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Best NYC Neighborhood Italian Restaurants

Christine Drinan, Founder
Osteria 57 Neighborhood Italian

We love you New York. Now that we’re at 100%, it’s nice to be eating up a storm and forgoing takeout for in-person dining.  We know it’s a transition to get back to normal, but we promise, it’s like riding a bike. These are a few of our favorite NYC neighborhood Italian restaurants.

Osteria 57 NYC restaurant

Osteria 57

Why we like it:

We think we know everything about food, and all but ignored this spot for years. Osteria 57 is not be confused with a trattoria in Midtown with a similar name, which may be why we didn’t give it a look.  On the recommendation of a friend, we came and are officially obsessed.  It’s one of the quintessential NYC neighborhood Italian restaurants.  Cozy rooms, friendly warm service, reasonable prices and excellent homemade pasta.  You can tell the owners just care; even their outdoor seating is more than a wooden box.  The interiors express the heart of the restaurant well, and they’re inviting enough to make you wish it was a cold winter night.  This is the place to come those evenings and dine in the candlelight.

osteria 57 italian restaurant salmon

What to order:  

Pasta, pasta and pasta.  The saffron taglioni with crab and breadcrumbs is a standout.  It’s a homemade egg pasta with a Sorrento lemon butter sauce, that’s delicate and nuanced at the same time.  This is also a pescatarian’s dream, as the menu is all fish and vegetarian-based.  The fish dishes are done thoughtfully and all have their own unique creativity.  The steelhead salmon gets just enough salt with the anchovy sauce.

san carlo italian restaurant atmosphere

San Carlo Osteria Piemonte

Why we like it:

Whenever we need a last minute reservation, or we want to dine with a group, this is always tops of  our NYC neighborhood Italian restaurants.  We don’t even live in the neighborhood, either. You can read our more in-depth Tastemaker Review here. 

San Carlo’s service is elevated, far beyond a neighborhood restaurant, and the atmosphere is always lively on a weekend.  During the week, it’s a nice chill spot to grab a bite in Soho and to sit for a few hours with a bottle of wine.  They never rush you out; it’s Italian hospitality at its best.

san carlo osteria italian restaurant

What to order:

Definitely a bottle of wine; they have an impressive list for all budget ranges.  Also anything with truffles, where they always have the seasonal truffle of the moment.  Right now, it’s the black Perigord truffle, and you can shave it on anything.  They also have a truffle tasting menu.  When those white truffles come into season, the diet goes out the window for a plate of tagliatelle loaded with truffles.

Celeste Italian restaurant NYC

Celeste

Why we like it:

On the Upper West Side, Celeste is the best Italian restaurant in the neighborhood. Even those who typically try not to eat above 14th Street, find this a worthwhile spot for the food.  We’re going to level set that they haven’t done a thing with the ambience and it’s normally so crowded you’re in and out.  This is not a spot to have an unlimitedly long dinner, and they have quirky rules.  Like you have to order your appetizer and main course at the same time, and it’s cash only.  Yet, the fresh pastas and cheese plate continue to draw us back, even after two decades.

Celeste ravioli

What to order:  

We still haven’t found any NYC neighborhood Italian restaurants who make Celeste’s tagliatelle pasta with cabbage and sheep’s cheese.  It sounds weird but it’s excellent.  As is the spinach and ricotta ravioli in butter sage sauce.  Their pasta here is hard to beat. When we’re not in pandemic times, the owner Carmine brings in cheese from Italy that you can’t get in the US.  Also, when the Mediterranean mussels are in season during the fall, they are so good diners order them for dessert.  You will never have mussels in NYC like these.

Uva italian restaurant NYC

Uva

Why we like it:

This is the go-to wine bar spot, that’s optimal for a first date.  Commit to a drink and if it looks promising, order a little antipasti.  Then of course if it’s going well, then, and only then, stay for dinner.  You can pull the ripcord anytime at Uva, where there won’t be any awkward moments.   It’s a casual favorite, where the prices are gentle and there’s something for everyone.  While maybe it’s not the best location, it is one of the best NYC neighborhood Italian restaurants on the Upper East Side.

Uva gnocchi

What to order:  

They have a whole page dedicated to cured meats and cheese, so order a meat and cheese plate.  Long-time loyalists swear by the homemade pasta, where we can always get beyond the gnocchi and especially the mezzelune.  The former is a  half moon shaped ravioli filled with prosciutto and mozzarella in a creamy mushroom sauce.  That dish alone probably won Uva a spot on the best neighborhood Italian restaurant list.

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