• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
LPShanet

"NY Italian"

19 posts in this topic

A friend of mine, who used to live in the NY area, is visiting currently, and said he wanted to eat "New York Italian". In my mind (and I'm pretty sure his, too), this refers to the sort of old school, red sauce driven style we all used to think of as Italian food. While we've moved on from that style in many ways, it can still be really good and satisfying, so I was wondering what people thought were the best places to get that kind of fare currently. Specifically, we're looking at Manhattan spots (not Bronx/Arthur Avenue, etc.), preferably downtown, or easily reached parts of Brooklyn.

My first thought was that a good option would be Torrisi and/or Parm, since they are essentially odes to that style of food, but executed better. And I guess to some extent, places like Roberta's, Frank, Piccolo Angolo, and Franny's might be evolutions of the style. Il Mulino, Emilio's Ballato and Ponte's are still open, though I never hear anyone mention them much these days. Any thoughts on these and others?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frankies Spuntino?


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ponte's is not much good these days.

Bamonte's in Williamsburg is pretty tasty if you order right. Same for Ecco on Chambers Street.

I enjoyed Parm fine but it's definitely an evolution from the classic, and the same goes for the rest of your suggestions (I haven't been to Piccolo Angolo for 10 years, so I can't speak authoritatively on that one).

Have not been lucky enough to eat at Torrisi yet.

And underrated, forgotten place is Marchi on East 31 Street. Literally lost in the mists of time. They only serve one meal, and it's been the same since 1925 or whenever they opened. About six courses, starting with crudités, through cold cuts, a salad of tuna with capers and chopped celery, homemade lasagna, fish, chicken, and desert made out of these rather tasty deep-fried lemon crostoli with powdered sugar.

It's spread among several rooms of old attached townhouses, and though it can comfortably seat maybe 250 people, you might be the only ones there. I think the food & the experience are great, but not everyone may agree. Not expensive at all for what it is. Ask for James, and get him to tell you his stories of his acting career in heavy metal videos, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frankies Spuntino?

Not a bad choice, but be aware that the Frankie's on Clinton Street has morphed into Francesca's, their attempt at Spanish tapas, pinxtos, etc. (my first visit there was less than impressive). They still have a Manhattan outpost, though, at 570 Hudson. Frankie's Spuntino website.

I've had a couple of good meals at Sauce, which has opened in the old Kampuchea location. Real red-sauce stuff, along with some more innovative fare; for instance, I like their zucchini "pasta" with bottarga. As a matter of fact, Eater listed it as the affordable alternative to Parm in this piece. It's from another Frank (Prisinzano), the owner of Lil' Frankies, Frank and Supper, so he must be doing something right.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The original Frankie's in Carroll Gardens is excellent, especially if you eat outside. I don't think you could possibly consider it old-school or "New York Italian," however. It's thoroughly modern, and great.

I was never crazy about the Clinton Street branch even when it was serving Italian. Never thought it came close to measuring up to the Brooklyn one. Have not been to the West Village offshoot yet.

There are some off-the-beaten path midtown and uptown places that do serious Italian that's not red-sauce that are more New York to my mind... Grifone and Lusardi's come to mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that, whether you like the food or not, Frankies' on Court St in Bklyn is most definitely not old school NY Eyetalian. And I really don't think that either Roberta's or Franny's are either... not by a long shot. Additionally, I am hesitant to agree that you can order right in Bamonte's, as the last 3-4 meals I've had there were not good at all but, since I stopped going many years ago, I really can't provide any recent confirmation that it should be avoided.

So, if you're going to stay in Manhattan and/or close-by Bklyn locations, I think that Piccolo Angolo really does the best job of it, with gigantic meatballs and a great variety of old time favorites, including slices of fresh garlic bread in the basket, gratis. And an owner (Renato) right out of the old school handbook. I love this place and have been going for over 15 years. Then there's Queen in Downtown Bklyn, which can hit the mark (although less so, in my opinion), but you have to put up with plastic flower ambience and a waitstaff that sometimes is old time friendly and other times seems not interested in you at all.

