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Best of New York Italian


Wilfrid
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My list, my rules:

No Bastianich (not even Lidia).

So, I guess that means you'll be skipping Becco with its all-you-can-eat pasta deal for $21.95. :shock:

I used to go to Becco a lot. They had some excellent pasta (I recall a papardelle with rabit ragu and pumpkin ravioli) and very good entrees that no one orders. They also had some boring, boring stuff and for a long stage insisted on making bad risotto.

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If I put Park Side on the list, I should realistically knock out one of the other Queen's restaurants. I doubt if I am going to eat five meals in Queen's this year, and probably not four. Ones I've now done are in bold, and I am already well behind the clock.

Pizza

DiFara;Patsy's.

Heroes

Corona Heights Pork Store; Leo's Latticini; Dafonte's.

Restaurants

Manhattan:Arqua;Centolire;Da Andrea;East Post;I Trulli; Il Giglio (or Il Mulino - same owners);Lavagna;Le Madri;Petrosino. Brooklyn: Al Di La; Areo; Bamonte's;Da Tommaso;Queen. The Bronx: Roberto's. Queens:Don Peppe;Lenore's;Manducatis;Park Side; Piccola Venezia.

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We're heading for the pizza at Gonzo tomorrow evening. Asimov rattled off six pizza places on the radio this morning, but so fast that I didn't get any of them.

Roberto's is on my list too, out of the same sort of morbid curiosity that drives me to Don Peppe and Parkside.

If Manducati is the place by PS1, you can skip it, as far as I'm concerned. An amazing wine list, but nothing to eat with it.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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There was a discussion of Manducatis on CH recently, and the consensus seemed to be that you had to push the right buttons with the staff to get good food. I am thinking of combining Roberto's with a tour around the Arthur Avenue area - something for the warmer weather.

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Ones I've now done are in bold. 

Pizza

DiFara;Patsy's.

Heroes

Corona Heights Pork Store; Leo's Latticini; Dafonte's.

Restaurants

Manhattan:Arqua;Centolire;Da Andrea;East Post;I Trulli; Il Giglio (or Il Mulino - same owners);Lavagna;Le Madri;Petrosino. Brooklyn: Al Di La; Areo; Bamonte's;Da Tommaso;Queen. The Bronx: Roberto's. Queens:Don Peppe;Lenore's;Manducatis;Park Side; Piccola Venezia.

Wow, You've got alot of eating to do

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Manducatis is excellent when Ida (the co-owner) is behind the stove and preferably in the early Autumn when she's returned from a long holiday in Italy armed with fantstic fresh ingredients.

She was behind the stove the day we were there. We went specifically to order her highly touted roast pork. It was overcooked and poorly seasoned. I suspect that regulars are treated very differently there.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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I suspect that regulars are treated very differently there.

Not really. Like Piccolo Venezia and a few others in LIC and Astoria, Manducati's has read some of their own reviews and believed them.

Complacency is to man, as rust is to iron!

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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I wouldn't bother with Manducatis, based on lots of reading and lots of conversations I've had (if you're talking about food only) - for wine, Manducatis is worth the trip. You're not going to be a regular there in one visit.

And let me assure you, you will be having meals in Queens. :biggrin:

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Does anybody know the quality of the food at the private italian clubs in Manhattan??? I'm thinking about the Italian Gun Club on Mcdougal or the Columbus Club on the UES ....I have no idea but i'm really curious and for this exercise they might might have to be considered,....Wilfrid do private clubs/ Restaurants count?? Maybe the Fatguy can shed some light...

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Roberto's should definitely stay on any list. A nice mix of creativity with the classics. Not morbid at all, but still improving in my opinion. I wonder if you have ever thought of doing classic dishes at certain places, instead of whole restaurants. If you do, I would endorse the gnocchi w/ pesto at Monte's in the Village. the rest of the menu is good red sauce cuisine, but the pesto is fantastic and the gnocchi just the right mix of heaviness with lightness. Vincent's for fried calamari with hot sauce only would be another suggestion.

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If I put Park Side on the list, I should realistically knock out one of the other Queen's restaurants.  I doubt if I am going to eat five meals in Queen's this year, and probably not four.  Ones I've now done are in bold, and I am already well behind the clock. 

. Queens:Don Peppe;Lenore's;Manducatis;Park Side; Piccola Venezia.

It's been a while, but I'd rate the three I've been to:

parkside

lenore's

don peppe

I'll check with my brother who lurks but never posts to verify. I used to live near Don Peppe's, and only went a couple of times.

beachfan

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Wilfird - You are going to be doing a hell of a lot of mediocre eating.

I ate in Bamonte's about two years ago and it was one of the more disappointing Italian meals I've had in the city. It is really D quality food. And I'm red sauce lover but that place didn't cut it. The place that used to be good was Crisci's on Lorimer Street but they closed down about seven years ago. Cono is another one not to write home about but, they have one dish on their menu, I want to call it a mountain platter or something like that. Now that was worth making the schlep for. I actually was born in the neighborhood those restaurants are in, and my Grandmother lived there until she died. So I know the hood pretty well.

