Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Apr 9, 2012 10:30 AM

Lunch at Felidia or JoJo or other? Suggestions welcome.

Heading down to Manhattan on Wednesday. Will be going to St. Peter's Church (it's on Lexington at 54th) for a memorial. Trying to figure out our best options for lunch. Bringing my future mother-in-law who has not really experienced a lot of NYC cuisine and would be nice to take her some place where we can get a nice prix fixe lunch with some creativity or just solid flavors. Been to Perry Street and enjoyed it a lot, but can't seem to find more recent opinions on JoJo. Need some place affordable ($30-$35 prix fixe is ideal) and probably along the lines of Italian, French, American and maybe some fusion. Also probably need to be walking distance (about 2/3 of a mile or so is ideal; 10 blocks). Picked Felidia and JoJo mainly for distance. Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Of the two you mention, Felidia and JoJo, I've only been to Felidia; the last time being yesterday for Easter, as a matter of fact. Now a lot of Hounds may criticize my recommendation, but as I just ate there 24 hours ago, I can attest to the food having "some creativity [and] just solid flavors" as you say. We were blown away by our Easter meal. Yes, it is kind of old school when compared to places like Eleven Madison Park and such, but the service and food were top quality.

    8 Replies
    1. re: ttoommyy

      Thanks for that report, toommyy. Felidia has been on my "go to list" for the longest time but we haven't managed to get there yet. Why people think that "old school" can't be as good as the more contemporary approach to Italian cuisine is beyond me. Obviously, your experience at Felidia shows that it can. That's the reason it's still around after all these years. I'm going to bump it up on the list and try to get there soon.

      1. re: RGR

        You're welcome RGR. And by "old school" I am talking more about the service and decor. The food is a good mix of old and new. Chef Nicotra definitely has a modern approach to some "old school" dishes.

        1. re: ttoommyy

          I'm totally into "old school" service and decor. After all, I adore La Grenouille!

          Which dishes would you recommend at Felidia?

          1. re: RGR

            Just looked at the dinner menu online and came up with this list of dishes I've tried and loved:

            Antipasti: Burrata e Uova "alla Carbonara," I Crudi di Manzo (carpaccio and tartare!).

            Primi: Cacio e Pere (pear and pecorino ravioli), Pappardelle with Braised Duck.

            Secondi: Lamb chops, Veal Tenderloin, any of the whole fish preparations offered.

            Also, the tasting menus are always excellent.

            Desserts are also wonderful. I see on the current menu they have something we had on Easter that was a knockout: Spring Pea and Pistachio Cake with Gelato. Also, we had a lavender gelato on Sunday that was simply amazing. I'm going to try to replicate it at home!

            1. re: ttoommyy

              Awesome! Thanks for the suggestion! And some of the items you mentioned are also on the lunch menu, so that's great to know. To me, good food is good food. Didn't really know my options in that area as I'm usually a West side/downtown person, not entirely sure how adventurous my future mother-in-law will be and we have to be close by. Will let you guys know how it goes!

              1. re: bostongallovesfood

                "...not entirely sure how adventurous my future mother-in-law will be..."

                I think Felidia is the perfect place to bring her. Even if she is not very adventurous she will be able to find plenty on the menu to eat. Plus, the setting is very genteel and the service is top notch.

              2. re: ttoommyy

                Thanks! All those antipasti and primi sound wonderful. And I love lamb. As for that Easter dessert, combining peas and pistachios is quite unusual.


                1. re: RGR

                  "As for that Easter dessert, combining peas and pistachios is quite unusual."

                  Yes, but it was oh so good!

      2. I had a wonderful meal at Felidia a few years ago when Lidia was still in control of the menu and was offering regional dishes from regions in the northeast of Italy and from Istria, in Croatia, where she is from. Looking at the menu on the website now, it looks like it is nearly all Southern Italian and Sicilian fare. Is there anywhere in New York where you can get Istrian or Friulian food anymore, outside of the soccer clubs in Queens?

