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Little Italy pick


wc4572
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And that’s the million dollar question.  -What is the foody factor here?  Is it about doing the tourist/nostalgia thing served with edible penne vodka or the best Italian food in NYC?

Why, that's answered in the original post:
Taking my girlfriend to NYC for her first time. She wants to eat in Little Italy and I don't know where to go.
Obviously, if the question had been, "Where is the best Italian food in NYC?" the answer would be different.
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And that’s the million dollar question.  -What is the foody factor here?  Is it about doing the tourist/nostalgia thing served with edible penne vodka or the best Italian food in NYC?

Why, that's answered in the original post:
Taking my girlfriend to NYC for her first time. She wants to eat in Little Italy and I don't know where to go.
Obviously, if the question had been, "Where is the best Italian food in NYC?" the answer would be different.

I'm finding it hilarious that this is a topic of debate. You don't even have your own recommendations to give the guy - because YOU never go there either. So you can tell them go to Drew Nieporent's favorite Little Italy joint, and I'll recommend that they go somewhere really good while they're in NY for 3 days. I'm ok with that, recommend away. I'm assuming that if you're bothering to post on egullet and not Yelp (and you're also asking about getting into Death & Co, Pegu and PDT), you care at least a little bit about the food.

Sneak, Arthur Avenue is a lovely (and diplomatic) suggestion.

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And that’s the million dollar question.  -What is the foody factor here?  Is it about doing the tourist/nostalgia thing served with edible penne vodka or the best Italian food in NYC?

Why, that's answered in the original post:
Taking my girlfriend to NYC for her first time. She wants to eat in Little Italy and I don't know where to go.
Obviously, if the question had been, "Where is the best Italian food in NYC?" the answer would be different.

Yea, but he’s asking on EG not Tripadvisor. Call me crazy when I assume that requesting recs on this site implies food is a priority. Does he/she know what type of food to expect? Is he willing to eat canned clam sauce to appease her?

That wasn't chicken

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I'm finding it hilarious that this is a topic of debate.  You don't even have your own recommendations to give the guy - because YOU never go there either.

As I said, I don't go there by myself. On numerous occasions I have taken by visitors (or visitors asked me to take them), and the visitors are practically always happy. On another level, I find it hilarious that in a neighborhood with upwards of 50 restaurants, people here are prepared to assume that they are absolutely identical, and that they refer to Arthur Avenue as if it were a completely different concept, when in fact they are different shades of fundamentally the same thing.
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I don't know, but for many visitors coming to New York, I think the last thing they want to do is to schlep up to Arthur Ave. And it's not like the restaurants up there get any rave reviews.

The ambiance of Arthur Avenue, however, is so much more realistic, imo, than Mulberry St.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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The difference is that Arthur Avenue is still an Italian residential neighborhood, while Little Italy is a kind of Potemkin Village.

By the way, the best Osso Buco I've ever had, I had in Little Italy. I don't remember which place, though. If Daisy cooks like that at home, then I want to marry Daisy.

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By the way, the best Osso Buco I've ever had, I had in Little Italy. I don't remember which place, though. If Daisy cooks like that at home, then I want to marry Daisy.

We all want to marry Daisy.

Look at all the good it does  us.

Gentlemen, I needed a laugh on this friday afternoon. Now if someone could get me a cocktail ...

Oakapple, if the osso buco was enough to get me a blind marriage proposal, I will go there.

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Just to be clear, in case the OP is still reading, here's why this thread played out the way it did.

It's not clear to us New Yorkers why you want to eat in Little Italy. If your girlfriend thinks that it's like the North End in Boston or the Hill in St. Louis -- functioning Italian neighborhoods that have restaurants that are still recognized as very good, to which locals go when they want to Italian food -- then she's mistaken. If you're looking for a very good Italian meal in New York, don't go to Little Italy. If you're looking to do anything that a native New Yorker would do, don't go to Little Italy.

But maybe your girlfriend is looking for a picturesque touristic experience. In that case, Little Italy is fine. I never go there without visiting tourists -- but when we do go, they often have a good enough time.

Just don't expect anything "real" -- that neighborhood hasn't been a real residential Italian neighborhood for decades -- and don't expect excellent food. If you're careful (say, if you listen to Steve R.), you can certainly find food that isn't horrible, and can have a good time.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Just to get more general and to pontificate for a moment, what's happened in New York is that as Italians have assimilated, Italian food has moved away from being "ethnic" and into the culinary mainstream. The best Italian places are no longer cheap "authentic" spots in Italian neighborhoods. They're normal mainstream restaurants that could just as well be French, except the food they serve is Italian. The two most celebrated chefs of Italian food in New York -- except for Mario Batali -- are named Conant and White.

