100 best New York restaurants: Italian food

The diverse cuisine of Italy is showcased at some of the best New York restaurants. Here are our favorite raucous family-style, and revisionist red-sauce spots.

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  • 100 best New York restaurants: Del Posto

  • Photograph: Sarah Pasell

    100 best New York restaurants: Osteria Morini

  • Photograph: Moya McAllister

    100 best New York restaurants: al di là

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    100 best New York restaurants: Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria

  • 100 best New York restaurants: Torrisi Italian Specialties

     

  • Photograph: Marlene Rounds

    100 best New York restaurants: Locanda Verde

  • Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

    100 best New York restaurants: Parm

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    100 best New York restaurants: Frankies 457 Spuntino

  • Photograph: Michael Alexander

    100 best New York restaurants: Maialino

  • Photograph: Dominic Perri

    100 best New York restaurants: Perla

  • Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin

    100 best New York restaurants: Porchetta

100 best New York restaurants: Del Posto

Gotham-dwellers are mad for Italian food, and some of the best New York restaurants offer world-class pasta, fragrant roasted meats and a show-stopping spreads of salumi, cheese and antipasti. But of all the Italian restaurants in New York (and there are many) only a handful topped our list. Read on for our take on New York’s best Italian food, both rustic and high-flying.


RECOMMENDED: Full list of 100 best New York restaurants


Del Posto

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

With four-star ambitions and prices to match, Mario Batali’s Del Posto set the bar awfully high when it opened in 2005, but the cavernous restaurant has become nothing less than the city’s top destination for refined, upscale Italian cuisine. The clubby dining room, serenaded nightly by a twinkling grand piano, feels like the lobby of a very opulent grand hotel.  The kitchen, under the stewardship of longtime Batali protégé Mark Ladner, challenges its French competition in butter consumption.  A gorgeous mixed mushroom appetizer drowning in the stuff, as do ethereal ricotta-filled gnudi and flaky thyme-flower sprinkled turbot fillets. The most show-stopping dishes, intended for sharing, include hunks of lamb and veal and pitch-perfect risotto for two.  The all-Italian wine list is suitably encyclopedic and exorbitantly priced.

  1. 85 Tenth Ave, (between 15th and 16th Sts)
More info

Osteria Morini

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Chef Michael White (Alto, Marea) is one of New York’s most prolific and successful Italian-American chefs, and this terrific downtown homage to a classic Bolognese tavern is the most accessible restaurant in his stable. The toque spent seven years cooking in Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, and his connection to the area surfaces in the rustic food. Handmade pastas—frail ricotta gnocchi in light tomato cream, fat tortelli bundles oozing an absurdly rich mix of braised meats—are fantastic across the board. Heart-stopping meats, meanwhile, include porchetta with crisp, crackling skin and potatoes bathed in pan drippings. With so much butter and cream, you might skip dessert, but don’t miss head barman Eben Freeman’s riffs on classic aperitivi.

  1. 218 Lafayette St, (between Broome and Spring Sts)
Book online

al di là

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Aspiring restaurateurs in Park Slope should study this convivial Fifth Avenue pioneer. Nine-year-old al di là remains unsurpassed in the neighborhood. Affable owner Emiliano Coppa handles the inevitable queue (due to the no-reservations policy) with panache. The wait is worth it for co-owner and chef Anna Klinger’s Northern Italian dishes. It would be hard to improve on her braised rabbit with black olives on steaming polenta; even simple pastas, such as the homemade tagliatelle al ragù, are superb.

  1. 248 Fifth Ave , (at Carroll St), 11215
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Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria

  • Price band: 2/4

Il Buco’s casual offshoot—one part winecentric restaurant (Vineria), one part gourmet food pantry (Alimentari)—pulls off the retail-restaurant mash-up more elegantly than most. The store in front is artfully curated like a miniature Dean & DeLuca, with dangling hams and bespoke hunks of cheese. In the evenings, though, there are plenty of inducements to abandon shopping in favor of a family-style dinner in the back. Start with greaseless fried baccalà (house-cured salt cod) and falling-off-the-bone lamb ribs with a dollop of nutty romesco. Then, move on to simple pastas—bucatini strands alla gricia are a porky spin on a classic cacio e pepe—and huge entrées like wood-fired, salt-encrusted branzino. Desserts, including a chocolate terrine with crunchy sea salt and bitter orange rind, are of the traditionally understated Italian variety.

  1. 53 Great Jones St, (between Bowery and Lafayette St), 10012
Book online

Torrisi Italian Specialties

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Good old-fashioned Italian-American food, eclipsed of late by the real-deal regional cooking of Italy, found an unlikely savior when this spiffy deli opened its doors on Mulberry Street. What started off as a hoagie shop—serving top-notch chicken parmigiana and roasted-turkey sandwiches—morphed over time into one of the city's most groundbreaking restaurants. Young chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi, veterans of Cafe Boulud and Del Posto, lionize the Little Italy pantry, celebrating domestic ingredients like Progresso bread crumbs and La Quercia prosciutto in a $63 nightly prix fixe that's among the best deals in town. Tony Soprano wouldn't know what to make of this food—grilled seafood salad in a zingy pepperoni vinaigrette; striped bass sauced in an upmarket clam chowder. But we wouldn't have it any other way.

