Roberto Restaurant, 603 Crescent Ave, Bronx NY, 718-733-2724, owner Roberto Paciullo
Roberto’s is just off Arthur Avenue in the Bronx and may still be the best Italian in all of NYC. No reservation ever, so plan to wait or time it around the less busy times of the day, but well worth the trip and the wait. His Zagat rating is usually 27 and his food is just great. Southern Italian with all the red sauces and cheese you would expect.
Zero Otto Nove, 15 W. 21st, 212-242-0899
The newest version of Roberto Paciullo’s growing empire, for those that don’t want to venture out of Manhatten, try this wonderful new pizza and pasta place from Roberto. They wood oven cooks fabulous pizza;s and try the desert special, yes desert pizza with warm Nutella and powered sugar on to of his piping hot pizza crust, outstanding!
Gradisca, 126 W. 13th, 212-691-4886
This is a little neighborhood place with marvelous food in an unpretentious setting. The owner will often be sitting by the front door making ravioli’s or gnocchi’s while you walk in and get a table. Everything is fresh, solid and a wide offering of fish, meat and pasta’s. Not much on the scene, but a very solid meal.
Campagnola, 1382 First @ 74th, 212-861-1102, Salvatore Lombardi
The opposite of Gradisca, this is the scene on the upper east side and you will see celebrity’s, power brokers and politicians galore, but still have a great meal. They have everything but don’t worry, they will make about anything you want as long as its in the kitchen. Its the typical NY high end italian restaurant, large table of antipastis’s to start from and then huge menu of everything at prices double you would pay anyplace but NYC, but all top shelf food with a scene.
Grano Trattoria, 21 Greenwich @ 10th, 212-645–2121
Turned on to me by a freind who married a man from Naples, he says this is the most authentic Napolitan restaurant in NYC. Its small and cozy with very fair prices and very solid food. The menu is not as large as most, but fish and pasta’s aplenty and a wine list of reasonably prices wines from Italy. Its really good food and worth a try.
dell’anima, 38 8th Ave, 212 366 6633
We think this is one of our favorites and day in and day out just terrific food. The place is small but very pretty and at night it buzz’s with action. You can sit at the counter in the back and watch the chef’s cook your food, its fun. The chicken, which you will see is my favorite food, might just be the best in the city. Its absolutely delicious as are the fishes cooked with great seasoning and as fresh as you will get. We also go there for brunch on Sundays a lot and its a great brunch with just about everything you want on the small but complete menu.
Crispo, 240 W. 14th (b/w 7th & 8th), 212-229-1818
This is your averaging down restaurant with solid food. Its large and loud, but the food is very good and the prices are a whole lot better than most of what you find in NYC. Portions are very generous and the food always works well. I don’t want you to think its not really good, it is, but its not quite the elite level but neither is the price. So, if you taking the kids or a larger group, a very good choice.
Maialino, 2 Lexington Ave, 212-777-2410, Camilla, GM
Part of the Danny Meyer empire, this is a fancy and expensive place but really great scene, gorgeous room and naturally excellent food. They also have a really great brunch, one of the best in the city and the kids will love it with mountains of baked goods sitting on top of the bar. Can’t say it is my favorite place to go, but you may enjoy the experience.
Ciano, 45 E. 22nd, 212-982-8422, John Slover, Wine Director
John came over from Cru, generally was considered the best wine program in the city, so he knows his wines and they have a fabulous selection at all price points. The food is a bit too eclectic for me, I prefer the basic’s, but it was all very good, just don’t go there to get veal parm!
Del Posto, 85 Tenth @ 16th, 212-497-8090, Piero Trotta, Maitre d’
Mario and Joe’s highest end restaurant, its white table cloth and tuxedo clad waiters everywhere. The service might be as good as you can get anyplace, they will be ready to deliver a great experience. The food is highre end and higher priced than what most people would want or expect from italian, but I can say I have never been disappointed and if your looking to celebrate an occasion, this place will deliver the goods!
