Gennaro: Italian. 665 Amsterdam @ 92-3rd; 22/16/$39; 665-5348; Amazing food; Dirt cheap for high end quality. Average service, small place, and they take no Rez or credit cards; Food incredible though. Wildly popular; Antipasto appetizer; Pasta entrees great; Tiramisu for dessert. Obviously, go during non-peak hours for no wait; Quality has been slipping as late – go for the pasta. Grilled Calamari. Bottles of wine under $35. www.gennaronyc.com/
Celeste: Italian. 502 Amsterdam @ 84th-85th; 24/12/$35; 874-4559; Wood oven pizzas; Naples inspired cuisine; Large portions – especially antipasti; No Rez/ credit cards; But, mouthwatering food including a secret cheese plate. Artichoke salad is amazing; Real-deal experience and a huge menu as well; You will not be disappointed. Best to go off-peak hours. Get there early. www.celestenewyork.com
*Spiga: Italian. 200 W 84th @ Amsterdam; 23/18/$56; 362-5506; www.spiganyc.com; Romantic setting; Creative, improving food. Rustic décor; Consistent quality of food; Large portions of heartily prepared classics. The effort is clearly seen; Buffalo Mozz; Beef Carpaccio; Pan Seared Scallops; Crab Meat with avocados; Nice selection of pastas; Chatham Cod; Halibut; Seafood stew; Lamb Chops; Veal Fillet.
*Cesca: Italian. 164 W 75th @ Amsterdam; 23/21/$58; 787-6300; https://cescany.com/; Hearty, rustic dishes; Trendy; Southern Italian; Roomy; Very popular; Celebrate here; Large open space; Vibrant bar scene; Classy yet comfy. Have a Monday 1/2 price wine deal; Date and family friendly; Wonderful Artisanal cheese flights; Medium sized menu; Nice bar for a drink. Seafood salad; Panzanella salad; Yellowfin Tuna; Short Ribs; Arctic Char.
A Voce: Italian. 10 Columbus Circle; 24/22/$67; 823-2523; www.avocerestaurant.com; New York Times’ highest 3-star rating; Seasonal Italian masterworks; Huge buzz about the place so reserve well in advance; About 16 entrees and 6 or 7 appetizers – mouthwatering descriptions on the menu; Chef Missy Robbins nails it; Check website as each location has different entrees (also on Mad/26th). Affordable for its quality. Seafood offerings; Hamachi. Great menu.
Marea: Italian. 240 Central Park S @ 7th Av-BWay; 27/26/$111; 582-5100; www.marea-nyc.com; Chef Michael White kills it at Zagat’s formally #1 ranked Italian; Impeccable service and gorgeous décor; Signature dish is Fusilli with octopus and bone marrow; Michelin 2-star rated; About 17 or so sliced raw fish and shellfish to pick from at $17 a pop; Appetizers are epic ($20 or so); Pastas are to die for ($30 or so each); Incredible Risotti; They suggest you go with the $99 four course prix fixe. Brunch, lunch & a bar menu as well.
Masseria Dei Vini: Italian. 887 9th Ave @ 57th-58th; 24/20/$63; 315-2888; www.masseriadeivini.com/; Quaint farmhouse setting and hearty cooking mark this great area option; Perfect pre-theater; Try the Pappardelle Bolognese or Squid ink spaghetti; Homemade pastas; Wood fire oven from Naples; Website gallery is awesome- food will force you to head there right now; Baked or fried calamari; Italian meat & cheese plate; The pizzas – way to go. Large overall menu.
Basso56: Italian. 234 W 56th @ B-Way-8th; 23/18/$55; 265-2610; www.basso56.com; Extensive menu of consistent classics sure to please any patron; Ultra friendly service and ideal pre-theater; The Buffalo Mozz appetizer and Seafood pasta…mmm; Overall, the pasta dishes stand out with their simple creativity that always impresses; Very popular restaurant that almost never disappoints. Try the Grilled Calamari, Grilled shrimp or beef Carpaccio; Huge menu with added specials. Excellent choice!
*Patsy’s: Italian. 236 56th @ BWay-8th; 22/18/$58; 247-3491; www.patsys.com; Old school feel; Restaurant decorated with celebrity memorabilia; Southern Italian classics; Sinatra’s old stomping grounds. At home cooking. I’d suggest getting an at-home type of meal like a red sauce based pasta dish; Or, buy their sauce or cookbook on the way out and enjoy at home; Perfect for out-of towners. Monstrous menu. Pricy for the area and genre.
Il Corso: Italian. 54 W 55th St @ 6th Av; 23/20/$54; 957-1500; www.ilcorsorestaurant.com; High end fine dining; Tables are separated nicely; Creative selections; Classy establishment & a friendly, professional staff. The Risotto and Tiramisu stand out. Slightly older crowd; Just a delicious menu with much to choose from – mostly classic Italian dishes with some unique offerings. Grilled Calamari, Grilled Octopus; Mozz di Buffala; Bronzino; Pan seared Tuna; Lots of great sides.
Remi: Italian. 145 W 53rd @ 6-7th Av; 22/23/$65; 581-4242; www.remi-nyc.com/; Venetian meals prepared flawlessly; Risotto dishes stand out; Lively space great for dates or groups; Tuna-filled ravioli; Murals set the décor. Homemade pastas; Unfortunately, fairly pricy; Great wine list; Imported Buffalo Mozz; Grilled Bronzino; Pastas are $25 (buts tons to choose from) and Entrees $35+. Ossobuco, Sea Bass, Veal Chop.
