One major reason to visit New York City is its plethora of multicultural experiences. Without leaving the city, you can meditate in a Japanese garden, learn the art of traditional African drumming, detox in a Russian spa, or throw colored powders at the traditional Indian Holi festival. If you’ve ever dreamed of the rolling hills of Tuscany or the olive-oil-drenched pastas of Sicily, NYC presents a number of authentic restaurants that will transport you straight to Italy. From Tavola to Eataly New York, here are a few for the best Italian food around.
Despite it’s location in Hell’s Kitchen, when you enter Tavola you feel as if you’re traveling through Puglia, Sicily, and Rome. Chef and founder Nicola Accardi spent years agritouring through Italy, and his experiences are shared through his dishes. You sit at the rustic, candle-lit wooden tables, while you decide between the whole wheat pasta topped with salmon and basil pesto; the chicken gowned in lemon, herbs, and fresh artichokes; and specialty pizzas made in the country’s only 7,000-pound double Vesuvio clay oven, served to you with single varietal Castelveltrano imported from Sicily. You pair it all with a glass of falanghina or Chianti for a truly regional Italian “farmhouse” experience.
Williamsburg’s Fornino—the labor of love of the “first chef of Brooklyn,” Michael Ayoub—offers traditional wood-fired oven pizza at its finest. You walk into the inviting red entrance on the lively corner of Bedford and 7th to the narrow dining room and grab a table at the back. Here, you watch dishes like homemade mozzarella, sopressata-stuffed calzones, and Neapolitan-style pies being made in an open kitchen under blown glass fixtures hand-crafted by the chef himself. The Tartufo topped with three cheeses, black truffle, and olive oil is unforgettable. After you eat, you sneak out to the back patio, which, on a sunny day, is the perfect place to pretend you’re in the Italian countryside.
At first, you saddle up at the marble bar near the entrance of Sotto 13 and enjoy a Mediterraneo Cocktail. Made with sweet fig vodka, aperol, and fresh lime, this is a true taste of the Mediterranean. When it’s time to eat you sit at a plush banquette in the expansive sky-lit dining room Around you, the wood walls are dressed in sketches inspired by Italian architecture and accented by lots of wood and wrought iron. Small plates of Italian eats on the menu encourage sharing, and so you order the baked meatballs with ricotta and roasted pine nuts, hand-cut rigatoni gowned in lamb sausage and grilled octopus, and traditional wood-fired margherita pizza for your group, never wondering if you’ve gone overboard. (You haven’t, because each is somehow more delicious than the last.) You make a note to visit again during brunch to savor their DIY prosecco bar, full of additions like raspberries, candied ginger, and blood orange puree to craft your own bubbly.
Eataly New York
A fresh market is a staple of Italian cooking, and Eataly New York is the best in town, full of sit-down restaurants, alongside stations selling high quality ingredients you can bring home to your own kitchen. That it’s the best of both worlds become evident during an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Eataly New York. After a warm cornetto (croissant) and steaming coffee breakfast, you step around the counter to sample mozzarella, salumi, and flaky pastries as you hear the stories of Italian purveyors and learn more about the art of fine Italian cuisine. Best of all, at the end of the tour you leave with a tote bag packed with delicious recipes, expert wine-pairing tips, and a voucher for two for a fun and educational cooking class with Eataly.