HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


Best Italian in NYC that doesn't over-stuff?

My daughter wants to have best Italian in NYC but she says pasta always gives her the food-coma afterwards. She is looking for Italian tapa style, where you get appetizer portion samplings. Does something like this exists?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I guess an alternative would be a tasting menu that offer small samples. Any suggestions?

    1. At SD26, many of the dishes on the dinner menu are offered in two sizes, small and large. We've always enjoyed the food there. They also offer a 5-course tasting menu, but we've not tried it so I can't say how large the portions might be.



      1 Reply
      1. re: RGR

        I shall take the recommendation.

        1. re: thegforceny

          I second Inoteca on Ludlow St., Osteria Morini might work also if you just order the smaller dishes.
          Also Pane Panelle ( Stuzzicheria) in Tribeca on Church St. It might be the only place in Manhattan that has panelle ( chick pea fritters). Usually we go to Fernando's in Bklyn for these. Giorgione is another restaurant with small dishes

          1. re: thegforceny

            inoteca is good, but getting a bunch of appetizers and salads at Lupa could also work well. If you go there for lunch, it's not difficult to get in.

            1. L'Artusi serves lovely food in small portions -- small enough to allow you to really taste all the ingredients, which are of flawless quality.

              Actually, come to think of it, she'll be able to design her own tasting menu or small plates meal by ordering a variety of first and second courses at many restaurants. Manzo is another good restaurant for this kind of dining.

              Inoteca is in my humble opinion good, but not great. Food is homey and enjoyable, but not at the same level as a L'Artusi or Manzo.

              1. List of Italian places that don't over-stuff. Great list of places I'll avoid. Call me a Philistine.

                1. +1 osteria morini. alsoI wouldn't say the best but certainly tapa style: Otto Also, maybe Mailino

                  1. Just a suggestion: when ordering pasta as a first course, always share it with one other person. Most good Italian restaurants will plate the one portion on two plates in the kitchen for you. That's what we always do at our favorite places.

                      1. Spigolo!! You can also order appetizer size or dinner size portions of many of thier dishes. Regular dishes are very sensibly portioned not the stuff til u hurt type portions.

                        1. Many Italian (as opposed to Italian-American) restaurants serve pastas at closer to appetizer sizes - their menus are set up with a four-course (antipasti, pasta, entree, dessert) meal in mind, and they're sized appropriately. "Red Sauce" Italian-American joints tend to size things up significantly.

                          As to THE best: Babbo, Lincoln, Marea, Ai Fiori... Del Posto, Scarpetta... Probably my top six, roughly in that order. Babbo I find is great for sharing dishes, in particular.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sgordon

                            I agree on the sharing of dishes, even when I go with many people, whether it be Italian or Italian American, If Its 6 people I get 3 orders of pasta and the waiter splits it, I get 2 chicken dishes, a couple orders of baked clams, a couple of caprese salad or seafood salad, some seafood dishes. etc.. Italian American restaurants often do half orders of pasta , just like Italian restaurants. Usually pasta coming before the main courses, and often salad coming at the end. In any case, it is easy to make a tasting menu at any place, sharing and getting a few appetizers. I do agree that Babbo is a great sharing place.

                          2. You could do a a meal of antipasti easily at either Lupa or Otto and maybe share pasta at the end. I've had very reasonably sized meals at both places.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: JeremyEG

                              Agree. Sharing just the antipasti and the salumi could even be a meal in itself.

                            2. We just went to Babbo for our anniversary. Shared a small appetizer, shared the pasta (the amazing goat cheese ravioli) and each had a main course, then shared dessert. The portions are not overly large. We came out satisfied, not stuffed.

                              1. Morso at the 59th bridge. Morso means "bite" in Italian. Most of the selections come in two sizes: morso and tutto, morso being a bit larger than tapa's although definitely big enough for sharing and tutto being on the smaller side of entree size. Just about everything comes in morso size which is especially nice for sampling pasta. The food is reasonably priced but we had sticker shock with wines by the glass (we had the specials -$14-$16 per glass). Sit on the terrace - you'll be outside but not on the sidewalk. I recommend any pasta or the scallops with farro and pork belly.