Patzeria Family & Friends: Italian. 311 W 48th @ 8th-9th Av; 24/17/$37; 245-4343; www.patzeriafamilyfriends.com/; Not a fancy place typical of this site; Warm, welcoming local Italian serving huge portions of truly well prepared Italian classics; Known more than anything for their Pizza; Ideal when you need a super casual meal or are in a rush; Grab a Pizza to share for the table, garlic Bread and a Peroni; Also good is the Rigatoni in Vodka; Spaghetti Bolognaise; Tons of Chicken & Veal dishes; Breakfast served too.
La Masseria: Italian. 235 W 48th @ B-Way-8th Av; 22/19/$56; 582-2111; www.lamasserianyc.com; You will be treated like family; Southern Italian classics; Eggplant & smoked Mozz with homemade pasta is a standout; Warm country house setting; Outstanding menu – go for 3 courses to enjoy it all (appetizer, pasta dish and main course); Wide selection of wines and desserts to top it off.
*Lattanzi: Italian. 361 W 46th @ 8-9th Av; 23/21/$53; 315-0980; www.lattanzinyc.com; Pre-Theater favorite; Wonderful back garden, friendly service, romantic setting; Food not bad either! Perfect before show. Pastas are a stand-out; The food is overpriced overall but a great fallback to Becco on Restaurant Row for a pre-theater Italian; Very strong wine list as well. Old world feel to it.
Becco: Italian. 355 W 46th @ 8-9th; 23/18/$44; 397-7597; www.becco-nyc.com; All u can eat Pasta for $19.95- 3 selections to choose from- tableside service; Other great selections on menu choices (way to go); Nice bar; Massive $29 a bottle wine list; Yet still upscale & perfect pre-theater. Immensely popular and best Italian on restaurant row; Overall- they do a great job, especially if you are in a rush.
Orso: Italian. 322 W 46th @ 8th-9th Av; 24/20/$56; 489-7212; www.orsorestaurant.com; One of the best “restaurant row” restaurants; Wonderful appetizers including Bufala Mozz, Yellow Fin Tuna Tartar, Escargot, Beef Carpaccio and Veal & Ricotta meatballs; 6-7 pizza entrees; Lots of meat and pasta dishes – pasta available in half portions; Great sides; Superior pre-theater choice and quality Tuscan fare. Old world pre-theater star.
*Carmine’s: Italian. 200 44th @ B-Way; 22/17/$48; 221-3800; www.carminesnyc.com; Legendary Italian institution; Family Style featuring Massive portions; Great for a group; Loud and always packed; Incredibly fun if not the best quality wise. Go with Italian classic standards and prepare to have fun; Reserve well in advance; Food features lots of garlic (perfect for me). High energy – polished service. Must go here once in your life.
Tony’s DiNapoli: Italian. 147 W 43rd @ 6th Av – B-Way; 21/18/$50; 221-0100; www.tonysnyc.com; You come here when you have a big group, will probably get loud, and are not in a rush; Family style at its best; Similar to Carmines; Massive portions meant to share; Affordable drinks; Red sauce classics; Menu has everything; Really strong, fun option; Holidays, birthdays etc. But – tourism central. Not great for a date.
*Il Punto: Italian. 507 9th Av @ 38th; 22/18/$47; 244-0088; www.ilpuntoristorante.com; Despite poor location, incredible food; More than made up for by welcoming staff & family owned excellence. Gorgeous inside; Puglian inspired menu. Try the lobster ravioli and other seafood dishes- very fresh; Homemade dishes and many menu selections not typical of an Italian restaurant. Monk fish is awesome.
Da Umberto: Italian. 107 W 17th @ 6th-7th Av; 25/20/$59; 989-0303; www.daumbertonyc.com; Beautiful dining room with a strong Italian feel and well spaced tables; Fantastic Italian-focused wine list, though wines not cheap; The Antipastis are to die for- many to choose from including grilled octopus; Shrimp scampi; chicken breast with bufala mozz & tomatoes; SO many great dishes! Expect A+ level service.
Giovanni Rana: Italian. 75 9th Av @ 15th-16th; 23/23/$46; 370-0975; www.rananyc.com/; Great city location and the interior is so cool – pots and pans hanging from above in spacious, rustic setting; Date central for singles of NYC with endless lounges nearby; Known for epic homemade pastas; Walk through Chelsea Market next door; Seafood salad, Meat & Cheese plate; Squid Ink pasta with Lump Crab; You can create a 3-5 pasta ‘sampler’ for $32 a person. Seared Bronzino; Suckling Pig.
*Del Posto: Italian. 85 10th Av @ 15th-16th; 27/27/$149; 497-8090; www.delposto.com; Mario Batali flagship; Gorgeous, large interior divinely decorated with marble and mahogany; Service is professional and helpful; Massive wine list and sommeliers to aid; NY Times 3-stars; Michelin 1-star; Five course Tasting menu is the way to go & features lots to choose from ($149); The food is just flat out unbelievable. Ideal for special occasion, engagement, or celebration. Gorgeous bar area as well and live piano. Lunch prix-fixe is way to go to save a few bucks. ($49).
Scarpetta: Italian. 355 W 14th @ 8th-9th Av; 26/22/$71; 691-0555; www.scarpettanyc.com; NY Times 3 stars; Possibly the best Spaghetti around- with tomato & basil; Service and setting perfect for a romantic evening out; Very popular; Duck & Foie Gras Ravioli; They feature an amazing bread basket; Open, bright room; Cod, Bass, Bronzino, Venison, Duck Breast. Chef is Scott Conant from Chopt on Food Network. Modern space. Nice bar. D
*Crispo: Italian. 240 W 14th @ 7-8th; 24/20/$46; 229-1818; www.crisporestaurant.com; Hopping spot; Romantic, date friendly; Affordable and top shelf service. Gorgeous all-season back garden patio; Daily pasta specials and polenta stand out. Amazing Spaghetti Carbonara and risotto balls; 150-seat establishment; Extensive wine list; Very large menu – especially appetizers; Incredible appetizers. Affordable drinks!