        4 Replies
        1. re: foodmonk

          The chef is Sicilian so that might explain the predominance of those dishes on their menu.

          How about Piccola Venezia for Istrian?

          1. re: foodmonk

            Lidia is still in control of the menu throughout the year, but the current menu reflects the lighter flavors of spring and the dishes of Chef Nicotra's southern Italy are a natural fit. In the colder months, Lidia's northern Italian influence is definitely represented on the menu. Chef Nicotra has been with the restaurant for 11 years or so.

            1. re: ttoommyy

              Thanks for the info. I was just surprised, looking at the menu, not to see a single item -- no fusi, no palacinke, no Istrian wedding cakes.

            1. re: mizzanonymous

              Oh well. I still think Felidia is wonderful, has-been or not. Guess I'm just an old fuddy-duddy.

              Just curious mizzanonymous: when was he last time you went to Felidia?

              1. re: ttoommyy

                Last year. If it has changed since then then please advise me. I used to love it, but that was a very long time ago.

                1. re: mizzanonymous

                  We've been to Felidia about 10 times in maybe 5 or 6 years, and have not seen any change in the quality of food. Of course, if you are judging it by more than 6 or so years ago, then I can't comment. Still, the OP did enjoy her meal there and I guess that is what counts in the end. Thanks for replying mizzanonymous.

            2. We had a great time; since I've never gone there before, I have nothing to compare it to in terms of it's past menus and service. For the first, I got the Cacio e Pere, my fiance got the tagliatelle (which has a veal, beef and pork ragu; he's a sucker for ragus) and his mother got the whole-wheat orecchiette with fagiolini and pesto. My ravoili were light and luscious pillows of love; just a hint of sweetness from the pear, the saltiness of the pecorino, the silky sauce, the bite of the pepper and the perfectly executed pasta. The tagliatelle was cooked perfectly and there was a nice balance of meat and sauce and pasta in that dish. I got a bite of the pesto and found the sauce to be nice and light. We also had to try the burratta at ttoommyy's suggestion and it was outstanding; silky and fresh cheese, the farm-fresh egg was poached perfectly and when we broke the yolk it oozed out in perfection, well-cooked asparagus and crispy bacon.

              For my main, I had the grigliata di pesce. I found all the fish to be fresh and nicely grilled; very simple and fresh. The scallops had a perfect sear and were not dry at all, as well as all the fish. My fiance got the bacon-wrapped quail (Quaglie Saltimbocca) and it was divine, while his mother got the tuna which had a great balance of flavors. We chose the Limoncello Tiramisu, the blueberry frangipane tart (Crostata di mirtilli) and the gelati (pistachio and vanilla; I'm a sucker for pistachio). The tart was the most interesting because it came with a chamomile ice cream, which is something I would not usually opt for (and I didn't because his mother ordered it ;-) but the combination worked extremely well.

              Extensive wine list, with a knowledgeable sommelier, who made great suggestions, even for wines by the glass in a variety of price ranges; I also am a sucker for brandied cherries so I had to start with a Manhattan. And I love Grappa so it was great to see the variety there as well.

              Service was spot on; you are well-taken care of, but I found it very comfortable and able to joke around with the wait-staff and our waitress was very charming and knowledgeable; if there was something she was unsure of, she checked with someone and got right back to us. The busboy smiled when he asked if we were done with the burrata, to which we said know as we used our bread as scarpetta.

              We outlasted quite a few people in the dining room, especially for a lunch crowd; reminded me of being in Italy, where you can take your time and the staff understands that. This worked out well for us as it was located exactly where we needed to be, and we were extremely happy and satisfied.

              3 Replies
              1. re: bostongallovesfood

                Wonderful. So glad you all enjoyed it bostongal! I too started off with a Manhattan last Sunday; those amarena cherries are delicious. Your report was very thorough and I hope encouraging for others to once again visit Felidia. Ciao!

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  I'm also glad to hear that they have improved.