Best of New York: Our 10 Favorite Italian Restaurants across the state!
Italian restaurants in New York have been around as long as there have been Italian people in New York. Every culture brought their food and family traditions, including the Italians whose largest wave of immigrants came between 1900 and 1910. Where else could you get fresh made ricotta, mozzarella, sausage or homemade tomato sauce? Or do you call it gravy?
Whether you call it gravy or sauce, pasta or macaroni, Italian food is a universal favorite and New York has no shortage of places to get an authentic Italian meal. Follow your nose to the smell of wood fired pizza ovens, homemade pasta and meatballs, like Mom used to make.
Little Italy is an area in lower Manhattan not far from the financial district and bordering on Chinatown. It's a smaller area than at the turn of the 20th century when Italian families transformed the neighborhood into recreations of their native towns, complete with their favorite friends, family and food. Italian food landmarks in Little Italy include Lombardi's, which claim's the distinction of being the first pizzeria in America, having been licensed by the city as such in 1905. Order one of their "smoky-crusted pizzas" made with fresh tomato sauce or any of the old-world dishes from their menu.
When the neighborhood started to transform, attracting higher rents and more modern taste buds, Babbo was there to draw them in. The Babbo vision "boils down to Italian hospitality with a decided American twist" and the food and dining experience is an outgrowth of the combined passion and know-how of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, two giants in the food and wine scene and the team who brought Eataly to America.
From Italy to Little Italy is how Angelo's characterizes their Southern Italian cooking. Their recipe for success is consistency and they have been turning out crowd and celebrity-pleasing Italian meals since 1902. Angelo's is a neighborhood staple that serves traditional, authentic Southern Italian dishes on Mulberry Street in the heart of Little Italy. Save room for dessert or walk over to the famous Ferrara's for pastry and espresso.
To have a classic Italian meal in a preserved slice of what used to be a classic Italian neighborhood, head to Corona and have lunch or dinner at Park Side. After your meal (and if the weather is fine) walk over to watch the bocce players at "Spaghetti Park" or get a homemade ice in a paper cup from the Lemon Ice King of Corona. Park Side stands as the anchor for what remains of the "old neighborhood" in Corona, maintaining high standards of quality and propriety for what is expected of a formal Italian dining experience. Call ahead for a reservation.
An Italian Sunday meal means all hands on deck and pass the cheese, please. Dinner at Dominick's is like Italian Sunday every day of the week. Sit next to your best friends and make some new ones dining family style at Dominick's where the dishes are ample and the reviewers rate it as unfussy and reasonably priced. It's more of a place to satisfy your taste buds than impress a date, but stop in before or after a day exploring the specialty food markets on Arthur Avenue and if you fall in love with Dominick's tomato sauce or salad dressing, you can take some home.
Uptown and tucked somewhat quietly out of sight is a famously low-key Italian eating establishment that also bottles their own sauce. Rao's has a reputation for being hard to get a reservation, but that may be because the place is tiny, with only 10 tables. The restaurant is known and loved worldwide for its food and exclusive clientele. It's been operating in the same location since 1896 under the stewardship of the same watchful families who maintain the mystique and the menu. Your best chance for sampling their cooking might be their food products available in select supermarkets and Italian speciality stores, but don't let that stop you from calling for a reservation.
Stepping into Aroma Osteria is like stepping into an Italian villa with its ochre colored walls, stone terrace and country views. The restaurant gets high marks for the tasty authentic Italian cooking as well as the pleasant atmosphere and professional staff. Tables and rooms can be arranged for family parties and you can order from their regular and family style menu or take advantage of their 2 for $20 Business Lunch.
Ristorante Lombardo has been serving fine food and wine since 1975, carving out a niche in Northwest New York as well as a home in the hearts of diners who appreciate the "understated elegance" that goes along with food like thin crust wood fired pizzas, organic chicken saltimbocca and fresh, homemade pastas. The menu changes with the seasons, the specials are special every day and you can choose from more than 30 wines by the glass, to turn a night of noshing into a tasting menu dining experience.
"Pizza made to perfection" along with "desserts you'll want to take home" is what awaits young lovers and foodies at Romeo and Juliet's Bakery and Cafe. The soup will warm you, pasta fill you and pizza put you in the mood to propose to come back. The food is imported from Italy or made from fresh ingredients by Italian chefs and bakers. They can make up a platter of cookies, cater your next party or provide a superb Italian meal to eat in or take home.
If it's steak and standard Italian specialities you're after, Delmonico's Italian Steakhouse,"home of the 24 oz. Certified Angus Delmonico Steak" is the classic lunch and dinner restaurant that doesn't disappoint. Diners in the Albany area also seek out Grappa 72 Ristorante for their food, wines by the glass and unique selection of Grappa. Enjoy the Italian regional specialties on the lunch or dinner menu and on select nights savor your meal while talented local musicians ply their craft amid the dining room conversation. Grappa 72 was voted Albany's Best New Restaurant by Metroland back in 2010 and has been gaining a steady following ever since.