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Where Do Italians Eat in NYC

Ziggy41 Nov 30, 2013 06:53 AM

As our obsession with Italy has reached another level, I'm just curious where and what do Italians like to eat when visiting NYC. Do you focus on what you know and love, or do you try cuisines not available back home. Please be specific as to the places you've liked

  1. vikingkaj Jan 26, 2014 07:35 AM

    I would take an Italian to Al Di La or Saraghina:



    Good food prepared simply with a touch of home style.

    Hard not to like these places.

    1 Reply
    1. re: vikingkaj
      Hey19 Feb 4, 2014 12:49 PM

      I went to this place on friday, Risotteria Melotti, and we were the only ones speaking english in the whole place, patrons and staff included. It was also great risotto. Gaia Cafe has a very Italian feel, between Gaia and her friends.

    2. s
      stellastar2013 Dec 19, 2013 08:24 AM

      I love Cacio e Vino! It's my favorite Sicilian restaurant in Manhattan. When my friends from Italy come to NYC to visit us , we go there and they love it too!

      1 Reply
      1. re: stellastar2013
        foodwhisperer Dec 19, 2013 10:04 AM

        i've never been there, i'll have to check it out. I love the food in Sicily. Cacio e Vino's menu seemed very Sicilian. Although no regular dishes with pistachios, but the dessert has them.
        I like that say say cannolo instead of cannoli. Most people here in U.S. including Italian Americans think one cannolo is a cannoli.

      2. thetfoodie Dec 5, 2013 07:04 AM

        Hi Ziggy! reposting from TripAdvisor:
        after we cross the Alps or cross any of the seas surrounding us, no more pizzas, tiramisu, espressos or pasta! I'm sure Italian food in NYC is excellent but our time in NYC is limited and we'd like to have other kinds of food that we really can't have at home; in Italy foreign food restaurants really suck.
        If Eataly is half as good as it is over here, il Pesce restaurant would be in my list (and if they have fresh tuna, I'd have that). As you write, Italian food is not only pasta or pizza so I would probably look for a place in NY that has other less known dishes like tripe tuscan or roman style, spleen sandwiches (a sicilian specialty - they actually have it at Ferdinando's focacceria in Brooklyn), or any place where they don't use cream in the Carbonara. From your posts, Scarpetta and Costata look like the places I would go to if I lived in NYC and got tired of all the other foods.
        The thing with Italians is they like to complain about everything so I think they unconsciously go to these Italian restaurants in foreign countries, where they know they're not getting real Italian food, so they always end up complaining (national sport): "the pasta was over-cooked, the Carbonara had bacon instead of guanciale, the espresso tasted like dirty water, my mom cooks this better, etc. etc".
        Personally, I prefer some Chinatown dim sum, Guelaguetza tacos, any food truck or burger stand than eating at Giovanni Rana's (I buy Giovanni Rana's fresh pasta at home for emergency meals, but it is no restaurant food).

        1. c
          chicfille Dec 4, 2013 11:45 AM

          Italian friends introduced us to Pepolino, owned by two delightful men who trained together in Florence at Cibreo, when it was still good. Delicious, authentic Florentine food in a completely untouristic part of Manhattan, West Broadway in Tribeca. Reasonable wine list.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chicfille
            foodwhisperer Dec 4, 2013 05:54 PM

            I love Pepolino.

          2. l
            Lau Dec 4, 2013 09:54 AM

            my friends from torino and milan go eat here with all their italian friends. they told me the food is more typical of the type of stuff you'd eat at home and that your mom or grandma would cook vs anything fancy. i had some drinks (but didn't eat) with them last weekend, the staff is all italian

            i will caveat this with i have no idea whether they have good taste or not as i haven't eaten with them much and just because they are italian doesn't mean they have good taste

            6 Replies
            1. re: Lau
              alepenazzi Dec 4, 2013 01:07 PM

              Not a big fan of Via della Pace, it's perfect for drinks and to have fun, the owner is really nice and you can easily spend an entire night at the bar, but I wouldn't go there for the food..

              1. re: alepenazzi
                Lau Dec 4, 2013 01:12 PM

                yah i caveat'd it bc ive never eaten there and it didnt look amazing, but thats what they like...could also be that they're friends with the owner and staff and everyone is actually italian there

                1. re: Lau
                  sugartoof Dec 4, 2013 02:18 PM

                  I think that's really common in NY. If they can go somewhere, get Al dente pasta, or a regional dish they miss, get friendly with the staff, give patronage to someone from their region, and speak the language - that's what they're after first and foremost.

                  You see the same thing with Japanese, Russians, Sardinians, Basque, Israelis, French, Germans...well, just about every group you can think of.

                  1. re: sugartoof
                    Lau Dec 4, 2013 03:27 PM

                    yah exactly

                  2. re: Lau
                    foodwhisperer Dec 4, 2013 05:53 PM

                    Lau, I like your caveat because it is so true that just because people are from a specific country doesn't mean they have good taste. In this case Italian, but it is true of every country. Well, maybe not France, all French people think they have good taste.. haha j/k

                    1. re: foodwhisperer
                      Lau Dec 4, 2013 08:25 PM

                      all people are the same and some will have good taste and others wont, just the way it is....although taste is subjective so you could argue anyone's taste is technically good bc they enjoy what they eat

              2. f
                foodwhisperer Dec 3, 2013 08:38 PM

                Every Italian I know that comes here and stays for a few weeks or months or longer, always eats in Italian restaurants. True, they also want to try Katz's, they want to try Japanese restaurants. But they always try some Italian restaurants. I have friends from Bari, Venice ( area), Sicily and Ischia. They all at some point want some pasta, or rice balls, or just some grilled branzino, at some point. Throw in pizza too. I have been to Frankie's with them, Ennio and Michael's ( closed), Enoteca, Rubirosa, Peppolino, Bar Pitti,Crispo, Da Silvano, and Marea with them.
                For that matter, every Asian person I know that comes here, wants Asian food of sorts. Even though it doesn't compare with back home. But yes they may want to try a hot dog, steak, hamburger, or fancy French restaurant too.

