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Four Day NYC trip coming from Bay Area with kids

We are lucky to live in the Bay Area and have a bounty of excellent food choices including all types of ethnic food so I thought I’d focus on the New York specialties. Here is what I have on the list so far:
Shake Shack
Carneige or Katz
Doughnut Plant
Need old school Italian rec
Once nice dinner – someone suggested Otto
After reading the board, I looked at Prune but I think there isn’t enough that my kids would like. Just listened to Marcus Samuelsson on Fresh Air but that might be a little fussy too. We will be coming from Boston so we might have had enough seafood so the Grand Central Oyster Bar will probably be crossed off the list.
I’m quite happy using Yelp to find good spots near where we will be sightseeing and staying in the Chelsea neighborhood. Before we get to New York City and we have a car, I think we’ll stop by Carlos’s Bakery in Hoboken since my daughter and I enjoy the show on TLC. But please chime in for a good old school Italian and nice dinner spot -- medium to low on the adventuresome scale or anything else you think we should try. Thanks in advance.

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  1. Otto isn't really that nice, it's more of a casual restaurant. It's big, noisy and the decor is "train station" themed. Also if you're doing Italian already, I'd do something else for a nice dinner out.

    How big is your party?

    How much do you wish to spend for your old school Italian and/or your "nice dinner spot"?

    It's best to give a dollar figure, per person, before tax, tip, and drinks/wine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      There wil three adults and two kids - 15 and 9. I guess something like Per Se is too expensive because I don't really go to those types of places out here either. For old school Italian, I'd like to keep it to 25ish per person excluding drinks, tax, and tip. For something nicer, closer to 40 I guess or a little more. I thought Otto might be not quite right but it was recommended by a foodie friend who knows our family tastes and has family in the city.

    2. Katz's is a way better unique NYC eating experience than Carnegie.

      Grand Central Oyster Bar for oysters and chowder @ the bar is another unique NYC experience. The kids will have fun checking out the whisper arches just outside the entrance.

      Old school Italian: We like Rossini's. They even have live opera on Saturday evenings.

      Doughnut Plant is one of my favorites.

      1. Red Rooster, Marcus Samuelsson's place is scene-y, and much hyped, but there's nothing fussy about it. Plenty to eat on the low to medium adventuresome scale, including delicious mac and cheese, fried chicken with mashed potato, cornbread, etc. There's more interesting fare too, and totally amazing cocktails.

        1. If you're going to Shake Shack in the Theater District, make sure to check http://shakeshackcamera.com/ first because the line can get ridiculous and you don't want to waste the short amount of time you have in New York. If you do go there, you can head down the block on 44th and go to the Carlo's Bakery in Discovery Zone Times Square. It's smaller than the original in Hoboken but you'll avoid the huge line and get the same awesome desserts (they send them over from the NJ bakery every morning).

          One place I'd also add would be Max Brenner's. It can get pricy so it can count as your nice dinner, but a menu full of chocolate is probably a lot more appealing to your kids than a fancy restaurant.

          1. Instead of Carlo's Bakery you may want to try Venieros in the East Village (it's been there for over 100 years). They have excellent italian patries and other fun cakes, but I would stick with italian pastries if you go there (sfogliatella, vanilla millefoglie, lobster tails, cannolis and pignoli cookies) if you go there since it's the specialty.

            342 East 11th Street New York, NY 10003

            8 Replies
            1. re: alkonost

              The attraction to Carlo's is the TV show connection, so suggesting Veniero's though it may be better pastry, won't cut it. The fun of going to Carlo's is the experience of seeing in person all the people from the bakery one sees on TV, waiting in line, taking pictures, etc.

              To the OP:
              I live in Hoboken. Suggestion: Get to Carlo's EARLY!!! lol Have fun!

              1. re: ttoommyy

                Why no do both? Especially if the OP might be in the East Village (EV) for dinner. They can go to Veniero's for dessert afterwards! Later on if they're driving around 'Boken they can visit Carlos too.

                Some pics of Veniero's attached! (source: yelp)

                1. re: alkonost

                  Of course they can. I was just pointing out that the OP would never get the same total experience at Veneiro's that she is looking for at Carlo's, which by the way has all the pastries you have pictured. As a lifelong customer of Carlo's (way before it ever got famous) I can attest to the quality of their product. I can't stand the show, but I have to give them props for their pastries.

                  1. re: ttoommyy

                    No argument there about them being fans of the show. I think they should do both if they can, I read that they decided to go to Johns in the EV for italian food, Veniero's is 1 block from there so they'd be very very close :) I've been eating at Venieros since I was a kid, it is across the street from the school I attended in my youth. Instead of getting lunch, I'd use my lunch money to buy cannolis :) Those were the days.

                    1. re: alkonost

                      I hear you alkonost. Believe it or not, my family has been going to Carlo's since before I was born, and I'm 51. I was raised on those pastries. Until this day, I don't know which I love more: sfogliatelle or pastaciotti!

                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        Everyone should have a good italian bakery right next door! Are we lucky or what?

              2. re: alkonost

                Veniero's rocks and the young ones will love walking around the E Village.

                1. re: Motosport

                  St. Marks for the win! Just don't let them wander into Andromeda...

              3. While I absolutely love Otto and dine their frequently, it is not really a place for "one nice dinner." I would suggest it for lunch one day instead.

                1. I looooove the Doughnut Plant. Go in the morning, because by the afternoon they're often sold out of many varieties for the day.

                  If you're going to be staying in Chelsea and want something that's delicious without being adventurous, I recommend Westville (there's one on 18th between 7th/8th Avenues). It's fairly straight-up diner/American food, but made with good ingredients, and with an awful lot of interesting vegetable side dishes. Also a very tasty slice of blueberry pie!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Stella

                    If you are going to the East Village, try John's (old time Italian) at 12th and Second... round the corner from Venieros... I love the sweetbreads at John's tho may not be what the kids will want.

                    1. re: chasamark

                      Thanks for all of the feedback and great ideas. John's looks like what we were looking for for the Old School Italian. We do plan to hit Carlos's Bakery early and Doghnut Plant as well but not on the same tday.

                      It's been quite tantalizing to look at menus from places recommended on this board. Many of them don't seem quite right but you do have some great dining options and slighty different than in the Bay Area.

                      Still looking for a nice dinner spot but I've ruled out most so far because of my group. I'll see if Red Rooster has openings one of the nights that we are free.

                      1. re: Cheesy Oysters

                        Cheesy Oysters:
                        You say you have a car and will hit Carlo's before NYC. I just want to let you know street parking is a nightmare in Hoboken. If you are lucky enough to find a space, parking is metered. There are parking lots nearby, but with the influx of tourists visiting Carlo's, the lots charge a premium. You are probably better off taking the PATH train (similar to BART) into Hoboken from NYC.


                        1. re: ttoommyy

                          note that the path, unlike bart, is relatively cheap (less than a subway ride) and the fare does not depend on your destination.

                        2. re: Cheesy Oysters

                          If you're going to Johns, you may want to consider Veniero's for dessert, it's only 1 block away.