Gradisca: Italian. 126 W 13th @ 6-7th Av; 24/18/$55; 691-4886; http://gradiscanyc.com/; Wildly popular, known for superb homemade pastas; Fairly romantic setting and charming service; Go earlier as it can get noisy; Standout dishes include Prosciutto di Parma, Buff Mozz, Canneloni with Maine Lobster; There is a 6 course tasting menu for $80; Only major issue is the fairly minimal menu for an Italian. Charming place – date friendly.
Barbuto: Italian. 775 Washington @ Jane-W 12th; 924-9700; 26/19/$55; www.barbutonyc.com; Beautiful setting, especially in summer; Freshly prepared meals with stunning presentation. Season-driven kitchen with unique entrees; Eclectic scene; Signature dish is Pollo al Forno; Top Chef winner Jonathan Waxman; Cool location set in a converted garage – which is opened in the summer. Superb wine list. Limited menu. Website is a treat – amazing pictures of mouthwatering food. Bruschetta, Burrata, Calamari, Zuppa di Pesce.
Malatesta Trattoria: Italian. 649 Washington Av @ Christopher; 24/19/$35; 741-1207; Hugely popular, this classic West Village red-sauce / red wine mecca serves amazingly inventive and tasty meals; Outdoor seating available. Features grilled calamari, spinach gnocchi and a cash only policy; Country house feel inside; Lots of specials; Fairly uncomplicated menu with Italian all-time classics. Casual dining. So affordable. www.yelp.ca/biz/malatesta-trattoria-new-york;
L’Artusi: Italian. 228 W 10th @ Hudson-Bleecker; 26/23/$71; 255-5757; www.lartusi.com/; Date worthy and has an amazing wine list; Fantastic service and run professionally; Fun cocktail list ($15); Affordable pricing; My biggest issue is the limited menu – 10 appetizers/salads and then 18 total main courses including pastas; But, what they have is amazing; Try the Bucatini or Orecchiette. Arctic Char, Bronzino, Roasted Cod. Hanger steak and Quail stand out as well. Seasonal menu.
Piccolo Angolo: Italian. 621 Hudson @ Jane; 25/15/$39; 229-9177; www.piccoloangolo.com; Great food; Neighborhood spot; Tiny and Popular; Fun staff; Red sauce classics featuring giant sized meatballs; Food expertly prepared. Family style servings; Make a Rez and go early to avoid crowded setting; Lobster cannelloni; Garlic bread perfection; Very highly rated – very popular. Very casual – perfect spot for fun time. Calamari Fra Diavolo; Artichokes, Baked Clams. Veal Ossobucco. Wine: $9/glass.
Dell’Anima: Italian. 38 8th Ave @ Jane; 24/19/$52; 366-6633; www.dellanima.com/; Quaint, high end newcomer; Exquisite ingredients used in unique preparations; Bruchetta is excellent; Dinner can be pricy if you order wine. Ever improving quality; Sexy crowd in this date friendly West Villager; Go next door to Andora- their sister bar for a drink while waiting; Weekend brunch. Clean, non-descript setting; Striped Bass- yum. Tiny open kitchen. Incredibly fresh pasta dishes. Bruschette (5 for $18); Charred Octopus;
I Sodi: Italian. 105 Christopher @ Bleecker; 25/17/$62; 414-5774; www.isodinyc.com; The house special is the artichoke lasagna; Smallish place that gets crowded; Maybe the way to go is to eat at the beautiful bar; Foodies love the place; Somewhat of a limited menu but nice for a casual date; Creative wine list; Antipasta is delicious with cheeses and meats galore. Known for homemade fresh pastas. Whole Bronzino.
Rafele: Italian. 29 7th Av S @ Bedford; 26/21/$52; 242-1999; www.rafele.com/; Rave reviews from all sources; Top 1% on Trip Advisor and 4.5 on Yelp; Lunch/ Dinner daily; Pleasant ambiance, wonderful service, pasta to die for; Even great bread and coffee; Chef born & bred in Naples; For an app try the assorted cheese & meat platter, a Margherita Pizza, grilled octopus, Buffalo Mozz or a special; Dinner includes Fish Stew, Grilled Bronzino, NY Strip or a homemade pasta dish. Best of all – the pan seared Veal & Beef meatballs;
Babbo: Italian. 110 Waverly Pl @ MacDougal-6th; 27/23/$83; 777-0303; www.babbonyc.com; Mario Batali’s flagship Restaurant; Wildly popular; Epic food; Flawless service; Carriage house setting; Probably overpriced for quality. Received 3 stars from NY Times; Truly an experience to dine here; Pasta ($95) and traditional ($99) tasting menus available; Oxtail gnocchi; Quite a large menu for a top restaurant. 1 Michelin star. Impeccable service. Always on point. Beef Cheek ravioli; Grilled Octopus; Wine list 2 miles long; Calamari App for lunch; Bufala Mozz. Menu affordable a la carte.
Otto: Pizza. 1 Fifth Av @ 8th St; 22/19/$38; 995-9559; www.ottopizzeria.com; Mario Batali owned; Gourmet Pizzas and great pastas; Dirt cheap for quality; North side of Wash Sq park; Great for parties. Designer pies; Incredible wine list – endlessly long; They also offer superior Gelato; Also a nice bar to have a drink sans pizza if you prefer; Detractors say the quality doesn’t match the prices. Calamari on menu but pastas/pizza way to go.
