Italian food and New York City are forever bound. This is the birthplace of the New York-Style Pizza after all; actually, it’s the birthplace of pepperoni too.
Italian eateries, large and small, have fed ever-busy New Yorkers since the sixteen hundreds, and they have never slowed down.
It wasn’t until 1974 that an Italian restaurant, Parioli Romanissimo, earned the prestigious New York Times four stars putting Italian cuisine into fine-dining territory.
In 2010, almost forty years later, the Bastianich-Batali restaurant Del Posto received the coveted NYT four stars too; since then, fine-dining Italian restaurants have bloomed like Central Park in spring.
Yes, Del Posto is on our list, but today, there are enough fine Italian restaurants in the Big Apple to make a 50 Best list with ease. Here are our top five.
The acclaimed restaurant has recently changed ownership and has a new Head Chef: Melissa J. Rodriguez. The dining experience is still beyond compare. A set of multi-course dining options can cost you up to $194 per person without wine but dinning here is much more than the food. Service is choreographed, and the grand dining room is spotless.
The agnolotti pasta, filled with braised rabbit is a highlight, and so is the Garganelli al Ragu. If you want to experience Del Posto for a reasonable price, try lunch; for $59, it’s a real deal.
This place has a cult-like following. Thirty years of good ambiance and great food have put this restaurant on our list. Energy fills the air, and warm, attentive service is guaranteed.
The hand-rolled strozzapreti pasta with peas and morels is genuinely delightful. The tagliatelle with spicy pork ragu is better than homemade. And then there are the entrees; from halibut to scallops, from quail to lamb, everything is perfectly cooked and beautifully plated.
Chef Carmen Quagliata runs this kitchen as if she was hosting a dinner for friends. Don’t miss dessert, try the Rhubarb Sundae and the house biscotti, they really do put the cherry on top of the icing on the cake.
Carbone is what every Italian restaurant should be. Italian American cuisine elevated to the highest modern standards.
Quality-minded, but unpretentious, the trio of chefs Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi, and Jeff Zalaznick bring classic dishes to new heights.
Jumbo Shrimp Scampi and Lobster Fra Diabolo, together with a daily selection of fresh seafood cocktails show the chefs have a love for the sea. Chicken and veal, two Italian American staples are as good as they get. Pasta might just steal the show, indulge with their Lobster Ravioli.
Plan your date night carefully. They take reservations one month in advance.
One of the greatest Italian seafood restaurants in the city (with a newly opened branch in Dubai), Chef Michael White’s Marea is without a doubt a treasure from the sea. Not to mention, it has a stunning view of Central Park.
Their crostini selection (fancy stuff over toast) is a great way to start the evening; oysters and caviar from all over the world are a delightful way of nourishing your senses.
Pasta is on another level, red wine braised octopus over fusilli; clams and calamari tossed with spaghetti, all are heavenly.
The four-course fix menu is the best deal, and the chefs tasting menu is ideal for special celebrations.
Rita Sodi is an ambassador for Florentine cuisine. She brought to New York the flavors of her childhood in central Italy. The family gatherings, grandma’s recipes, the taste of local ingredients, it’s all here. Every dish is a picture of a different land, of different times.
The artichoke salad with Parmesan cheese is a perfect starter, so is the steak tartar. Chicken rabbit, pork, and beef are all well represented in the articulate menu.
You’ll be back for the lasagna with artichoke sauce and the unmatched, genuine countryside ambiance. Forget about New York, lose yourself in Tuscany; at least for a few hours.