                1. sgordon Dec 3, 2013 10:51 AM

                  The last couple times I was out with a friend of mine who's a noted Italian chef, we went to Momofuku Ssam and Mighty Quinn's. He loves them both.

                  For Italian food in NYC, from what he's said to me he seems to like Batali's places over Michael White's. But he doesn't really eat out Italian much since, y'know, he can make his own pretty well.

                  He likes some Asian food, but not their noodles. I think ramen come off a bit "odd" for him, they don't quite read right.

                  1. m
                    MarieLuncheonette Dec 3, 2013 09:31 AM

                    my native italian friend recommended gigino though i haven't been there yet...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: MarieLuncheonette
                      alepenazzi Dec 3, 2013 10:41 AM

                      I would strongly recommend not to go there.. I had a pretty bad meal last summer...

                      1. re: MarieLuncheonette
                        foodwhisperer Dec 3, 2013 08:51 PM

                        Gigino was once known to be one of the few true Tuscan restaurants. The one in Tribeca is far better than the one at the battery. The beet pasta being my favorite dish they offer. Osso Bucco second favorite.

                      2. p
                        PotatoPuff Dec 2, 2013 01:40 PM

                        I have a close friend who is an Italian expatriate, and she gets very excited to eat in restaurants that are owned by Italians. I personally keep kosher and she is very kind to go to kosher restaurants with me, so our scope is a bit narrower, but she did give her stamp of approval to Rafaello pizza, a new kosher restaurant on 46th street owned by someone who also owns a restaurant in Rome.

                        1. a
                          AubWah Dec 1, 2013 08:12 PM

                          They all eat at Bar Pitti to say ciao to Gio

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: AubWah
                            foodwhisperer Dec 3, 2013 08:49 PM

                            Da Silvano gets it's share of Italians who want to go to an "upscale" or "pricier" Italian restaurant. maybe to say ciao to Silvano. San Domenico ( now Marea) always had many Italian visitors.
                            My Italian friends like Bar Pitti.

                          2. s
                            sugartoof Dec 1, 2013 02:50 PM

                            Just from some obvious observations, I don't think a day goes by when Eataly isn't packed with Italians.

                            Keste has been mentioned, but it's really true, overhearing Italian speaking tables is pretty much the norm there.

                            When I've asked recent Sicilian transplants they tend to mention Cacio e Vino for a taste of home, which is a pretty under the radar spot in the EV, and I think it's the kinda place you're hoping this thread delivers on.

                            NY has long had establishments that really survive off a rotating door of international transplants - they're not always the best places, so much as a place that offers a certain dish, or more likely, a place where someone knows the owner, or feels a sense of community.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: sugartoof
                              Simon Dec 1, 2013 03:54 PM

                              -- i second the Cacio e Vino idea...i once met a group of Sicilians (expats living in NYC) there who said it's their fav place...

                              1. re: Simon
                                italianyc84 Dec 2, 2013 08:31 AM

                                Thirding this, my Sicilian family likes Cacio e Vino.

                              2. re: sugartoof
                                chompchomp Dec 2, 2013 02:17 PM

                                I also see tons of Italians at Eataly -- it adds to the ambiance!

                                1. re: chompchomp
                                  coll Jan 5, 2014 04:38 AM

                                  And Eataly is a chain in Italy I believe? Not quite like McDonalds though ;-)

                              3. s
                                swannee Dec 1, 2013 10:51 AM

                                I live in Italy about 3 months a year and work entirely with Italians. Most of them when they come here avoid Italian food, except for the very top end like the old San Domenico or the new Marea. They all complain that Babbo and similar muck things up too much--i.e. use too many ingrediants. They all seem to love seafood as done in good Cantonese restaurants (steamed with scallions and ginger)--I use to take the Pollinis to the Nice Restaurant almost every day. They also all seem to love xiao long bao and similar dumpling/buns such as at Shanghai cafe or 456, or even dimsum. Oriental Garden has been succesful with Italians both for fish and dimsum.

                                27 Replies
                                1. re: swannee
                                  Bob Martinez Dec 1, 2013 02:09 PM

                                  I'm getting the feeling that Chinese food in Italy isn't particularly good.

                                  1. re: Bob Martinez
                                    MVNYC Dec 3, 2013 08:58 AM

                                    Bob, from mine and my relatives experiences Chinese is pretty bad in Italy. I remember one place in Rome that was good but that was after a full summer not having any Chinese at all so perhaps my view was skewed.

                                    Now after reading these boards I will make my relatives fly to the San Gabriel valley for Chinese when they come over for New Years.

                                    1. re: MVNYC
                                      Bob Martinez Dec 3, 2013 11:40 AM

                                      Off topic but of some interest, I've found the Chinese food in Paris to be pretty good. The Thai food there was excellent - tweaked for French palates but very good in its own right.

