Italian & Sushi Please.
July 17, 2010 8:09 PM   Subscribe

New York City: I'm visiting NYC and am in need of some food recommendations...

I'm going to Little Italy, and was hoping to get some ideas for delicious Italian restaurants. Somewhere that is fresh with homemade pasta and hopefully not too expensive. Preferably under $25 an entree.

I'm also going to Manhattan to wander around, and want to have some sushi. I'm sure the places in Manhattan are expensive, so if you have suggestions for surrounding areas please tell me!
posted by SarahElizaP to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
they don't necessarily have tons of sushi per se (more of a sake bar that serves little dishes and some sashimi), but the atmosphere at decibel is amazing. you definitely feel like you've stumbled into a secret little world nobody knows about. it's tiny, dark, underground, and covered in graffiti. may not be your bag. i'd take an out of town date there if i wanted to impress her, let's put it that way.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:23 PM on July 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Stay out of Little Italy's restaurants.

Walk through it but ignore all restaurants, especially those who post guys outside on the sidewalk who try to lure you in. It's a essentially a tourist trap now.

There are so many Italian restaurants elsewhere in Manhattan that are far superior than those in Little Italy (never mind that the "real" Little Italy is in the Bronx nowadays).

Right now my favorite Italian restaurants with fresh pasta are Scarpetta ($24 for their exquisite spaghetti pomodoro) and Maialino. You can dine in the bar area for Scarpetta, have their great bread basket, spaghetti for dinner, and stay in your budget as the portion size is generous.

If you must dine near Little Italy, go over to Nolita after your walk through Little Italy and have dinner at Peasant. I've also heard good things about Bianca. Afterwards, go get gelato at Otto near Washington Square Park or L'Arte de Gelato in the West Village.

For sushi, it depends on how much you are willing to pay and if you're looking for sushi nigiri or maki (rolls). I can't really help if you like rolls, but I think Yasuda has a $24 prix fixe lunch (though prices may have gone up) that includes a handful of nigiri pieces. Otherwise, for dinner, I'd get one of the nigiri sets at Ushiwakamaru (closed Sundays, they have several nigiri sets) or Kanoyama (Omakase Sushi set for $34) or Nori (Sushi Omakase appetizer set for $30, stay away from the busy and over-sauced maki), all downtown.
posted by kathryn at 8:31 PM on July 17, 2010 [6 favorites]

Agreed, don't count on Little Italy.

What's really amazing are the pastas at Locanda Verde in Tribeca... not just the pastas but everything else, including the desserts. And not super expensive. I'd reserve now.
posted by shivohum at 9:09 PM on July 17, 2010

In terms of sushi, if all you're looking for is a basic place that won't break the bank or give you food poisoning, there's a little place in midtown called Ocha on 46th St between 8th and 9th Ave. I wouldn't recommend the place to someone looking for a super authentic Japanese experience (like Decibel is), but it's good for a sushi fix and definitely one of the most inexpensive sushi places I've seen where the quality doesn't suffer. They have really tasty shrimp tempura rolls too. I've worked in the neighborhood for a few years, and it's the sushi place of choice for anyone at work that wants sushi, and the service is friendly.
posted by wondermouse at 9:26 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

For Italian, go to Supper and get the panzanella with the drunken tuna and/or spinach gnocchi. Yum.
posted by unknowncommand at 9:50 PM on July 17, 2010

Lil Frankies which apparently is related to Supper is really really good Italian for not too much money in the East Villiage. If you must go to Little Italy, Angelos on Mulberry is the best I've had. They're one of the few places that don't have the dudes outside begging you to come in and eat, because their food is so good they don't need to. Sushiwise, Aki in the West Village was really good, but I'm new to the city so I haven't fully explored the sushi scene yet.
posted by theDrizzle at 10:06 PM on July 17, 2010

Kathryn has it right, except that the 'real' Little Italy in the Bronx has been Albanian for the past decade. The last remaining echt Italian Little Italy is in Brooklyn.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:25 PM on July 17, 2010

It's not in Manhattan, but it's really close, and it's absolutely worth the trip - my favorite Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, Noodle Pudding.

It's affordable (they have a $14 bottle of wine on the menu!), the food is tremendous, and the area is beautiful - it's right near the Brooklyn Heights promenade, and a quick walk to the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. In fact, if you're adventurous, you can walk over the Bridge from Manhattan & go there (rather than Grimaldi's, where all the tourists go to wait hours on line for pizza that's nowhere near the best in NYC).

