Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Jan 4, 2013 07:30 PM

Visiting for the week...

Ok, let me start by saying that I am from the South. My husband and I are visiting NYC on a week-long getaway at the end of the month. We've been to Manhattan twice before and have been to some nice places - Tavern on the Green, Nobu, Tribeca Grill, etc.... I'm looking for the following (based on food quality and price alone)....

- Your favorite Chinese restaurant in Chinatown
- Your favorite Italian restaurant in Little Italy
- Your favorite sandwich place (a Joey Tribiani kind of sandwich)
- Your favorite place to eat in Harlem
- Your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn
- Your favorite must-eat-at-while-in NYC overall (willing to spend $50pp, not including alcohol)


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. OK, it sounds like there are two of you, so for a full-service Cantonese restaurant, Great NY Noodletown; for dim sum, Nom Wah (which I just went to for the first time in something like 30 years on Thursday). If you had a larger party, I'd recommend a banquet at Oriental Garden. All that said, my favorite Chinese restaurant in Manhattan is not in Chinatown: It's Szechuan Gourmet, at 39th St. or 56th St., providing that you restrict yourself to the Sichuan-style sections of their menus only. And you also might consider going to Flushing for a meal in a delicious regional Chinese style not represented in Manhattan.

    I'll give you two highly contrasting "must eats" at $50/person or less: Katz's, just because their pastrami is great and a unique item you won't get in the South,and the lunch prix fixe at Tocqueville, which is just terrific and of a quality you couldn't possibly get within your price range if you went to that class of restaurant for dinner.

    For Brooklyn, post to Outer Boroughs.

    Why do you want to restrict your search for Italian restaurants to "Little Italy," a neighborhood which is primarily just a tourist trap? If you're willing to go to Brooklyn, consider having Italian food there. Or go to the East Village, the Village, or any number of other neighborhoods that have a better selection of good Italian restaurants than that annoying strip on Mulberry St.

    What is a Joey Tribiani kind of sandwich? A hero, perhaps?

    7 Replies
    1. re: Pan

      So, what is so fantastic about Szechuan food? I know it's different from Cantonese somehow. Down here, we have one kind - generic Chinese food (that is always joked about as fried cat or dog). I definitely want to check out the Dim Sum....always heard of it, but never tried it. We went to LA a few years ago and LOVED the Slippery Shrimp at Yang Chow. I know, it's a love it or hate it, kind of food.

      I will check out Katz.

      I just assumed there was good food there, but I guess not. I'm willing to check out anything that's in the $20-$30 range (we're just not accustomed to spending more than that per person on a meal). Can you get something good in that price range outside of Little Italy. We decided on Grimaldi's for pizza.

      Yes, a Joey Tribiani sandwich would be anything an American-Italian guy would love. Hero....meatballs...pastrami...

      1. re: kbrewer1980

        Little Italy is not only a tourist trap, it's also overpriced. I think you'd like Supper Restaurant in the East Village. It's honest food that isn't fancy, just well made from good ingredients.

        Your question about Sichuan food is impossible to answer; it's like asking "What's so great about rock 'n' roll?" If you don't like spicy food, forget about Sichuan-style food. If you do like spicy food, try some Sichuan-style food and see whether you like it.

        1. re: Pan

          Ok, x-nay on the Sichuan food. I'm not big on spicy foods. I'll stick to trying the Dim Sum. :)

        2. re: kbrewer1980

          $30pp INCLUDING tax and tip? That is very low for Manhattan, for table service/sit down places, leaving only $23 for food and drinks.

          This is helpful information, and would have been better to know in your original post.

          1. re: kathryn

            I know - it's not a lot. $30pp, not including tax, tip, or drinks. We're trying to squeeze in everything we can on this trip, but that means cutting back on a few things.

