Best Italian Dining - Theater District, NYC
There has never been a better time to plan an evening, or for that matter, an entire day, in New York's legendary Theater District. Make sure to enjoy one of these best Italian restaurants of either lunch or dinner.
Capizzi Pizzeria and Wine Bar - Midtown West
You never know just who you'll run into when you dine at this old-school Italian Pizzeria.
A favorite ofBroadway actors and tourists alike, celebrities such as Steve Harvey and the Travel Channel's Anthony Melchiorri, (Hotel Impossible), can't get enough of the delectable, mouth-watering pizza that comes out of the oven here.
Owner Joseph Calcagno takes a great deal of pride in the fact that everything that is served at Capizzi is made as if you were going to his grandmother's house for Sunday supper. The food is that good and authentic.
At Capizzi, your experience in pizza paradise begins with the ingredients. As a child, Joe would accompany his grandparents on their shopping trips around Brooklyn when it was time to set the table for a family feast.
Nonna would not settle for anything less than the very best, shopping at a variety of butcher shops, fish purveyors, Italian specialty shops and vegetable markets. Then, it would be time to go home and start putting the meal together from scratch.
That's the philosophy Joe grew up with and he brings this attention to detail and tender, loving care to Capizzi each and every day.
Joe's mother and maternal grandparents were born in Capizzi, which is a small town in the Messina province of Sicily. Capizzi Pizzeria and Wine Bar honor this tradition of excellence that was and still is, a part of the family heritage.
A master pizzaiola, Joe learned the business from his father who owned a pizzeria back in Brooklyn.
Joe knows from experience that there is nothing quite like a pie straight out of a wood-burning oven. The taste and texture are beyond comparison. And, once you taste one of Joe's masterpieces, you'll agree, too!
Every pizza here is perfectly seasoned. At Capizzi, they truly believe that variety is the spice of life, so there are plenty of options on the menu.
It all starts with the Pizza Margherita, which is the first pie that Joe learned how to make. It's still one of his favorites to this day.
But, you'll have a hard time deciding which of the pies you want to try first. The Asparagus Special is made with roasted asparagus, mozzarella, pecorino romano cheese, tomatoes, truffle oil and pine nuts.
The Messina pie is topped with San Marzano tomatoes that are imported from Italy, sliced eggplant, olives, onions and ricotta salata cheese.
Other tasty selections include a light and flavorful prosciutto and arugula pie, the hot and spicy Italian sausage with caramelized fennel pizza and a breakfast pie that features eggs that are blended with pancetta and onions.
The menu has a small but tempting selection of appetizers and salads to choose from, like the Caprese salad with fresh Buffalo Mozzarella that comes from Campagna, Italy and their signature spinach rice balls.
Should you come here with a hungry family or a group of friends, it is heartily recommended that you order Capizzi's huge Antipasto Misto platter to share, together with a couple of pizzas.
That meal will set you up very nicely for the rest of your day. And don't forget to wash it all down with a glass of red or white wine.
The ambiance here is nothing fancy, but the homey decor is cozy and calls to mind the type of Trattoria or pizza enoteca that you would find in any city or town in Italy.
When you're hungry for pizza and nothing but the best will do, take a break from your day and stop in at Capizzi for a genuine taste of Italy.
Location and Hours
547 Ninth Avenue (Between 40th and 41st street)
New York NY 10018
Monday to Wednesday..................12 PM to 12 AM
Thursday to Saturday....................12 PM to 1 AM
Sunday.........................................12 PM to 11 PM
IL Punto - Midtown West
This quaint and classic Italian restaurant is all about connecting people through food. As in Italy, meals are a way to spend quality time with friends and family while savoring those precious, personal moments that make life beautiful.
That's why, Il Punto is the restaurant of choice for couples out on a date, families celebrating a birthday or anniversary as well as business executives who are looking to give their out of town clients a first-class New York dining experience.
In the language of Dante, "Il Punto" means "the point". At first glance, one might think "Hey, that's not a very romantic name for a restaurant."
