Our “Thrifty and Tasteful” recommendations for DINING in NEW YORK, NY

I got a Facebook message today from a friend who is taking his wife to New York in a couple of weeks.  He asked me for some of my favorite dining choices and off-the-beaten path things to do. So, Charlotte and I have colaborated and come up with our “thrifty and tasteful” take on New York City.

Most of our choices are family-owned establishments offering personal and caring service and always with a European flair. Many have limited seating (20 tops max) so it would be wise to call ahead for a reservation. We highly recommend all our choices.  They are listed in no particular order.

  • Trattoria Trecolori – 254 W. 42 St. (between Broadway and 8th Ave.) tel. 212-997-4540 – http://www.trattoriatrecolori.com/.
    We were introduced to this place by David, one of Charlotte’s co-workers, and a long time resident of New York.  One day David took us here for lunch.  As we walked in David was greeted by the owner and waiters and treated as a “regular.”  We’ve eaten here several times since and although they don’t know us, we get great service and some pretty amazing authentic Italian-American food.  We dined at Trecolori just a couple of weeks ago with my sister and her husband and had a great dining experience (as opposed to a meal).  I asked the waiter to prepare his choice for my dinner… he brought roasted veal that tasted amazing and melted in my mouth.  Be sure to listen to the daily specials and order one if it suits your fancy.  I’ve had several varieties of their fresh fish and it has always been great.  The pasta and desserts are excellent as well.  Entree items range from $12-23.  Eclectic collection of wine from $24 a bottle.
  • Pergola Des Artistes – 252 W. 46 Street (between Broadway and 8th Ave.) – tel. 212-302-7500 – http://pergoladesartistes.com (closed Sunday and Monday).
    I’ve walked by this little “hole-in-the-wall” many times and wondered what was behind the small little door.  The entrance reminds me of a brothal (not that I’ve ever been in one, mind you) or mafia-run nightclub.  But trust me, behind that door is a welcome smile and some down-home country French cuisine.    We finally dined here for the first time in early July 2010.  New York was under a horrible heat wave, with temps above 100 F, and the cool A/C and homey atmosphere were just what we needed.   When we arrived we were greeted by the barman, who we later found out was out waiter and the manager too.  The menu was limited with typical provential French, escargot, onion soup, duck, beef burgundy, coq du vin,  mussels in white wine, etc.  However they do have an extensive list of fresh daily specials as well.  On this occasion we chose escargot in a delicious broth of butter and herbs, duck confit with the roasted breast and lamb chops stuffed with porcini  mushrooms.  Perfect meal, perfect service and authentic cuisine.  Entree items range from $12- $20.  Good wine from $22 a bottle.
  • La Petite Auburge 116 Lexington Ave, NY, NY 10016
    Tel .212-689-5003
    Amazing and another well hidden gem.  
  • L’Ecole the Restaurant of The French Culinary Institute – 462 Broadway (just north of Canal St.) – tel. 212-219-3300  http://www.frenchculinary.com/lecole.  We discovered L’Ecole in February 2010 and it has instantly become one of our favorites.  Considering price, value, authenticity and service it cannot be topped!    They have a lunch menu, a dinner menu before 7:00 p.m. and a dinner menu after 7:00 p.m..  We’v dined here at lunch and at the pre-7 p.m. dinner.  They do not take reservations between 7 and 8 p.m.  Just like in Europe, a table here is your’s until you leave, or they close and run you out.  The cooking staff and wait staff are all students at the adjacent French Culinary Institute.  The service and food is exceptional, authentically French and affordable.  For us, this is often our least expensive meal in New York.  Entrees from $9-18.  Good wine (they don’t serve any bad stuff) from $22 a bottle. 
  • Cafe Un Deux Tois – 123 W. 44th Street (between 6th and Broadway)
    Tel. 212-354-4148 – http://cafeundeuxtrois.biz/
    Elegant upscale French dining with typical Parisian charm (said with tongue in cheek).  David – I’ve spent a a few hours at the bar here with drinks and appitizers waiting on Charlotte while she shops.  Good economical experience, all thing considered.  Charlotte will have to tell you about the dining.  Charlotte – I had lunch here at a retirement party.  I don’t remember the exact menu but I do remember that I thoroughly enjoyed it!
  • Da Gennaro Ristorante – 129 Mulburry Street (Little Italy) –
    tel. 212-431-3934  Authentic Italian-American cuisine located in the heart of Little Italy.  Everything here is authentic and typical, except for the waiters- they are from Spain or Mexico but do a good job of fooling you that they are true Italians.  If you are in the area, go here for the food and you won’t be disappointed.  Although, I would not make a special trip from the theatre district or uptown.  It is always packed and the food is good.  Entrees from $15.
  • Carmine’s NYC Legendary Family Style Italian Restaurant – 2450 Broadway (Upper Westside) – tel. 212-362-2300 – http://www.carminesnyc.com/index.php
    Carmine’s is consistant and always a winner when it comes to authentic Italian-America food.  It is served family-style and in huge portions.  If there are only two of you dining consider sharing the antipasti, pasta and entree.  We normally come here with a group of people, order three or four courses, try to eat it all and don’t succeed.  Consider getting a doggy bag and giving it to a needy person along the street between the restaurant and the subway.  But seriously, the food, ambiance and dining experience is amazing.  You won’t go home disappointed or hungry. Entrees from $12.
  • Morton’s Steakhouse –   551 Fifth Ave. – Tel. 212-972-3315 – http://www.mortons.com/newyork/
    Yes, it is a chain but for us, there is no better steak in New York City (we are suckers for Chicago-style meat).  Entrees from $22 up.
About the Author
David McGuffin established David McGuffin's Exploring Europe, Inc. in 2001 to formally offer European tours. Since then, he has taken several thousand satisfied customers on memorable and educational tours to Europe.

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