  1. 250 Mulberry St, (between Prince and Spring Sts)
Book online

Locanda Verde

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Owner Robert De Niro swapped his train-wreck trattoria, Ago, for this blockbuster replacement helmed by chef Andrew Carmellini (A Voce). Carmellini’s bold family-style fare is best enjoyed as a bacchanalian banquet. A single charred octopus tentacle served with tangy romesco won’t last long in the middle of the table. Nor will the chef’s ravioli—as delicate as silk handkerchiefs and oozing pungent robiola. Locanda is the rare Italian restaurant with desserts worth saving room for: Try the rich, crumbly brown-butter plum cake.

  1. 377 Greenwich St, (between Franklin and North Moore Sts)
More info

Parm

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

At this casual annex to Torrisi Italian Specialties, chefs Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone continue to draw cultish crowds with their inventive riffs on Italian-American classics. You’ll find the improved hoagies that have become their signature, as well as an expanded menu of starters and mains, and a full-service bar with house wines and cocktails. There are playful updates on red-sauce classics like fried calamari and baked ziti, along with nightly blue-plate specials: big, beautiful pork chops rubbed in pizza spices on Wednesdays, and fragrant zuppa di pesce on Fridays. Retro desserts include Carvel-style ice-cream cake, layering house-made pistachio, strawberry and chocolate gelato in between chocolate crunchies.

  1. 248 Mulberry St, (between Prince and Spring Sts)
More info

Frankies 457 Spuntino

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This casual spuntino was an instant classic when it debuted in Carroll Gardens in 2004. The mavericks behind the place—collectively referred to as “the Franks” Castronovo and Falcinelli—went on to become neighborhood pillars, opening German-leaning steakhouse Prime Meats down the block and a coffee shop, Café Pedlar, in Cobble Hill. But their flagship remains as alluring as ever, turning out an impressive selection of cheeses, antipasti and cured meats, distinctive salads and exceptional pastas to a mostly-local crowd. Cavatelli with hot sausage and browned sage butter is a staple, as are the flawless meatballs—feather-light orbs stuffed into a sandwich or served solo, lavished with raisins and pine nuts. Frankie’s is also a popular venue for private parties: A former stable has been converted into a cozy cabin with a patio, a set of turntables (bring your own DJ) and a roasting pit.

  1. 457 Court St, (between and Lucquer St and 4th Pl)
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Maialino

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

Danny Meyer’s first full-on foray into Italian cuisine focuses on the foods of Rome. The menu, from chef Nick Anderer, sets a new standard with faithful facsimiles of dishes specific to the area. Antipasti include delicate baby artichokes—deep-fried in olive oil—served with a pungent anchovy-bread sauce. Among the pastas that follow is an excellent spaghetti alla carbonara with egg yolks, guanciale and heaps of black pepper. Entrees, like the namesake maialino, a golden, fennel-rubbed piglet haunch presented with potatoes basted in pig fat, are a reminder of just how seductive authenticity can be.

  1. Gramercy Park Hotel, 2 Lexington Ave , (at 21st St)
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Perla

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

For this West Village hit, restaurateur Gabriel Stulman (Joseph Leonard, Fedora) has teamed up with chef Michael Toscano, a talented youngster who caught the eye of the food cognoscenti while running the kitchen at Mario Batali’s meat palace Manzo. The toque has wasted no time in embracing the spotlight here, turning out bold, playful food to match the electric vibe. Pop in early or late for cocktails and snacks at the bar, or settle in for a procession of virtuoso small plates that tease freshness and excitement from humble Italian classics. You might start with cool pieces of lobster served with smeared robiolina and a sprinkle of caviar, then move onto handmade pastas like translucent brown-buttered tortelli with Technicolor ricotta-beet filling. The generous entrées have self-confident swagger, all big, bold proteins under an assertive sear; the best is brined beef tongue, crisp on the edges and supremely tender inside. Desserts, by Toscano too, include an apple-fig upside-down cake that’s like a cross between tarte Tatin and sticky toffee pudding.

  1. 24 Minetta Ln, (between Sixth Ave and MacDougal St)
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Porchetta

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This cultish takeout shop focuses narrowly on central Italy’s classic boneless roasted pork. The lilliputian menu, which includes the namesake dish two ways—as a sandwich or on a platter with two sides—and little else, makes it clear that the only real reason to eat at Porchetta is, well, the porchetta. Fortunately for them, they’ve hit a home run. The cubed meat is equally enjoyable stuffed into a small spongy loaf (perfect for absorbing the juices) or served loose: It’s amazingly moist and tender, having been slowly basted with rendered pork fat during its five-hour cooking, fragrantly seasoned with fennel pollen, herbs and spices, and flecked with brittle shards of skin.

  1. 110 E 7th St, (between First Ave and Ave A)
More info


Users say

2 comments
Breon O
Breon O

where do you go in NYC to have a good dish with Summer truffles?

Nina Felice
Nina Felice

Novita is by far the best Italian restaurant in NYC!!