But, upon closer inspection, it all begins to make sense. When founder and noted restaurateur Antonio Pecora opened Il Punto in 2004, he wanted to make it a destination point
where visitors from near and far could gather and enjoy an authentic Italian meal and traditional hospitality that never goes out of style.
One could say that, fourteen years later, Antonio's goals were realized beyond his wildest dreams.
The design is red-sauce Italian with tiled floors, red curtains that add a theatrical effect, exposed brick walls and cozy alcoves where you can enjoy some private time with the family. Abstract art work is prominently displayed throughout the dining room, lending an elevated touch to the proceedings.
However, in no way, does the space feel outdated or stale. You will quickly pick up on the vibrant, contemporary ambiance. Thinking of popping the question to your long-time love? This is a great setting in which to do so.
One of their most popular salads, aside from a fantastic Caesar is La Spinaciotta, a bountiful blend of fresh spinach leaves, mushrooms, crispy bacon and artichoke hearts with a zesty and citrusy lemon-based dressing.
Italian restaurants are known for their soups and the chef here turns out a delicious bowl of pasta fagioli and minestrone. The twist here, though, is that you can get a version of the classic minestrone with pesto sauce, instead of the usual tomato broth.
Almost all of the entrees are very reasonably priced, between $15 and $19. For this part of town, those price points are more than fair.
You won't be able to get enough of the house-made fettuccine with sauteed shrimp, zucchini and grape tomatoes. This is a dish that is both filling and refreshing. Nothing heavy about it.
The earlobe shaped Orecchiette pasta is served with sausages and broccoli rabe in a simple but delectable sauce of garlic, butter and olive oil.
A dish that you cannot pass up is the creamy, wonderfully textured Risotto with Porcini mushrooms and Truffles. It is mind-boggling. There are so many flavors going on at once.
If you wish, you can order your fork-tender Veal Scaloppine with with a savory marsala or tomato sauce. The chicken Parmigiana is more than decent, but you can get a similar dish just about anywhere.
Instead, opt for Il Punto's signature creation, Salmone Arrostito. Accompanied by some of the best mashed potatoes you will ever have, the pan-seared filet of salmon is cooked in a sauce with lemon and red beets. The wow factor is undeniably there !
As the restaurant says on their Chi Siamo (about us) page... "We may not be able to bring you to Italy. But, through our food and warm, friendly service, we can bring Italy to you."
Location and Hours
507 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
Monday to Sunday........................12 PM to 10 PM
Trattoria Daniela-Midtown West
The seductive aroma offresh as can be herbs, spices and tomato sauce hits you just as soon as you walk in the door. If you're not already hungry, you will be !
Chef Xavier works with recipes that have been passed down through the years in the owner's family. This is the ultimate Italian comfort food experience, with the chef addinga few delicious and inventive twists and turns of his own to the mix.
Absolutely spot-on for dining before or after the theater, Trattoria Daniela exudes old-world charm with a rustic, cozy atmosphere.
The main dining space is on the first floor. You feel totally removed from the surrounding city here, almost as though you were enjoying a meal at a country inn in Tuscany.
When you venture up a short flight of stairs, you'll find yourself in an intimate and sexy mezzanine dining area. This space is also available for private parties, so keep that in mind the next time you have a birthday or any other type of celebration coming up.
Eating here is not only a treat for your taste buds, it is eminently affordable. Every day, from 4 PM until 11:30 PM, you can indulge your senses with Trattoria Daniela's$ 38 Pre-fixe dinner offer.
The first course consists of your choice of salad or the chef's soup of the day. Your delectable second course consists of ofany pasta or chicken entree on the menu. The pre-fixe winds up with one of the pastry chef's scrumptious desserts and a cup of rich, flavorful coffee.
Entree selections range from an anything but the boring traditional plate of spaghetti and meatballs, penne alla vodka, and a grilled pork chop that is covered in cherry and vinegar peppers in a sweet balsamic glaze.
Another tempting dish is the Tilapia Livornese which is served in a light tomato sauce with capers, olives and onions.
