Italian food is loved by all for its delicious ingredients and hearty flavors. In bustling New York City, Italian food is never far away. We profile 10 of the city’s best Italian restaurants and trattorias in Little Italy and beyond.
A Voce interior Courtesy A Voce
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If there’s a man who knows about bringing Italy’s best cuisine to international diners, it’s A Voce Chef Filippo Gozzoli, who has worked in kitchens from Los Angeles to London to great acclaim. From A Voce’s prime spot overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park, Gozzoli reinvents the food of his childhood with contemporary ingredients and matches it to the A Voce wine list, which has over 2,700 varieties. Dishes like pancetta with kumquat and pistachio, or baccala (salt cod) in a chicken consommé with braised fennel and smoked corn purée may be unexpected, but that doesn’t mean they’re anything less than delicious.
Meaning ‘Among the Flowers’ in Italian, you will be among the best cuisine in town at the ambitious and delectable Ai Fiori. Blending the best of Italian with the richness and sophistication of the French Riviera, Ai Fiori prides itself on its modern twists on classic dishes. The setting for dishes such as vellutata (lobster soup, périgord black truffles, tarragon) and blue crab spaghetti is equally as a sublime. Upon entering the restaurant, visitors are greeted with a beautiful white marble bar where the skilled bar staff serves up carefully crafted cocktails to seduce your palette.
A higher class of establishment, Del Posto stands out in a city characterized by top nosh and stylish dining experiences. Offering what is possibly the greatest lunchtime fixed menu in New York, guests can enjoy delicious food, great service, and traditional Italian ambiance here. The lobster salad is a perfect starter, with the burnt beef or ragu bolognese providing a great, filling main with beautiful presentation and even better tastes.
Tucked away near dynamic Broadway and Hell’s Kitchen, Etcetera Etcetera eschews the rustic atmosphere favored by some Italian restaurants and instead keeps things fully contemporary; the sleek, stylish interior of greys and reds, plus the outdoor terrace overlooking West 44th Street, attract casual diners and late-night theater-goers. Restaurateur Daniele Kucera, who hails from the Giulia region of Italy, has created a menu full of simple but irresistible dishes, like the homemade basil spaghetti with hearty chunks of crab and sweet roasted peppers, and the grilled skirt steak served in a tangy lemon, parsley and garlic sauce.
A signature dish at Locando Vini e Olli Courtesy Locando Vini e Olii
Locanda Vini e Olii
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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When husband and wife François and Catherine Louy found a disused 103 year-old pharmacy in Brooklyn, they knew they’d discovered the perfect location for their new restaurant venture, Locanda Vini e Olii. That was in 2001, and 13 years later the place is still going strong, lovingly refurbished by the couple and now managed by Michael Schall, experienced sommelier Rocco Spagnardi and executive chef Michele Baldacci, whose Florentine upbringing shines through in the authentic menu. Tempting dishes like the lamb and potato tortelli with fresh spring peas and pancetta and the grilled duck breast served with a fig and shallot marmalade and chickpeas are not to be missed.
Winner of Esquire magazine 2010’s Best New Restaurants of the Year, Maialino is an old-fashioned Roman trattoria re-imagined and brought to life in modern New York City. With spectacular views over Gramercy Park, Maialino uses local produce to create traditional Italian dishes. The bar area provides a rustic feel, like a workman’s shop, where you can peruse the menu whilst enjoying finger foods like lardo-topped bruschetta, and pizza bianca dusted with smoked pancetta. There are eight pastas on the menu, including an slightly sweet spaghetti carbonara and luscious tangles of tonnarelli folded with creamy Pecorino and black pepper. Bringing the best of ancient Italy to contemporary city life, Maialino is a must-try.
Run by the Migliorini family, Piccolo Angolo is the authentic home of proper Italian food in NYC. Since its establishment, this restaurant has become a staple in the hip West Village and you will be hard-pressed to find somebody in the city who hasn’t heard of this sweet little place. Indeed, despite its small size, the big love of Italian food is the reason behind Piccolo Angolo’s enviable popularity. With an impressive array of wines on offer to accompany the delicious doughy pizza bases and traditional tomato-smothered pastas, escape from the modern city scene to a quaint, electric taste of Italy.
With a motto of ‘L’appetito viene mangiando‘, or ‘food that makes you want more’, it’s no wonder that Rafele is popular with foodies looking for delicious cuisine. The debut establishment of Napels native Raffaele Ronca, former Chef at Bellavitae and Palma, this 70-seat, bi-level trattoria draws on Raffaele’s ancestral heritage of butchers and fishermen to give the food a family touch. Try the panzanella salad and branzino for a lighter meal, or the pettole ragu if you are particularly famished. From prosecco to tiramisu, you will be guaranteed an intimate and personal dining experience complete with fantastic rustic and traditional tastes.
Restaurateur Carlos Suarez ensures that Rosemary’s feels just like home; the Greenwich Village haunt is named after his mother and inspired by her Tuscan heritage, and the interiors, full or wooden rafters, exposed brick and terracotta tiles, hark back to Italian childhood days. Rosemary’s even has its own rooftop garden, from which he sources herbs and other produce. The menu is similarly simple and unpretentious, with classics like minestrone soup making an appearance, alongside and more modern combinations such as espresso-glazed pork ribs with apple radish slaw.
If you are looking for something a bit different, Torrisi might be exactly up your street. Its renowned seven course tasting menu is served seven nights a week (alongside its Friday through Sunday lunch menu) with the restaurant becoming a hub for food-lovers bursting to get a taste of Italy. Partners Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi have created a delicate yet inventive take on Italian-American classics, applying haute techniques to local ingredients. Although the menu – five antipasti, a pasta, a choice of two entrées, a dessert sampler – changes every single night, past favorites included expertly cooked linguine with tender Littleneck clams, baby pasta shells with calamari and pepperoni, and perfectly textured Greenmarket ricotta gnocchi with ramps and grated Greenmarket Pecorino. This establishment has no reservations, so make sure you get there early to guarantee a seat.