Il Mulino is definitely in the category but the Manhattan location is tough to get into, is merciless with the upsell and price non-disclosure, and the food can be uneven.

Of course, when this long time Brooklynite wants an old time red sauce place, I'm just as likely to get in the car and hit Park Side in Corona (as I'm doing with friends from this board on Friday) as I am to walk the 3 blocks from my home to Queen. Just saying'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Parkside and Queen are real, no doubt about it... the decor at Queen is tragic, I gather it was once perfect red-booth style, but got torn out and replaced with the kind of hotel marble and glass favored by old-school Italian restaurants these days. I guess that actually tells you the food is likely to be good, in a perverse kind of way.

A similar thing happened to the decor at Tommaso's in Bath Beach / Bensonhurst, even harder to get to than Parkside, but better in my opinion... the "Sunday Special" is amazing, as is the lasagna. And you have access to one of the best wine cellars in the country (albeit frustratingly difficult to order from due to out of date lists and a completely crazy proprietor).

I miss Andy's Colonial Tavern in East Harlem. Best linguini in white clam sauce I've ever had. The old chef, Sal, was cooking until he was extremely old... maybe in his '90s? I remember seeing him perched on a tall stool in front of the stove because he couldn't stand anymore. After he retired, the place went downhill fast and then closed.

There was a crude oil painting hanging by the bar that said something along the lines of "DON'T SNITCH". NO QUESTION about the realness of that place...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree about Tommaso's, but thought it was too far out of the way to mention (I wasn't actually recommending Parkside for this visit, just mentioning that it's the benchmark for red sauce Italian... and, since I'm going tonite, it's on my mind). The owner of Tommaso is an acquired taste but, if you like owners who break out into song (in his case, opera... not bad on some arias, by the way), then this might be perfect. The wine cellar is really good. You remind me that I have to get back there one of these days.

Another place that has a great wine cellar is Manducatis (also in Queens). The kitchen is not what these others are but, if/when Ida is in the kitchen and, if she's feeling good (two big maybes these days), it can be the perfect place.

By the way, Queen's decor was never actually replaced. The original location, with it's dark old-line furniture and lighting, was one block away (where the big movie theater and Barnes&Noble are now). That whole block was razed (about 15-20 years or so ago?) and Queen moved the restaurant to the current location, without relocating the pizza place it ran next door (the 1st place that Dom DeMarco made pizzas before opening DiFara's 40-something years ago). The new restaurant was furnished in "modern" style to keep up with the needs of the lunchtime lawyers and politicians who flock to the place & pizza was "by request only". Significant dinner business is relatively recent (5 years or so?) and I think that they're still wondering what happened to bring in all these "young 'uns" who like their food.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah absolutely right on Queen. And also on Manducatis - when I first went there, there were amazing bargains to be had on old bottles. I think that news got out though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm visiting NY now, and I wanna eat in "New York Italian" too. Frankies Spuntino mentioned above is a hint for me. I will have my tast there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also on Il Mulino - if I recall correctly, I think the place originally focused on food from Salerno very specifically. It certainly can be incredible, but the whole experience is rather a trial.

It always gets me that you can fill up immediately on the free appetizers, yet nonetheless the bill is guaranteed to be three bills a person.

Somewhat similar is Scalinatella in the east 50s or 60s... high-end, pushy, but classic and very good. They were the first place I saw the now-celebrated tactic of endlessly shaving white truffles on your pasta - each shave probably costing an extra $15. But man was it good. I think they might have changed chefs, or owners, or even gone downhill? Very scene-y place too, in its way.

Gino's Italian Cuisine on Lexington and 60th is gone but not forgotten. No credit cards (though there were house accounts), no reservations, fluorescent lights, plastic flowers attached to strange rotating fans, old-guy waiters who always remembered your name, and half the menu wasn't on the menu, you just had to know. Not always great, but really great when it was great. I enjoyed the pasta al segreto, the spaghetti with meatballs and sausage, chicken scarpariello on the bone with sausage, etc. And that incredible zebra wallpaper!