I haven't been at Parkside for years. But before I moved into Manhattan (1987), I lived about a mile down the road and used to eat there often. Unless they have changed their stripes, it's just a higher end(meaning pricier) version of Queens Italian/American cuisine. I stopped eating there in maybe 1989, as I didn't find it good enough quality. Good local color on the bocce courts across the street though. Manducatti's, I remember when they first opened about 20 years ago. Ida was cooking back then too. That's a step up from the others IMO but still not at Manhattan quality. But occassionaly she hits a dish. Great wine list, but you need to schmooze them to get the good stuff which is in hiding and not on the list. But I managed to squeeze a 1978 Conteno Bussia Soprano out of them and I hadn't been there in about 18 years and they don't know me from Adam. Piccolo Venezia is the cream of that crop IMO, and yet it is still not great. But you can have a nice thick grilled veal chop that will aproximate what you can get in Manhattan. Super wine list. It used to be well priced but then it got picked over. I haven't been there in a few years so I don't know what shape it's in. Actually, it's very close to Ali and Moustafa and you might be better off if the car steered its way to Steinway Street instead :wink:.

I was at da Tomasso in November. I love Tomasso. Not the restaurant, the guy. He is a big teddy bear. A hugable guy who sings opera in the restaurant on the weekends. But the food, well, he tries hard. It is better then most of the other restaurants but still disappointing. Great wine list though. But he is "out" of lots of things. It helps to know him or to come with an letter of introduction and then somehow what he is out of magically appears. But if you can talk Italian wine you will make a friend for life. Roberto's in the Bronx is one place I just can't figure. People rave about it and to me the food tastes like he flavors everthing with marsala wine. I've been there three times and I've been resolutely disappointed on each occassioin with the low point being a fishy tasting and smelling swordfish steak one evening. I had some good meals at Cucina in Park Slope over the years but I understand there has been some change in chefs/ownership and that m friend Mark Straussman from Campania on 21st street is doing the cooking?

But to me, Don Peppe's is best in show. Actually I dug up an old review I posted on Chowhound in April of 2001,

"Okay the header was an attention grabber but it certainly is among the very best. I have been eating there for almost 25 years and I can only recall one or two meals that weren't spectacular. For those who have never been, this place is the inspiration for both Carmine's in Manhattan as well as La Parma on the Island. I guess inspiration is to kind a word as the other places ripped off the concept from Pepe's.

So after visiting my mother in Bayside last night we headed on over to South Ozone Park and our simple meal of a tossed salad, shrimp marinara (with sauce to die for) a broiled t-bone steak that was as soft and flavorful as anything they serve in Manhattan (besides almost being the size of Manhattan) along with an order of fried peppers and onions was sublime to say the least. I even cheated and brought home an order of their famous Chinese Chicken with sausage (the house version of chicken cacciatorre)and I'm about to sit down and blow through it along with the leftover steak.

Their linguine and clam sauce is a greasy classic that is 10x better than any other version I've ever had. And the lobster dinner with the lobster being poached in tomato sauce and served with clams and mussels is enough food for a small army. When they offer you spaghetti to start and ask you if you want the pasta served with the sauce the lobster was cooked in SAY YES.

Places like Rao's and Dominick's in the Bronx get all the big press but in my opinion Pepe's blows them away. Get in your car and go. This is what red sauce is all about."

A restaurant that is not on your list that deserves a visit is The Pines in the Bronx. Another one I haven't been to in years but it was a good place for things like Mussels Posilipo. And I don't know about the quality of Amerigo's anymore, a place in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx. It used to be right up there with the best of them and had a Spaghetti Carbonara that was to die for.

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I haven't been at Parkside for years. But before I moved into Manhattan (1987), I lived about a mile down the road and used to eat there often. Unless they have changed their stripes, it's just a higher end(meaning pricier) version of Queens Italian/American cuisine.

But to me, Don Peppe's is best in show. Actually I dug up an old review I posted on Chowhound in April of 2001,

Maybe the sauce is always redder on the other side of Queens Blvd. I grew up 3 miles from Don Pepe's. I haven't been there in many years.

PS I wouldn't take the trek from Manhatten for any of them, except perhaps to get a crack at Manducatti's wine list. But since the homestead is in Howard Beach, I get there for other reasons

Edited by Beachfan (log)

beachfan

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It's been a while, but I'd rate the three I've been to:

parkside

lenore's

don peppe

I'll check with my brother who lurks but never posts to verify.  I used to live near Don Peppe's, and only went a couple of times.