Villa Mosconi: Italian. 69 MacDougal @ Bleecker; 24/19/$47; 673-0390; www.villamosconi.com; Old school Italian restaurant that’s been there for 30+ years; Amazing service; Friendly, family run; Try the stuffed pork chop; Nice romantic setting; Works of art on the walls; Endless menu and many specials on top of that; Osso Buco with Risotto; Lamb Shank; Homemade Lasagna; Buffalo Mozz. Stellar wine list. Fett Carbonara; Soft Shell Crabs in season; Lobster tail; Scampi.
*Lupa: Italian. 170 Thompson @ Bleecker – Houston; 24/20/$52; 982-5089; www.luparestaurant.com; Extremely good; Affordable pricing for quality; Popular, date central, hot spot; Compared to Babbo; Hospitality top shelf; Tough to get a table- they do take walk-ins if you go early; Perfect rustic Italian fare- Mario Batali influenced. Portions not huge but dishes always filled with flavor. Lamb short ribs delicious.
Carbone: Italian. 181 Thompson @ Bleecker-Houston; 25/22/$90; 254-3000; http://carbonenewyork.com/; 1 Michelin star for this outstanding homage to traditional Italian-American cooking; Huge portions of delicious dishes – more main stream than normal for a ‘foodie’ place; Incredible service – rat pack feel; Try the spick vodka rigatoni; Veal Parm; Cherry Pepper Ribs; Caprese Salad; Grab a side of meatballs; Beware of prices – cocktails $15 and food is pricy- not listed on menu on website but are generally $25-$50 mains; Apps $16-$24.
Via Carota: Italian. 51 Grove @ 7th Av – Bleecker; 26/19/$49; 255-1962; www.viacarota.com/; Rustic setting transporting you to Italy; Excellent cocktails; Excellent date option with endless places to go before or after; Love the menu that features Pappardelle with wild boar ragu; Burratal Chilled Insalata di Mare; Large assortment of delicious vegetable dishes; Risotto; Salt Cod; Grilled Sea Bream; Large wine list.
Palma: Italian. 28 Cornelia @ Bleecker; 22/20/$53; 691-2223; www.palmanyc.com; Known for mouth watering Sicilian specialties; Mediterranean influenced food; Adoring staff, happy to serve you; Garden in summer; Romantic- it’s like dining in Italian countryside; Smallish. Buffalo Mozz; Homemade dumplings & pastas; Sea Bass; Fisherman’s stew. Somewhat of a limited menu. Famous for their Tiramisu. All food super fresh.
Po: Italian. 31 Cornelia @ Bleecker – W 4th; 25/16/$53; 645-2189; www.porestaurant.com; Close to perfect cooking; $60 5-course tasting menu way to go; Extremely small place; Always packed; Famous white bean bruschetta; Extremely romantic; What this place is, is a true West Village experience; Great service, unique menu and excellent cooking; Menu is seasonal so check website. Yellowfin Tuna.
Il Mulino: Italian. 86 W 3rd St @ Sullivan – Thompson; 27/19/$85; 673-3783; www.ilmulino.com/; Epic quality food; Surprisingly large portions, often too big to finish; Impossibly tender osso buco falling off the bone with risotto; Effortless service, quality wine; Every dish is sparkling with quality. Works of art. Worth the $$ splurge. 2-3 free appetizers brought to table to start meal; Order off the daily specials – but beware of cost!
Locanda Verde: Italian. 377 Greenwich @ Moore; Greenwich Hotel; 25/23/$59; 925-3797; www.locandaverdenyc.com; Majorly popular hotspot; Celebrities and sexy cliental; Date central; Beautiful setting; Lamb meatball sliders and Sheep Milk’s Ricotta are standouts; Weekend brunch; Try Chef Andrew Carmellini’s “My Grandmother’s Ravioli” or one of the daily specials; Medium sized menu – check it out. Very unique offerings. Energetic service and has that ‘it’ factor. Huge wine list. Cocktails $16. Blue Crab, Burrata, Arctic Char.
Acappella: Italian. 1 Hudson @ Chambers; 25/22/$68; 240-0163; www.acappella-restaurant.com; First up – gorgeous interior featuring well spaced tables and well lit brick walls on one side with paintings on others- old world feel; Tuxedoed waiters- amazing service; Free grappa after dinner; Not a huge menu (15 entrees) but wow; Veal Chop, Lamb Chop, Bronzino, and pasta dishes… yum; Appetizers are flat out incredible. The Godfather would dine here; Complimentary Grappa at end; Bufala Mozz; Yellowfin Tuna;
Scalini Fedeli: Italian. 165 Duane @ Greenwich-Hudson; 26/24/$83; 528-0400; www.scalinifedeli.com; Haute cuisine! Three course prix fixe for $75 with decent sized portions; Focus on Tuscany region; Excellent wine list and supreme service; Very romantic setting for special occasions; What’s nice is the menu items to choose from is extensive for the genre; Specialty is their freshly made pasta dishes. Dress up for this place. Old Europe feel; Menu is very limited however – 10 total items to pick from for main course.
Giorgione: Italian. 307 Spring @ Greenwich-Hudson; 22/20/$45; 352-2269; www.giorgionenyc.com; Known for amazing Wood oven individual pizzas; Also showcase a mouthwatering array of pasta dishes and salads; Appetizers include Buffalo Mozz and a great Lobster, Crabmeat Calamari and Shrimp salad; Kind service in a hip west Soho location complete the scene. Nice wine list. Bronzino; Yummy Frito Misto.
