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Malatesta Vs. Barbone Vs. Da andrea

My Friend's birthday is coming up and he wanted me to help him pick out a reasonably priced italian restaurant for a group of 8 of us to go to. I narrowed it down to these three and was wondering which is the best or if anyone has any better options! Thank you

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  1. always a good discussion.

    for my money, i go with da andrea. its the most spacious, best service, homemade pastas, and best food in my opinion. even the house red is solid for the money.

    malatesta has a younger crowd considering its so far west. food isnt nearly as good and i find the service to be mediocre. i dont go much these days since you can do better elsewhere.

    barbone...its good...i suppose if you were in the east village, you should go here instead. the interior is a bit empty and blah but the service...particularly the owner (or the FOH guy) is super nice. food is solid. i just find da andrea better across the board.

    1. Da Andrea has far better food than Malatesta. Malatesta does not take credit cards. Malatesta likes heavy on the cheesy pastas. Da Andrea is more refined food. In the East Village Lavagna is a good place. Osteria Morini is good for a big party. Frankies on Hudson is another option, more lively place than Da Andrea.

      29 Replies
      1. re: foodwhisperer

        Love Da Andrea. Try the buns with prosciutto and pappardelle. Hard for me to order anything else

        1. re: Ziggy41

          "Try the buns with prosciutto"

          Tigelle. They are absolutely delicious. I vote for Da Andrea as well.

          1. re: Ziggy41

            I will definitely try the buns. I go to Da Andrea often and for many years ( Hudson St.) it's a great place. I have visitors coming in from Tuscany, Da Andrea is where I think they will enjoy most. ( They want to try Italian Food in NYC). Last year someone took them to Carmine's and they weren't too happy. I told them there is "good" Italian food in NYC.

            1. re: foodwhisperer

              I live in Italy but return to NY usually more than once a year, and it is always a shock to be handed a menu at a Manhattan "Italian" restaurant and see dishes and food combinations you would NEVER see anywhere in Italy, nor wish to see. I just looked at Da Andrea's menu and couldn't make much sense of it. That isn't to say the food isn't delicious. Might be. But you wouldn't eat most of those things in Italy.

              If your friends are Italian, I would suggest taking them to Maialino, which sticks much closer to the food one actually eats in Italy. Another place I go to is Asellina, but the music there is ear-splitting, so I don't recommend it for a group. Another menu I like (or at least doesn't baffle me) is Girasole on the UES, but perhaps not special enough for guests and it is rather small to seat a party of 8.

              1. re: barberinibee

                The owner of Da Andrea is from Italy. I believe she is trying to balance true Italian food with the reality of what her customer expects. Most every meal I've had at Da Andrea was good and even though it may not read as being truly Italian from the menu, the proof is in the tasting and it comes close a lot of the time.

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  Fresh homemade pastas, Tigelle, whats not to like ;) For what its worth, Da Andrea's owners/cooks hail from Emilia Romagna and although not what you would expect in Italy it comes much closer to most menus I've seen. A far cry from your average american italian menu. Although I must admit Maialino's menu sure looks good.
                  With that said, my favorite Italian restaurant is actually located in Turks and Caicos out of all places

                  1. re: ttoommyy

                    I am not saying Da Andrea is not serving good food or no authentic dishes from Italy, and I certainly don't blame the many Italians running restaurants in NYC for trying to meet the expectations of customers. Making your guests happy with their food is what is truly Italian!

                    I only mentioned this because foodwhisperer said that his dinner guests are coming from Tuscany, and he or she is wanting to prove to them that there is good Italian food -- not just good food -- in NYC, so their expectations might be a bit different. They might mark an "Italian" restaurant down for offering bistecca with a cabernet sauce or cavatelli with shrimp, salmon and pesto, or zucchini in autumn alongside French chevre. Anyway, in my experience, Italians are frequently merciless restaurant critics, even in their own country, so I wish foodwhisperer buona fortuna with whatever choice is made.

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      My friend's Italian relatives never want to go to Italian restaurants and always want "American" food when visiting NYC. And it seems the "nastier" the better: diner food, fast food, etc. I think eating fresh, healthful meals cooked by nonna and mamma wears thin after a while. They want to "let loose" when they come to the US!