                                      1. re: Bob Martinez
                                        MVNYC Dec 3, 2013 01:12 PM

                                        Off topic as well but I've also been fortunate enough to live in they Czech Republic for a time and I was fascinated by the Czech Chinese food clearly altered for the Czech palate. The Vietnamese food was surprisingly authentic though.

                                        1. re: Bob Martinez
                                          kurtt Dec 3, 2013 01:17 PM

                                          With France's history in SE Asia it's not surprising that the food would be found there.

                                      2. re: Bob Martinez
                                        Ziggy41 Dec 3, 2013 12:08 PM

                                        I sort of look forward to the day when I feel like Chinese food in Italy ;)

                                        1. re: Bob Martinez
                                          alepenazzi Dec 3, 2013 04:12 PM

                                          Yep, it definitely isn't..

                                        2. re: swannee
                                          Simon Dec 1, 2013 03:55 PM

                                          -- yes, the Italian expats i've met in NYC generally dislike the Batali places (as do i)

                                          1. re: Simon
                                            alepenazzi Dec 2, 2013 07:59 AM

                                            I actually enjoyed them quite a lot, and the group of italians I usually go out with like them as well.
                                            We all like Lupa (being many times both as a group and with family), followed by Del Posto, or Felidia for a midtown working lunch..
                                            PS It's not italian but I'm a big fan of Casa Mono... I think their cinco cebollas foie gras is amazing.

                                            1. re: Simon
                                              mbfant Dec 2, 2013 01:29 PM

                                              Why not? I ask in all innocence, because I have never been to any of them.

                                              1. re: mbfant
                                                ttoommyy Dec 4, 2013 10:52 AM

                                                People either love or hate the Batalit restaurants. I am a lover of them all. I really can't take the guy himself, but I think the restaurants (most of which are co-owned with the Bastianich family) are wonderful. It's just one of those love 'em or hate 'em situations that divides people on this board. I grew tired of arguing about it long ago so now I just say my peace and quietly walk away. :)

                                                1. re: ttoommyy
                                                  jen kalb Dec 5, 2013 11:15 AM

                                                  Italian food in italy (in addition to the excellence of ingredients and usually reliable cooking) is notable to me as an American for its moderation - not so much food on the plate, not so much fat, not so many garnishes.

                                                  My sense is that Batali and similar places amp the food up in a way that many italians may not appreciate.

                                                  1. re: jen kalb
                                                    rrems Dec 5, 2013 04:11 PM

                                                    I have to disagree, jen. Lupa is a favorite of mine and I can say the portion sizes are very much like what I've had in Italy, and the same is true for garnishes and fat. We had dinner at Lupa shortly after returning from our recent trip to Italy, and though we had a lot of great food in Italy, I found the pasta dish I had at Lupa (tripe agnolotti) better than almost all the pastas I had in Italy. I think Batali strives for authenticity, and succeeds.

                                                    1. re: rrems
                                                      sugartoof Dec 5, 2013 05:09 PM

                                                      Reading that, it sticks out that you found Lupa better. It sounds like that could mean your sensibilities are more in tuned with what Batali serves, where Italians probably don't want improved or what many Americans would find to be better, they want the same as what they'd get in Italy

                                                      1. re: sugartoof
                                                        rrems Dec 5, 2013 09:04 PM

                                                        Really? Did you read the first part of my post?.

                                                        "the portion sizes are very much like what I've had in Italy, and the same is true for garnishes and fat".

                                                        My point was that most everything about the restaurant is very similar to restaurants in Italy, and that the quality of the food is not inferior. The fact that I found one pasta dish superior does not indicate that I prefer some kind of Americanized Italian food, it just means he can make a damn good plate of pasta that I'm sure any restaurant in Italy would be proud to serve. It IS possible to produce food here that compares with what is served in Italy and I can't imagine Italians not liking that.

                                                        So, other than looking for something to attack, what is your point?

                                                    2. re: jen kalb
                                                      foodwhisperer Dec 5, 2013 10:02 PM

                                                      Italian food varies greatly in Italy. Aside from differences in different regions, within the same town, there are good restaurants and bad ones. Some use fresher ingredients than others. Some put more food on the plate than others. I think it is too general to say "Italian food in Italy ,in addition to the excellence of ingredients and usually reliable cooking,,," I've had amazing meals in Italy, and some really bad ones.
                                                      That being said, the better Italian meals I've had in Italy were far better than what I've had here. That includes Batali and Michael White restaurants.

                                                      1. re: foodwhisperer
                                                        rrems Dec 6, 2013 07:13 AM

                                                        You and sugartoof are missing the point. jen kalb speculated (has she been to a Batali restaurant?) that:

                                                        "My sense is that Batali and similar places amp the food up in a way that many italians may not appreciate."

                                                        I was pointing out that this is exactly what he does NOT do. I added my experience regarding the quality of a particular dish in a Batali restaurant, on which opinions may differ, but one cannot deny that portion sizes, garnishes, and fat are not "amped up" as in many other Italian restaurants here.

                                                        1. re: rrems
                                                          sgordon Dec 6, 2013 09:03 AM

                                                          +1 to what rrems is saying. Batali's places are far from "Americanized" in any way. Many people I've dined with at Babbo have been quite surprised at how simple some of the dishes are, in fact. And the dishes at Lupa are -very- straightforward. They're not "cheffy" (in a creative sense) at all.

