Updated: December 2017
Guide to the Best New York Italian RestaurantsAny visit to New York is not complete without visiting a couple of great restaurants. When it comes to big city dining, great retaurants can mean a few things. First, there are those that win all the awards and reviews, serve impeccable food, and leave you with a bill for $250 for 2 people. Even better are the ones that have tons of local flavor (literally and figuratively), great food, and get you out the door for $100 or less. When it comes to the best Italian food, New York can compete with any city in the world (yes, that includes cities in Italy, since many restaurants here receive daily imports direct from Italy). Of course the title of "best italian restaurant in New York" changes each year, and there are a multitude of opinions as to what makes ones place better than another, but the truly great Italian restaurants do stand out and make a name for themselves over time. In this guide, we will take a look at those hot spots that garnish the title of the "Best", and we'll also include some other fun spots that offer great Italian food, great atmosphere, even though they don't require an investment banker expense account for a night out on the town.
Best Little Italy RestaurantsIt may come as a surprise, but the best Italian restaurants are usually not found in Little Italy. Sure, you can find some good, family-run, traditional Italian restaurants along Mulberry St., but they don't normally win the awards as the very best in the City. Try La Mela (167 Mulberry St, 212-431-9493) LaMelaRestaurant.com, it's a pretty casual dining spot with big screen TVs that highlight photo slide shows and images of live diners. There are no menus here, it is all family style with a series of dishes for either $34 or $58 per person. Da Nico at 164 Mulberry St (212-343-1212) is another popular spot in Little Italy. They offer outdoor seating in the summer, serving everything from awesome pizza to Veal Saltimbocca to Salmone alla Griglia. It's not the fanciest place in town, but the traditional Italian food will leave you full and smiling. DaNicoRistorante.com. Other contenders along Mulberry include Il Cortile (125 Mulberry St) and Amici II (165 Mulberry Street ).
Best Italian Restaurants in New YorkWhen you are looking for first-class dining in New York City, you have to expect to pay for it. Most of the restaurants listed here will set you back a pretty penny -- but they deliver a first class meal in a first-class setting. Let's start around the Greenwich Village area. Babbo (212-777-0303) is located at 110 Waverly Place (between MacDougal and 6th) in Greenwich Village, just 2 blocks from Sheridan Square. Chef Batali (you've seen him on TV) comes up with a never-ending, tongue-tingling combination of ingredients that is sure to please any Italian fan. Try the Traditional Tasting menu for $75 (8 courses!). Their website is BabboNYC.com for menus, though menus can change nightly. Best to come prepared for a good-tasting surprise, whatever it is. Reservations recommended. Il Mulino (since 1981, closed Sundays) brings the Italian flavors of the Masci brothers to New York. It has been voted the top Italian restaurant in New York a few times, and you know what? They just might be right on that one. And the prices match their 5 star rating -- expect an expensive meal and expensive wine. You may be packed in pretty tight here, it's not a quiet romantic spot, but you can't beat the food. Located at 86 West 3rd Street (212.673.3783), another location in Greenwich Village just south of Washington Square Park (a block east of MacDougal, between Sullivan and Thompson). IlMulinoNewYork.com
Also in the Village is Bellavitae (212-473-5121) at 24 Minetta Ln, designed along the lines of an Italian wine bar. Love the wooden floors and the 2 bars. Like other top of the line Italian restaurants, they import a lot of ingredients direct from Italy daily as well, meaning you get fresh, interesting menu items each evening. Have eaten here 3 times, never disappointed. Most entrees are under $20. Explore the wine list with your server - we've found 2 gems from their advice. BellaVitae.com for menus and wine lists. A little further north is Del Posto at 85 10th Ave (betw 15th and 16th, 212-497-8090), an upscale locale with a superb wine list (though many choices under $50 as well). It's another Mario Batali restaurant (with help from some friends), with a wonderfully warm atmosphere. The veal chop at $65 isn't cheap, but damn it's good! DelPosto.com
Soho - Check out Fiamma (since 2002, Italian for "flame") at 206 Spring St. (between Avenue Of The Americas & Sullivan St). Phone is (212) 653-0100. Great for romantic dining or just a classy night out. They've brought it great reviews -- expensive but worth the money for a night of primo Italian. The potato gnochhi with littleneck clams was a delight.. A five course meal will run around $105. Wine runs from $50 on up, but plenty of choices that won't break the bank. BRGuestRestaurants.com for menus and hours. Reservations recommended.
Midtown - If you find yourself in midtown looking for some great Italian fare, check out Alto at 11 East 53rd Street, between Madison and Fifth Avenue (212.308.1099). The restaurant has a very modern look and feel, not a traditional old-school Italian village look. Focusing on northern Italian cuisine, Alto doesn't fail to please. Entrees can run from $26 for pasta to $37 for bass to rack of lamb for $44. The Prix Fixe Menu is $88.
Some other top names are Scalini Fedeli, Rao's (455 W 114th St), Felidia (243 E 58th St), and if you just want pizza, try Lombardi's.
Best Inexpensive Italian Restaurants in New YorkFor some less expensive and less ostentatious Italian dining, check out Carmine's, with two locations -- 200 W 44th St (212-221-3800) and UWS 2450 Broadway betw. 90th and 91st (212-362-2200). They serve huge family-style portions of southern Italian cuisine here and there is plenty of noise and energy to let you know you are in New York. Bring along a group of friends or family (not really a romantic hideaway). Order a few things off the menu, everyone shares, plus there is plenty to take home. I've been visiting the Upper West Side location for almost 20 years. CarminesNYC.com.
Some other less expensive Italian restaurant contenders include Bianca (in the Noho region, 5 Bleecker St near Bowery, 212-260-4666), Biricchino (260 West 29th Street near 8th, 212-695-6690) has been delighting locals since 1987 with entrees from $15 to $25, Celeste (502 Amsterdam Ave near 84th, 212-874-4559) offers a low-key trattoria setting, Gennaro (665 Amsterdam Ave at 92nd, 212-665-5348) also serves the Upper West Side in a family-friendly environment, and Via Emilia (47 E. 21st St near Broadway, 212-505-3072) open for lunch and dinner, with entrees under $20.