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MsT_UK Feb 10th, 2007 05:22 AM

Feeding a party of 30+ in NYC
Hi, I am part of a party of 34 students and teachers visiting New York from Friday 16th - Monday 19th Feb.

Our itinery is pretty predictable - it's a trip for politics and history students - but we would love some recommendations for places to eat in the evening. We would be looking for places which are reasonably cheap, and places which might look kindly upon a group of this size. We may go to Chinatown on the Sunday for Chinese New Year, but we realise that walking into a restaurant without reservations on such a busy night might be mad, so any suggestions for that night are particularly welcome!

Regards and thanks.
Ms T

NeoPatrick Feb 10th, 2007 05:28 AM

Some may cringe, but for a big group of hungry younger eaters, it's hard to beat Carmine's for pure food, good "old-fashioned" Italian, and pleasant but noisy surroundings. There's one near Times Square and another on the Upper West Side. It's the kind of place where it's best to order a few big dishes served family style and all split the bill.

Rhea58 Feb 10th, 2007 08:38 AM

Staying w/the Italian theme, you might want to try Tony DiNapoli's
in theatre district @ West 43 St.
The dishes serve 2-3 people;
pastas $17-19; chicken $20-22
& there is a cute downstairs room
which may suit your party.;cuisineid=0

nytraveler Feb 10th, 2007 10:06 AM

You don;t mention the ages of the students or your budget. I'm assuming the latter is limited.

Trying to walk into a restaurant with 30 people is close to madness unless you have advance reservations - or arrive when it opens. They may want you to take a separate room - and definitely will need to setup for you in advance. Otherwise you'll find yourselves eating in groups of 4 and 6 - some much later than others.

Carmine;'s is a good choice since the massive portions are generally good for boys from 12 to early 20's (who in my experience often seem to eat their weight in food daily). But - unless you share lots os dishes it's not that inexpensive.

The suggestion of is a good one. But - please, if the entire 30 is staying together at all times (and how will you travel - subway?) you really do need to make reservations - since for many places this may be almost half of their seats.

lizziea06 Feb 10th, 2007 10:40 AM

I would post your inquiry on the Manhattan board at It's a board completely devoted to dining in Manhattan, and they will be able to give you some targeted advice.

mclaurie Feb 10th, 2007 11:29 AM

Oh GAWD. Do you realize that's a bank holiday weekend here? Kids are out of school. I agree that if you think you can just walk into a restaurant with a party of 34 without pre arranging, you're in for a shock. Most restaurants (including those in Chinatown) are smallish and those that are larger fill up with customers. Unless you're prepared to split up (to different restaurants, not just different tables), you'll need absolutely every meal pre booked INCLUDING Carmine's. You should also be prepared for most restaurants adding a sizable tip (20%) onto the bill for a party that large.

Carmine's is good b/c they serve family style, meaning each dish is HUGE so you don't have to order a separate dish for each person. The prices will look steep, but each main dish will feed at least 4 hungry people. is a good place to at least start. They have a drop down for "features" one of which is group dining.

If you tell us where you're staying, we may be able to help with neighborhood options.

Lori25j Feb 10th, 2007 04:05 PM

I could also suggest Virgil's BBQ in Times Square. Excellent, excellent and huge - but make a reservation for sure. They can easily accomadate a group that size.

Margo_Chester Feb 10th, 2007 06:08 PM

Good suggestions so far! You could also try John's in the theater district right near Carmine's. Call ahead and you might be able to seat your party together up on the balcony. Reasonable prices, and if a few kids wants to share pizzas it will be even more economical. 260 West 44th St. phone is (212) 391-7560

MsT_UK Feb 11th, 2007 06:51 AM

Thank you so much for your advice so far. Ages - the students are 18 & 19 year olds. Budget - it's really hard to put a number on it, as we don't know what to expect, but cheap is good - these kids are not rolling in it! Sharing dishes is a great suggestion, thanks for that, I assume that will not be frowned upon too much? (We don't want to behave inappropriately! :-))

The Italian suggestions are GREAT - that would go down very well with our kids.

I will take you advice for posting on other boards, and will definitely look into making reservations.

Thanks again for your replies - really excited about the visit!

