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Aduchamp1 Aug 6th, 2011 10:07 PM

Your Favorite NYC Restaurants
Maitai wants to start a Fodor's on-line Your Favorite Restaurants listing for any group of posters who wish to do so. Here is the NYC version. Your town or city may vary but some of the ideas may apply

Please tell all your favorite within these very simple guidelines:

Each category could be any cuisine in any area. The amount should not include the tip, tax, or any drinks. When you list you favorites, please be terse in the description but provide the type of cuisine, neighborhood, and favorite dish, if any. And please only submit only those restaurants where you have eaten in the previous twelve months. No second hand or outdated recommendations.

Thank you.


Under $25 per person

$25-$50 a person

Over $50 a person

Stratospheric prices or places for special occasions.

bspielman Aug 7th, 2011 09:18 AM

OK, I'll start this off with one of Warren's (Adu) favorites: Cacío e Pepe, a Roman trattoria on Second Avenue between 11th and 12th. We've gone there periodically since he recommended it to us several years ago. It is named for a signature Roman dish, which is home-made Tonnarelli pasta twirled around in a hollowed-out wheel of Pecorino cheese and garnished with black peppercorns.

If you order that dish as your entrée, precede it with a salad, and follow it with dessert, the bill will be $35 before any beverages of any kind. The least expensive glass of wine is $10 and coffee (not listed on their online menu) is probably $4 or so. That brings the total to $49 before tax and tip. With them, this is a $63 dinner.

Now, if you choose to explore this place's menu a little further, however, and choose Cacío e Pepe as a first course and a mid-priced secondi as the main, then dessert, the bill before beverages becomes $49. Add beverages, tax and tip as above and you've got yourself an $81 dinner.

These prices include the least expensive glass of wine; add several dollars if you choose to share a bottle or have a somewhat more expensive glass.

I hope you see where I'm going here: Cacío e Pepe is a good, moderately-priced (by New York standards) New York City neighborhood restaurant. Quite competent, but hardly a "destination" place. Yet, dinner approaches $100 per person.

Thus, I respectfully challenge the notion that restaurants that cost $50 or more are "destination" places.

We dine out fairly frequently in Manhattan, often making the trip in from Madison, New Jersey, just for dinner. We've found that, for the most part, places of any reasonable quality in Jersey are just as expensive, if not more so, than those in New York, but don't offer the level of service or creativity of cooking and presentation we find in the City.

More on this in subsequent posts.

Bill_H Aug 7th, 2011 09:31 AM

<b>Stratospheric prices or places for special occasions</b>

Per Se ... probably 2nd best resto in USA right now after Alinea (Chicago), or at least that's what we thought after dining at both.

bspielman Aug 7th, 2011 09:45 AM

In mid-May, we had dinner at a then-brand-new West Side place, Boulud Sud. I don't have the itemized bill any longer, but I recall that the tab after tax and tip, and with a shared dessert, a bottle of wine and coffee, was a touch above $100 per person. A much better-than-average dinner (that's an understatement).

Now, compare that to my post above. How do you classify places?

Here's a write-up I did of Boulud Sud for friends:

Joy and I had an excellent dinner last night at Boulud Sud on West 64th just off Broadway before a New York City Ballet performance. It’s right around the corner from the almost equally new Épicerie Boulud, on Broadway.

It’s been open only since Tuesday, but we’d never have known it. Quite aside from the food, which I’ll get to, the service was nigh-on perfect, a beautifully choreographed “ballet” all its own.

Boulud Sud has a very high staff-to-diner ratio and it shows. Everyone, from the General Manager, John Paul O’Neil (a veteran of many of the city’s finest places—Eleven Madison Park, Blue Hill, The Harrison, and others), to the lowliest runner or water pourer, was extremely personable and knowledgeable. A well-oiled machine, delightful to watch as our dinner progressed.

As the place’s name implies, the menu offers specialties of southwestern France and the Mediterranean coast. We began with a shared small plate—-rabbit porchetta with thinly-sliced asparagus and a splash of basil oil—-that presaged the rest of our dinner—interesting, exciting food, beautifully presented.

Joy really enjoyed her fish soup with John Dory, so reminiscent of the bouillabaisse at Chez Tétou in Golfe-Juan right by the Mediterranean. After a sip, maybe I could be forgiven for imagining West 64th as a coastline!

My own appetizer was a pair of small squid, stuffed with chorizo in kind of a pesto, topped with a lovely tomato-based sauce. Once again, the presentation was beautiful, with the tiny tentacles carefully placed atop each squid. Absolutely first-rate.