                                                          But of course, not all Italian cuisine is simple and rustic. That's a common misconception. Florence is, as many a historian will point out (and many a Frenchman will deny) the actual birthplace of Haute Cuisine - the personal chefs of Catherine de Medici brought the style with them to France when she was wed to Henry. Hell, Canard à l'Orange and "French" Onion Soup are originally Tuscan dishes.

                                                          And there are significant regional differences - a restaurant serving the cuisine of Trentino is going to be just as alien to a Sicilian as an Italian-American "red sauce" joint.

                                                          There will, of course, always be a camp of people who believe that any food is inherently better when eaten in its homeland - witness every single thread about any Asian cusine / restaurant on Chowhound.

                                                          As others have pointed out, there are bad Italian restaurants in Italy as well. And some of those bad places are very popular with the locals.

                                                          Which brings up an important point: an Italian is -just- as capable of having bad taste as an American. I would also say that I'd be -less- likely to trust the opinion of someone who, when visiting a foreign land, seeks out food that tastes "just like home" as that suggests someone with an incurious and uninteresting palate. It's no different, to my mind, than asking for New American restaurant tips from the tourist who looks for the nearest McDonald's when they get off the plane. They're just looking for a taste of home, too, after all...

                                                          1. re: rrems
                                                            sugartoof Dec 6, 2013 10:14 AM

                                                            rrems: "I was pointing out that this is exactly what he does NOT do."

                                                            Depends on which Batali place, or even the specific dish you order. He's got a large empire, and he dabbles in a lot of styles. These menus can represent a TGIF Fridays approach, which "amps up" things in and of itself.

                                                            Like I said, he's gunning for an American sensibility, and he's clearly informed by his days in California, thinking ingredients driven rather than creating faithful reproductions of regional dishes. It can mean the sizing of the ricotta gnoochi, or the size/amount of shaved tuna flakes on a spaghetti are off in really notable ways. If a random Italian stopped me in the street and asked where they can get food like back in Liguria, I wouldn't feel safe sending them to Lupa or really any Batali spot, without strict guidelines. Being tuned in to the audience that took a vacation, or lived abroad for a year, and wants to revisit that taste while in NY is a very different thing than what's drawing in Italians to the other places getting mentioned in this thread - because that thing isn't always about what we try and focus on at CH, which is the food.

                                                            1. re: sugartoof
                                                              rrems Dec 6, 2013 10:30 AM

                                                              You still don't get it. I gave an example of one Batali restaurant. I have been to Lupa, Babbo, and Otto (not crazy about Otto). He may have other places that are as you describe, but the comment I was responding to was referring (without first-hand knowledge, I think) to the entire Batali empire.

                                                              I was not commenting on anything other than food, which was again what the post I was responding to was about.

                                                              1. re: sugartoof
                                                                sgordon Dec 6, 2013 10:37 AM

                                                                "If a random Italian stopped me in the street and asked where they can get food like back in Liguria, I wouldn't feel safe sending them to Lupa"

                                                                Well, I wouldn't either because Lupa is Roman. It's right in the name, "Lupa Osteria Romana"

                                                                1. re: sgordon
                                                                  sugartoof Dec 6, 2013 11:09 AM

                                                                  Cute, but that *was* my point.

                                                              2. re: rrems
                                                                foodwhisperer Dec 6, 2013 01:11 PM

                                                                I think you missed my point. My point was that jen kalb made it sound like all food in Italy is great. It isn't. I didn't comment on size or "amped up-ness " of Batali's food. In fact I happen to like Babbo quite a bit. I do not like Otto at all. However, I have not had any Batali dishes that rival the best dishes I;ve had in Italy.
                                                                If you missed your point again. I apologize.

                                                                1. re: foodwhisperer
                                                                  jen kalb Dec 6, 2013 02:28 PM

                                                                  for the record not that it matters, I was not claiming above that Italian food in italy was "better" than in NY but only that there could be differences of style (I said moderation but I could have fixed on other similar points) that some Italians might not prefer.

                                                                  1. re: foodwhisperer
                                                                    rrems Dec 6, 2013 02:55 PM

                                                                    Sorry, foodwhisperer. I was mainly responding to sugartoof, and did not read your post carefully. I don't disagree with you.

                                                              3. re: jen kalb
                                                                ttoommyy Dec 6, 2013 08:12 AM

                                                                I do not find the food at Batali/Bastianich restaurants to be overly "amped up" in any way. In fact, I enjoy a lot of them for the pure fact that the dishes they serve are somewhat similar to dishes I've had in Italy. That said, I do not think I have ever gone to an Italian restaurant in NYC that serves anything as basic as a trattoria in Italy would serve. That is just not the American style of service. Unless a restaurant was catering to ex-pat Italians living here and Italian tourists, I doubt it would survive in NYC serving food plated and prepared as it is in Italy. But we must keep in mind that this is the US, not Italy. I find many of our Italian restaurants to be just the right mix, with the Batali/Bastianich restaurants be very high on my list. And as another poster pointed out, in the end it is all personal preference. These types of Italian restaurants work for my palate and my desires.

