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Where to find great Italian food in New York City

Kelley Kassa offers advice on where to find great Italian food in New York City.

Times Square

Dear Kelley,

My husband and I are visiting New York City and want to go to a great Italian restaurant. What do you recommend?

—Husband and Wife on R and R

Dear R and R,

There’s certainly plenty of Italian in New York. And that presents the problem—far too many choices. My go-to authentic Italian is a family owned and run restaurant in Greenwich Village – Villa Mosconi. It’s been around since the 1970s and offers a cozy, friendly atmosphere. In fact, I remember one of my early visits as a kid, where Chef Pietro showed me green pasta—which was something new for me. Most nights you’ll find family members John working at the bar and Gerry working as the maitre’d.

Villa Mosconi is open Monday-Saturday for lunch and dinner. They have an extensive menu that reflects the family’s heritage from the Emilia-Romagna region. You’ll find many of the classics, all well-prepared and homemade. This is a great place if you have a range of eaters – some who prefer the comfort of a dish like Chicken Parmagiana and some who want to try newer dishes.

When I go to Villa Mosconi, there are always two dishes I make sure to order. Regardless of who I’m with, I split an order of Paglia e Fieno to start. It is egg fettucini with spinach fettucini tossed with a light cream sauce, prosciutto and peas. Despite my best efforts, I’ve not been able to replicate the dish at home. I usually try a different entrée (haven’t had a bad one yet) and then end with the Zabaglione alla Mosconi. Zabaglione is an Italian light custard. This house version is a warm custard served with fresh strawberries. They also offer cold Zabaglione with strawberries and one with raspberries. There are other Italian dessert classics as well.

Another option is Barbuto, a restaurant by Chef Jonathan Waxman. It’s a rustic Italian neighborhood restaurant in the West Village. Barbuto’s offerings changes daily based on the quality of produce and the seasonality of ingredients. You’ll find a small selection of pastas, such as Rigatoni al Forno, with creamed spinach and pecorino; Orecchiette con Fagioli, with black-eyed peas, chorizo and scallions, and Gnocchi con Zucca, with acorn squash and taleggio fonduta.

Entrees include Waxman’s signature Pollo al Forno, a roasted chicken with salsa verde, Pork Milanese, hangar steak, trout and sea scallops.

Lastly, you may want to try Lupa, a traditional Roman osteria from Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali, also in the West Village. Don’t miss the salumi here, some of which is house-cured and outstanding (Batali’s family owns and runs the well known Salumi in Seattle).

The pasta dishes here are traditional and they are excellent representations of the cuisine. Offerings include Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Ricotta Gnocchi with sausage and fennel, Stracciatella alla Romana and Bucatini all’ Amatriciana. Main courses include Saltimbocca, Octopus with lentils and tomatoes, and Pollo alla Diavola. Lupa also offers Crispy Duck Agrodolce, Fried Lupa Baccala (salt cod) and Hudson Valley Rabbit.

Enjoy your trip to NYC and let us know what you picked!

Times Square photo by frank242 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Published March 11th, 2014