My lurking frere confirms the orderr, but corrects the spelling to La Nora.

beachfan

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Wilfred - I'm not sure that I'm not complicating matters needlessly, but how about adding San Pietro to the list. It is midtown expensive, but has a style of cooking from the Campania region that shows that there is more to Southern Italian eating than red sauce. I am a fan of the place, because the Bruno brothers are good hosts, the food doesn't taste like every other Italian restaurant and it is consistently very good and sometimes excellent. As for the wine list, there is plenty there to choose from and enjoy, especially from their home region.

In response to a recent Steve Plotnicki post. I ate at Cucina last night with my family. We went since we are fans of Mark Strausman's cooking and try to patronize Brooklyn places when we can. The place was warmer and friendlier than in the past (funny, what competition will do...), but the food was a letdown from our expectations. Nothing was bad, and we had a good time, but I'm afraid that we'll continue to go to Campagna to get the intense flavors and large portions that Mark calls "Jewish-Italian" cooking and that he excels at.

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Anyone know the name of the Italian on the south side of 22nd Street, east of '22' which I think is 2nd Aveish? I cannot remember nor locate on the web but it is quite fine indeed.

Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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Wilfird - You are going to be doing a hell of a lot of mediocre eating.

Possibly. The object of this exercise is to get some idea of what eating Italian in New York is about; what it means to the city's culinary culture; why it's been so important here. The fact that I can make a long list like this of Italian places I haven't been to implies precisely that it's a whole part of the New York culinary scene I've long avoided. If I was just trying to identify restaurants I thought I'd enjoy, I wouldn't be making an Italian list. Still, I'm trying to sample the best of what there is. I'll ponder your suggestions and build them in.

Michael; thanks for the suggestion. I have, in fact, been to San Pietro, so I probably won't include it in the current list. I remember enjoying suckling pig, stuffed with pine kernels and other stuff (sorry it was a while ago) - slightly too peppery, but not a bad dish.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Not much sign of activity, I know, but I've been to DiFara's and I Trulli, as well a L'Impero and Gonzo which were not even on the list. I am not sure that L'Impero, like Fiamma, really counts towards my idea of trying to get a handle on traditional New York Italian eating.

I've just been over the last page or so and revised the list again, also taking account of comments else where about East Post - that's gone. Lenore's turned out to be La Nora, and from what I've read here I'm going to strike it in favor of Parkside. I'm hearing Cono is better than Bamonte's and Da Tomasso - which of those should I keep, if not for food for traditional ambience? Areo's getting some negatives too, so that's off for the time being (I won't get everywhere).

Everyone's warning me off Il Giglio, so maybe it should be Il Mulino - is there any way to reduce the pain of standing in line for a reserved table? When would be good to go?

Pizza

Patsy's.

Heroes

Corona Heights Pork Store; Leo's Latticini; Dafonte's.

Restaurants

Manhattan:Arqua;Centolire;Da Andrea; Il Mulino (?);Lavagna; Le Madri; Petrosino.

Brooklyn: Al Di La; Areo; Bamonte's;Da Tommaso;Queen.

The Bronx: Roberto's.

Queens:Don Peppe;Lenore's;Manducatis;Piccola Venezia.

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Not much sign of activity, I know, but I've been to DiFara's and I Trulli, as well a L'Impero and Gonzo which were not even on the list. I am not sure that L'Impero, like Fiamma, really counts towards my idea of trying to get a handle on traditional New York Italian eating.

I've just been over the last page or so and revised the list again, also taking account of comments else where about East Post - that's gone. Lenore's turned out to be La Nora, and from what I've read here I'm going to strike it in favor of Parkside. I'm hearing Cono is better than Bamonte's and Da Tomasso - which of those should I keep, if not for food for traditional ambience? Areo's getting some negatives too, so that's off for the time being (I won't get everywhere).

Everyone's warning me off Il Giglio, so maybe it should be Il Mulino - is there any way to reduce the pain of standing in line for a reserved table? When would be good to go?

Pizza

Patsy's.

Heroes

1. Corona Heights Pork Store and Leo's Latticini (Queen's)

2. Dafonte's (Red Hook, Brooklyn).

Restaurants

Manhattan:

1. Arqua (Church St)

2. Petrosino (LES)

3. Le Madri (Chelsea)

4. Lavagana (E Village)

5. Da Andrea (Village)

6. Centolire (Village)

7. Il Mulino ? (Village)

Brooklyn:

1. Al Di La

2. Cono

3. Queen

4. Bamonte's or Da Tommaso?

The Bronx:

1. Roberto's (plus Arthur's Avenue tour)

2. The Pines

Queens:

1. Don Peppe

2. Piccola Venezia.

3. Manducatis

4. Parkside

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You were sort of lukewarm about your dinner at the upscale I Trulli, which I had suggested, :sad: so I'll try again with something different. How about a pleasant little trattoria that serves what I have found to be very nicely prepared food at moderate prices? It's Trattoria Trecolori, on W. 45th St., btw 6th & 7th Av. Check out the menu here:

http://www.trattoriatrecolori.com

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