                                                                1. re: ttoommyy
                                                                  alepenazzi Dec 13, 2013 06:20 AM

                                                                  I agree, and as an Italian I don't find Batali's restaurant to be an amped up american version of an italian trattoria.
                                                                  I find Lupa to be pretty authentic, a place where I would easily bring my parents when they come visit or any friend to give him a taste of roman cuisine.
                                                                  I'm not saying it's better than a great restaurant in Roma, but it's definitely better than the average italian restaurant in the US. Way better..

                                                                  There are some little places run by italians that tries to do things the way they did in italy, like Da Marcella or Bianca, but being NY it's tough to survive and to get the best ingredients on a budget (the good thing about Batali's restaurant is that thanks to their popularity they don't take shortcuts when it comes to buy the right ingredients, if they say guanciale, it's guanciale, not some kind of bacon sold as guanciale, for example).

                                                      2. Ziggy41 Dec 1, 2013 09:00 AM

                                                        I dont know on which CH board I read this but someone (could have been barberinibee on the Italian board) once said that in the US one who appreciates good food is considered a "Foodie", while in Italy you just have to be over 10. Well maybe not in those words but something like that.

                                                        There's a world of difference between the avg American visiting Italy, or an Italian visiting NYC. Its almost painful to see Americans in Italy complain that they are tired of pasta and pizza and want a good burger, not realizing that its so much more than pasta and pizza. But on the other hand it seems perfectly normal to me to see Italians here eat what we call "Italian Food".

                                                        And yes I suppose some will not care and opt for the Olive gardens but something tells me those people dont read Chowhound. This thread is more about the rest of them. Some good answers so far

                                                        16 Replies
                                                        1. re: Ziggy41
                                                          MVNYC Dec 1, 2013 10:29 AM

                                                          I think you asked a perfectly reasonable question but this being chowhound you were unfortuantely met with some negative responses. In general I think people in Italy are more focused on food than they are in the US hence they are less likely to settle for crap. Even traveling around Italy its pretty easy to find good food whatever region you are in.

                                                          When my relatives come to NYC they want Chinese food and sushi. It is much better than the stuff they have over there. I would say they tend to shy away from Italian food in NYC. For the most part I do too. They own a couple of restaurants which I have worked in the kitchens for 2 summers.

                                                          1. re: Ziggy41
                                                            vikingkaj Dec 3, 2013 01:49 PM

                                                            I'm not impressed with the average Italian restaurant in Italy. You really have to know someone who knows someone who knows a place to get good stuff.

                                                            Or have make friends with people who have aunts and grandmothers and wangle an invite. That's when you get the really good stuff.

                                                            1. re: vikingkaj
                                                              alepenazzi Dec 3, 2013 04:12 PM

                                                              Are you sure about this? I never "knew" anybody in restaurants I went to in Italy but I never had problems finding good meals..
                                                              Especially comparing them to the "average" restaurants here in the US...

                                                              1. re: vikingkaj
                                                                MVNYC Dec 3, 2013 04:13 PM

                                                                Oh wow. Apparently there's no good food on planet earth

                                                                1. re: MVNYC
                                                                  vikingkaj Jan 5, 2014 03:21 AM

                                                                  If you walk in off of the street in say Rome or Milan to the average Italian restaurant you don't get particularly good food. Average pasta that could be barilla from the jar and cotteleta di maiali.

                                                                  If you have a colleague that works for your Italian distributor and they take to you this little place that does not even have signage in Trastevere serving unidentified pig parts you will get one of the most amazing meals on the planet.

                                                                  Just sayin.

                                                                  1. re: vikingkaj
                                                                    ttoommyy Jan 6, 2014 10:32 AM

                                                                    "If you walk in off of the street in say Rome or Milan to the average Italian restaurant you don't get particularly good food. Average pasta that could be barilla from the jar and cotteleta di maiali."

                                                                    I don't think I have ever experienced what you describe. Are you talking about the restaurants that cater to tourists with the menu in 7 languages? Or just you average trattoria? If the latter, like I said, I have never experienced what you describe the 7 times I have been to Italy (5 of those times in Rome).

                                                                    Also, there are many very good restaurants that don't serve "unidentified pig parts" but are quite good. Too many people think that if you go to Italy, you have to eat in the most out of the way, hidden places that serve offal and the like. This is just not true at all.

                                                                    1. re: ttoommyy
                                                                      alepenazzi Jan 7, 2014 04:19 PM

                                                                      I totally agree with ttoommyy.

                                                                      1. re: alepenazzi
                                                                        vikingkaj Jan 26, 2014 07:40 AM

                                                                        Well I disagree. I've seen at lot of bad Italian food in big Italian cities. Just like there is a lot of bad food in NYC. If you don't know where you are going, and just walk in off the street, you get lot's of mediocre.

                                                                        By the way, if I wanted to eat in Italy, I would go to Bologna. Emilia-Romagna has the best food in Italy.

                                                                        And then there is Sicilian food, but that's not completely Italian.

                                                                        1. re: vikingkaj
                                                                          coll Jan 26, 2014 07:55 AM

                                                                          All the more reason to visit Sicily!

                                                                          1. re: coll
                                                                            vikingkaj Jan 26, 2014 08:16 AM

                                                                            Lots of reasons to visit Sicily...

                                                                          2. re: vikingkaj
                                                                            MVNYC Jan 26, 2014 08:51 AM

                                                                            Maybe it's because I am competent in Basic Italian but I've found it hard to find bad Italian restaurants outside of touristy areas. I've been there over a dozen times to visit family.