Equally compelling is the outrageous Chicken Campagnola. Chunks of both white and dark meat chicken are blended with savory sausage, peppers, potatoes, mushrooms and onions in a white wine glaze.
Around the neighborhood, the buzz is all about Trattoria Daniela's amazing brunch. Brunch here is a great value and they have a long list of imported and domestic wines for you to enjoy together with your egg and pancake dishes.
Must-tries include the French Toast Siciliana that's made with Mascarpone cheese and fresh, juicy berries.
Everyone who brunches here, at one time or another, orders the wonderful Daniela omelet. Fluffy and filling, this omelet consists of egg whites, Gaeta olives, spinach, mushrooms, onions and Parmesan cheese.
Why not get the family together and do brunch here, particularly if you are attending a Broadway weekend matinee or want to visit a nearby attraction like The Intrepid Sea and Air Museum or Madame Tussaud's wax Museum.
Location and Hours
728 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10036
Monday to Friday....................11 AM to 3:45 PM
Monday to Sunday.................4 PM to 11:30 PM
Saturday and Sunday............12 PM to 3:45 PM
Cielo at the Mayfair - Midtown West
One of the crown jewels of the Theater District, Cielo at the Mayfair Hotel is the sleek and contemporary reincarnation of the much loved Cafe Cielo, which was a neighborhood staple for more than twenty-five years. That's a successful run that any Broadway show would envy!
In 2013, owners Joe Gambuto and his daughter Isabella decided that the time was right to re-imagine Cafe Cielo and take it to another level. They moved their restaurant from its' original location on 8th Avenue and 52nd Street to West 49th street, right next door to the fabled Eugene O'Neill Theater.
A restaurant and hospitality industry "lifer", the charismatic and personable Joe Gambuto ran one of the only successful white table-cloth dining establishments in the Times Square area prior to the re-vitalization of the district by Mayor Rudy Guiliani. That definitely says something about the Gambuto family's staying power and work ethic.
Isabella literally grew up in her Dad's restaurant, frequently using the banquettes and tables as a playground. But, more than anything else, she loved hanging out in the kitchen.
A natural-born foodie, Isabella began working part-time at cafe Cielo while also pursuing a double degree from Oberlin College in both Political Science and African-American studies.
Upon graduation, Isabella joined her dad full-time and became a partner in the business.
Isabella was tasked with overseeing the grand re-opening of Cafe Cielo at its' new home.
The new general manager modernized the menu, as well, working closely with the head chef and kitchen staff, many of whom have been with the Gambuto family for close to three decades.
Isabella wanted to stay true to Cielo's roots, while, at the same time, updating some of their most popular dishes as well as creating a brand new cocktail list.
The original Cafe Cielo was housed in a renovated old liquor store. Joe put together a crew and did most of the grunt work himself. As nice and cozy as the old restaurant was, the new digs are considerably more elegant.
Cielo at the Mayfair's fan base runs the gamut of all ages and backgrounds. Hipster couples love the personal service and romantic atmosphere while families appreciate the fact that Cielo is so kid-friendly and has an enormous amount of variety on their menu.
Vacationers and business travelers are always on the lookout for a restaurant that isn't a "tourist trap" and delivers big-time on quality food and service.
Utilizing only farm fresh ingredients, the kitchen turns out not just one or two, but four outstanding dishes that deserve to be called "signature".
The Agnelotti Della casa consists of made from scratch vegan ravioli that is stuffed with Porcini and wild mushrooms and then sauteed in garlic and olive oil.
You will find everything that is good about simple but effective Italian comfort cooking in the Cappellini Giramonte, a dish that will turn your palate upside down with its' blend of delicate, al dente angel hair pasta, shrimp and scallops in a white wine and butter sauce.
The Penne Pisani is a generous portion of pasta in a slightly spicy tomato sauce that is topped with fresh mozzarella that is made right there in Cielo's kitchen.
When a nice piece of fish is calling your name, skip the brand name chains that dot the Times Square landscape and head on over to Cielo. You will fall in love with their sauteed file of sole with almonds in a lighter than air lemon sauce.