                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        Trust me, it doesn't "wear thin."

                        Not surprising that tourists wherever they go want to eat the local fare. I've had many Italians tell me they are on their way to Miami or NYC, and want me to tell them where they can get the best hamburgers, pancakes, fried chicken, fried catfish, apple pie, brownies, etc. They associate "nasty" food with the American diet, and want to have fun checking it out. So, yes, letting loose as a tourist, but not because they wish they could regularly eat unhealthful industrial food trucked from god knows where.

                        Interestingly, I just looked up the menus of Barbone and Malatesta. I've not eaten at either (or Da Andrea), but Malatesta comes closest to what I would expect a menu to be in several places in Italy. The food is very simple. Just a couple of ingredients in each dish. That is not to say Malatesta does this well, but to me it is fairly obvious that most restaurant-goers in NYC expect restaurant food to be a touch fancy (French-like?), and Italian menus seldom offer fancy unless you are going to a self-consciously high-end place. Also notable in US Italian restaurants is the omnipresence of chicken, in preparations that are real head-scratchers if you are accustomed to eating in Italy.

                        PS: But if you want to see something funny, go to a Mexican restaurant in Italy.

                        1. re: barberinibee

                          I've been to both Da Andrea and Malatesta, a few times each. Also travelled my fair bit into everywhere Italy. I agree that the food at Malatesta looks more like the ones in italy than Da Andrea.

                          1. re: RCC

                            Is the kitchen at Malatesta any good? I noticed, looking on the internet, that the owners have more than one eatery.

                        2. re: ttoommyy

                          When I said, "I think eating fresh, healthful meals cooked by nonna and mamma wears thin after a while. They want to "let loose" when they come to the US!" it was meant in light-hearted way; not seriously.

                          1. re: ttoommyy

                            Ok. Irony does have a hard time on the internet.

                            Besides, the unfunnyruth is that if you want to eat lousy food in Italy, you don't have to travel to America to get it. Plenty of it sold lots of places, and supermarkets, chain food, additives and microwaves now abound.

                            1. re: barberinibee

                              No problem barberinibee. And just to clarify, when I said "nasty" I meant good "nasty." There's plenty of good diner food that is not full of mystery ingredients and such. It's just not what Italians are used to eating and I think they are like kids in a candy store when they see all the variations of food items there are. My friend's relatives truly enjoy eating here in the US, and not just for kicks.

                              1. re: barberinibee

                                I still remember a solo diner at Allard in Paris, about 8 years ago. I was seated in their front room, with barely inches of space between mine and the next table, which was occupied by two Tuscan guys in their 30s who were in Paris to attend a food convention. (They were representing Cinta Senise salumi).

                                Well, these two young apparently mono-lingual young men dissected that Allard menu for what seemed like 30 minutes, trying to work out the contents of each dish; back and forth they went, over and over again, eventually discarding each dish, from the herring to the saucisson, to the escargots and the famous duck with olives. Because of the closeness of the tables, I missed not a word of their discussion.

                                Finally, they were ready to order: To the waiter: "Can you make pasta?"

                                1. re: erica

                                  alright thanks... also what do you guys like better... Peasant or Rubirosa?

                                  1. re: shap89

                                    like compared to barbone because they are all kind of close...

                                    1. re: shap89

                                      I have not been to Barbone or Peasant, but I can vouch for Rubirosa. Not only is the food superb, it is a great place for a group celebration. I am also a fan of Da Andrea, but it depends what you are looking for. At Rubirosa, the pizza is the star, and the pastas are excellent. Da Andrea has a really nice selection of appetizers and main courses, their pastas are quite good but not quite as good as Rubirosa's, and they do not have pizza.

                                  2. re: erica

                                    erica, don't leave us in suspense. Could they?

                                    1. re: barberinibee

                                      NO!!! Let me tell you, those boys were not happy campers, stranded in a food desert like Paris!

                                      1. re: erica

                                        Funny! Of course many of the French nearly die in Italy. I heard so many more French speakers in 2 weeks in Spain than I ever do Italy.

