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Jul 11, 2013 09:33 AM

Nice Italian dinner, limited wordrobe

Hi all, we plan to stop in NYC for a few days after a vacation in Argentina and Peru in September. We have one evening for a nice dinner, and after some research, was thinking about Scarpetta, Marea, or Babbo.

However, since we travel very light and the vacation is a lot of hiking, our wardrobe will be very limited. I will have one reasonable "go-to-diner" dress but likely something in jersey and casual, and the husband will have khakis and a nice shirt. But definitely no suit, tie, cocktail dress, high heels, etc. Will we be ok and not out of place? Coming from SF, normally I don't worry about such things, but we did have one dinner on the Upper East Side (I think one of the Boulud) restaurants, where we definitely felt under-dressed.

Thanks in advance for any help! Recommendation on a nice Italian place with great food and more casual vibe would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Scarpetta has a "Smart Casual" dress code, as does Marea and Babbo. You'll be fine, most of our Italian restaurants don't require formal dress. Even Del Posto, one of the nicest Italian restaurants in town, doesn't require jackets--they just ask you not wear shorts/sandals/tank tops (for men). A lot of men there do wear jackets but it's not required.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      BTW, Babbo opens its books for reservations one month in advance to the numerical day, i.e. for September 15, you need to book at 10am ET on August 15th. Their OpenTable is restricted BTW and they do not put the primetime tables on there.

    2. I've dined in all three (and at Del Posto as well) in a t-shirt and jeans, so you'll be fine in any of them.

      As far as the food goes, my preference is Babbo (even over their more expensive younger sister Del Posto) - it's truly a NYC treasure, and if you can manage to score the rez, go for it.

      As far as second choices go, I like Scarpetta and Marea about equally - I prefer the secondi at Scarpetta, but the pastas more at Marea. They're both good, though. Maybe I'd lean -slightly- towards Marea since Scarpetta is becoming a chain, now, with locations in a few major cities. Just makes Marea a little more "only in NYC"

      1 Reply
      1. re: sgordon

        I too dined at Marea, casually dressed a couple of times. I wore golf shirt and jeans twice. There were many in jackets , but didn't matter to me or to Marea. Al Fiori seemed stiffer than Marea, and staff seemed full of themselves. So skip that place.
        I find Marea much better than Scarpetta. I like the food at Babbo a lot , and Mario Batali himself likes to dress casual when he eats out. So go to Marea or Babbo and don't worry at all about what you're wearing.

      2. I went to Babbo for impromptu dinner last night (got one of the walk-in only tables in the front). Most people were not in jeans, but I saw people in nice jeans outfit who were fine. Later a young couple was seated next to us where guy was in khaki shorts and t-shirt, and girl was in short jean shorts and tank. They definitely looked out of place, but they were still seated/served. I didn't see how people were dressed in the advanced reservations back area.

        Had fantastic meal at Babbo. Order the pork chop secondi!! Also loved the lamb tongue antipasti. Goat cheese and beef cheek pastas were great too.



        1 Reply
        1. re: ML123

          I can't -not- order the lamb's tongue when at Babbo. Or the octopus w/ limoncello. Somehow a meal there feels incomplete without them.

        2. Marea's the dressiest place of those three. You certainly don't have to dress up to go there, but you might feel out of place. I'd go to Babbo.

          1. Thanks for the advice! Sounds like Babbo got the most votes. Will try to see about getting a reservation there!

            1 Reply
            1. re: linjudy

              Not sure it is an option for you, but Babbo is also open for lunch, which is much easier to book. Either way, buon appetito!