Oh, and those cocktails we were talking about before? Cielo at the Mayfair's bar has over half a dozen specialty libations that will tantalize your palate and quench your thirst.
For all of you James Bond fans out there, you'll know that The Vesper was 007's cocktail of choice.
Isabella Gambuto's version of this sexy drink is three parts Hendrix Gin, one part Grey Goose L'Orange and a dash of Lillet. It's served shaken, not stirred, of course !
The Pepino, with it's ingredients of Bombay Sappphire, Saint Germaine and muddled cucumbers and lime will cool you off on even the hottest and most humid of days.
Rounding out things is Cielo's Basil Mojito, an Italian twist on a popular happy hour cocktail. Muddled basil joins forces with Bacardi Silver, simple syrup and lime juice to create a cocktail that has its' very own personality.
Location and Hours
242 West 49th Street
New York, NY 10019
Monday to Friday..........................12 PM to 12 AM
Saturday and Sunday...................11 AM to 12 AM
Azalea Ristorante-Midtown West
The Azalea is a flower that is popular the world over. Delicate and soft, the Azalea blooms in a variety of colors, ranging from purple and red to pink and white. It's no wonder that
florists almost always include an Azalea or two when they are putting together a bouquet for almost any occasion.
It's only appropriate that the owners here named their restaurant after such a well-loved flower.
According to Azalea's mission statement, their goal is to bring color and vibrant flavors to an already blooming neighborhood.
" Just like the beautiful Azalea flower, Azalea Ristorante is like a splash of color inthe Theater District."
With majestic 18-foot ceilings, the interior is a sight to behold. Connecting both the front and side dining room, the artsy bar has a curved mahogany overhang, which holds dozens of gleaming glasses.
Another eye-catching design element is the Georgia O'Keefe flower series that greets the guests as they enter the premises.
Outside the main entrance is a spacious, picturesque outdoor patio replete with green, white and red umbrellas that provide shade and style. This sleek people-watching haven would not be out of place in Milan or Rome.
A culinary oasis, Azalea Ristorante's menu is a hip, sexy take on regional Italian cooking. With a beautiful presentation on every plate, the food is just as "good-looking" as the decor.
Depending on your taste, guests can choose to indulge with the rich, creamy sauces and meat-based dishes that the Brescia region is famous for. Or, you can travel to Amalfi, as it were, and enjoy fresh seafood and vegetable creations.
It is strongly recommended that, no matter what you decide on for your entree, you start the meal off with the chef's Sformatino Di Pere. This singular dish is a warm pear and gorgonzola souffle' that's served with a Parmesan cheese fondue.
The clams in the Linguine Al Vongole taste so fresh and juicy that you'll swear that you can catch the scent of the Mediterranean sea, when the waiter places this plate in front of you.
Fresh as can be, the Salmon is grilled to perfection and served with a side of Broccoli that is never soggy or watery and has just the right amount of seasoning and crunch on it.
One of the heartier dishes here is the Tagliata Di Manzo, a Brescian staple for centuries, which consists ofsliced beef over a bed of salad and boiled potatoes.
Should you have a nice dish of lasagna in mind, make sure that you are really hungry because the portion is almost enough for two. The Bolognese sauce, by the way, is made with three succulent meats; pork, beef and veal. The flavor combination is off the charts.
Pollo Azalea is the restaurant's signature dish. It is outstanding in every way. A nicely-sized chicken breast is stuffed with Prosciutto, Fontina cheese and Black truffles. There is so much stuffing that you get some in literally every bite. The demi-glaze sauce is, of course, more than welcome, but not at all necessary. This is one rockin' chicken breast. So tender and not a bit dry!
End your evening on a melodious note with a cup of Espresso accompanied by a dish of their heavenly Tiramisu.
Location and Hours
224 West 51st Street
New York, NY 10019
Sunday to Thursday..............................12 PM to 11:30 PM
Friday and Saturday............................. 12 PM to 12 AM
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