Il Corallo Trattoria: Italian. 176 Prince @ Sullivan-Thompson; 24/14/$27; 941-7119; Bargain basement cheap; Massive menu; Known for huge choice in brilliantly prepared pastas. Service/ setting is iffy. But food wows you. Also – cheap beyond belief- Appetizers all under $10, pastas $8-$14; Many great pizza entrees as well; By large menu, I mean about 100+ things to choose from. Multiple mouthwatering Mozz appetizer choices; Come here for Apps, Pastas or Dinner-Pizza. Super casual. www.ilcorallotrattoria.com/
Aurora: Italian. 510 Broome @ Thompson-WB-Way; 25/21/$47; 334-9020; www.aurorasoho.com/; Incredibly fresh pasta and ingredients; Beautiful, relaxing décor- farmhouse setting; Top service; Top of the line. Sexy space- though slightly small – but worth it for an amazing menu of standard and creatively new selections. Midrange pricing helps; Serve brunch as well (cocktail included). Just a happy place. Wine bar feel. Brunch includes a cocktail and they serve Crab Benedict.
Pepolino: Italian. 281 W B-Way @ Canal; 25/21/$56; 966-9983; www.pepolino.com; High end Northern Italian; Two levels- better upstairs & quieter; Cool, modern feel with excellent service; Tasty classics of highest caliber. Try the Mussels or the Braised Lamb Shank; Like dining in a townhouse – charming; Brunch and lunch available; Fabulous Antipasto; A dozen to die for pasta selections; Calamari stew. Cod, Wild Boar.
Galli: Italian. 45 Mercer @ Broome-Grand; 24/22/$40; 966-9288; www.gallirestaurant.com/; Absolutely deliciouscomfort classics; Cool exposed brick wall laden space; Affordable especially for the area; Weekday 4-7pm Happy Hour menu with cheapo apps and drinks $5-$7; Menu includes Bufala Mozz; Baked clams; Lots of salads; Grilled Calamari; 14 different pasta dishes including Pescatore with seafood in a garlic olive oil sauce; Chicken Parm is special here; Grilled Veal; Bronzino.
Emporio: Italian/Pizza. 231 Mott @ Prince-Spring; 24/18/$42; 966-1234; www.emporiony.com/; What makes this place is the individual pizzas in a charming setting; Wood fire oven; For an app try the burrata platter; Happy hour features $6 house wine; Whole Bronzino, great pasta dishes, Charred Octopus as well. Meatballs made of Veal and Pork melt in your mouth. Really solid for lunch or a casual dinner.
Il Cortile: Italian. 125 Mulberry @ Canal-Hester; 24/23/$54; 226-6060; www.ilcortile.com/; Innovative Italian; Garden Room- ask to sit there, it is gorgeous; True Italian feel. Sizable portions served by a friendly, experienced waitstaff. Garden room or outdoor seating perfect for a date; Touristy, but locals love it too; They have a cocktail lounge; Any form of seafood served Marinara, Fra Diavolo, Garlic & Oil or Milanese. Massive menu. Around since 1975. Buffalo Mozz;
Pellegrino’s: Italian. 138 Mulberry @ Grand-Hester; 24/18/$43; 226-3177; Delicious fare; Touristy but still a delightful experience; Service is tops. Traditional Little Italy Classic; Possibly the best on this strip; Can sit outside; Treated like royalty. Fun to watch the tourists go by; Red sauce classics; Rigatoni in Vodka sauce. Bufala Mozz; Ideal for lunch or dinner or anytime while sightseeing. Mixed seafood salad; http://pellegrinosristorante.com/
Angelo’s of Mulberry: Italian; 146 Mulberry @ Grand-Hester; 24/18/$46; 966-1277; www.angelosofmulberryst.com/;Been around forever; Pasta and Garlic lovers gravitate here; One of the best in Little Italy. Red sauce classics; Lines out the door for a reason; Stereotypical, but tried and true. Old school all the way; True Italian feel with a staff that is heavily Italian; Huge portions and long wine list; 20 appetizers ($10-$15), 20 pastas, 30+ meat & fish dishes ($20-$30).
Benito One: Italian. 174 Mulberry @ Broome-Grand; 23/20/$42; 226-9171; http://benitoone.com/benito/Welcome.html; Still going strong since 1968’ As old school as it gets; Giant menu of Italian classics; Great family treatment and sauces that will keep you coming back; Lunch and dinner served; Excellent wine list; Try the antipasta platters and treat yourself to some pasta. Seafood salad is amazing as well.
Pasquale Jones. Italian. 187 Mulberry @ Kenmare; 25/19/$62; 917-472-7230; www.pasqualejones.com/; Hot spot that opened in 2016; Homemade pasta dishes and wood oven pizzas; Celebs frequent; Food is really tasty but overhyped? Best to go for lunch/brunch and enjoy the atmosphere for less as dinner menu similar. Known for a clam pizza; From the Charlie Bird team; Mostly walk-ins for dinner but you can leave name and they text you when table ready (ie- go grab a drink down the street).
Peasant: Italian. 194 Elizabeth @ Prince-Spring; 25/24/$58; 965-9511; www.peasantnyc.com; Unique menu and amazing setting; Opera-set open kitchen; Romantic and sleek; Outstanding wine bar downstairs; Rustic & urban chic; Wood burning oven; Their bread is fantastic; Signature dish is suckling pig; Seafood salad, Pizza Margherita w/ Mozz; Spaghetti scampi; Grilled Sea Bass; Lots of specials. Burrata, Clams.
