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Jan 10, 2014 10:58 AM

Morningside Hts - recommendable for dinner?

We go to Morningside Heights 4 or 5 times a year - usually are in a rush and will grab a felafel (recently Jerusalem, yes!) or similar - but sometimes we want to have a sit down dinner with friends. Can anyone recommend something chow-worthy in this area?


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  1. i would avoid the area...personally, i avoid the whole UWS for dinners, but Morningside Hghts is especially bad...

    i was up there recently for a museum event and hoped things had changed -- but struggled to find anywhere decent...

    1. Where do you need to be? Near to Columbia I usually recommend Pisticci for casual and good. But if you're willing to look a little east, Frederick Douglass Blvd has seen somewhat of a renaissance lately between about 111th and up to 125th. Zoma has wonderful Ethiopian and there are a bunch if newer places along that stretch that I haven't tried yet. If you do go to any if those, please report back.

      1 Reply
      1. re: LNG212

        A strong second for Pisticci. I went there for a business dinner and found it to be surprisingly good. Pleasant atmosphere too.

      2. I like Pisticci but I like Bettolona too. Their menu is deceptive because it focuses on pizza for the Columbia crowd but the one time I was there the native Italian owners served rather lovingly prepared appetizers, pastas and sides. (Secondi were prone to being overcooked.) It's basically a neighborhood place with very informal almost trattoria-like charm and lower expectations in line with the low prices. (Go with Pisticci if you need respectability!) Bettolona has live music some nights, even during weeknights, so if you are going with friends you need to double check it's not on the schedule for the night you plan to be there, because it obliterates conversation.

        But all that side, from some locations in Morningside Heights it is easier to go in another direction or take a train someplace else depending on what subway line you need after dinner.

        8 Replies
        1. re: barberinibee

          thanks to both for the suggestions, we are meeting a friend who lives in the neighborhood and going to a play ditto so we need to be in or near the heights Frederick Douglass Blvd is not practical. . Had heard about Pisticci but not Bettolona, will look into it.

          Any feedback on the places of Amsterdam S from 110th?

          1. re: jen kalb

            Awash (Ethiopian) on Amsterdam and 106.
            Thai Market on Amsterdam between 107 and 108.
            Bistro Ten18 at Amsterdam and 110.

            1. re: jen kalb

              I was ho-hum about my meal at Awash (and I quite like Ethiopian food) and when friends took me one time to BistroTen18 the meal was disastrous (and the menu almost completely unappealing), but that was actually some years ago. I am sweet on Symposium for a couple of reasons (including several of their dishes) but if your friend lives in the neighborhood and isn't suggesting it, then he may have his reasons. (Besides, it is north of Cathedral pkwy).

              1. re: barberinibee

                weve gone to Symposium for decades (about twice a decade!) for this type of meal, its always an option but Im hoping to find something else. Our theater is in the Notre Dame church on Morningside Drive, so we have a lot of flexibility. In recent years weve struck out at that Beer Hall on Amst (Haakon)- no food at all and an intolerable for us noise level and V&T - thouroughtly mediocre both for pizza (one try) and typical italian dishes (the other)Dont know why we even tried, frankly - it was never any good.

                ps thanks for all the responses - there was very little info here.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  ps wondering whether any chowhounds have tried Freda's Caribbean and Soul Cuisine at Cols and 109? Maybe not for this visit, but it looks tempting!

                  Or this french-caribbean place

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    A Cafe was fine when I was last there, but it has been a long time and it looks quite a bit more expensive than I remember, although it is BYOB. I believe it was opened by the folks from Ivo and Lulu that was down on Broome St. so if you were ever in there it is pretty similar foodwise. I liked the pate, the avocado and the duck confit as I recall, the menu looks to be pretty much the same as when I was there. We had pretty good ramen on Amsterdam and 106 the other night at Yasha which is pretty new, it is probably of a "good for the neighborhood" place rather than a destination spot (not as good as Jin further uptown). Most of the spots around there that I frequent are of the hole in the wall nature like Jerusalem, Saiguette for Banh Mi, the Indian delis on Columbus and 106-7th. Legend Szechuan is on 109 and Broadway, have not been as impressed as I was at the Chelsea location but some things have been quite good. Of the myriad Thai spots around I have found a few things at Thai Market that I like.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      Just came across the information this afternoon that the Sicilian owners of Bettolona have only recently re-opened a place they formerly ran on upper Columbus called Isola. Same concept as Bettolona -- strictly neighborhood vibe, unpretentious pasta, plenty of brick-oven pizza, drinkable house wine, friendly prices -- maybe with a little more decor. Obviously can't give a personal recommendation and don't know if there are reviews anywhere. Thought you'd like to know.

                      1. re: barberinibee

                        thanks a million to bB and all. We wound up at Bistro Ten 18 and had a very nice dinner, all the cooking was well done, service was good -maybe a little too prompt in the change of courses - and the wine a solid cabernet franc a 2011 Domaine Guion Bourgeuill a little pricy at $42. They offer a 3 course prix fixe at $30 advertised on their website and it was good value.(we did however have to ask the waiter for this separate menu) By appetizer of country ham and crispy poached egg on seasonal greens and salmon with crispy skin, braised fennel served on a large winter squash filled ravioli,my sweet was a large serving of rasberry sorbet. One of our companions had an excellent creamy cheesecake with delicious flaky pastry. It was on that in 6 1st and second course choices there were two beet and two winter squash dishes - seasonal but a little eccentric.

                        We agreed we would go back but we had a little sticker shock $150 + tip for the three of us.for prix fixe, wine and coffee

                        By the way, the Antigone at the Storm Theater was very interesting

            2. I know it's too late for this time, but for future reference...

              Jin Ramen is wonderful.

              Legend, a chowhound favorite in Chelsea, has a location at 108 or so and Broadway. My sense from posts here is that it may not be as good as the original; I've only gotten take out from there once, and can't really comment.

              If you want to go to Harlem, Zoma is great. I wouldn't recommend the other places along Frederick Douglass in the one teens, as they are generally more expensive and more style than substance than they should be.