                        3. re: barberinibee

                          Maialino I agree would be a good choice. The guys from Da Andrea cook food , they claim, in the style of Emiglio Romagna. I have had some very good dishes there, but I think you are right about the weird combinations. Girasole, is more Italian American. The round shaped chicken parmagiana is actually very good. The pasta isn't too good. It is a pretty quiet place with a really old crowd( not that there;s anything wrong with that). What do you think of the food at Da Silvano and Osteria Morini?

                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                            Maialino is great, Osteria Morini IMO is good but not great (and ridiculously loud), and I have not been to Da Silvano, but realize that these are quite a bit more expensive than the ones the OP asked about.

                            1. re: foodwhisperer

                              I disagree that Girasole's kitchen is more "Italian-American" and I think their pasta is just fine. It is one of the few places in NYC you can get melloreddus, and simple pastas with vegetables -- which again, is not the American way of putting lots of ingredients, spice and meats in the sauce. You can look at their menu:

                              http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/...

                              I have never eaten chicken parmigiana in my life. I do agree that the clientele is UES face lift.

                              1. re: barberinibee

                                Being Italian American, I have eaten my fair share of chicken pamigiana; at home growing up, at pizzerias and in old school Italian restaurants here in the US. That said, done right it can be very tasty dish. My recipe consists of a chicken cutlet done in the Milanese style topped with a fresh 20 minute basil & tomato sauce and finished with a few slices of fresh scamorza & a sprinkling of parmigiano reggiano. Under the broiler until the cheese has melted and it is delicious Italian American comfort food.

                                1. re: barberinibee

                                  I have eaten at Girasole about 5 times. The chicken parmigiana is possibly their best dish. I have tried other dishes and have been totally disappointed.
                                  Also, regarding Malatesta, they don't take credit cards and the menu is very limited to mostly pasta and they love their cheese there. The food quality doesn't compare to D'Andrea.

                                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                                    Malatesta's food doesn't compare to Da Andrea because Malatesta is truer to trattoria dishes in Italy than Da Andrea, which as somebody here also pointed, is not.
                                    I think the limited menu at Malatesta is good, and slightly better than Da Andrea's more American version.

                      2. Been to all 3 - Malatesta is a pretty casual place - not sure if it's a celebration sort of place. The food is rustic, good, simple and is the cheapest out of the 3. Keep in mind that it's cash only. Barbone is slightly more upscale than Malatesta (relatively speaking) and has the best food out of the 3 restaurants IMHO - loooved the short rib parpadelle and their chocolate gelato is really good as well for dessert. Their dining room is a little boring though and was pretty dead when we had to eat there last time due to rain. It's best when you eat at their outdoor dining area in the back, which is super charming and cute. I would book this place in a heartbeat if the weather is nice enough for you to sit outdoors. I think Da Andrea may be your best bet during the colder seasons for a birthday dinner as you would want a nicer dining room that has some energy and buzz. The food is pretty good there as well.

                        1. +1 for the Tigelle at Da Andrea - can't get enough of those. Also, I know you've narrowed it down to 3 restaurants already but have you considered Apizz? They have a private room downstairs that's perfect for a party your size, and the food is fantastic.

                          1. I like Da Andrea. Good food at a good price. It's often crowded.

                            I like Barbone. Food is better and price is a little higher than Da Andrea. Not as crowded.

                            No experience at Malatesta.

                            You can't go wrong with either, depends on what kind of vibe you are after. If it was me, I'd go with Barbone because the better food and attentive service. But I also certainly would never turn down Da Andrea either.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: villainx

                              I consider Malatesta my standby when I don't know where I feel like going. It is reliably good and it has a good, relaxed vibe. I went to Da Andrea when it was on Hudson but haven't been back since. I would say it was ok but not much more.

                              1. re: klc137

                                < I went to Da Andrea when it was on Hudson but haven't been back since.>

                                FYI, the move was several years ago and the food has improved in that time. Maybe you should give it another try.

                                1. re: rrems

                                  All three sounds like great neighborhood places (I've not been to Malatesta, but go to Da Andrea and Barbone often). If it helps, the most convenient location to gather or to head out afterwards could be a tie breaker.