        3. re: Pan

          Basically, I pretty much agree with your choices. I love Szechuan Gourmet. The Szechuan Lobster dish is one of my favorites i'm pretty sure it's an Americanized dish, but it is fresh lobster and delicious.
          Although, my Chinese friends all love NY Noodletown, I don't see anything so great about it. I find it pretty much equal to the place on the corner on East Broadway.( sorry I feel so lazy and don't want to look at past posts to figure out the name.) but its the place with the roast duck, pork, chicken that they hack up ,right in the front.. I also like Golden Unicorn for dim sum or Hop Shing.
          Little Italy is mediocre and too touristy but I would recommend Osteria Morini. Technically it's in SoHo ( i think) but if you cross the street , you are in Little Italy,, so i'd say it qualifies.
          If I had to pick a place on Mulberry St., Umberto's Clam House is where we used to go when I was younger. We would drive in from Brooklyn to get the fried calamari, or scungilli. The walls had bullet holes from the assassination of Joe Gallo. The restaurant kept the holy walls, as a tourist attraction. Not sure if that is still there. They say "don't order the shells " there.
          I think a Joey Tribiani ( from Tv show Friends) sandwich is your typical Italian mixed Cold Cut sandwich. Go to Manganaro's Hero Boy on 9th Ave. Here's the sandwich:
          Mile High Italian Special- prosciutto di parma, genoa salami, mortadella, cooked salami, sopressata, provolone, sliced marinated roasted peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, topped with extra virgin olive oil & imported wine or balsamic vinegar.

          Overall must eat place, I'm with Pan on that,, Katz's for the pastrami.

          1. re: foodwhisperer

            The place on East Broadway that you're thinking of is East Corner Wonton, and I don't agree that it's as good as Noodletown.

        4. Your favorite Chinese restaurant in Chinatown
          - Currently Fuleen Seafood for Cantonese. Nom Wah or Dim Sum Gogo for Dim Sum (but go on a weekday, they're mobbed on the weekends...) - Jing Fong is fun for the experience, but they're better with a group, and the food is better at NW and DSGG.

          Your favorite Italian restaurant in Little Italy
          - Doesn't exist.

          Your favorite sandwich place (a Joey Tribiani kind of sandwich)
          - Katz's Deli.

          Your favorite place to eat in Harlem
          - Charles' Country Pan Fried Chicken, or Amy Ruth's as a second choice

          Your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn
          - Way, WAY too broad a question. I could list twenty places off the top of my head. Narrow it by neighborhood, cuisine style, something. Are there other sites you want to see in Brooklyn?

          Your favorite must-eat-at-while-in NYC overall (willing to spend $50pp, not including alcohol)
          - Brunch at PUBLIC
          - ...or Sunday Supper at PUBLIC ($50 prix fixe for five courses)
          - Momofuku Ssam Bar (might break $50/pp at dinner depending what you order, lunch is a bit cheaper but with limited menu)
          - Smorrebrod at Aamanns-Copenhagen

          ...I'm sure I could continue the <$50 list but that's the first few things coming to mind off the top of my head...

          8 Replies
          1. re: sgordon

            Ssam Bar is very good, I agree.

            1. re: sgordon

              Ok, so I'm seeing a trend on the Little Italy thing. Tough choice between Charles' and Amy Ruth's - the food looks like fabulous soul food!

              Ok, maybe a better question about Brooklyn eateries would be, "If you had one last lunch and you had to eat it in Brooklyn, where would you go?" We're doing pizza at Grimaldi's that night.

              Going to check out Publix, Momofuku, and Smorrebrod now...

              1. re: kbrewer1980

                I would very strongly recommend that, instead of Grimaldi's, you go to Juliana's, right down the street.

                Juliana's is run by the family that originally ran Grimaldi's, but then sold out. Under its current owners, Grimaldi's is NOT good. I haven't eaten in Juliana's yet (it just opened), but it HAS to be better (and if it isn't, I strongly recommend you don't go to either: there's great pizza in New York now elsewhere).

                1. re: kbrewer1980

                  In Brooklyn, River Cafe has very good food and a fantastic view of the river and Manhattan.

