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New Spin on the perennial Regional Italian question, maybe?

I'm looking for a short list of Manhattan restaurants devoted to specific Italian regional cuisines. I'm particularly interested in the cuisines of Piemonte, Milano/Lombardia, Emila, Abbruzzo, and Sardegna, but the region matters less to me than a menu-wide emphasis on the food of a particular area. What does NOT interest me is a pan-Italian place that happens to have good cappellacci, or a place that bills itself as Tuscan but serves only a couple of Tuscan specialties beside the usual pan-Italian repertoire. Make sense? My wife and I are looking for a complete regional experience, from antipasto through dolce. Apologies for bringing up a well-worn topic, but I'm having trouble wading through all of the archival material on this, much of which is now out of date. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Acqua at Peck Slip was doing prix-fixe menus based on various Italian regions...I do believe they have stopped for now but you could always call and ask.

    1. Osteria Morini's menu is inspired by Emiglia-Romagna.

      While not devoted to a specific Italian cuisine, Lincoln is currently offering dishes from Piemonte, as denoted by the flag emblem:

      1. Maialino - Roman
        Lupa - Roman
        Eolo - Sicily
        Paprika - Lombardia (although there are a few menu items that don't fit in, like Lobster Mac & Cheese)

        Lincoln always has a (monthly?) "theme" where there's at least one option per course from a specific region. Right now it's Piemonte and there are two antipasti, one primi, one secondi, one piccolo and one dolci. On the weekend brunch menu they're doing Le Marche, with two primi and one secondi.

        And if you're willing to go to Brooklyn:
        Convivium Osteria - Sardinian primarily, with crossover into Portuguese/Spanish, though there's a lot of overlap in those cuisines to begin with. A neighborhood gem.
        al di là - Northern Italian
        Vicolo - Campania
        Osteria il Paiolo - Piemonte

        3 Replies
        1. re: sgordon

          Al di La isn't just Northern Italian, but specifically Venetian.

          Manzo was pretty strictly Piedmontese when it opened, but now is less so.

          1. re: sgordon

            Convivium Osteria is really good.
            Thanks for Eolo- I was looking for some good Sicilian food.

            1. re: foodwhisperer

              Eolo is Sicilian. Whether it's good can vary depending what you order. But it's been some time since I've been, at least two years. I remember a decent con sarde, though.

          2. Bacaro in the LES for Venetian cuisine

              1. Enoteca Maria - right by the ferry in Staten Island. 7 different nonnas representing different regions taking turns cooking each night.

                Da Andrea - Emilia Romagna. Tho Osteria Morini may be a better option

                I still havent seen a true Tuscan. Picci, Pappa al Pomodoro, ribollita etc

                2 Replies
                1. re: Ziggy41

                  Maria is fun, and easy to get to. Though the "Nonna" menu tends to be just a couple of specials in addition to the regular menu. But it's fun to take the ferry over.

                  1. re: sgordon

                    Especially fun when the owner is in a bad mood (normally between March-Feb) and you like heavy metal ;)

                2. I've heard of people refer to Babbo as Piedmontese in style.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Not anyone who's been to the Piedmont.

                  2. >the region matters less to me than a menu-wide emphasis on the food of a particular area

                    "Menu-wide" makes this a tough query, though the places mentioned by others are a good starting point. Thing is, most restaurateurs are focused more on staying in business than on maintaining regional purity.

                    If lunch is an option, Pranzo at Eataly might be worth a shot: http://www.chow.com/food-news/135984/...

                    1. Campania: PizzArte, Il Gattopardo. As far as I known, no one specializes in Abruzzese cooking, nor, except for Puglia and Sicily, in other southern regions like Calabria and Basilicata.

                      1. Lots of enticing options here. Thanks for the responses. Do any of these places have a particularly praiseworthy rabbit dish? That could be the deciding factor. The "taste of Puglia" menu at I Trulli looks wonderful (orecchiette with rabbit ragu), but I'm seeing quite a few negative reviews of the place, mostly from earlier in the '00s. Has anyone been there more recently?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Westbrancher

                          Barbetta usually has rabbit on the menu, cooked in a Piemontese style, but it doesn't fit your other criteria, in that it is pan-Italian, not devoted to one regional cuisine


                          I don't much care for rabbit, so even though I've tasted Barbetta's version, I can't really tell you if it is praiseworthy. Dr. Google might yield an opinion.

                          Rabbit is very popular in Ligurian cooking, so you might call Ai Fiore and see if they might be offering it as a special any time soon. If it is done in the Ligurian style, it will be cooked with olives and rosemary.

                          The regions you are naming really don't have just one cuisine. Mantova and Milano exist in the same region, Lombardia, and their cooking is startlingly different. (There is a panini joint in NYC whose name I am forgetting whose owner is from Milan and he is rather fierce about sticking to the Milan repertoire of panini). Bologna and Parma are both in Emilia and both rather distinct as to what's on their menus, and some very popular dishes in each town never seem to travel the short distance to the other. Abruzzo has a seafood cuisine as well as a completely different rustic mountain cuisine.

                          Some of the restaurants offering a "regional cuisine night" might meet your expectations, otherwise I say save your pennies and go to Italy. You can get great deals on b&bs.

                          [edited to add: Or have a weekend in Philly


                          or San Francisco


                          1. re: Westbrancher

                            I just noticed Maialino has a roasted rabbit dish on their dinner menu.


                            As noted above, Maialino is fairly narrowly focused on Roman cooking. If you know how to order, it is possible to put together an entire evening eating nothing but classic dishes from the city of Rome, start to finish.

                            1. re: Westbrancher

                              In addition to Maialino's already mentioned, Convivium does a delicious braised rabbit with olives, capers and prosciutto.

                              Babbo makes a great rabbit as well, but they're a bit more pan-regional. You could theoretically have a uniregional dinner there if you know what to order, but the menu is (no pun intended) all over the map.

                            2. We've always enjoyed Via Emilia in the Flatiron district whenever we get to NYC. Obviously, the cuisine of Emilia and more specifically Modena (but without the widely- and often inappropriately-used balsamic vinegar you frequently find in this country). Plus, they now take credit cards.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: lisaonthecape

                                Interesting menu for Via Emilia but I think a diner would need some guidance in selecting a meal from the menu that was Modenese start to finish. Could indeed be done with help, and some of the dishes are plainly identified as Modenese, but there are also a large number of dishes from all over Italy that really aren't typically found in Modena. And many of the signature secondi of Modena are totally absent (cotechino, zampone, pork fillet with a traditional aged balsamic...)

                                Still, since the Emilia half of Emilia-Romagna was mentioned as one of the regions most desired, might hit the spot. Still think it is more wonderful to go to Modena, with its fantastic market as well.

                                1. re: barberinibee

                                  Well, I'd always prefer to go directly to the source when I can, but Manhattan is much closer to Cape Cod than Modena. I think that Via Emilia has had cotechino on its menu on occasion; not sure about the other items.They also have a good selection of Lambrusco, which used to be difficult to find (at least anything you'd want to drink) in this country. These days, though, we can even find good Lambrusco on Cape Cod.