You can’t make a reservation at Emilio’s Ballato, but you can just walk in (early) and hope you get a table. There will likely be a wait, especially on weekends, but it’s worth it if you want to eat some excellent red-sauce Italian food in an NYC institution where both Barack Obama and Rihanna also like to hang out. The restaurant is behind a discreet entrance on the South side of Houston, and while the interior might not look that impressive, as soon as you settle in for a meal and start observing the scene around you, you’ll start to feel like you’re in a clubhouse.
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Places to grab a special dinner that’ll help you forget the fact that you wanted to be at Carbone.
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Aquagrill is a West Village raw bar classic. If you're not prepared to eat a dozen oysters on your own, you're not prepared to eat here.
Pi Greek Bakerie
Pi Bakerie is a Greek counter-service spot in Soho with great pastries, pies, and moussaka.
Piccola Cucina Estiatorio
Piccola Cucina Estiatorio is a Sicilian spot in Soho that’s always a party and also happens to serve great seafood pastas.
Papatzul seems to be just more middle-of-the road Mexican that pairs acceptably with strong margaritas. It’s the kind of place where you have to yell at the person sitting across from you, and should probably order everything the moment you see your server because you might not see him again for a while.
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Patrizia’s Of Williamsburg
Patrizia’s is a fairly standard neighborhood Italian restaurant in Williamsburg, and they offer a $50 prix fixe that’s popular for birthdays.
The Tribeca restaurant is less of the celebrity scene it once was, but still makes very good Italian food.
A legendary East Village Italian restaurant that we have decided we can now only visit when nobody else will be eating there. Like at 3pm on a Tuesday.
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Estela might not be the cushiest restaurant in NYC, but it’s still an excellent choice for a fun night out or next-level brunch in Nolita.
Peter Luger Steak House
Peter Luger is a New York City steakhouse institution, and eating here is an experience unlike any other in the city.
Dirty French is a Lower East Side French restaurant from the people behind Carbone, and like that place, dinner here is definitely an event.
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