A few words about the wines: The list is almost exclusively French, with a broad range of bottles priced from moderate to expensive. We had a tasty bottle of Burgundy, chosen with the help of a friendly young sommelier, for about $60.

Breads offered were a well-seasoned focaccia and an interesting flatbread. The bread server presented a plate with a small slice of garlic, a few pieces of Rosemary and some salt and pepper, then poured some good olive oil over the seasonings, allowing the oil to become scented right before us. A nice little touch.

Joy’s entrée was cedar-plank grilled Rouget stuffed with baby fennel, absolutely delicious, and served next to rolled up cedar “paper” in another very creative presentation. I had capretto with house-made orrechiette in yet another extraordinarily tasty sauce. Just terrific.

For dessert, we shared a fabulous concoction of julienned mango and caramelized rhubarb with yogurt sorbet, all sitting atop a thin slice of semolina cake. Excellent double espressos brought things to a close.

As a point of interest, they plan before too long, to open for brunch. I have no doubt they’ll do as great a job with that as they did for dinner.

Across the street at Picholine, Terrance Brennan might not be too happy about it, but we might have to begin calling that stretch of West 64th “rue Boulud”!

bspielman Aug 7th, 2011 10:06 AM

Here's a little more perspective on dining by price:

We can walk into our neighborhood pub here in Madison, New Jersey, Poor Herbie's. If we want a bowl of soup, a burger and fries and a glass of beer, it'll cost maybe $25 before tax and tip, $32 after.

Want a real entrée at Herbie's, rather than just a burger? Appetizers range from $4 to $8, a salad is $4, and entrées from $15 to $29. A side veggie is $3, coffee $2, desserts in the $5 to $8 range. Right down the middle, the sum of the average costs is $44 before beer or wine and before tip. Add a glass or a shared bottle and the tip, and dinner is $71. Is Poor Herbie's a "destination" place?

We ask ourselves, when we're in a bar (even a good one!) in Jersey, why, when the railroad station is a half-block away, we haven't gone into the City to get a really good dinner for virtually the same price, at the investment of a little more time.

bspielman Aug 7th, 2011 10:08 AM

So, the question becomes: If you're going to spend $70 or so per person for a mediocre dinner, isn't it worth it to spend a few dollars more at a really food place where your money is better spent?

Aduchamp1 Aug 7th, 2011 12:22 PM

Under $25
Motorino-Pizza, East Village. The ingredients are excellent as is the crust itself.

Defonte's-Italian Sandwiches-They were in Red Hook Brooklyn for 75 years before opening one near Gamercy Park. Once you order you can't wait for your overstuffed meatball or potato and egg or veal parm and even their roast beef is scrumptous. Limited Seating.

Jing Fong-Dim Sum, Chinatown. Could be the cheapest meal in town. Go during the week. Just point at the carts as they pass. My favorites are the turnip cakes and chcken feet. You can order from the menu if you are less adventurous. Take a fussy eater in a group, so he can try things that always frightened him.

More to follow

bspielman Aug 7th, 2011 12:59 PM

Make "really food place," "really good place."

Aduchamp1 Aug 7th, 2011 09:23 PM

More under $25

Clinton Street Bakery, Breakfast, Lower East Side, table service. It is a zoo on weekends, some of the best biscuits, scones, and pancakes in town.

Second Ave Deli-Jewish Deli, East 30's, Katz's has the rep but Second Ave has the side dishes. The pastrami may be a shade better at Katz's but overall Second Ave is better, although Katz's is just fine. Try the potato or noodle kugel or kasha varnishkes. Then you will understand why Jews die of heart attacks.

Casimir-French Bistro, Lower East Side. Basic bistro fare well prepared. In the nice weather you can sit in the small garden and watch the laundry from the nearby apartments dry overhead.


Pylos, Greek, East Village. They go beyond your normal gyro and make Greek cooking more elegant and elevate some of the basics. I am not sure why this place is not more popular.

MFNYC Aug 8th, 2011 08:07 AM

I just discovered an under $25 gem, Mappamundo in the W. Village. There are also deals as well, so with that's it's really a bargain, and the food is very good.

volcanogirl Aug 8th, 2011 09:37 AM

For under $25 per person, we like Dafni for Greek and John's for pizza; both are close to Times Square so convenient for those going to Broadway. Also like John's in the Village and Rocco's bakery.

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