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Celebrity chef obsessed kid. 3 days/2 nights in NYC

Taking my son (11) to NYC for 3 days/2 nights right after the first of the year. He is an adventurous eater so food type isn’t a problem and he is still a kid so would be just as with happy burgers and pizza. The problem is that he recently has become obsessed with food shows like Chopped, Iron Chef, the Chew, etc so he is dying to go to an Iron Chef/Celebrity chef restaurant. The thing is I want good food too!

We have reservations at Morimoto. Reviews on here are mixed but lean towards OK. The space looks fun too. Any thoughts? recent reviews?

I will humor him and take one for the team by going to Guy Fieri's time square place for lunch as I think he will totally get a kick out of it. We will do Katz on the other day.

So where should would go the other night? Open table shows a number of Batali/Bastianich places with availability. My son would love pizza/pasta so maybe Otto Enoteca but I hesitate supporting that jerk. Past reviews ran the gamut of “good” to “horrific”.

Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill has openings too. The last review on here (Spring 2012) was basically a survival guide to get thru a meal there. Doesn’t sound promising. Thoughts?

Any place I am missing? He knows that his chance of seeing a celebrity is zero but he is fascinated by the idea....

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  1. I def recco otto, sorry. horrific it most certainly is not.

    9 Replies
      1. re: foodieX2

        Im not really a fan of MB, but Otto and Casa Mono are both great restos. I have seen him at Casa Mono a few times, tiny space, tinier w him in it, so it was kind of cool?

        Otto is prob better for a kid. Its all good, good pizzas, good pasta, good veggie sides, cool space. Its prob a safe, cheaper option.

        1. re: Hey19

          Otto is definitely NOT horrific. People who think it is are just Batali haters or expecting too much. It is in essence an enoteca and the food is fairly simple. It is the restaurant we go to the most to have a simple, delicious meal without having to worry about it being anything less than excellent. You can't go wrong with most anything so order what appeals to your son. Go for lunch if you can; dinner can get pretty hectic, especially on the weekends. The menu is the same throughout the day. Mario lives across the street, so there is a chance he may be at the restaurant conducting business, especially in the daytime hours. And make sure you save room for dessert and order one (or two) of the coppettas on the menu that day: basically an Italian gelato sundae. There are usually 3 or 4 to choose from. All terrific!

          Buon appetito!

          edited: ps...if you do go to Otto, look for the apartment building called the Brevoort across the street from Otto (11 5th Avenue). If you see a Vespa scooter parked on 5th Avenue in front of the Brevoort, it is Mario's. You're son might get a kick out of that! :)

          1. re: Hey19

            Just an aside:

            I am so happy to hear you say "I actually love Otto," kathryn. You are well respected here on CH and that goes a long way. I think it is consistently one of the best restaurants in NYC. Since it opened, the food has always been fresh and consistent. A lot to say for a place that has been open 10 years or so. And yes, the bar is wonderful. Bravo Dennis!

            1. re: ttoommyy

              I have to second Kathryn—Otto is perfect for a kid, a group, or a picky eater. It's not mind-blowing, but it's solid and affordable.

              Also, a Kathryn said: if you spy an orange Vespa in the vicinity, it belongs to Mario. (It's there quite often!)

              1. re: loratliff

                "Also, a Kathryn said: if you spy an orange Vespa in the vicinity, it belongs to Mario. (It's there quite often!)"

                I said that, not kathryn. But it's all good. :)

                Edit: dont know if its just my ipad, but i just noticed not all the responses are lining up where they should be.

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  Whoa, weird! I swear Kathryn's name was next to that post when I initially replied. I was on my iPad too at the time. Sorry, ttoommyy!

                2. re: loratliff

                  One disclaimer re: Otto with a kid. Be sure not to get put off by the highboy tables in the front bar area when you first walk in. They're not ideal for a kid, but just ignore them.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    the food at otto is good, just that what it is suppose to be known for, the pizza is the weakest offerings among the other stuff like the pasta, antipasti and the dessert. the Dessert at Otto should not be missed, I would say skip the pizza at Otto because you can do better and why waste the stomach space

        2. I have seen Lidia Bastianich at Felidia, Jean Georges Vongerichten at Nougatine and Jean Georges, Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin, Wylie Dufresne at WD-50, Daniel Boulud at Boulud Sud, Vikas Khanna at Junoon, Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park, and Marcus Samuellson at Red Rooster. I think your chances of seeing and even meeting a celebrity chef are pretty high at these places.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic

            When my son discovered celebrity chefs, I took him to WD-50. He was 10, so it was 5 years ago. He had such a blast and developed a taste for bone marrow that night. Obviously it was before the recent menu upheaval, but he also loved the pizza pebbles, pretzel soup, and corned duck.

            Before dessert, a gentleman who I assumed was the maitre d came to our table to ask if my son wanted to tour the kitchen. He was escorted through by Wylie Dufresne, who sent him off with an autographed menu and a promise of an internship interview when he was old enough. It was unforgettable for him and Dufresne's attention and kindness won him some lifelong fans.

            I hope your son gets some of those magical moments as well!

          2. venture up to 125th and go to Red Rooster

            3 Replies
            1. re: princeofpork3

              Menu looks great! Unfortunately the only time they available is 9:30 at night. After a day in the city including a matinee at the theatre I don't think even I could stay out that late. :(

              1. re: foodieX2

                If you're planning a late lunch or early dinner you should be able to get a seat at the Red Rooster bar with a minimal wait, if any.

                1. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic

                  She's with an 11 year old. Bar seating would not be ideal

            2. The space at Morimoto is definitely cool and fun, maybe a little too adult (too clubby?) for an 11 year old, though. The food can be hit or miss dependent upon what you order. Sushi is *not* their strength.

              I actually love Otto, especially sitting at the bar (the bartenders are great) but it might be odd with your son.

              Actually if you want a shot at seeing Mario Batali, I've seen him at Eataly more often than not. He also apparently visits all of his restaurants at/after closing time each night to check how they did that day. My in-laws saw him eating at Pearl Oyster Bar at a few months ago while they were having lunch.

              Chef Marc Forgione won the third season of The Next Iron Chef and his restaurant might work better than Morimoto or Guy's American Kitchen.

              What about Sue Torres' Suenos? It flies a little under the radar but she's been on both Chopped and Iron Chef.

              Scott Conant's Scarpetta is also excellent. He has been on both Chopped and Top Chef.

              Does he watch Top Chef at all? You could maybe try Kin Shop or Perilla (Harold Dieterle won Season 1), or Tom Colicchio's restaurants: Craft, Craftbar, Riverpark, Colicchio & Sons, etc.

              Marc Murphy's (he's on Chopped) Landmarc restaurants are also VERY kid friendly. And good for adults, too.

              1. What about KinShop or Perilla - Harold DIeterle - winner 1st season Top Chef. Excellent food. The judges on Chopped have some very good restaurants. Scarpetta (Scott Conant) Stanton Social - Chris Santos; Landmark - Mark Murphy (?) Maybe too pricey for an 11 year old. KinShop might be the most fun.
                Sorry - i posted without reading the one above me.

                2 Replies
                1. re: JC2

                  I wouldn't normally suggest this, but in the case of Perilla, I would even go so far as to send a nice short note to explain the scenario, and inquire if they might know Harold's schedule. I would expect he's spending most of his time at their newest location, The Marrow.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    The Marrow opens tomorrow, so it could be an option for the OP if they'd like to try a new spot.