Please rank these restaurants
I've only been to Il Melograno -- not cheezy or for old people, but a nice, family owned and run place of the sort that are on every block in northern Italian cities. That is authentic, delicious, and reasonably priced. Their homemade pasta dishes are particularly good.
Bello is terrible. I never have been to or heard of the rest of them
I will add, I have no problem with "old school", sometimes I prefer "old school". I don't want to get into the who "Italian/American " food debate, but much of the "old school" food you will find in "old school" Italy. However, the ingredients are fresher and more delicious in Italy. Some ingredients are unique to the area. I need to get back to Sicily immediately.
Btw I was at an "old school' restaurant yesterday(Riviera), in Clifton, NJ.small family owned, chef from Calabria. Cavatelli with marinara sauce. Fantastic.
The problem that gforce and I have with these Old Line UES Italian restaurants isn't that they're Italian-American rather than Italian: they're not. (And there's nothing wrong with Italian-American.)
It's that they're ridiculously overpriced even without the upselling that characterizes them, they have terrible and stupidly priced wine lists, and an extremely creepy mock-deferential service model. As much as people like me like to make fun of the "new" model of restaurants (let's call it the Brooklyn style, even though that name is wildly inaccurate), these Old Line UES restaurants show why the change to this new model was both salutary and necessary.
I agree on the "ridiculous old school" service model. But all of the old school places aren't like that, although I kind of find some of them amusing. Like at Accapella with tuxedoed waiters trying to push fried zucchini on you. Sometimes it is comical. But there are mom and pop old school, made by people that are born and raised in Italy cooking both Italian and Italian American. ( like the place i just ate at in NJ). I have had dishes in Italy, recently in Sicily, that although not as good, are on NYC "old school menus". I will say I have never seen veal parmigiana in any restaurant in Italy. But pasta with tomato and basil, Pasta bolognese etc I have seen all over. Poor versions of pasta con sardo I've seen here. Anyway, I get your point on some of the "old school" rip off, mock deferential service model. I recently had a horrible experience at a place like that on Madison Ave, total rip off, horrible food, and nasty waiter and management.
Have people criticizing Basso56 actually dined there? I did several years ago and enjoyed my meal quite a bit.
I recently mentioned the restaurant to friends (a couple), whose taste in and knowledge of food I respect, particularly Italian cuisine. They were very satisfied with their meal, so much so that it is an incentive for me to return sooner than later. They had the prix-fixe lunch, which seems quite good value; I don't know the extent to which this may have influenced their view, but I suppose if the timing worked, I too would try for a lunch visit, so I'm just wondering if 'hounds have recent experiences at Basso56 that I should factor in before I head over.