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Aug 26, 2012 04:26 PM

Best Italian/Chinese/Jewish Deli Food in NYC

My wife and I will be coming to NYC in the beginning of September, and I haven't been to the city in over 20 years.

I'm looking for some good Italian, chinese, and jewish deli food while I'm there. To be more specific, I don't need fancy, I just want the best, even if it's a hole in the wall place.

Italian - just the best pasta all homemade
Chinese - best orange chicken, fried rice, etc
deli - best corned beef, matzo ball soup, knishes

What are your top 3 choices in each category?

Thanks in advance for the help!

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  1. Italian -
    Best pasta - Babbo. Best pasta that is easier to get into - Manzo

    Deli - Katz's or Sarge's

    Chinese - not my thing

    1. September is only a few days away, so you're planning rather last minute for NYC.

      Our best restaurants with fresh pasta tend to book a few weeks in advance. Babbo is an excellent choice but tough to get into. To make it easier, you should try for lunch (Tues-Sat). Or monitor their Twitter feed for last minute cancellations. They are on OpenTable and lunch seems pretty easy to book, even last minute. Dinner is another story.

      To clarify for your Chinese request, you want Americanized Chinese, which isn't in fashion at all in Manhattan right now. We have an great diversity of regional, authentic Chinese here now, as well as fusion / creative Chinese cooking. But I'm hard pressed to recommend somewhere that does a great orange chicken or fried rice. Maybe Nice Green Bo, I had their orange beef (a friend wanted it) some time back, and it was good. More ideas here:

      But you can get much more authentic (and delicious!) Chinese food here if you want. Yunnan, Sichuan, Shaanxi, etc.

      For your deli request, each deli has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example I don't like the matzoh ball soup at Sarge's, I like it at 2nd Ave more, but I don't like the pastrami at 2nd Ave Deli as much as at Katz's. It really depends.

      1. For overall best "Jewish deli food," I think you'll have the nicest time at 2nd Avenue deli. Specifically for knishes, I still like Yonah Schimmel's. For best appetizing, Russ & Daughters hands down, but that's for takeout only. Go to Katz's if you specifically want pastrami...most everything else is mediocre.

        There are a number of places with great made-in-house pastas. I like Lupa's price point and Roman ethos. Hearth makes some wonderful pasta. Babbo, as stated above. Marea. Scarpetta.

        I don't know anyone who makes really good orange chicken . New Green Bo is a dump. Since you're on vacation, how about Red Farm - they have unique items, most of the food is well prepared and uses higher-quality ingredients than you'll find being used around most of chinatown.
        Their fried rices are good.


        3 Replies
        1. re: mitchleeny

          Disagree on Katz's. Yes, the pastrami is the really great thing there, but they make very good corned beef, and the brisket, if ordered juicy, is very good. Even the turkey can be very good if ordered juicy.

          1. re: Pan

            The problem is, if you don't really know the drill and you're sitting at a table with a waiter, your experience can be very middling. Also, their soups are not good.

            1. re: mitchleeny

              The last time I had the soups, I thought they were decent. Also, I've had just fine food sitting at a table. I told the waitress I wanted my pastrami juicy, and she brought it juicy, but you have more control if you stand on line and try the samples the counterman gives you.

              I don't see these things as problems. They're easy to explain to anyone who posts here.

        2. Try Red Farm for Chinese American food. I'm not sure if they serve orange chicken but I like their spicy crispy beef and pastrami eggroll.

          My top three choices for Italian pasta are Babbo, Marea and Lincoln.