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NYC - 3 Days with Keller/Stitt Fan

My brother and his wife are coming this Thursday through Sunday.
He cooks Thomas Keller/Frank Stitt and loves good food. However, he is not interested in Per Se - he wants the smaller, casual places with standout food that is not too fussy or overcomplicated. I'm thinking places like Prune, Po, Locanda Verde, Il Buco... and then what about Brooklyn? Any suggestions? Lunches and Dinners. Thanks everyone - it has been awhile since I've been out and about.

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  1. Mario Batalli has not been at Po for more than a decade. Po is of no particular interest whatsoever anymore -- it's just another good mid-priced restaurant.

    It always amazes me when people outside NYC still refer to Po as if it's something special.

    From what you say, it seems to me that Brooklyn is really what you want. If you haven't posted on the Outer Boroughs board, you should.

    (Hint: Franny's and Marco's!)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sneakeater

      Thanks Sneakeater - I appreciate your suggestions. I'm actually a New Yorker and know about Po/Batali, but have still heard good things about it. Just haven't been there in years.
      Thanks for Brooklyn tips. I've been hearing about Franny's and some other spots in Williamsburg - will check them out.

    2. Don't go to Prune...!! Food, boring as heck, servers, rude as heck, the table, tighter than my wedding girdle I wore on my wedding day.

      I suggest the Elm in brooklyn.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Monica

        Thanks Monica - I was just looking into the Elm. Although this late in the game, reservations anywhere will be challenging. Guess that gives Brooklyn the edge. I actually live in EV so I'm used to tight spaces. I used to go to Prune all the time when it first opened. Yes, it is tight and too bright - but the food was always good. I haven't been in several years - maybe things changed. Has anyone been to Rosemary's?

      2. It may be worth looking into any of Gabe Stulman's restaurants (by The Little Wisco group). If you're interested in Italian - Perla. Otherwise Montmartre, Fedora, Joseph Leonard are all good bets.

        What about Osteria Morini or Costata? Quality and finesse from Michael White but a little more casual than Marea.

        If you're worried about getting into places in the city on Friday and Saturday - it may be strategic to venture out to BK on those days for dinner but have lunch/brunch in the city and then spend Sunday evening in the city when restaurants are slower.

        1 Reply
        1. re: zeeEats

          Thanks zeeEats - I've only been to Marea. I'll take a look at these others. I also like the BK advice. Although I do here the lines in BK for places like Frannys, etc are ridiculous.

          I'll report back with our final destinations...

        2. Acme, Perla, Andanada, Le Philosophe, Tertulia, L'Artusi, Il Buco Alimentari

          1 Reply
          1. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic

            Good lord, they will need to stay a week at this rate. Appreciate all the great suggestions coming in - and am discovering some places I've never heard of...

          2. Will there be three of you dining, or do you have a significant other coming along as well? Might be easier for us to check opentable for openings, but would be good to know if it's a 3-top or 4-top beforehand.

            Are you willing to dine late? Some places that are normally hard rezzies will often have an odd table open at later hours - for example, Babbo (forget Po) has a couple four-tops open late Thursday (10:45 & 11:00) and even one on Saturday (11:15) at the moment.

            Personally, I often find that's the best time to dine there. First, I'm really hungry by that point in the evening so my body's ready to do a big ol' four-course Italian feast. Second, there's no rush to turn the table if you're in the "last call" seatings, so it's a bit more relaxing.

            4 Replies
              1. re: sgordon

                If you're willing to take the risk - a lot of reservations on Opentable are released on the day off (due to cancellations and other factors) by a lot of restaurants in the city. That would require some diligence on your part to consistently check Opentable, typically you can see many reservations even for 4-tops pop up about 4-6 hours before dinner time.

                You should also try calling restaurants directly as many do not list many tables online. As sgordon mentioned, it's definitely easier if you're willing to dine at non-peak hours (before 6:30pm and after 10:30pm).

