Flickering faux candles on chandeliers and wall sconces give a melted glow to the eatery's yellow walls and open hearth. BYOB beverages and artisanal plates of cured meats and cheeses share table acreage with San Giuseppe's signature coal-fired pizzas topped with unique combinations of figs, butternut squash, and roasted artichoke hearts. Fresh pastas, including black linguine and pappardelle, tangle around fresh seafood and vegetables beneath blankets of homemade marinara, cream, and basil sauces. Guests can add a romantic touch to a date by requesting a signature heart-shaped pizza or propose with a diamond-ring-shaped pie.
Gilded frames circumscribe paintings of colorful vine-covered villas and ocean vistas. They also evoke the gilded pasta served at tables below them at Trattoria Saporito, a family-run Italian restaurant. Beneath bronze pressed-tin ceilings, plate after plate bedecked with veal parmigiana, housemade ravioli, and shrimp doused in lemon butter showcase the Old World flavors and techniques in the Gastone family's repertoire. They serve their creations in a dining room that is itself a narrow slice of Italy, with terra-cotta tiled floors, fully navigable water channels, and flat-screen TVs.
Crusts puff into crisp golden circlets around Famous Amadeus' New York–style pizzas, unrolling tendrils of steam around calzones, strombolis, and time-tested Italian dishes. Pastas leap fresh from the colander or disappear into multilayered lasagna and ricotta-stuffed shells after testifying against forks. Marinara-cloaked entrees drive up demand for napkins within the eatery or join delivery drivers on jaunts to diners around the city.
If you want a taste of history, look no further than Patsy's. Occupying the same spot for nearly 80 years, the shop first earned success with Italian immigrants in the 1930s, who were drawn to the cozy eatery in part for it's authentic cuisine and partly for the homey atmosphere created by owners and newlyweds Pasquale "Patsy" and Carmella Lancieri. As time passed, it became a popular hangout for famous crooners including Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, who may have crossed paths with Yankees regulars Joe Dimaggio and Yogi Berra on any given night. Subsequent decades saw the pizza joint serving as a popular hangout for Francis Ford Coppola, who supposedly drew inspiration for his characters in The Godfather during late-night stops at Patsy's, while politicians such as Rudy Guiliani, Michael Bloomberg, and Spiro Agnew all used the eatery as a popular place to address voters. But while the faces are always changing, one thing at Patsy's has remained the same: the pizza. Baked in a coal-fired oven, the pizzas emerge with a bubbling thin crust that New York Magazine dubs "awe-inspiring". Toppings run the gamut from traditional pepperoni and sausage, to gourmet grilled chicken or prosciutto, while a dessert pizza swaps out sauce and cheese for a sweet-spread of chocolate and hazelnuts. Comfort cuisine is also prevalent on the non-pizza side of the menu, with plates piled high with spaghetti or ziti and topped with homemade meatballs and marinara, or chicken marsala, which arrives with Portobello mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and a wool scarf hand-knit by one of the waiters' grandmothers.
Like Alice’s rabbit-hole, Jack’s beanstalk, or Huck Finn’s time-travelling river-raft, Grotto is an easy-to-miss gateway to a magical, otherworldly realm. A low-lying neon sign and a short descending staircase are all that mark the cozy eatery from the outside. But inside, a wonderland of refined continental furnishings unfolds in three distinct regions. A bar and intimate, candlelit leather-booth seating face each other between exposed brick walls immediately past the entryway, and in another section, navy wainscoting with porthole-shaped flourishes recall the dining hall on a turn-of-the-century cruise. On the patio out back, vines, fronds, and ferns clamber over a playground of trestles, offering a distinctly Mediterranean ambiance. In the words of Time Out New York, this “hidden subterranean spot” is “worth seeking out,” and the menu, “much like everything else about this place, provides a bounty of unexpected gifts.”
Originally from Munich, proprietor David Wiesner developed a love for Mediterranean culture and cuisine over the course of many summers in southern Italy. Along with co-owner (and German television host) Steven Gätjen, he updates the inspired menu on a regular basis. Offerings have included fragrant buffalo mozzarella, organic Cornish hen in a spicy balsamic reduction, and pumpkin ravioli. Additionally, the use of the finest ingredients paired with an immaculate sense of presentation and a romantic setting make Grotto an excellent choice for a first date.