                                                                            1. re: vikingkaj
                                                                              rrems Jan 26, 2014 10:22 AM

                                                                              This is kind of off-topic, as this discussion is about New York, but while I agree with your first point, I find the second ridiculous, and it contradicts the first. Many on the Italy board would disagree with your statement that E-R has "the best food in Italy". There is plenty of mediocrity in Bologna. There is great food all over Italy if one chooses carefully, and "best" is a matter of personal taste.

                                                                              1. re: vikingkaj
                                                                                Ziggy41 Jan 26, 2014 11:36 AM

                                                                                Over 20 meals in Italy this past year - One bad one.
                                                                                Have you tried venturing out of central rome, touristy areas, etc? Looking forward to the answers in 3 weeks.

                                                                                1. re: vikingkaj
                                                                                  alepenazzi Jan 26, 2014 04:39 PM

                                                                                  vikingkaj I don't know your knowledge of Italy but saying that Emilia-Romagna has the best food in italy it's like saying that Tribeca has the best food in Manhattan...

                                                                                  There are so many simple and good restaurant all around the country that the only truly bad ones are the ones the cater to the tourists.
                                                                                  Of course I'm not talking about michelin stars level restaurants, we're talking about authentic every day trattorie with fresh, simple food and fresh ingredients.

                                                                                  Sicilian food is absolutely italian, I'd say food from alto adige. a few border towns in friuli and valle d'aosta it's not completely italian but I wouldn't say it about sicily..

                                                                                  1. re: alepenazzi
                                                                                    foodwhisperer Jan 26, 2014 08:17 PM

                                                                                    I agree with Alepenazzi about great Italian food all over Italy.
                                                                                    On behalf of vikingkaj, Emilia-Romagna has the reputation of being the "best". They say the lasagna there is the best, but I've had what I thought was the best lasagna in Venezia.
                                                                                    Also, Sicilians might agree, that the food in Sicily is not Italian, They would say their food is "Sicilian", The food in Sicily is amazing. From seafood, to eggplants to pistachios.
                                                                                    Most of the honey in Italy comes from Sicily I was told. Also, you will never have a Cannolo as good as one from Sicily.
                                                                                    Tribeca has the best food in Manhattan ( lol just kidding) but that's where I eat most often

                                                                                    1. re: foodwhisperer
                                                                                      mbfant Jan 27, 2014 12:20 AM

                                                                                      I feel I should get my two centesimi in before the moderators notice that this subthread isn't about Manhattan.

                                                                                      Emilia-Romagna's reputation as having the best food in Italy is based on a few basic foods that are, indeed, candidates for best-in-universe: parmigiano-reggiano cheese, prosciutto di Parma, mortadella (the original bologna), and handmade egg pasta. Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena could go on the list too, but its importance in the national scheme of things is negligible (yes, really, you can live without it and hardly anybody outside its own area used to even know it existed till about twenty-five years ago, maybe thirty). The region is not known for its wines, though it produces some good ones. Many Italians think its food is way too rich, but it is very good. Think ragù di carne (bolognese), lasagne verdi, tortelli di zucca, passatelli in brodo, and more, but not a lot more. It is certainly not the most varied cuisine in Italy, and most Italians have never heard of Marcella Hazan, a native of Romagna (specifically Cesenatico, a coastal town nowhere near Parma), who first brought the region to the attention of Americans in a big way.

                                                                                      Sicily has a very varied and sophisticated cuisine that is at least as "Italian" as any other regions (and don't get me started on the fallacies of simplistically dividing the food of Italy into 20 convenient regional packages). Yes, there are remote eastern influences, but not just in Sicily, and they are remote. And, as Alpenazzi says, the foreign influences along the northern borders are far stronger.

                                                                                      As to general quality of restaurants, which, I think, is where this all began, not every Italian is quite as exigent as we like to think, and in a bad economy, it's easier for a restaurant to save money by lowering the food standards than by laying off a waiter. One still has to pay some attention when choosing a place to eat. Also, I had my eyes open when I first went to the Metro mega-wholesale supermarket in Rome (where I live) and saw all those insalate di mare in plastic packages and jarred sauces (including carbonara!). I do think the general standard is still higher in Italy than most places, and I do not think one part of Italy can be singled out as "best" or "most Italian" or anything.

                                                                    2. k
                                                                      kurtt Dec 1, 2013 08:36 AM

                                                                      BBQ and steak.

                                                                      1. a
                                                                        alepenazzi Dec 1, 2013 07:59 AM

                                                                        My 2 cents as an Italian who lives in NY since 5 years now who has dozens of friends that come visiting every year..

                                                                        I would divide the italian tourists in two big categories, those (often over 50yo) that are not used to experiment different cultures and cuisines and the "new" generation who eats sushi or thai in Italy as well and is "ready" to try something new.

                                                                        For the former I always made them happy by bringing them to one of the "Felice"'s, Felidia, Del Posto if they want some fancy dining, Giovanni Rana for casual dining and Numero 28 or Kestè for pizza. (If they want to see and be seen Bar Pitti and Cipriani is an other classic destination but I personally try to avoid them as much as I can)

                                                                        With the latter we usually hit at least one Asian spot like EN Japanese Brasserie or 15 East for the high end and 456 or Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown for the low end.
                                                                        Then if they fancy Indian I went a few times to some restaurant off curry hill and queens but friends were always more happy when we went to Tamarind Tribeca (I guess the majority of us italians is not ready for authentic indian yet).
                                                                        A lot of friends love Greek cuisine like Stamatis or Kyklades in Astoria (maybe more expats then tourists though..).
                                                                        And then the NY classics like burgers (B&B, Rare, Shake Shack, Minetta, Spotted Pig, Tom&Colicchio) or steaks (Peter Luger, Keens, Club A), etc..

