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10 Best Italian restaurants in NYC

Italian cuisine is widely recognized as one of the best in the whole world. Practically, in every part of the globe, one can hear about pasta, parmesan or spaghetti pomodoro and at least a single time could be addressed with a famous “Do you like Italian food?” as part of a simple conversation. Well, this question makes great sense in NYC which is the second place after Italy itself where the number of Italian restaurants is uncountable. It could be explained by the fact that New York City is home for the biggest Italian-American community in the whole country. On the other hand, it can be a marker of how much Italian cuisine being loved and valued in the city.

If the idea of spending an evening in a cozy atmosphere with the taste of outstanding Italian dishes have ever crossed your mind, you have come to the right destination. We drew up a list of the best restaurants where delicious food is served and where you can feel the charm of dim light – the perfect places to eat and enjoy nice chats with the loved ones or friends. 

1. Trattoria Trecolori – the place is an extremely convenient position, originally founded on East 53rd. Joaquín L. González, once he experienced success with his small restaurant, he moved it to the West 45th Street in the Theatre District. Today this place is run by his sons Marco, Víctor and Phil.  Since it was continually growing and improving, and the clients’ attention was persistent, Trattoria Trecolori becomes a big, impressing place on its current position. The unofficial motto here is “we believe that some things are best done the old way”. Let’s take a look on a menu.

The list of appetizers is full of delicious things to prepare yourself for the evening – classic Caesare with shaved parmesano and garlic-rosemary croutons, Insalata Trecolori (arugula, radicchio and endive with grated asiago in a balsamic vinaigrette); under the Zuppa del Giorno you can taste a soup of the day. Many clients are fond of Antipasto Trecolori – a selection of Italian meats and aged cheeses. There are a great variety of fruits and seafood as well. So, are you hungry yet? An impressive selection of pasta including chef’s specials (spaghetti alla Bolognese). Homemade potato-ricotta dumplings (Gnocci Alla Baba) and homemade pasta in our parmesan-cream (Fettucine Alfredo) have to be tried. Entrees and desserts are rather classic.

By the means of incredible ambiance, extremely attentive and polite waiters and, of course, the food, clients here have a chance to experience the feeling as they were sitting somewhere in a safe place “with mamma”. The place is rather a family type.

Photo: Trattoria Trecolori restaurant

Do not get fooled by the location of this restaurant. For some people, the close proximity to the Times Square could be a sign of a touristic place. In the case of Tratoria Trecolori, it’s completely misleading.

Address: 254 West 47th St, New York, NY 10036, b/t Broadway & 8th Ave, Theater District, Midtown West.

Average main course: $21. 

2. Lilia, a child of acclaimed Missy Robbins – its chef and founder, – is one of these places where you always hesitating what to eat, because literary everything is worth of trying! Missy Robbins’s profile stands for itself – she served her amazing dishes for Barack and Michelle Obama. Her outstanding proficiency with traditional Italian dishes like pasta is something of a personal professional mark.

Let’s say you start with nice cheese dumplings covered in a broccoli-basil pesto (ricotta gnocchi).  The great selection of meat, primi pasta and fish (Grande Pesce) is always there for you to enjoy and to discover how beautifully different Italian cuisine can be.  In the section of “Aperativi Salati”, you will find prosciutto, balsamic mustard, parmigiano butter, extremely delicate housemade mozzarella, toasted garlic bread (filled up with a gentle layer of mozzarella and the taste of salinity) and bottarga. This place has rather a modern look with great respect to Italian traditions.

Photo: Lilia restaurant

Warm aura of the place along with classy service made Lilia one of the best Italian restaurants in the New York City. According to the clients, Lilia restaurant simply beggars all descriptions. For some people, the place seems to be universally suitable, so they coming here for all sort of things – birthdays, dates, occasional dinners as well.  

Address: 567 Union Ave, Brooklyn 11211, North 10th

Average main course: $26

3. With its charming interior, Del Posto already gives you an important message – with this food here you can experience an almost original experience of having a perfect Italian dinner. The restaurant has the highest rank according to the New York Times magazine. It is elegant and luxurious. With an amazing list of dishes from the chef Melissa J. Rodrigues, the place is completely justifying its motto – “the ultimate expression of what an Italian restaurant should be.” Relaxing piano music, friendly, polite staff and delicious food are what gives you the idea of what king of vibe you can get by choosing this place as your dining destination.

Photo: Del Posto restaurant

From the section of “Antipasti” try “Carne Cruda con Carta di Musica e Parmigiano Reggiano” – 28 Day Aged Beef Ribeye with Sardinian crisp. You will find many fine reviews on Agnolotti di Coniglio – braised rabbit, parmesan and olives in small pillows. Maybe you too find its taste as delicious as most of the clients have.

Del Posto is one of the places which you explore in its wholeness – the interior, the strength of pasta and parmesan, the taste of truly Italian dinner. And you won’t have any doubt that all of it matches each other on a perfectly composed Italian restaurant.

