Italian cuisine is among my favorites. For me, any day is a pasta day (or a pizza day). In New York, there are plenty of options – but unfortunately, a lot of people (mostly tourists) only have two references in this category: Olive Garden and Carmine’s. Many people prefer what is best known, for fear of overspending or not liking food. Well, New Yorkers do not go to those restaurants – and that alone could be reason enough to explore other options. In addition, there are cheaper and better Italian restaurants than these – and much more authentic. Whoever follows my blog for a long time knows that I always say and repeat: avoid chain restaurants in New York. The city is a mecca of gastronomy, with charming restaurants and very well evaluated. I have been to many Italian restaurants in the city and today I share with you my favorites!
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Pisticci – One of the best pasta that I’ve had in New York City is the one from Pisticci. Fresh and delicious pasta (our friends also approved). Besides the delicious flavor, the generous size, the charming atmosphere, and great service, prices are good – pasta options are U$13-U$17. Pisticci is also a Green Certified Restaurant. Fettuccine with mushrooms is delicious (and you should also try Lady Liberty drink and Coconut Cake as dessert). It is located in Upper Manhattan and if you need an excuse to get the subway Uptown, just check out my posts with some suggestions of places to visit in the area (like Columbia University).
Address: 125 La Salle Street
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Lupa – One of the highlights is the Pasta Tasting Menu, with five types of pasta, with five dishes. The pasta is fresh and housemade. The pasta tasting menu costs $ 49.90 per person. If you do not want the tasting menu, worth remembering that the restaurant also has several choices of dishes with pasta priced from $13. You can check out the full menu here. I think it’s a great restaurant choice for a romantic dinner or to celebrate some special occasion. Remember that the Lupa also opens for lunch! And I highly recommend making a reservation – also through the website.
Address: 170 Thompson Street.
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Porsena – For those looking for a more intimate experience, I recommend Porsena! It is a very cozy Italian restaurant, with music and lots of candlelight. In the menu, the highlight is pasta! There are several types and there are also risotto. Porsena prices are also good – the plates of pasta are around $20 and desserts $8. It is very well located, not far from Union Square. I suggest order Sedani al Norcino with ricotta, garlic and black pepper and also Anelloni pasta with lamb sausage, mustard seeds and a touch spicy. A delight! I have been there twice and did not make reservations, but it’s good to ensure, right?. It opens only for dinner
Address: 21 E 7th Street.
Morini – this restaurant is perfect for a romantic dinner. Sophisticated atmosphere, great staff. And the best: delicious pasta and well-served portion. Complimentary bread is delicious! Also, from Sunday to Thursday, from 8:30 p.m., Morini has Pasta Night, where pasta costs only $12 (just the right column on the pasta menu, you’ll see, ask about Pasta Night!). The Tagliatelle Bolognese is simply fantastic! At other times, the pasta cost between $22 and $32. Highly recommend making a reservation as well.
Address: 1167 Madison Avenue.
UPDATE: Morini is closed! You can visit the other location in Soho and Pasta Night happens every Monday starting at 9pm.
Pizzas! There are several spots for pizzas in the city, however I will recommend two that are authentic Italians:
San Matteo Pizza & Expresso bar –recommended by guides like Zagat and Michelin, San Matteo is a very typical place with Italian customers and Italian management. The menu has pizzas from $ 11, which are enough for two people. The dough is delicious! I loved the one with cheese, truffles, and prosciutto. Another highlight is the “pizza con Nutella” ($14), warm, with lots of Nutella and served in a way that already fills your eyes. San Matteo also has typical starters, such as a cheese plate and burrata. Open daily for dinner and also for lunch on weekends.
Addresses: 1739, 2nd Avenue / 1559 2nd Avenue.
Kesté – Kesté offers the authentic tradition of the art of Neapolitan pizza making and its owned by world-renowned Maestro Roberto Caporuscio. If you wanna have an idea, the many accolades for Kesté include “#1 Pizza in New York” by New York Magazine, “Best Pizza” in the State of NY by Food Network Magazine, amongst the top 25 “Best Pizza Places in the US” by Food and Wine Magazine and 5 of “The Most Authentic Pizzas Outside Italy” (the only one in the US) by Mr Porter. Kesté Pizza & Vino offers over 70 types of Neapolitan pizzas, all original creations by Mastro Pizzaiuolo Roberto Caporuscio, signifying his knowledge of the history, the authentic tradition and the evolution of Neapolitan pizza. In his unique offering, Mastro Caporuscio also added 7 different types of fried pizza and 18 types of gluten-free pizzas. You can check the menus on the website. Prices are also great – pizzas start at $10, on average. And I couldn’t forget to tell you about Nutella Pizza: just try it! Kesté doesn’t take reservations. Addresses: 271 Bleecker St (West Village, lunch and dinner) 77 Fulton St (lunch and dinner) and 232 N 12th St (dinner).
Do you like these suggestions? I was checking lists of best Italian restaurants in the city from famous websites and all that I listed here were on the lists! I think I have good taste, right?
Laura Peruchi is a Brazilian blogger, author, and entrepreneur. She has lived in Manhattan with her husband since 2014. Since then, she has shared on her blog varied content about the Big Apple. From travel tips, including unusual things to do, shopping tips, etiquette, restaurants, and a lot more, her blog has become a reference in Portuguese (also available in English) for anyone planning a trip to New York City.