NYC Italian restaurants?
May 15, 2007 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Italian restaurant for a celebratory dinner in NYC?

My oldest daughter is turning 16 this summer, and wants to go to Manhattan to visit. She has requested an Italian restaurant for her birthday. Can anyone recommend a great Italian place for a celebration dinner? Upscale/dressy is okay, food quality is most important.
posted by Flakypastry to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Mario Battali's Babbo!
posted by tastybrains at 8:45 AM on May 15, 2007

I've heard good things about Coco Pazzo.
posted by dr_dank at 8:49 AM on May 15, 2007

Esca on 43rd and 9th.

Unbelievable food, great atmosphere. (I went there for a celebratory dinner.)
posted by jeffxl at 8:55 AM on May 15, 2007

MY FAVORITE: Coppola's. I go to the East Side one on 3rd Ave.

Amazing food, beautiful place, friendly staff - even to younger people =). I went there for dinner with my family when I graduated college, and am planning to take my boyfriend there sometime soon.

It's also close to the hip Union Square area with plenty of shops and fun/interesting people, which your daughter may want to check out!
posted by infinityjinx at 9:06 AM on May 15, 2007

Trattoria dell'Arte. It's not the best Italian in the city, but it's solid, and the most likely to appeal to a 16-year-old, IMO. She'll think the nose decor is cool.

FWIW, I had a disappointing meal at Esca. Babbo is good, but the service sucks, you can never get a table, and the menu may be a bit esoteric for a 16-y.o. Po, where Batali made his name, is a good option in the Village. Make your rez early.
posted by mkultra at 9:08 AM on May 15, 2007

Last time we were in NY, we had a fabulous meal at Barolo.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:44 AM on May 15, 2007

Babbo is an extraordinary restaurant, but not really appropriate for a 16 year old's birthday dinner, if you ask me. Also, keep in mind that you will have to call right at 10 a.m. one month in advance to the calendar day to have a good shot at a reservation for the date in question (or, at least, at a reasonable dinner hour for non lawyers/bankers/creative types). Also, unless you go intending not to break the bank (which would be a shame), my experience is dinner will cost about $150 per person (at least with booze, which I guess you would not be getting. But it is SOOO worth it...

For a fun, if loud, place to take a yout' and several friends, I would recommend Carmine's. Huge family-style portions of rich southern Italian food. Definitely not in the same universe as Babbo, but fun. There is one outpost by Times Square, which out of town kids seem to like, for some reason.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:05 AM on May 15, 2007

Seconding Esca.
posted by Oddly at 10:06 AM on May 15, 2007

If you want something a little more relaxed and casual, try Otto in Union Square. It's another Batali restaurant (see Babbo, Esca, and Lupa) that serves pizza and lots of other small and large Italian dishes. The food is great and it's a fun (although sometimes loud and crowded) atmosphere. Very good wine list. Prices are also much more reasonable than Babbo etc. I think a 16-year old would like this place, but her mileage might of course vary.
posted by brain_drain at 10:48 AM on May 15, 2007

(correction: Otto is in the Village; I associate it with Union Square because it's a frequent pre-movie dinner destination for me and my wife.)
posted by brain_drain at 10:49 AM on May 15, 2007

Seconding Trattoria dell'Arte, if only because the dinner is for a 16-year-old. Good food, nice antipasto bar, and a fun atmosphere. If the kid is a precocious foodie, Babbo or Esca might be a good choice.

Personally, I don't care for Carmine's--the food is not that great, and they seem to think the giant portions make up for that. But then I like Italian food much more than Italian-American food, which often seems too heavy and (burnt) garlicky for me.

Otto might be a good choice, but if you are going over a weekend, be prepared for an extremely noisy room. The thing to get there is pizza and a quartino of wine or two (for you).
posted by lackutrol at 11:40 AM on May 15, 2007

Response by poster: These suggestions are great! I realized that I could have been more helpful - she is one of those 16-going-on-40 types. Her behavior usually fools most people to think that she's in her 20's. She not wildly adventurous food-wise, but knows food done well when she tastes it. When we were in NYC last year, we happened upon Pomodoro Rosso near Lincoln Center, and she liked the food there quite a bit. It had the kind of vibe that she likes, too - small, neighborhood feel, not too noisy or rushed. She really likes pasta- usually keeps it pretty simple.
posted by Flakypastry at 1:03 PM on May 15, 2007

Just here to third Otto. Hard to go wrong with Batali, just make sure you don't leave the restaurant without trying the olive oil gelato.
posted by saladin at 1:51 PM on May 15, 2007

If you don't want to break the bank Becco is an excellent option--great staff and I've never had a bad meal there. Near the theatre district if you want to combine dinner and a show.
posted by donovan at 1:59 PM on May 15, 2007

Ah, if you like simple, Lupa is another excellent choice. It's Batali's "inexpensive" restaurant and they serve a very straightforward Roman osteria cuisine. They cure their own meats for the antipasto and make a really excellent pork shoulder. I'm told the pastas are good as well.
posted by lackutrol at 2:17 PM on May 15, 2007

Agreed, Lupa is great -- I was actually trying to remember the name before but drew a blank. The only downside is that (at least as of a year or two ago when I last ate there) they don't take reservations for the most part and the wait can be insanely long (i.e., 2 hours is not out of the question). I understand they do have a small back room that takes reservations but those tables are hard to get.
posted by brain_drain at 2:37 PM on May 15, 2007

Not to take over the thread or anything, but Lupa does take reservations. I know because I was lucky enough to get them for the same day when some relatives came into town unexpectedly. So it's doable. They do set aside some tables for walk-ins, and that wait is indeed crazy long.
posted by lackutrol at 4:21 PM on May 15, 2007

Carmine's is good if you're in a big group. Definitely mid-scale, casual, family-style eating. I say it's best for big groups because their food comes in giant portions - one of their pasta entrees could easily feed 3 or 4 people. So you can't really order appetizers or desserts unless you're in a large group. However, lackutrol was totally right - it wavers more toward Italian-American than real Italian.

I've been unimpressed with Otto - the food is decent, but the scene is just too annoying. A lot of yuppies and people who are there to be seen. And the noise level is unbelievable, even on weekday nights.

Lupa is excellent, although Babbo is better (but also more expensive).

The best Italian restaurant I've ever been to in NYC, hands down, is Il Mulino. The food is always fresh, exciting, and prepared perfectly. It is really pricey though - expect to spend about $75 per person. I would eat here every week if I could afford it. There's a great post on Il Mulino at Chowhound.
posted by Samantha at 10:55 PM on May 15, 2007

I liked Don Peppe in Ozone Park. Downscale, family style, great food and full of CHARACTERS.
posted by chinese_fashion at 8:39 AM on May 24, 2007

« Older Google Reader Why Doest Thou Hate Me?   |   What should you do to be a drunken sailor? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.