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Best of New York Italian


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Italian cuisine is far from my favorite, but I can't ignore it forever, especially living in a city where it has played such an important role in gastronomic history. I plan to explore it a little more this year, and I will avoid a lot of deadends and disappointments if I can get some advice here.

I have a completely open mind about the balance between up- and downmarket places I should try. A mixture, I assume. I am particularly looking for good examples of red sauces and pizzas (DiFara's, I know), as well as cutting-edge stuff. I'd like to know which, if any, of the old-timers - Gino, Patsy's - put good food on the plate. Outer boroughs have to be contemplated, although Manhattan is more convenient.

I'll look at Fat Bloke's reviews again, although I am assuming they haven't been updated much recently. Hopefully, out of recommendations, a plan of attack will evolve.

Please don't recommend the Batali-Bastianich empire - I managed to think of them, and Lupa will be on the list.

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Wilfrid, you gotta include the outer boroughs if you want a real survey. In Brooklyn, I would urge you to try Areo and Da Tomasso. In Queens, Piccolo Venezia. There are others - those are just the ones that come to mind that I wouldn't leave off your list for such a project. Cucina might be a contender for the list, but I haven't been since Mark Strausman took over the kitchen (formerly of Campagna).

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I'd be interested in returning to Arqua (Tribeca). It used to be one of our favorites. It has a lovely room that has delightful views of the go-go dancing spot (maybe now closed) across the street.

Le Madri (18 st, Chelsea) has been done over. Looked a but cutesy in the Asimov review, bit many years ago I had wonderful venison there.

Aside: Did anyone see the story in Style section of Sunday NY Times yesterday that there is an Italian Acceditation Society (something like that) that will go all over town issuing certificates to those restaurants that offer authentic Italian fare? From memory--cold pasta salad out, hot pasta with cold tom sauce in (or was that cold pasta with warm sauce?). All seems a bit silly.

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Wilf - One night I will drive a bunch of us out to Don Pepe's on Ozone Park where I believe you will find the best Southern Italian restaurant in the city.

As a former resident of the area (Howard Beach, next neighborhood south), and with my brother still there, whose favorite cuisine is Italian, we like Lenore's on Cross Bay Boulevard better.

I'd encourage a comparison between the two.


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La Parma on Willis Ave. in New Hyde Park just off the LIE is a great Ital-American place. I love their version of chicken scarpariello. (juicy & crusty pieces of chicken on the bone in olive oil and tiny roast garlic pieces -- if country style, with sausage, potatoes and red pepper - not country style -- no sausage & potatoes). I also love Pino Luongo's version of chicken scarpariello en croute (though I think there is an Italian version of the "in crust" name) at his new restaurant Centolire uptown on Madison about 86th street. Da Andrea in the village is also great -- small, family-run and cozy.

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There's a plethora of "affordable" (for the lack of a better word) Italian restaraunts that have populated the East Village over the last couple of years that should be considered. Not saying that they are all great, but they are not all serving just spaghetti and meatballs:

Max-( loved by many, too much sauce for me) Ave B and Fourth?

Gnocco- E.10th St and Ave B

Apizz-Eldridge and Stanton-mostly pizza

Petrosino- Norfolk and Houston

Supper-2nd St and Ave A

Il Baggato-

I Coppi

Ill Covo del Est- Ave A and 12th/13th?

also more expensive but delicious- Peasant on Elizabeth and Spring

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Roberto's in Arthur Ave. is worth trying from what I hear - most other restaurants that I've tried in the nabe aren't (haven't gotten myself to Roberto's yet). But for the Italian-American shopping experience, Arthur Ave. is nigh-unto impossible to beat.

"Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets; all improbable, glorious miracles that I have always believed in."

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Gnocco has one fabulous dessert: A chestnut cheesecake, IIRC. Otherwise, the food is good but I got the idea on a couple of visits for dinner that nothing else compares to that chestnut dessert.

The one meal I had a couple of years ago or so at I Coppi was wonderful.

I've also had only one meal so far at Il Bagatto, and it was very good.

I went to lunch at Il Covo del Est once (it's on the northeast corner of 13 St.), and it was _very_ salty and not worth going back to.

Have you tried Col Legno, Lavagna, or East Post? I think both are good, though I much prefer the sedate ambiance at Col Legno (yes, it's a little salty, too). I'm looking forward to whenever the next time is that I go back to Lavagna. I've had meals ranging from solidly good to excellent there.

Michael aka "Pan"


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Lenore huh? I don't know that one and I will try it before the month is out.

TerrelK - La Parma was started by a Don Pepe's waiter about 15 years ago and its menu is almost an exact copy. I have eaten at the Willis Avenue La Parma as well as the Route 25 Huntington Branch many, many times and while I think they are both very good, they do not rise to the heights they hit at Pepe's which is a truly one of a kind place. Also for those who don't know, Pepe's served as the basis for Carmine's in Manhattan as Artie Cutler (RIP) was a long time customer of Pepe's and copied the family style format and menu for Carmine's.

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Thanks for the info re Don Pepe. I am always in search of chicken scarpariello, although I have managed to make a good copy. Forgot -- Manducatti's in Long Island City. For a Long Islander it is at the end of the LIE before venturing into NY and sort of under the access to the tunnel. It seems like being in a movie without the gunfire. They make a great snapper livornese.

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they do not rise to the heights they hit at Pepe's which is a truly one of a kind place.

I guess I'm going to have to give Don Pepe's another try given this level of accolade. It's sort of famous in our family for the waiter who, when we asked for a clean spoon (the one given us had dishwasher dried food), tried to clean it was his apron, grimaced, and then got us a new one.

We enjoyed the food, but were laughing for days over it.


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I went to the Corona Heights Pork Store a few weeks ago so I poked my head into Parkside just to have a look, having heard lots about it. Looked at the wine list - no vintages listed. And the place ain't cheap, by the way. Looked a little worn at the edges in general. I'd be curious to know if anyone has eaten there lately and how the food is.

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I have to agree with Steve about Don Pepe's. I grew up eating there as it was my fathers and now my husbands favorite restaurant. We just had dinner at La Parma on Sunday evening and while it was very good, it isn't Don Pepe's. We had baked clams (which didn't come close to Don Pepe's) chicken scarpariella (country style, although I prefer the simplier preparation, I was outvoted by others), eggplant parmagiana, and linguine in white clam sauce. Only the linguine was consistent with DP's (in my opinion).

Edited by Biscotti (log)
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Okay, I got the list so far into shape. I need to cut it by about fifty per cent. I am going to do some research myself, but this would be a good time for people to chime in with comments like "Apizz is really not in the top twenty" - that's an example, not to pick on Apizz. Do I have the best pizza down here, by the way? I gather the branches of Patsy's, other than 117th Street, are about pizza - is that where I should be eating pizza?

I think a general exploration of Arthur Avenue is a must, so Roberto's stays on the list.






Col Legno

Da Andrea

East Post



Le Madri



Patsy's (but which one?)


Scalini Fedeli



Al Di La

Areo and Da Tomasso.


Cono O'Pescatore





Don Pepe's

La Parma



Piccolo Venezia

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