Pulsating music. Dance parties out back. Christmas lights for ambiance. Roberta’s dive-bar duds belie the care that goes into chef Carlo Mirarchi's cuisine. Mirarchi’s pizzas—once enjoyed by Bill Clinton—cook in a wood-burning oven, and many of the herbs and vegetables the restaurant uses come from its own outdoor garden.
Because owners Leo Sacco and Giuseppe Falco both grew up in Astoria, the childhood friends couldn’t imagine another spot to open their restaurant. Their chef—who also happens to live in the neighborhood—incorporates local ingredients into slow-baked lasagna, stuffed pork chops, and risotto, and local artists handled the décor and upholstery.
The allusion to a masseria—a type of farm building that dates back to ancient times—is purposeful. Chefs here create meals from the type of fresh ingredients you'd expect farmers to have on hand, including organic grains and vegetables. They even make pasta and mozzarella in house.
Il Bambino's paninis start with freshly baked ciabbatina bread, then add Italian meatloaf, fried eggplant, smoked spicy mayonnaise, and other gourmet ingredients. Diners enjoy them along with tapas, handmade breads, and dozens of primarily Spanish wines out on a patio lined with flower boxes and finished wood benches.
TimeOut Magazine gave Locanda Verde’s chef Andrew Carmellini high praise when it comes to Italian cuisine: “He cooks like an Italian grandmother.” Hearty plates of pancetta-wrapped veal, pappardelle in lamb Bolognese, and lemon ricotta pancakes outshine the eatery’s superstar backer, Robert De Niro.
The tasting menu at this never grows stale, since chefs Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone develop a new version weekly. Two diners each night are treated to something even more special: the 20-course chef’s tasting menu, which [New York Magazine] says “encompass[es] the entire gastronomic history of NYC in twenty or so carefully considered bites.”
Famed restaurateurs Joseph Bastianich and Mario Batali collaborated with Bastianich’s mother Lidia to create what they call “transgenerational” cuisine—classic dishes with inventive twists. Spaghetti is served with Dungeness crab and sliced jalapeno, and the broiled veal chop comes with crisp maitake mushrooms and watercress. A pianist tickles the keys as guests dine.
Prosciutto-wrapped scallops, lasagna, and braised veal over pesto risotto prove chef Joey Fortunato’s expertise in Mediterranean cooking, which he gained by working in Michelin-rated restaurants in France and heading New York hot spots. The eatery even showcases extra-virgin oils from around the globe each night.
As a vegan restaurant, Blossom forgoes some of Italian cuisine’s mainstay ingredients—cheese, eggs, meat—but diners hardly miss them in hearty dishes such as the seitan scaloppini, which consists of wheat-gluten patties pan-seared with white wine and lemon-caper sauce. Blossom also champions animal welfare by supporting the Animal Protection and Rescue League.
Deal or no deal, our editors strongly recommend these businesses based on their reputation, popularity, and quality of service.