Not to be overlooked: Gene's on 11th St. near 6th Ave. in the Village. Great old bar in front, the back covered with 1960s wallpaper depicting Italian scenes, an elderly, regular clientele, and, unlike any of the above-mentioned restaurants in this particular post, extremely affordable. This is truly classic NY Eye-talian-American... order stracciatella, fettucine alfredo, spaghetti bolognese, and most importantly veal scallopine al limone (could be called piccata on the menu - both uses are common in the NY metro area).

(The Istrian places in Astoria are worth a look too. I enjoy Piccolo Venezia, even if it has a bit of that modern decor problem.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As you can tell from the comments, I have.

For what it is, it's very good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is not an upscale place but I admit to being more than an occasional customer. Very large portions of basic red sauce dishes, with eggplant rollatini that is almost perfect. It's the type of place that has more tables filled at 5:30 than at 8pm & where the average age is 40 only because it serves as many 10 year olds as 70 year olds. Not many places left with Keno games on TV screens in the dining rooms. Very old line and worth checking out. Just stick to basics & find a relatively inoffensive wine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are there any "NY Italian" restaurants in Midtown West or Hell's Kitchen that any of you would recommend? I'm just looking for a midweek, pre-theater meal, so decent would be good enough for this occasion.

I'm currently considering Puttanesca http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/puttanesca/menu and Trattoria Trecolori http://www.trattoriatrecolori.com/menu.html . I'm open to any suggestions.

Thanks for any suggestions or comments.


Edited by phoenikia (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never eaten there, but Barbetta is supposed to be a classic. More upscale.

A little south of there is Supreme Macaroni Company, which dates back to the 30s (at least), and was a classic old-school place back in the '90s. Have not been there since. UPDATE: it's closed, and the building was demolished.

And for new Italian, there's Esca, a Batali joint I have not yet visited, but which gets good reviews.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never eaten there, but Barbetta is supposed to be a classic. More upscale.

A little south of there is Supreme Macaroni Company, which dates back to the 30s (at least), and was a classic old-school place back in the '90s. Have not been there since. UPDATE: it's closed, and the building was demolished.

And for new Italian, there's Esca, a Batali joint I have not yet visited, but which gets good reviews.

While Esca is indeed a "Batali joint," the chef is David Pasternack, who knows his way around seafood the way Batali knows his way around, well, Crocs.

It's very good - can be great and isn't cheap. Probably wouldn't even call it a joint.

Another pre-theatre favorite Italian joint is the Bastianich owned Becco, where the pastas are good and reasonably priced.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ponte's is not much good these days.

Bamonte's in Williamsburg is pretty tasty if you order right. Same for Ecco on Chambers Street.

I enjoyed Parm fine but it's definitely an evolution from the classic, and the same goes for the rest of your suggestions (I haven't been to Piccolo Angolo for 10 years, so I can't speak authoritatively on that one).

Have not been lucky enough to eat at Torrisi yet.

And underrated, forgotten place is Marchi on East 31 Street. Literally lost in the mists of time. They only serve one meal, and it's been the same since 1925 or whenever they opened. About six courses, starting with crudités, through cold cuts, a salad of tuna with capers and chopped celery, homemade lasagna, fish, chicken, and desert made out of these rather tasty deep-fried lemon crostoli with powdered sugar.

It's spread among several rooms of old attached townhouses, and though it can comfortably seat maybe 250 people, you might be the only ones there. I think the food & the experience are great, but not everyone may agree. Not expensive at all for what it is. Ask for James, and get him to tell you his stories of his acting career in heavy metal videos, etc.

Sorry for the long absence from this thread. On the night in question, my guest ended up having already eaten his fill of Italian at earlier meals, so we ended up doing something else. However, the mention of Marchi's brings back some great childhood memories for me, so many thanks! Hadn't even thought about that for decades, but used to go there with my parents. Glad to hear it's still alive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Similar Content

