Dec 4-8, 2012 Suggestions for Italian NYC
You're right, anything in Little Italy sucks. Hard. But if what you really want is "Italian American" red sauce like you'd find there, board members seem to suggest Rubirosa as a viable option in that genre.
Italian comes up every day on this board. Here is a recent link: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/872726
You may consider doing a search for further posts on the following restaurants, which are NOT Italian-American red sauce 'slop' like you'd find in Little Italy:
Morandi (I like, but doesn't seem to be a board pet
More upscale / fine dining
For your Italian recommendation:
(1) What's your price range (just for food, before tax and tip)?
(2) Do you want Italian-American style or is any type of Italian style fine?
For a Jewish deli other than Katz's, you can go to 2nd Av. Deli and get tongue or any of various other things. It's expensive, though; be aware of that. Many hounds also like Sarge's. I went once and had a rather inexpensive lunch, with a waitress straight out of Central Casting. The pastrami was a bit overly salty, but I'd give them another chance if I were in the area and had a craving for Jewish deli food.
If you'd consider appetizing, rather than deli, you should think about going to Barney Greengrass or buying stuff at Russ & Daughters (takeout only, not a restaurant). Full disclosure: I live close to Russ & Daughters and never get anything there. It's expensive.
For Cuban food, you can try Guantanamera, on 8th Av. between 55th and 56th. Nothing extraordinary, but the food is fine, they have good drinks, and I believe there's music every night. I've heard very good music there.