Bar Primi: Italian. 325 Bowery @ 2nd St; 22/22/$52; 220-9100; http://barprimi.com/home; Daily made fresh pasta house; Gorgeous rustic setting – airy and spacious; Two levels – cool scene that’s date friendly; Fair pricing; Lively crowd – not highly romantic; Brunch, Lunch, Dinner; The Bruschetta is famous; Cocktails in $14 range; Bufalo Mozz, 12 different pasta dishes each sounding wonderful; Grilled Bronzino; Cheese platters.
*Il Buco: Italian. 47 Bond St (2nd St) @ Bowery-Lafayette; 26/24/$62; 533-1932; www.ilbuco.com; Unimaginably good Italian; Heavenly creations in a charming, perfect setting; Great date place & great scene; Stylish and cool; See website. Seasonal menu; Dining in a charming living room. Chef Ed Witt. Best wine list (400 labels). They have a romantic wine cellar perfect for a party; Celeb magnet; Really ideal for a special occasion. Dining in a Tuscan home; Seared Calamari, Burrata;
Supper: Italian. 156 2nd St @ Av A-B; 24/19/$42; 477-7600; www.supperrestaurant.com; Inexpensive amazing Italian; Wine bar next door while you wait for a table; Incredible pastas. Simple yet superb; Always packed; Cash only; No Rez; You really feel like you are in Italy – date friendly – cozy atmosphere; Tons of daily specials; Mozzarella to die for; Not a huge menu but specials rule. Some tables are communal. Brunch on weekends.
Risotteria Melotti: Italian. 309 E 5th St @ 1st – 2nd Av; 26/20/$38; 646-755-8939; www.risotteriamelottinyc.com/; Heavenly risotto is the stand out here; Authentic cooking and risotto imported from Italy; Cute, romantic spot; Lunch and dinner; About 12 Risottos to pick from $17-$20 basically; Risotto pescatore with shrimp, calamari and scallops; Smoked salmon carpaccio; Wild Boar Stew; Pan seared salmon; NY Strip steak; Salads available; If you come here – I’d share a Risotto and get a few appetizers.
Lavagna: Italian. 545 E 5th @ Av A-B; 24/19/$44; 979-1005; www.lavagnanyc.com; Intimate Italian; Wine List is outstanding; Value priced top notch food; Ideal date spot; Wonderfully prepared food. Diamond in the ruff. Wine list filled with top choices, well priced; $32 prix fixe from 6-7pm daily; Menu is full of creative dishes, but is somewhat limited in scope. Monkfish, Cod, Pappardelle. Probably a great lunch choice.
Il Cantinori: Italian. 32 E 10th St @ BWay-5th; 24/20/$55; 673-6044; http://www.ilcantinori.com/ Been around for over 3 decades; Gorgeous, welcoming interior with lots of flowers; Like dining in an indoor garden; Professional service; Menu features Panzella salad, Frito Misto, homemade pasta dishes, and Shrimp Scampi. They use the freshest ingredients and strive to make your stay memorable. Lovely desserts.
Gnocco Café: Italian. 337 E 10th @ Av A-B; 23/17/$45; 677-1913; www.gnocco.com; Fried Dough appetizer; Garden; Date spot- perfect in nice weather; Heavenly food. Quality pastas- especially gnocchi; Relaxed atmosphere with modest tabs for the quality. Can get crowded and cramp if not in the garden; Medium sized menu with scrumptious choices- most featuring mozzarella; Desserts are outstanding. Try the pizzas;
Da Andrea: Italian. 35 W 13th @ 5-6th Av; 24/17/$39; 367-1979; www.daandreanyc.com; So good it’s scary; Homestyle, affordable cuisine; Treated like family; Mouth watering menu. Homemade freshly made pastas; Giant menu with all the classics and more; Very affordable; House wine is outstanding; Non-pretentious, date friendly and always reliable; Pretty much a no-brainer. Grilled Squid; Caprese; Zuppa di pesce; Lamb Shank.
Basta Pasta: Italian. 37 W 17th @ 5th Ave; 23/16/$43; 366-0888; http://www.bastapastanyc.com/; Japanese-Italian fusion; Sushi dishes, amazing pasta dishes and main courses infused with both styles; Open kitchen; Adventurous, Excellent pastas; Boring-ish (yet sleek) décor isn’t noticed when one is dining on pasta perfection. Signature dish is: Spaghetti with Parm & Prosciutto served in a half wheel of melted Parm cheese. Yum!
Bocca: Italian. 39 E 19th @ B-Way-Park; 23/20/$49; 387-1200; www.boccanyc.com; Same ownership as Cacio e Pepe; Fun, enjoyable vibe; Features a pasta served in a pecorino cheese wheel – a must; Comfortable booths available; Dirt cheap weekday lunch specials; Very friendly service; Artisanal cheeses available; Truly excellent pasta dishes and appetizers while limited fish and meat-entrée selections. Mozz & Tomatoes; Fresh Cod.
La Pizza Fresca Ristorante: Italian. 31 E 20th @ B-Way-Park; 22/18/$42; 598-0141; www.lapizzafrescaristorante.com; Casual, excellent Neapolitan pizzas; Endless varieties to choose from; Pizza is made in the tradition of Naples; Wonderful imported bufala Mozz used in pizzas and for an appetizer; Have many amazing pasta dishes available in full and half portions. $7/ beer; Nice wine list; Naples has found its way to Union Square. Grilled Calamari app; Bufala Mozz; Veal Meatballs; Bronzino; Yellowfin Tuna;
Maialino: Italian. 2 Lexington Av @ 21st St; Gramercy Park Hotel; 26/23/$73; 777-2410; www.maialinonyc.com; Another Danny Meyer restaurant production; Signature roast pig dinner; Excellent breads and olive oils; Features an extensive menu with something for everyone; Huge wine list – many reasonably priced; Great scene as well; Weekend brunch; Spaghetti Carbonara & Sea Bass stand out; Cheese plates. Gorgeous interior. Tips included in prices; Happy hour at bar 5-7pm; $95 dinner tasting menu available.
