and fresh—towards the cucumber stage rather than pickled. The bread was a fresh rye and the mustard simple.

                  - By Sunday dinner we were exhausted. We stopped at Locanda Verde for a drink only. I think that, of all the places we visited, the atmosphere here was the most to my liking—a little more bustling and casual than Grammercy Tavern, a little less raucous than Minetta—totally comfortable. We sat at the bar as the sun set over Tribeca.

                  - On Monday afternoon, a bagel at Russell (and his Daughters (?)). It was perfect in every way. I asked for the most classic combination they had—it turned out to be extremely fresh (Scottish?) fish, capers and tomato with plain cream cheese. Subtle and fresh. Later, a box of macarons at Laduree (it’s a good thing they are delicious, and not too sweet, because they do not keep well! Besides being so easy to crush, I found they lost a lot of flavour the next day). We did not make it to the bar in grand central—when I passed by, it was booked for an event—but the architecture of the station itself was very impressive.

                  - Finally, Monday afternoon we went to Momofuku (Ssam), for a very tasty meal. It was a bit more inventive than anything else we tried in the city, the atmosphere was very relaxed, and they were playing good music. We had a spicy pork sausage/Chinese broccoli/(gnocchi-like) rice dish, the famous pork buns, some steamed vegetables, and a pork/belly main.

                  We did not get to Il Posto in the meat-packing district (which looked really neat), though we were on the high-line at one point, a place in Brooklyn that was recommended to us, or the wine bar across from Grammercy Tavern (Veritas?). Nothing like another excuse to visit the city...

                  Thank you for all your recommendations!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: InToronto

                    " Russell (and his Daughters (?))"

                    That is probably the cutest thing I heard today! Something my grandma would've said!

                    PS It's "Russ and Daughters" (owner/founder Joel Russ)

                    PPS Del Posto (not Il Posto)

                    Glad u had such a wonderful trip.

                    1. re: InToronto

                      You went to a bunch of good spots. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the great report!