                1. re: sgordon

                  I'm just seeing this complete thread - I never opened it up!
                  Thanks for the Babbo tip - I'm holding at Il Buco for tomorrow but may jump on this one. My brother is hard core, so he won't mind odd hours to get a table of extremely good chow. And I didn't think of last minute opentable options.

                  1. re: Tarrynot

                    Babbo > Il Buco, IMHO, food-wise. It's also among the hardest rezzies in the city, generally. Were it me, I'd swap them out. Not that Il Buco's bad or anything, mind you. Quite like 'em. But I think of Babbo as more the kind of exciting place to take a visitor who doesn't get here often. (Heck, I'm taking my mother there this weekend...)

                    And it's kinda fun dining late, like I said - more relaxing. Disco nap, grab a cocktail around 10 (Pegu Club's not too far) and get your meal on.

                2. My brother is asking about Pearl & Ash on Bowery - anyone tried it?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Tarrynot

                    I think it's great but is also very loud, crowded, and hip.


                    If that's what's he's into, check out Louro, Momofuku Ssam, Montmartre, Empellon. Second what Lacrosse_Gastronomic said esp Tertulia & L'artusi above.

                    1. re: Tarrynot

                      I think it's fine. I don't know if I'd make it a destination, honestly.

                      I am a big fan of all of the restaurants Kathryn mentioned, and all of Gabe Stulman's places (of which Montmartre is one) mentioned above. It does sound like Joseph Leonard or Jeffrey's (which just underwent a little revamp) could be just what you're looking for.

                      What about the Spotted Pig or one of April Bloomfield's restaurants?

                    2. For the critera, "smaller, casual places with standout food that is not too fussy or overcomplicated", I would recommend Yopparai, an Izakaya in LES. It is pretty close to what you can have in Tokyo.

                      Or if you can still make the reservation, Ichimura or 15 East.

                      1. Thanks everyone - we managed quite a nice bevy of food experiences for having no serious plans and flying by the seat of our pants. Really appreciate all the solid advice. We poured over all the menus suggested and got in where we could. A combination of Opentable and last-minute calling seemed to work just fine for us.

                        We started with an atmospheric, leisurely dinner at Il Buco. House-made ricotta with fresh fruits, spicy olive oils, tremendous breads, porchetta, risotto, gnocchi. No complaints here. The food was simple, special and fresh - and service was just right. No rushing... even on a packed night. And we could actually hear each other talk.

                        We managed a lunch at Babbo - beef cheeks ravioli and some very special agnolotti - and then crispy fish. A perfect pistachio and chocolate semifreddo to finish us off. Something kept driving us back to 'Italy' so we never made it to Pearl & Ash, etc.

                        Hit Blind Tiger for some excellent Maine ale. Bowery Hotel lobby bar for the well executed atmosphere and some decent cocktails. d.b.a for some cask ales...

                        Rosewater gelato at Fresco. (I've worn out the other gelato shops in the EV)

                        Williamsburg wander during the day led us to Wythe Hotel for brunch at Reynards - steak and eggs and a really good horseradishy, spicy Bloody Mary. Much better choice than dealing with the Smorgasbord crowds for us. And hipster scene was not annoying, like it can be in some places. Pretty laid back - and fantastic space.

                        Wandered into newly opened Shelter for a drink. Great to have a pint at the bar and marvel at how these Argentines create such a studied Americana atmosphere.

                        In a pinch, before hitting a show at City Winery - we slipped into Pylos, which still delivered a solid Snapper and a nice beet/cheese/mint concoction at the last minute on a swamped Saturday night.

                        Back to Italy for some pastries and capp Sunday morning at Il Buco Alimentari. Quiet and fantastic. Chocolate bombolini filled with dulce de leche, raspberry brioche, all house baked and all just perfect. And some olive oil to send home.

                        And finally, in honor of Stitt's NY Times mag article today, finished it off at Buttermilk Channel in BKLYN for some darn good scrambles, grilled cheese with apples and bacon, and short rib hash. Killer house-made pickles and plenty of plaid.