Via Emilia: Italian. 47 E 21st St @ Park Av; 23/16/$41; 505-3072; www.viaemilia.us; Known for outstanding food; Try the candy-shaped pasta or the Ravioli con Caprino (spinach, tomatoes); Bruschetta appetizer; Old school cooking and affordable; Gnocco Fritto is the signature appetizer; Giant menu focusing on homemade pasta dishes; Lamb Shank, Pork Chops – light on seafood. Cash only. Huge list of appetizers; Best for lunch.
Novita: Italian. 102 E 22nd @ Lex-Park; 25/19/$55; 677-2222; www.novitanyc.com; Elegant, always improving fare; Standard and inventive fare; Great anniversary date spot. Tight-ish space (60 seats); Fresh Mozz; Bruchetta; Kobe beef carpaccio; Grilled shrimp with crabmeat; tuna rolls; About a dozen ultra fresh pasta dishes – all yummy such as Rigatoni with seared Yellowfin Tuna & Black spaghetti with seafood fra diavolo; Calamari salad;
Manzo: Italian. 200 5th Av @ 24th; 25/18/$68; 229-2180; www.eataly.com/us_en/stores/new-york/nyc-manzo/; Located in Mario Batali’s Eataly – away from the madness; Features excellent pastas and a huge wine list; Try the duck, duck goose; Ribeye for two; Agnoltti (like Gnocchi) stuffed with Oxtail; Cavatelli with Lamb shoulder; The amazing fresh Mozz; Striped bass. Menu changes so check out online. Limited selection.
A Voce: Italian. 41 Madison Av @ 26th; 24/22/$68; 545-8555; www.avocerestaurant.com; New York Times’ highest 3-star rating; Seasonal Italian masterworks; Huge buzz about the place so reserve well in advance; About 16 entrees and 6 or 7 appetizers – mouthwatering descriptions on the menu; Chef Missy Robbins nails it; Check website as each location has different entrees (also Columbus Circle). Affordable for its quality. Seafood offerings; Hamachi. Great menu.
I Trulli: Italian. 122 E 27th @ Lex-Park; 22/20/$53; 481-7372; www.itrulli.com; Gorgeous place; Inside fireplace; Outdoor seating in a lush garden; Sleek and inviting. Brilliant wine list; Close to an institution; Homemade pasta with Rabbit Ragu- yum; Brunch, lunch and dinner served; I prefer it as a lunch option in the summer; All the pastas are homemade & incredible. Pricing is fair; Superb wine list – place can be seen as a wine bar.
Villa Berulia: Italian. 107 E 34th @ Lex-Park; 23/19/$49; 689-1970; www.villaberulia.com; Mature crowd; Extremely friendly and attentive service; Incredible cooking; Great for a family meal or a romantic date. Quiet & more mature. Always have ‘game’ on the menu- boar, ostrich or venison; Grilled Calamari; Tomatoes & Mozz; Pasta dishes as appetizers if you like; Dalmatian coast cooking; Croatian influences; Family owned. Elegant. Seafood stew; Monkfish.
Ai Fiori: Italian/French. 400 5th Av @ 36-37th; 27/26/$78; 613-8660; www.aifiorinyc.com/; Located on 2nd floor of Langham Place Hotel; 300 wines; Absolutely gorgeous setting – not cramp; Amazing cocktails; Breakfast, lunch and dinner; You must get the Nova Scotia Lobster terrine appetizer; Heavy French influence; Main courses are $37-$43; Limited selection & food is somewhat seasonal; Michelin 1 star; Have 4 course prix fixe for $97. Great bar area. Date-central.
Rossini’s: Italian. 108 E 38th @ Lex-Park; 22/21/$58; 683-0135; www.rossinisrestaurant.com; Starting off, you’ll receive top shelf treatment and service; Romantic and more of a mature setting; Some live piano playing on weekends; Been around since 1978; Extensive wine list; Vintage Tuscan feel; Very large menu of meat, fish and pasta entrees; Dover Sole, Sea Scallops, amazing veal dishes. Smallish portions. Typical red sauce menu.
*Osteria Laguna: Italian. 209 E 42nd @ 2-3rd; 23/19/$46; 557-0001; http://www.osterialagunanyc.com/; Very popular UN-area neighborhood mainstay. Solid fare, attentive service and seating outdoors. Venetian fare; Packed at lunch. Grilled Calamari, Mozz Caprese, Seared Tuna Carpaccio, 12 home-made pasta dishes to choose from; Seafood Risotto; Mixed Grilled seafood; Bronzino; Lamb shank. Burrata; Grilled Octopus.
Grifone: Italian. 244 E 46th; @ 2nd-3rd Av; 24/18/$64; 490-7275; www.yelp.com/biz/ristorante-grifone-new-york; Real old school Italian with wonderful personal service; Italian food from Italians… made right; Try the Rigatoni with Veal Ragu – or any of the homemade pastas with ‘meat’ ragu – so delicious; Lots of specials; Ideal for lunch to save a few bucks as it’s pricy; Grilled Octopus; As of last update – no website.
Il Postino: Italian. 337 E 49th @ 1st-2nd Av; 23/20/$61; 688-0033; http://ilpostinony.com/; Forget the menu and enjoy hearing the endless specials from the waiters; U.N. / older crowd; Ideal restaurant to take your parents or for a special occasion; Order the crabmeat linguini pasta if they have it that night; Authentic Italian cuisine served by Italians- great feeling coming here. Lunch prix fixe for $29; Apps include Burrata, prosciutto, calamari, tuna tartare and baked clams.