NeoPatrick Feb 11th, 2007 06:55 AM

In all honesty, I think the best way to handle such a group (I've done this a number of times) is to come up with a figure -- maybe $15 or $20 per person. Put it all in a pot and you or someone be in charge of ordering family style for everyone giving some variety. At Carmine's you will be leaving a lot of food on the table for that higher price in particular --even with soft drinks, tax, and tip.

NeoPatrick Feb 11th, 2007 06:57 AM

Meant to say, not only is sharing not frowned upon at Carmine's, it's the way it's done. Food will be brought on platters to share family style.

MsT_UK Feb 13th, 2007 02:20 PM

Hi, we are in the process of making reservations at Carmines, but they want to provide a set menu (three courses) at a price per head which far exceeds that which we would expect to pay if we ordered from the normal menu and shared dishes (and is out of our budget). Is this to be expected for a group this large, or is this just a misunderstanding? I have mailed them back asking if we can simply come and eat from the regular menu...

NeoPatrick Feb 13th, 2007 02:49 PM

If so, that's a new policy for them. I'm anxious to see what you hear from the new email.

Margo_Chester Feb 13th, 2007 03:18 PM

Sounds like they might be booking you as if you were having a private party?

nytraveler Feb 13th, 2007 04:19 PM

Many restaurants don;t want to do the regular menu - and certainly not have individuals pay separately for so many people. Since this size group is generally much more work and they are setting asside a lot of room they have a potential major loss if you don;t show up. Also tipping can tend to be iffy with a group like this - so they often add on a mandatory tip. So they tend to want you to order off a set menu - so whoever is paying doesn;t get an ugly surprises. Also- you may expect them to ask for either a deposit in advance - or at least credit card info for whoever will be paying.

Don;t know how you've set up patment for your group - but no restaurant is going to let you pay individually. So - someone has to be sure they have plenty of room on their credit cards - and that they have collected meal money from everyone in advance.

Lois_L Feb 13th, 2007 04:48 PM

I thought Virgil's Bar-B-Q was expensive, for what it is. I would be scared to take teenagers, with their huge appetites, in there. Ethnic would give you more bang for the buck. On the same stretch of W. 44thth is Ollie's, for really inexpensive, good Chinese. They could handle your large group, as could nearby John's Pizza. Otherwise, on 9th Ave., are many interesting international options, if your group wanted to split into several sub-sections.

MsT_UK Feb 13th, 2007 10:54 PM

Hi, Carmines have got back to me and said that for parties of 15 or more you have to have the set menu. FYI, their packages are $42, $52 and $62 per person, and the whole group gets a choice of two appetizers, two pastas and two entrees. There is also a dessert sampler for the table. That's a lot of food even for our teenagers and out of our budget. It's a pity, because the warmth of the recommendations both here and on the CHOW board had got me quite excited!

I completely understand the whole tipping issue with large parties - this happens in the UK too - for big groups they will add on a mandatory service charge. We would usually do the maths at the table and everyone put in cash or their credit card, and then hand it over. Most restaurants here are happy to divide up a bill between two or more credit cards, especially now they use hand-held terminals. However, I think that when we come to New York we will be paying cash at most restaurants, and it should be fairly easy for one of the teachers to collect and count it.

Rhea58 Feb 14th, 2007 01:54 AM

I got curious so I called.


They too want "party packages"
which start at $29.95 pp. with
one app., pasta & entree. BUT,
if dining at their Times Square
location which would be great
for kids there is a $10 Discount
before 2 p.m. brining it in at a
reasonable $20/pp.
If you could alter your plans to eat
the "heavy" meal at noon, this would fit your budget & kids would see Times Square.

Just an alternative suggestion (in
their downstairs room) and I assume
20% mandatory gratuity. Must reserve w/credit card all on web site.

Margo_Chester Feb 14th, 2007 04:15 AM

Well I know this is not your intent, but do you have enough chaperones to split into 3 groups and each group try a different restaurant? 10 go to Ollie's, 10 go to Carmine's, 10 go to John's ??

Did you try John's and can they take all of you at once?

I certainly agree that $42-$62 pp is way out of a student's range and honestly I wouldn't want to pay $62 for Carmine's!

Rhea's suggestion is a good one too - would that work for you?

AntInNewYork Feb 14th, 2007 05:30 AM

I was just going to say what Mango had said - split yourselves up into groups of 5-10 people and go your separate ways if you have the chaperone capacity. Way more manageable that way, and less stress at bill time.

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