Worth the trip, seriously.
posted by swngnmonk at 10:26 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's true the best Italian food is no longer in Little Italy. It's also true that Little Italy (known as little Chitaly now) is just a handful of restaurants. However, I still think it's fun to go and eat there. It's a great area, and I would check it out anyway. I have heard good things about Nolita, too. Aslo, you'll get fresh pasta and fantastic prices just about anywhere there!
posted by xammerboy at 11:05 PM on July 17, 2010

You should go to Basta Pasta - Japanese/Italian fusion restaurant on 17th between 5th & 6th Ave. If you're going with a group, you'll need a reservation, but if it's just one or two people there's generally room at the bar.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:58 AM on July 18, 2010

Best answer: Go to Frank or Max. Both awesome, not terribly far from Little Italy (both in the East Village), and will give you a real (vs. tourist) NYC restaurant experience.
posted by The Michael The at 4:58 AM on July 18, 2010

i LOVED this dessert bar:

they even have a rotating "cereal flavor" of ice cream each day. cornflake flavored soft serve -- WAY more delicious than it sounds. have fun!!
posted by crawfo at 6:04 AM on July 18, 2010

OH I'M SORRY -- commented pre-coffee, not relevant answer above. yeesh.
posted by crawfo at 6:06 AM on July 18, 2010

For sushi (and non-sushi Japanese), Izakaya Ten in Chelsea is inviting and delicious -- a good place to replenish after gallery visits. The raw octopus with wasabi starter is refreshing and fun to eat. The homemade shumai is really tasty and the Yaki Shio Saba (whole mackerel) is amazing. Great sake selection and the colorful visualization/map the owners have invented for wrapping your mind around the nuances of rice wine will help you decide which one you want.

For Italian, Al di La in Park Slope.
posted by turtlewithoutashell at 7:02 AM on July 18, 2010

New York has a ton of great Italian restaurants. At the very least, have John's Pizza, Rocco's Bakery, etc.

I like Morandi on 7th Ave. a lot for Italian.
posted by j1950 at 7:03 AM on July 18, 2010

I recently ate at The Loop, over in the Gramercy/Union Square area. I thought the sushi was excellent, and the prices were very reasonable. They have fantastic original rolls (try the mango!).

As for Little Italy: Seconding and thirding don't go there, except to walk around. It does look cool at night. I don't know much about Italian food in NY, so listen to the other recommendations.

Um, you are aware that Little Italy is in Manhattan, right? Manhattan is the big island thing that takes up a majority of the subway map. It's pretty big, and restaurants vary extensively in price throughout the borough, from dirt cheap to outrageously expensive. What part of Manhattan are you going to wander around in?

... if you already knew all that, forgive me! Enjoy NYC!

posted by good day merlock at 10:18 AM on July 18, 2010

Go to Babbo for the best Italian food you will ever have in your life. It's not cheap, but worth it.

Go to Lombardi's for the pizza. It's the oldest pizza joint in the US and the pies are pretty good.
posted by falameufilho at 10:28 AM on July 18, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the responses, I'm going to look into these options!
posted by SarahElizaP at 4:44 PM on July 18, 2010

I live a couple of blocks away from Lombardi's Pizza currently, and I can say that it isn't worth it especially in relation to the long waits for tables. Lasso Pizza which is a block south is not as historic, but waaay better tasting IMO.
posted by theDrizzle at 5:27 PM on July 18, 2010

Just had a great Italian dinner at Paprika in the East Village, food was delicious and reasonably priced, and as an added bonus the decor is great
posted by KilgoreTrout at 6:01 PM on July 18, 2010

Lombardi's hasn't been good for some time. I've found that they often don't cook the pies for long enough (out of towners complain that the pie is "burnt" when they are actually cooking it correctly), and there's too much sauce and cheese (out of towners complain that there's not enough stuff on the pie because they are used to Domino's or Pizza Hut). If you want a better experience, go to Motorino or Keste. Keste might be better as it is run and staffed by Italians.

Paprika is excellent neighborhood Italian but an everyday restaurant that I wouldn't go out of my way to eat at. If you're willing to put down serious cash for fresh pastas, there are better options.
posted by kathryn at 8:29 PM on July 18, 2010

If you absolutely must go to a place in Little Italy, Da Nico is probably the best of the bunch. La Mela across the street might also be interesting it for the staff sideshow antics. But in general like everyone else said, on Mulberry St you'll overpay for not the best Italian in NYC.

If inexpensive pasta is what you're looking for: Il Corallo in SoHo -- a large varied menu of pasta dishes and extremely reasonable prices (especially considering the area). Tiny place, and quality is uneven sometimes though. Lunch special is one of the best deals going. Pretty much in walking distance of Little Italy.

Favorite sushi in the area (well, the south Village) - Marumi.

Recently, the wife and I stumbled into Falai on the Lower East Side and had one of the best dinners we've had in a while. It may have helped that it was early and empty so we had the full attention of the staff, who were very nice. The food was inventive and interesting - kind of the polar opposite of the traditional red-sauce fare of Little Italy (not that there's anything wrong with that :)
posted by Zippity Goombah at 11:37 AM on July 19, 2010

Let us know where you end up, and what you thought!
posted by kathryn at 8:37 AM on July 21, 2010

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