Address: 85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011, b/t 15th St & 16th St Meatpacking District, Chelsea.

Average main course: $62.

4. If you crave for the legit pasta and the most classic Italian recipes, there is a great place on 110 Waverly Pl., neat Sixteen Avenue. Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca was opened in 1998 and it is still as fresh as it was at the very beginning of its existence. Among popular dishes, there are Beef cheek ravioli, Grilled octopus, Grilled Pork Chop. The restaurant, as many clients say, gives you clear Italian vibes. The food is sublime and full of perfect flavor. As a part of respect to the client and as a simple gesture, the restaurant is giving you complimentary cookies and biscuits to finish the meal. Visiting Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca is a great way to experience in Italian lifestyle through the food.

Photo: Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca restaurant

Address: 110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011, b/t N Washington Square & Macdougal Street, Greenwich Village.

Average main course: $68.

5. If you are going to choose next restaurant in this list as your dining place for today (or tomorrow) prepare yourself for a surprise: every plate you order will be at least twice bigger than you expected. It is not something you used to observe in Italian restaurants. We are talking about Carbone – truly an atmospheric place with chandeliers and modern art on walls and waiters in specially designed taxes. At some point you might get a feeling, that Carbone is reminds you something – somehow this place quite often resembles The Godfather tones. Many clients emphasizing on that. Maybe it will work the same way for you too – catch the feeling as you eating at the place where mafia form 50th is gathering. Carbone has these theatrical vibes mixed up with the best dining traditions from all over Italy.

As we mentioned before, the portion you have here is giant. It is symmetrical to the size of the menu – it looks rather like a fresh newspaper.

Spicy Rigatoni Vodka – one of the best and usually preferred dishes in this restaurant. Besides that, try out Veal Parm, Veal Marsala, Tortellini al Ragu and Octopus Pizzaiolo.

Photo: Spicy rigatoni vodka and Mario’s meatballs in Carbone restaurant

Every table gets house-infused limoncello and grappa for free – such a gesture from the restaurant to the client. The food and service in Carbone, according to most of the impressions are extraordinary.

Address: 181 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012, b/t Houston St & Bleecker St, Greenwich Village.

Average main course: $70.

6. Al di là Trattoria – opened in 1998, the restaurant respects fine traditions of delicious northern Italian food. Anna Klinger is the chef, and her work is simply brilliant. The menu is changing quite fast, so every time when you at Al di là Trattoria you get a chance to learn new taste from a celebrated chef.

Photo: Al di là Trattoria restaurant

Address: 248 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215.

Average main course: $40.

7. That would be extremely wrong not to mention at least one place with an incredibly good pizza. Go to Roberta’s – some people claim this restaurant is where they eat the best pizza in the city. The pasta is also there and it is no less tasteful. For taking away you can order an amazing bakery. 

Photo: Pizza in Roberta’s restaurant

Address: 230 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10169, Midtown East.

Average main course: $20.

8. Frankie’s 457 Spuntino – in the menu you can find a fantastic selection of traditional Italian dishes as well as cheeses, pasta’s and cured meats, salads and specialties from the chef. The place can be used for different events – private parties, family gatherings; it is good for the dates. The whole company behind this place was founded in 2004.

The menu holds a large choice to order. We would recommend you to try meatballs or meatball sandwiches and the sweet potato ravioli.

Photo: Frankie’s 457 Spuntino restaurant

Great ambiance and interior decorations, as well as excellent service, would make your dinner pleasant.  

Address: 457 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231.

Average main course: $30.

9. Rao’s is one of the old school iconic Italian restaurants in New York City. The interior is classic for such places – on the walls, you see autographed photos from famous persons.

Photo: Rao’s restaurant

You need to know that reservations here are not possible. Among dishes you must try are next ones – Fried Calamari, Orecchiette with Brocoli Rabe & Sausage, Filetto Rib Eye Steak, Veal with vinegar peppers and incredible Lemon Chicken. The staff is highly qualified. You can be sure that by the end of the evening you’ll feel like friends with your waiter.

Address: 455 E 114th St, New York, NY 10029, b/t Pleasant Ave & 1st
Ave, East Harlem.

Average main course: $70.

10. Immerse yourself in a beautiful creation of architect Renzo Piano – Santina. This coastal Italian restaurant is full of lemon trees, artsy walls and luxurious chandeliers. The food here is mostly derived from Southern coastal Italian cuisine. The main focus is on the seasonal food – vegetables, fruits and fish.  As you understand, the place is perfectly suitable for summertime evenings and nights. According to the New York Times magazine, Santina is one of the best restaurants in New York City. And we totally agree with that statement.

Photo: Renzo Piano – Santina restaurant

Address: 820 Washington St, New York, NY 10014, b/t Gansevoort St & Little W 12th St Meatpacking District, West Village.

Average main course: $50.

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