Some people decry this development. They think the new "mainstreamed" Italian restaurants are "fake" and overpriced. I personally think that you can't moan because social changes deny you the perceived benefits of a bunch of ethnic petting zoos.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Just to be clear, in case the OP is still reading, here's why this thread played out the way it did.

It's not clear to us New Yorkers why you want to eat in Little Italy.  If your girlfriend thinks that it's like the North End in Boston or the Hill in St. Louis -- functioning Italian neighborhoods that have restaurants that are still recognized as very good, to which locals go when they want to Italian food -- then she's mistaken.  If you're looking for a very good Italian meal in New York, don't go to Little Italy.  If you're looking to do anything that a native New Yorker would do, don't go to Little Italy.

But maybe your girlfriend is looking for a picturesque touristic experience.  In that case, Little Italy is fine.  I never go there without visiting tourists -- but when we do go, they often have a good enough time.

Just don't expect anything "real" -- that neighborhood hasn't been a real residential Italian neighborhood for decades -- and don't expect excellent food.  If you're careful (say, if you listen to Steve R.), you can certainly find food that isn't horrible, and can have a good time.

An entire lunch at Sripraphai yesterday, getting you beers and trying to beat you down on this, and this is the best I get? I'm still with Oakapple on this.... the folks I've taken to Da Nico and a couple of other places in Little Italy have actually come away happy and well fed. I'll repeat... its not Babbo and you wont find a top 20 Italian restaurant in Little Italy. But, there are places better than "not horrible" and, as I said at lunch, the next time someone is coming into town and wants to go to Chinatown for dim sum, I'll recommend going to Hong Kong... it's a better area for it. Oh, and Florence for some good Italian food as well. :rolleyes:

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I highly recommend Locanda Verde. Good food and a lively/cool setting. It's a good date place and the prices are fairly reasonable by NYC standards.

Babbo is also hard to beat if you can get in.

For a real "old school" Italian experience, the Arthur Avenue area is much better than Little Italy, but it's a bit of a hike to get there.

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For a real "old school" Italian experience, the Arthur Avenue area is much better than Little Italy, but it's a bit of a hike to get there.

A bit but it's not that bad. Only about a 10min walk from the train (Metro North) or a short bus connect from the subway.

I came across this Times article comparing the hoods. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/28/dining/a...tml?pagewanted= Though written 7yrs ago, of course not much has changed.

That wasn't chicken

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I appreciate all the posts and I'm sorry I wasn't really able to join in the discussion as I was in the city and didn't get back to Pittsburgh until 10:30 pm last night. My girlfriend and I were going to Little Italy for the touristy stuff. I'm trying to bring her into the foodie stuff, but dinner at wd50 and drinks at Death and Co were plenty for her for the trip.

In any case, we ended up eating at La Mela. I have no idea where I was, but we got to eat outside, the street was closed to cars and it was a beautiful day (and there was a tv on inside with US v Brazil, so I caught some of the first half). Plus I was pretty full from all the snacks in Chinatown that I all I got was a caprese salad. It was fine. Her gnocchi was also fine. She thoroughly enjoyed her LI experience and appreciated the heads up on the food being average so I ate other stuff during the day.

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I've been to Benito's.  It's not that good.

Seriously: Chef Boyardee on a big platter. Carmine's in their early days did this sort of thing way better.

Sfoglia is incomprehensibly and lamentably absent from this discussion.

Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

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I've been to Benito's.  It's not that good.

Seriously: Chef Boyardee on a big platter. Carmine's in their early days did this sort of thing way better.

Sfoglia is incomprehensibly and lamentably absent from this discussion.

Not so imcomprehensible, as Sfoglia is also about 97 blocks from being in Little Italy.

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I recently discovered that I'm not so far by public transportation from neighborhoods like Ozone Park and Howard Beach. Anyone know of any decent old-line New York-Italian food out there that doesn't require membership in an "Italian Social Club"?

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My understanding is that Arthur Avenue is mostly Albanian now (that doesn't mean the food has changed)...that wouldn't be surprising...plenty of Italian kitchens IN ITALY these days are Albanian

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My understanding is that Arthur Avenue is mostly Albanian now (that doesn't mean the food has changed)...that wouldn't be surprising...plenty of Italian kitchens IN ITALY these days are Albanian

Yes, Albanians have taken over some eateries, possibly the majority, but Arthur Ave is more about specialty stores and they have remained in the famiglia. And the look and feel of the hood is old school (American) Italian. Certainly more than LI.

That wasn't chicken

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I've been to Benito's.  It's not that good.

Seriously: Chef Boyardee on a big platter. Carmine's in their early days did this sort of thing way better.

Sfoglia is incomprehensibly and lamentably absent from this discussion.

Not so imcomprehensible, as Sfoglia is also about 97 blocks from being in Little Italy.

the one on nantucket may be closer!

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