Scalinatella, 201 E 61st, 212-207-8280
A little tough to find, its downstairs and very small, but one of the best and most pricey places in NYC. Another with the large table of antipasti’s in the middle and a menu bigger than a Harry Potter book, but they too will make anything you want and everything will be great. They make amazing fish and their wine list is top shelf. This one, while not cheap, will never disappoint.
Torrisi Italian Specialites, 250 Mulberry St, 212-965-0955, Jeff Zalaznick, Partner
These guys are creating something special and different. Getting in is tough, you have to show up about 4;30 to get in line and get the reservation that day. The menu is basically a prix fix meal with two main course options, but its only $65/person for everything. They cook fabulous food, give you several courses and you will enjoy everything you eat. The wines are cheap, outstanding, but honestly cheap. This place is worth the trip to that neighborhood and we still need to try their newest place, Parm, located directly next door that serves some of the best sandwiches in NY.
Valbella, 421 W 13th St, (212) 645-7777
This is the NY outpost of a Greenwich CT fixture and they deliver a perfect experience. The place is beautiful, the people are outstanding at their job and the food is always delicious. This place is not bashful about what they charge, but it really is a very good Italian restaurant. Meat is particularly good here and a lot of things are prepared just for you. We have had many business dinners and I have not had a disappointed guess yet. One of the better Meat Packing neighborhood restaurants.
Macelleria, 48 Gansevoort Street, (212) 741-2555
Another of the Meat Packing joints that are packed all the time, this is my daughters favorite place in the area. Always good food, great fish dishes, fabulous bread and a very solid meal at prices below some of the top end places. Very much worth the visit.
Barbuto, 775 Washington Street, (212) 924-9700, Jonathan Waxman, Owner/Chef
He really is one of the icon’s of cooking in NYC, most of the best chefs worked for him at one time. The food is very different and if you are adventurous, this is the place for you. Don’t bring the kids unless they are willing to try things they haven’t eaten before, but if your a true foodie and love italian cooking, this really is the place to go. Chef’s flock there and he also has a wonderful and fairly priced wine list.
il Mulino, 86 West 3rd Street, (212) 673-3783
Nearly impossible to get in to, but if you do, pack a gigantic appetite and if you want my advice, go early so you wan walk off the meal by walking home. My friend calls it “the emperor wears clothes” as its very much that kind of place. They will bring you tons of free things to eat before your have dinner, so you won’t need any appetizers, trust me. The main courses are huge, really huge but always delicious. You need to like this kind of dining, but if your ready for it, this place is still great in NY.
Babbo, 110 Waverly Pl, (212) 777-0303
This is still, in my opinion, the defining Mario Batalli restaurant. Nothing normal here, as adventurous as Waxman and as contemporary as Torrisi, this place never fails to deliver a smashing meal with flavors that stay with you for a while. Mario just knows how to give you something you haven’t had before and still love it. If you can get in, this is quintessential Batalli and NYC.
Il Buco, 47 Bond St, 212-533-1932
Truly one of the most charming Italian restaurants in the city, the food is truly outstanding, a bit eclectic and adventurous, but really a great restaurant. The wine list is fair and solid and if you want to host a small party, they have a fabulous wine room downstairs that is great for a dinner event. This one is worth going to.
Eataly, 200 Fifth Ave @ 23rd, 212-398-5100
This is the world of Italian food brought to NYC by Mario Batali and partners. Its one amazing place with 6 or 7 different restaurants offering everything from desert to pizza to fish and meats from some of the farest reaches of Italy. You can buy food to take home, the rotisserie chicken is amazing, cheeses like you have never seen, cuts of pasta from every region of this magnificent country and the focciacia is the best thing in the entire place. Pat LaFreida has a meat stand and offer’s the finest cut of meat known to mankind. So, if you want an experience, try this 50,000 square foot celebration of italian food located at Madison Park.
i Trulli, 122 E. 27th, 212-481-7372
This is a wonderful east side place that offers a great fresh fish cooked whole in a lot of herbs and spices that just melts off the bone. A really good place to eat with a group or just a couple of people. They have a wonderful wine bar across the street and the wine list is outstanding and fairly priced. Won’t be the WOW meal some people always want, but you won’t be disappointed either.