                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                    River Cafe was badly damaged by Sandy and has not re-opened.

                    1. re: Ann900

                      River Cafe is also WAAAAAAY over the OP's price point.

                      I think if the OP was to splurge on one meal, and go extra-cheap on the rest, going Italian makes sense. I'd do Babbo (if you can get a rez) over the others - Marea & Ai Fiori are both $80 - $90 prix fixes, a decent deal for the quality, but maybe you don't want three savory courses + dessert. (A la carte they're very overpriced, really designed to encourage taking the prix fixe)

                      Babbo is all a la carte, you can split an app or two (most pretty generously sized), or an app + pasta, then get two entrees for around $50 (pre-tax/tip) each. The portions are good (though they tend to vary on the pastas) and you'll leave full, maybe not even wanting dessert. If you were to order, say, the octopus app, the spaghetti with lobster, and two entrees, you'd be quite full, I think. Maybe split a dessert just for a taste of something sweet at the end.

                      I'd certainly do it over Morini - I like OM okay, but I find many of the dishes kind of one-note, and many of them similar - they're all VERY rich, and it seems sometimes that every plate has a tablespoon of lard whipped into it. It's elevated comfort food, but given the other options in town, nothing I'd go out of my way for. Babbo is marginally more expensive, but worth the few extra bucks for something more refined.

                      Scarpetta is a bit on the expensive side, I find - I always feel like every dish is between $5 and $10 more than it should be. That said, they're very good.

                      Of course, this is all assuming the OP can even get a rez at Babbo. It ain't the easiest table in town to score. They could try getting there early and doing a walk-in if they don't, of course.

                      Babbo for lunch is also an option, the prices are little lower, though the menu is a little less exciting. Still, some very good stuff on there.

                      Del Posto's lunch is currently $50/pp for three courses - antipasti, pasta OR secondi, and dessrt, and a steal at the price - lots of extras and amuses with your meal. If you're willing to splurge a few extra dollars you can add an extra course, as well, and do the "full Italian" three savory / one sweet meal - order antipasti and secondi, then split a pasta as a mid-course (anyone been to lunch recently, know if it's still only $10 to add a pasta?) - go for a late lunch arund 4:00 / 4:30 and you won't need dinner, maybe just a midnight snack later.

                  2. re: kbrewer1980

                    "If you had one last lunch to eat in Brooklyn, where would you go,"- is a pretty tough question to answer.. Not only is Brooklyn huge, but with 2.5 million people, the food choices are vast. Brooklyn is also home to a large number of foodies and the epicenter of the artisanal food culture on the East Coast. That said, some my recs would be DiFara, considered by many to make the best pizza in all of NYC ( forget Grimaldi's- their pizza has not been good for years- and you'll likely have a multi-hour wait to get in, because like you, many tourists think it is THE place to get pizza in NY), The Sunset Park neighborhood has a large Chinatown with some very good places, Brighton Beach for Russian food- I like the cafe at M& H International
                    Foods, a huge Russian grocery store that makes their own Russsian specialties, Al DI La in Park Slope- Fatty Cue in Williamsburg forAsian style BBQ - Peter Lugar, also in Willamsburg for some of the greatest steaks you'll ever eat ( they make a pretty great burger, too). I recommend you do a search on for more ideas- particularly in the Wiliamsburg, Ft. Greene, Cobble Hill- Carrol Gardens,and Park Slope neighborhoods- foodie centers all, (particularly Williamsburg) and easy to get to from Manhattan.

                    1. re: kbrewer1980

                      Agree with the others, don't go to Grimaldi's.

                  3. Chinese, does it have to be in Chinatown? Some of the best aren't--like Szechuan Gourmet and Mission Chinese.

                    For Italian, the same: Babbo, Scarpetta, Maialino, Locanda Verde, etc. Don't waste a meal on Little Italy. If you must, walk through and dine in nearby Nolita at Rubirosa, Peasant, Osteria Morini, etc.