                                                                        Anyway, as always, it's down to their budget.. A vacation in NY is never cheap and many tourists from Italy would rather save some money and eat fast food then staying one or two day less in the city..

                                                                        PS No italian in NY will ever be really happy with his coffee or cappuccino (a part from the Nespresso coffee bar, as many are used to have it at home).

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: alepenazzi
                                                                          littlecmad Feb 4, 2014 12:32 PM

                                                                          Is there anyplace to get a cafe latte like it is made in Italy?

                                                                          1. re: littlecmad
                                                                            Ziggy41 Feb 4, 2014 12:49 PM

                                                                            Yep. Portugal!

                                                                            1. re: littlecmad
                                                                              mbfant Feb 4, 2014 01:54 PM

                                                                              I had a really good cappuccino at Sant'Ambroeus. I would guess they could do a caffè latte.

                                                                              1. re: mbfant
                                                                                bob96 Feb 4, 2014 09:17 PM

                                                                                Sant'Ambroeus, yes, for everything caffe. And the ambience.

                                                                          2. b
                                                                            barberinibee Dec 1, 2013 12:52 AM

                                                                            If you go to the Tripadvisor website and pull down the language menu to choose Italian then you can go to the forums that Italians use and see which NYC restaurants they ate at and reviewed.

                                                                            Presently Colicchio & Sons is the most popular Manhattan restaurant among Italian travelers posting on TripAdvisor


                                                                            Juliana's Pizza is the most popular in Brooklyn


                                                                            Louie & Ernie's pizza is most popular in the Bronx


                                                                            Beso (tapas) in Staten Island


                                                                            Il Bambino in Astoria


                                                                            Magna (Italian) in Flushing


                                                                            And while the Jamaican restaurant The Door gets the top nod from Italians visiting Jamaica Queens the next 3 most popular and recommended by Italians for Jamaica are all Italian restaurants or pizzerie


                                                                            As is often the case with TripAdvisor reviews the popularity of these restaurants may have a lot to do with their proximity to popular hotels and attractions. There are many other cuisines represented than Italian in the Top 10 for each borough but there is still a lot of enthusiasm for eating at Italian inspired restaurants in NYC.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: barberinibee
                                                                              vikingkaj Dec 3, 2013 01:46 PM

                                                                              Either that or those restaurants are paying people or PR agencies to post in Italian.

                                                                              Happens every day...

                                                                            2. Ttrockwood Nov 30, 2013 01:40 PM

                                                                              Maybe put up a post on the italy board asking for their favorites in nyc?

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Ttrockwood
                                                                                mbfant Nov 30, 2013 02:12 PM

                                                                                The Italy board is all about tourists asking for recs in Italy. Anything else gets chased off.

                                                                                I come from NY but have lived in Italy about 35 years.I never used to want to eat Italian in New York and every time friends dragged me someplace it was awful. I am waiting for someone to drag me to Babbo, but so far I haven't been. But I do go to Maialino pretty much every trip to NY and I love it. My Italian husband likes it very much too, but tends not to order the really Roman dishes on the menu. He will often argue points with the chef (too much water in the spinach was one), but they do a very good job.

                                                                                Sant'Ambroeus is very good, certainly the best cappuccino, by which I mean not only good in itself but practically the only drinkable cappuccino, I have ever had outside Italy. I've never had a meal there, but I would be optimistic. It has a nice milanese vibe.

                                                                                There are inherent contradictions in style between the NY restaurant and the Italian trattoria that make the trattoria experience practically impossible to duplicate, though if anyone has done it (not counting those serving Italian-American food), I would love to know.

                                                                                1. re: mbfant
                                                                                  Jerseygirl111 Dec 3, 2013 12:19 PM

                                                                                  Your husband argues about watery spinach with the chef? Does he storm the kitchen and demand a word?

                                                                                  1. re: Jerseygirl111
                                                                                    mbfant Dec 4, 2013 09:49 AM

                                                                                    He doesn't argue. He points out. But, even though he means it, it's all done in a spirit of respect and simpatia.

                                                                              2. s
                                                                                shoeman Nov 30, 2013 12:54 PM

                                                                                Where Italians eat is irrelevant to whether the restaurant is any good. You will find tons of Italians at Olive Garden and many Chinese at the Chinese buffets that are in every shopping center. Don't assume that Italians whether from Italy or not know any better then you what Italian rest. are good.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: shoeman
                                                                                  villainx Dec 1, 2013 08:06 AM

                                                                                  i agree with this. most tourist/visitors aren't foodie. and they want something (anything) that reminds them of their home food, even if it's a horrible version.

                                                                                  for example, most chinese folks go to chinese restaurants even of questionable quality while traveling, just for a taste "chinese" white rice. that desperation grows even more the longer the vacation. assuming they aren't hardcore chinese travelers and bring their rice cookers with them =)

                                                                                  1. re: villainx
                                                                                    Chandavkl Jan 7, 2014 08:00 PM

                                                                                    It's called the "Chinese stomach"


                                                                                2. p
                                                                                  prio girl Nov 30, 2013 12:38 PM

                                                                                  My most recent visitors from Italy found Keste http://kestepizzeria.com/ on their own while walking around the city and loved it. They were really happy to find what they considered authentic Italian pizza here in New York.