Casa Lever: Italian. 390 Park Av @ 53rd; 22/25/$79; 888-2700; www.casalever.com; First up, ultra modern décor featuring Andy Warhol paintings along the walls; Power lunch central; Chic and cool vibe; Medium sized menu but honestly – way expensive; There is a $39 Prix Fixe lunch menu; Huge, excellent wine list. Certainly a high-end scene featuring expertly prepared Milanese cuisine. Great lounge area. Raw Bar; Have a discount $39 prix fixe but only 3-4 choices.
Il Gattopardo: Italian. 33 W 54th @ 5th-6th Av; 24/21/$57; 246-0412; www.ilgattopardonyc.com; MOMA crowd settles in for expensive, yet wonderfully prepared meals; Southern Italian; How about: Smoked Mozz with Tomatoes followed by Linguini with baby clams and then the braised Ossobuco; Medium sized menu; The staff stands out as they are seemingly there to make you happy; Townhouse setting. Seasonal Menu – see website;
Il Tinello: Italian. 16 W 56th @ 5th Av; 25/22/$65; 245-4388; www.iltinellony.com/; Old school, luxurious setting; Waiters with black ties cater to you; Maybe an older crowd – less hip – but it features spot-on food preparation; Major hot spot for a business lunch; Huge menu – all the normal classics featured along with a few specials; Main courses are $25-$35 and apps in the $17 range. Rave reviews on most sites. Small portions.
Felidia: Italian. 243 58th @ 2nd-3rd Av; 26/22/$90; 758-1479; www.felidia-nyc.com/#; Lidia Bastianich’s NY Times 3-star rated flagship; Stunning meals and impeccable service; Pricy but worth the splurge; Limited menu but quality and presentation in each dish; Bright, happy vibe to the place; Superb wine list; 5 course tasting menu ($90) is affordable and there is a 6 course tasting menu for $95; $36 3 course lunch prix fixe; Elegant, clean setting; Whole Bronzino; Smoked Salmon;
Morso: Italian. 420 E 59th St @ 1st Av-York; 25/23/$60; 759-2706; www.morso-nyc.com/; Chef/owner Pino Luongo cares about his cliental; Contemporary Italian with Pop Art on the walls; Service all around excellent – especially for regulars; Baked Calamari; Grilled Octopus; Home-made pastas – Spaghetti Carbonara; Pasta – can order small or large portion; Osso Buco; Grilled Veal cutlet;
*Lusardi’s: Italian. 1494 2nd Av @ 77th-78th; 24/19/$63; 249-2020; www.lusardis.com; Neighborhood Italian restaurant that provides a romantic and well serviced experience; Bit on the pricy side but some of the dishes are amazing; Northern Italian, older crowd; Grilled Calamari, Grilled Artichokes, Buffalo Mozz, Crabmeat cocktail all excellent appetizers; 10+ pasta dishes; Whole Med sea bass, Rabbit, creative dishes. Tuscan classics. More old school of a scene; Bronzino.
Uva: Italian. 1486 2nd Av @ 77-78th; 23/24/$46; 472-4552; www.uvanyc.com; Young, hip, great date spot; Just love the homey décor – so comfortable; Affordable entrees; Great back garden for dining in warm weather; Great specials. Terrific wine bar as well- with many reasonably priced selections. Ideal date or anniversary spot; Weekend brunch (1 cocktail included); Prosciutto & Buffalo Mozz; Huge number of cheeses to enjoy with Wine; Grilled Calamari; Giant menu; Wine flights available; Hundreds of wines in house.
Maruzzella: Italian. 1483 1st Av @ 77-8th; 23/17/$46; 988-8877; www.maruzzellanyc.com; Recent expansion improves an already good thing; Reliable & mouthwatering Italian selections with top service. Staff works hard to impress; They have a massive menu including all time favorites such as grilled calamari, Mozz di Bufala and Farfalle al Prosciutto di Parma; Everything under $23; Half portions available; Perfect for a family meal; Nothing fancy – but always reliable.
Firenze: Italian. 1594 2nd Av @ 82-3rd; 21/20/$54; 861-9368; Wonderful cuisine; Small place but infinitely romantic with a well decorated brick wall interior; Back garden in spring; Homey feel with great ambiance; Relaxing, date-friendly dinner; Bruschetta is memorable; Mozz so fresh; Huge menu with endless pasta, seafood and chicken/ veal options; Giant Wine list. Solid ‘hood option. Chilean Bass, Bronzino. They claim the largest wine list in upper east side. www.firenzeny.com/
*Erminia: Italian. 250 E 83rd @ 2-3rd; 25/24/$65; 879-4284; www.erminiaristorante.com/ Extremely Romantic spot; Family owned; For couples and anniversaries; Great service in a memorable setting, though slightly small in size; Ultimate date restaurant; Specialize in Seafood dishes; Homemade Mozz is excellent; Seafood soup; Genius pasta dishes; Lobster Scampi Fra Diavolo is excellent. Grilled Calamari as well. Closed Sunday.
Giovanni Venti Cinque: Italian. 25 E 83rd @ 5th – Madison; 25/20/$68; 988-7300; www.giovanniventicinque.com; Located right near the MET; Menu filled with classics, expensively priced in general; Absolutely wonderful, gracious service; Whole wheat pasta available (not for me!); Great wine list $40-$60 a bottle on average. Tuna tartare; Grilled Octopus; Grilled Calamari; Burrata; Mozz di Bufala; Grilled sushi grade tuna; Veal Chop; Home made pasta dishes.