                    For Italian sandwiches, check out Faicco's and Defonte's.

                    Your requests seem like you're missing a lot of what makes NYC special in comparison to other big cities: brunch, Jewish appetizing, high end prix fixe lunches, craft cocktails, thriving Italian and Asian scenes, pizza, a wealth of excellent Spanish tapas...

                    Have you already tried all of these only in NY type foods: bagels and smoked salmon, pastrami on rye, pizza, hot dogs & papaya juice, black and white cookies, cheesecake, egg creams, pickles, halal carts.

                    The following discussions may also help.

                    Don't leave NY without eating these foods

                    I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour but sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles and note that Economy Candy's address is incorrect:

                    Notable food trucks/carts:

                    Prix fixe lunch deals:

                    Best breakfast/brunch in NYC:
                    It is (IMO) at the Breslin, Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Clinton St Baking Co., or Minetta Tavern.

                    Best bagels in NYC:
                    Summary: the freshest bagels are the best; bagels don't age well at all. Focus on the smoked salmon instead. Preferably at Russ & Daughters! Featured in shows such as No Reservations and Louie!

                    I'm fond of red onion, capers, regular cream cheese, and tomato on mine. Try a few smoked salmons before you settle on one, they're surprisingly different (and lox is not the same as smoked salmon, because lox is salmon cured in salt brine, and most people actually prefer the more modern, Nova-style smoked salmon). You can get a mini-sized bagel sandwich at Russ & Daughters, too, if you wish. Takeout only.

                    My favorite unique places in NY serve Xian (Chinese) food, Issan (Thai) food, organic/local/sustainable Japanese BBQ, authentic Basque (Spanish) tapas, creative diner food, pretzels, hot dogs, halal food, steak, upscale rustic Italian, Italian subs, creative Italian-American, high end non-sushi Japanese (like kaiseki), creative desserts, molecular gastronomy, mixology/creative cocktails, and creative brunches (sometimes every day of the week).


                    We also have some of the harder to find Chinese cuisines: Henan, Shaanxi (Xian Famous Foods) and Fuzhou in Manhattan, and many more in Queens and Brooklyn (Shangdong/Qingdao and Dongbei to name a few).
                    scoopG's Chinatown list (dependent upon where you are coming from these may be exotic or not... most places don't have Henan or Xian style food though):

                    You might also want to do a restaurant doing creative takes on Asian, like at Momofuku Ssam Bar, Wong, Fatty Cue, Takashi, RedFarm, Mission Chinese,
                    Jungsik, Kin Shop, or Danji.

                    30 Replies
                    1. re: kathryn

                      Ok - going to skip the touristy stuff and head to some of the more authentic places (but keeping a few of the touristy places that we just want to try once).

                      We've decided on the following...

                      Breakfast: Ess-a-Bagel, all other breakfasts, we are just grabbing something quick
                      Lunch: Defonte's, Original Soupman, Gray's Papaya, Katz, Amy Ruth's
                      Dinner: Juliana's Pizza, Nom Wah, Osteria Morini, Shake Shack, The Meatball Shop

                      I have one more meal to decide on - all this talk of Chinese food makes me want to eat it twice. But the Spanish tapas sound good too...

                      1. re: kbrewer1980

                        Original Soupman is a crappy chain. Has nothing to do with Seinfeld anymore, if that's what you're thinking.


                        1. re: thegforceny

                          Yeah, there's really no reason to go to Original Soupman. A waste of a meal.

                        2. re: kbrewer1980

                          Osteria Morini's gonna set you back some bucks. My one and only dinner there was not bad, but just kind of ok. I'd go to Babbo or Marea instead.

                          1. re: kbrewer1980

                            I'm not familiar with Juliana's Pizza. Who recommended it? I don't think much of the papaya places, but at least they're cheap.

                            1. re: Pan

                              I did. It's the new place opened by the Grimaldi family, down the street from the new location of Grimaldi's (the pizzeria they sold several years ago, and which almost immediately began to suck after the sale). I think it may even be in the exact original Grimaldi's location.