                                                                                  Is that the kind of info you're looking for, Ziggy41?

                                                                                  1. ipsedixit Nov 30, 2013 11:08 AM


                                                                                    I think that's a really hard question to answer. Italy is a large country, with a wide-ranging cuisine from North to South, to everywhere in between. Factor that with diversity of people in Italy, and each person's individual preferences and idiosyncrasies with respect to food -- and especially with respect to food while traveling.

                                                                                    Some, like PHREDDY's friend, may just want good old NYC fare like a dirty water dog, or maybe something Katz, or whatever.

                                                                                    Others might like to see what the fuss high-end American-style Italian is all about and might visit Babbo or Del Posto or whatever.

                                                                                    Then there are those who probably will want to find just good food at an appropriate price point based on their personal budget -- whether that's Le Bernardin or Totto.

                                                                                    I just think it's a really hard question to ask, and I'm not so sure that Italians would necessarily want to eat "Italian food" anymore (or less) than any other foreign visitor to NYC.

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                      Ziggy41 Nov 30, 2013 12:10 PM

                                                                                      Fair enough. Makes total sense. But curiosity still prevails. Just something I thought about while shaving ;)

                                                                                      Yes, Italy is big and each region has its own thing but there are some common elements, one of which is that food is so much more of a way of life and so much more important to Italians than Americans. While talking to a waiter at Mercato (going again tonight) one time I was surprised to hear how popular it is with Italians, to the point where they try to employ only Italian speaking waiters. I suppose I'm answering my own question a little.

                                                                                      Plus it wouldn't hurt to know what Italians think of our Italian food and which places they prefer. Shouldn't be so hard ;)

                                                                                      1. re: Ziggy41
                                                                                        ipsedixit Nov 30, 2013 06:38 PM

                                                                                        Just something I thought about while shaving ...

                                                                                        You should consider growing a beard. :-)

                                                                                        In all seriousness, when I entertain Hong Kong and mainland Chinese guests in NYC (and the Outer Boroughs), they look for one of two things: (1) cheap food or (2) American fast food. And these folks come from all demographic stripes -- wealthy, young old, educated, etc.

                                                                                        I mean think about it this way, Ziggy, I have no idea what your nationality is, but let's assume you are "American" and you were to visit Italy, would you want to at "American" restaurants (whatever that may mean)?

                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                          mbfant Dec 1, 2013 04:24 AM

                                                                                          Actually many Italian tourists do seek out Italian restaurants abroad, then complain that the pasta was overcooked or whatever. However, they tend to be the Italians one doesn't ask for restaurant recommendations anywhere, incuding Italy. I took the OP's question to refer to Italian residents of Manhattan who need the occasional fix of tastes of home, which is perfectly reasonable, or a hangout to approximate the role of a "sottocasa" (trattoria near your home where they know your likes and dislikes better than your own mother does). That's a reasonable question.

                                                                                          1. re: mbfant
                                                                                            barberinibee Dec 1, 2013 05:44 AM

                                                                                            The OP clearly states in his OP that "I'm just curious where and what do Italians like to eat when visiting NYC.." Note the word "visiting." That would be an odd way to refer to residents of NYC. I don't think it is an unreasonable question at all. Obviously any answer isn't going to be definitive and needs a whole lot of caveats (but so would answering a question about Italian residents of NYC).

                                                                                            I have eaten in Italian restaurants with many Italians in NYC (their choice) who have marvelous tastebuds (we don't eat where the pasta is overcooked) and I have often found their restaurant recommendations for Italy to be terrific.

                                                                                            1. re: mbfant
                                                                                              Ulyyf Dec 6, 2013 10:44 AM

                                                                                              Kinda like Americans who go to Italy and complain that they can't get a good burger and fries?

                                                                                              1. re: Ulyyf
                                                                                                coll Jan 5, 2014 04:25 AM

                                                                                                Kinda like my Midwestern friends who don't want my homemade (NY style) food but insisted on going to Pizza Hut and Applebees? I tried not to argue too much but we didn't accompany either. They said they were homesick.

                                                                                      2. PHREDDY Nov 30, 2013 08:48 AM

                                                                                        I have a friend from Florence , Italy and when he visits, he wants a dirty water hot dog and a big soft pretzel, eaten in the street.
                                                                                        He then usually wants to go to Katz's delicatessen!

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: PHREDDY
                                                                                          Ttrockwood Nov 30, 2013 01:39 PM

                                                                                          Hahaha, when my friend came from milan i asked what he wanted to eat and his reply was anything BUT italian!

                                                                                          1. re: Ttrockwood
                                                                                            PHREDDY Dec 1, 2013 04:31 AM


                                                                                            1. re: Ttrockwood
                                                                                              ChiliDude Dec 13, 2013 05:03 AM

                                                                                              That may be due to the fact that what is called Italian food in the US is not necessarily what it is in Italy. When my wife and I toured Rome and the Amalfi Coast in 2010, food in restaurants was excellent, but plates were not overloaded with pasta. Pizza was thin crust in Rome which is the way it was in Chicago in the 1950s before there were corporate pizza shop chains.

                                                                                              1. re: ChiliDude
                                                                                                mrnyc Jan 5, 2014 08:55 PM

                                                                                                you are confusing italian food with old school italian-american food.

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