Restaurant Rolodex: My Favorite Neighborhood Restaurants

We’ve all got that one spot in the ‘hood that we just can’t get enough of. They just get you there, right? Striking that perfect balance of great food, friendly and genuine service with a nuanced atmosphere that is casual, low key, but special enough to keep coming back.

Whether new to the scene or NYC establishments, these are always the place for that low key but kinda cool date night, early Sunday dinner with the family, and they always impressout of towners. Whether its casual American fare, homestyle Italian, or French bistro-esque,  these are my picks for some of the  best neighborhood’s spots in and around NYC.


Emily West Village
The most popular kid in Brooklyn pizza has FINALLY made it’s way to Manhattan and it’s just as good as the original. With the pizza done two ways, grandma style and thin crust, plus their AMAZing burger, the food and atmosphere is exactly what you want in a casual but cool neighborhood spot. It won’t be your go to on a whim kind of place for awhile because the standard wait time is 3 hours, but make a reservation in advance because it’s truly worth the hype. Once you snag the reservation, all you have to worry about how not to order the entire menu.

35 Downing Street,
New York, NY 10014

Little Owl
This small, long standing Greenwich Village restaurant has simple and delicious fare (meatball sliders are a must) with that perfectly nuanced friendly, cozy and casual vibe, making it so many people’s favorite go to. This is a place for Date night, birthday celebrations, and meeting the in-laws.

90 Bedford St.
New York, NY 10014

Fiaschetteria “Pistoia”
New to the NYC restaurant scene, this small Italian East Village spot oozes the care, consideration, and casual allure of the owner’s home, the Tuscan countryside. Serious about their pastas and wine, but also about making you feel like you’ve come for Sunday supper at the Family villa.

647 E 11th St.
New York, NY 10009

Mermaid Inn
When the popular downtown Oyster Bar and restaurant opened on the Upper West Side, people came for their Oyster happy hour and they’ve never left. Perfect for a casual Saturday night seafood dinner or brunch on a Sunday with the family. We love that they have maintained their casual, Cape Cod kind of vibe uptown and the food is just as good.

570 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY 10024
(212) 799-7400

Quality Eats
From the restaurant group that brought you Quality Meats and Quality Italian, this younger, more casual downtown sister restaurant is one of those places that always comes to mind when looking for a great, easy place to have lunch, brunch, dinner or just a drink. Luckily they’re opening a new outpost on the Upper East Side.

Multiple Locations: Greenwich Village & Upper East Side

Union Square Cafe
This classic had to make the list because like a fine wine, it just keeps getting better with age. After leaving it’s original Union Square location, the new Park Avenue South space is larger and more grand, but they still have the same approachable take on fine dining with friendly, food obsessed service.

101 E 19th St.
New York, NY 10003

Waverly Inn
The no frills classic American Bistro is a true New York City veteran with it’s timeless dark dining room, wood laden bar, and probably one of the more famous burgers in the city. Opening in Greenwich Village long before it was the cool place to be, come here to impress out of towners with an old school NYC food experience, it’s also great for groups, or a casual date at the bar before heading to a comedy show.

16 Bank St.
New York, NY 10014

This Roman trattoria, owned and operated by a true Italian chef has come and gone and come back again all in the last 30 years, never skipping a beat. The pastas, fish, veal, and desserts are as good, if not better than, what I had on my most recent trip to Eternal City, and the people and place are just as authentic. Sandro himself runs the spot with the same love, care, and attention to his hospitality as you’d expect from a true Italian restauranteur. Slightly more upscale than most of my other picks, but this is exactly the kind of neighborhood spot you’d expect on the UES, perfect for a quiet night out with the ‘rents or business dinner that isn’t too stuffy.

306 E. 81st St.
New York, New York 10028
(212) 288-7374

Over 10 years and still packed every single night. There’s reason for that. This West Village Italian spot has the best pasta in Manhattan. There, I said it, and I believe it. They are casual yet refined in their approach to cooking, hospitality, and drinks. This place is my go to for date night at their chef’s counter or a larger, intimate party in their upstairs wine vault. No one comes here and doesn’t want to come back.

228 W 10th St.
New York, NY 10014
(212) 255-5757

The most recent addition from the Blue Ribbon guys brings a much needed Neighborhood Restaurant to the Upper West Side. The same casual, modern design and approach to well thought out and executed classics like prime rib and whole roasted chicken make this a game changer for an area that has a lot of “pretty good” to “OK” restaurants. Brunch, lunch, and dinner are all delicious, but because of its prime location (close to Museums and right off the park), there may be a wait, so try and make a reservation or at least be OK to post up at the bar for a bit.

20 West 72nd Street
New York, NY 10023
(212) 787-5656

In the East Village and Lower East Side, there is always a sea of new hot spots to try and a lot of places that shutter within a year or two. It may be one of the most exciting and divisive places to open and run a restaurant. So when a place sticks around for awhile, without loosing it’s hype, it’s most likely something delicious and special. Cue one of the best Italian spots in town, Rubirosa. Everyone is a lover. Everyone comes back. Everyone wants to talk about it. Which is why I had to include this baby on my list because Vodka Sauce Pizza for life.

235 Mulberry St.
New York, NY 10012

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