                              They hired a credible-sounding young pizzaiolo to operate it day-to-day.

                              It's been the subject of litigation, Pan (the new holders of the Grimaldi's name tried to stop them from competing). So you know it's bound to be good. At least, it's bound to be better than Grimaldi's, which hasn't been good for years.

                              ETA -- I'm sure it's not as good as the best current NYC pizza. But for tourists intent on buying by the label based on way outdated information (which is the way we ALL are on vacation) -- and who would probably, and justifiably, enjoy eating in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge in any event -- it's got to be better than Grimaldi's.

                            2. re: kbrewer1980

                              I don't know if you realize Gray's Papaya is just a hot dog place- if you want a New York style hot dog you don't need to go to Gray's - any Sabrett ( kosher hot dogs) cart will get you the same thing.
                              Also, Juliana's has only been open for a few weeks so it's impossible to,know how their pizza ranks with NY 's best. If your willing to go to Brooklyn for pizza, stay on the subway for 20 minutes longer and go to DiFara in Midwood or stay in Manhattan and go to ome of the terrific pizzerias there, like Motorino.

                              1. re: Ann900

                                Just to be clear, I don't disagree with Ann's advice re pizza in the least bit.

                                1. re: Ann900

                                  Sabrett's are the dishwater type boiled dogs. Gray's Papaya are grilled. As far as Papaya places hot dogs, Papaya King I think is the best. They used to get their hot dogs from Paramount who made Katz's and Nathan's. I can see the OP wanting a NYC hot dog , no matter which place.
                                  Nom Wah for dinner seems strange to me. They used to not even be opened at night, are they open for dinner? is that a good place to get a Chinese dinner. Seems like the wrong choice.
                                  I agree that Motorino would be a good pizza choice.
                                  Lunch at Katz's would probably be the OP's best choice of those listed.
                                  Also Deprofundis says Osteria Morini is not so good and very expensive. I disagree on both of those statements, Also Babbo which Depro recommends is more expensive than OM
                                  Pan: yes East Corner is the place. We may disagree on that it is equal to NY Noodletown. I will go back to NY noodletown to give a fairer opinion. I have not been to NY Noodletown in many years.

                                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                                    Ok, Marea is more expensive. But just about every entree on Babbo's menu is $29. At Morini they range from $27 to $32. I can't imagine getting out of Morini for under $100 a head unless you order very light and don't drink anything. I don't think Morini is -bad-, but I wasn't impressed with my meal there. I was impressed at Marea and Babbo.

                                    ETA: I would also add Perla to the list of great Italian spots the OP should check out in NYC.

                                    1. re: deprofundis

                                      If you share dishes, even if you eat your own main course , it's going to be less than $100 pp.
                                      It's going to be about $60 pp. Of course you can eat enough to be $150 pp also. But Get 2 skewer dishes, 1 pasta, a seafood salad and a main course. Get a couple of beers or glass of wine I don't think that's $100 pp. and it's more than enough food. Obviously the more you drink the more the bill will be. You can order a bottle of Tignanello also and really pump the bill up . Let's just talk food. To me Osteria Morini , can be very reasonable depending on how you order. Marea or Babbo or Al Fiori are not going to be as reasonable.

                                  2. re: Ann900

                                    To me, saying Gray's Papaya/Papaya King are the same as street vendor dogs because they're both NY hot dogs is like saying ess-a-bagel is the same as a bagel from a deli because they're both NY bagels.

                                    I completely agree with you on pizza though - if you're looking for great pizza in Brooklyn, I can't see why wouldn't go to DiFara's.

                                    1. re: lexismore

                                      Decided to switch to Di Fara! Because they sell slices, I think that will be better (my husband and I have a hard time agreeing on toppings).