    • By Lam
      I have been experiementing with macarons these last few months, and I have yet to make perfect macarons. Most of the macarons I have made are hollow on the inside. They're so hollow, if I nudge them a bit, the top crust just comes right off. They still taste decent but not what a successful macaron should be like. I don't think I am overbeating my meringue at all. They are always firm and stiff. I have tried whipping a little less than I usually do but still get hollows. I did some research and saw a few people recommend adding a bit of cornstarch to the dry mix. Yep. Cornstarch.  This really perplexed me because I always see people saying not to use powdered sugar that contains cornstarch, so how could adding cornstarch prevent hollow macs? I also saw one person use tapioca starch to prevent hollows as well. This time around, I whipped the meringue at a much longer time, but no higher than speed 7 (kitchenaid), which gave me a super stable meringue. I also added cornstarch. I piped the batter out, and they looked super perfect the first few minutes in the oven. Sadly, they came out very wrinkled. The first batch was super wrinkled, but the second batch was less wrinkled, or bumpy even. Not sure if this is because of the silpat for the first batch and the parchment pper for the second hmm. Does anyone know what I did wrong to get these wrinkled macs and how to troubleshoot? Also some help on hollow macs would be appreciated! Thanks




    • By Christy Martino
      Ciao!
       
      I'm Christine and I'm a born and bred New Yorker. I’m an Italian by blood (and at heart, of course) since my parents actually came from Italy. My father was from Sciacca, Sicily while my mother was from Sondrio, Lombardy. Despite coming from different regions, or because of it, love for food and cooking has been one of the mainstays in my family home life growing up. And I’ve always loved the dishes my parents prepared during special occasions, and even on regular days.
       
      And of course, I love cooking (and eating) Italian food and I have a few recipes from my mother, but I'd really love to collect some more, especially the traditional ones. And if anyone can contribute some historical background to each dish, that would be really great.
       
      Grazie mille!
    • By JohnT
      I am led to believe that World Pasta Day 2016 is to be on Tuesday, October 25 this year. So, with this in mind, what are the eG cooks planning on "cooking up" in celebrating the day?
       
      I will start the ball rolling.
       
      I am going to make my standard egg yoke pasta sheets, rolled out on my now seldom-used manual pasta machine and use them in making lasagna, using my old and reliable bolognese sauce recipe layered with béchamel sauce and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.
       
      And with the left-over egg whites I will make a few meringue bases for portioned pavlova - Spring is here in the Southern Hemisphere and berries and fruit are starting to appear in the shops!
    • By DianaB
      Just found out that a member of eGullet, @Cia has begun to post his short videos on Italian culinary culture on YouTube.  Only one to date but I know there are more in the pipeline.  While made by an Italian based in Italy the narrative is in English.
       
      Here's the first instalment: 
       
       
       
    • By shain
      Makes 40 cookies, 2 loaves. 
       
      50-60 g very aromatic olive oil
      80 g honey 
      120 to 150 g sugar (I use 120 because I like it only gently sweet) 
      2 eggs
      2 teaspoons of fine lemon zest, from apx 1 lemon 
      230 g flour 
      1 teaspoon salt 
      1 teaspoon baking powder 
      75 g lightly toasted peeled pistachios
      50 g lightly toasted almonds (you can replace some with pine nuts) 
      Optional: a little rosemary or anise seed
      Optional: more olive oil for brushing
       
      Heat oven to 170 deg C.
      In mixer (or by hand), mix oil, honey, sugar, lemon, egg and if desired, the optional spices - until uniform. 
      Separately mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. 
      Add flour mixture to mixer bowel with liquids and fold until uniform. Dough will be sticky and quite stiff. Don't knead or over mix. 
      Add nuts and fold until well dispersed. 
      On a parchment lined baking tray, create two even loaves of dough. 
      With moist hands, shape each to be rectangular and somewhat flat - apx 2cm heigh, 6cm wide and 25cm long. 
      Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden and baked throughout, yet somewhat soft and sliceable. Rotate pan if needed for even baking. 
      Remove from tray and let chill slightly or completely. 
      Using a sharp serrated knife, gently slice to thin 1/2 cm thick cookies. Each loaf should yield 20 slices. 
      Lay slices on tray and bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes until complelty dry and lightly golden. 
      Brush with extra olive oil, if desired. This will and more olive flavor. 
      Let chill completely before removing from tray. 
      Cookies keep well in a closed container and are best served with desert wines or herbal tea. 
       
        
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.