                                      1. re: kbrewer1980

                                        Good choice. I like their artichokes as well as their semi dried tomatoes. Try both the round and square slices. Mind the hours, too. Wednesday through Sundays, currently 12-8:30pm (winter hours). Check their Facebook before you go just in case there's a private party. BYOB and cash only. Last order is about 1/2 hour before closing.

                                        Also it's a long subway ride out there. Bring a book.

                                        1. re: kathryn

                                          I think it's important for the OP to understand that DiFara is a very long two-way subway trip from Manhattan, in a neighborhood of almost no touristic interest, and there's usually a long wait there (maybe not on a weekday lunch).

                                          I wouldn't tell anyone NOT to go to DiFara. But from a vacation-planning point of view, you've got to decide whether you want to devote half a day to having slices of pizza.

                                          It's amazingly good, so if you're willing to give up that much time to pizza and pizza alone, go for it. Just be aware of what you're getting yourself into.

                                          1. re: Sneakeater

                                            +1. DiFara's is great, but it's an ordeal I have little desire to repeat. Slices also run like $5 each.

                                            1. re: Sneakeater

                                              Those are all fair points - my thinking was it's about 20 minutes longer on the train than Grimaldi's (each way). Grimaldi's can also have long waits (At least I think, haven't been in over a decade).

                                              If you go to DiFara's for weekday lunch or dinner, it's not much of a wait at all - Saturday there is a total nightmare, however.

                                              1. re: lexismore

                                                It seems like more than 20 minutes to me. But I live in Brooklyn, so my perception may be skewed.

                                                Also, when you're going both ways, 20 minutes means 40 minutes -- which is hardly an inconsiderable amount of time.

                                                This is probably a heretical thing to say on a foodboard (and even against the CH rule against giving touristic as opposed to dining advice), but if some visitor told me they wanted to take a long subway ride, I'd advise them to go up to Inwood Park and then down to the Cloisters, rather than to chase after slice pizza in Midwood.

                                    2. re: kbrewer1980

                                      Dim sum is usually a breakfast/brunch meal. Nom Wah for dinner doesn't make sense.

                                      1. re: kathryn

                                        We late night folks agree on No Nom Wah for dinner

                                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                                          I think Nom Wah is just fine any time of day. Delicious food is delicious food.

                                          1. re: sgordon

                                            What do they serve for dinner?

                                            1. re: Pan

                                              Same things the serve the rest of the day - menu doesn't change.

                                              1. re: sgordon

                                                Since we've never had Dim Sum, are you "supposed" to eat it at brunch/lunch? Or is that just what mosy NYers do? As long as it's good food, I don't care when I eat it, but I can switch it to lunch if that's just how it's meant to be eaten. They're open until 9PM during the week.

                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                    There is no "supposed to" - eat what you like when you like.

                                                    Have you ever had pancakes or an omelette or eggs benedict at 2AM in a diner? I'm pretty sure in my early 20s I did around 1,000 times. No one told me I was eating it at the wrong time, IIRC.

                                                    1. re: sgordon

                                                      A better analogy is pancakes or eggs Benedict for dinner at 6-7pm.

                                                      I never said the OP was "supposed" to do anything, just mentioned it wasn't traditional or time of day it is usually eaten.

                                                      1. re: kathryn

                                                        Sorry, my reply was more in response to the OP than to you, kathryn - this new "Tree" format is better than the old one, but it's still hard to tell who's replying to what sometimes...

                                                        That said... 6PM, 2AM... they're both the "wrong" time. (Only diff being that 2AM is the wrong time to be eating -anything-, I suppose...)

                                                        1. re: sgordon

                                                          I'll go with 6 PM is not for breakfast food or brunch food.2AM could go either way. Not all that much open at 2 AM, but when I used to stay out until the wee hours, Lo Mein , Congee, or bacon and eggs, would usually work. maybe even a slice of pizza. Or pirogies. But at 8 AM I usually don't want a hamburger, but hey anyone can eat anything at any time. My only experience with dim sum at night was at DSGG and it was the worst, as if they sat around all day.
                                                          I'm replying to everyone :)