Piccola Cucina Estiatorio is a good place to have some excellent Sicilian food whenever you catch yourself taking things too seriously, or if you want to embarrass someone on their birthday. The staff at this cramped little Italian restaurant in Soho flicker the lights, bang pots and pans, and sing for about three consecutive minutes whenever they feel like it (and especially if it’s someone’s birthday). Mostly everyone in the dark room shares big plates of fried or grilled seafood before moving onto personal pans of pasta. And at only $26, the lobster pasta is something to celebrate. It comes with spicy red sauce, huge chunks of meat, and it never seems to end.
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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.
Emilio’s Ballato is an old-school Italian place in Soho that doesn’t take reservations, serves great food, and feels kind of like a clubhouse.
Lupe’s East LA Kitchen
Lupe’s is a California-style Mexican restaurant on a corner in southwest Soho. It feels like a fun diner, and it’s where you go for casual enchiladas.
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Mama Capri is a coastal Italian spot in Cobble Hill that’s a good option for a casual outdoor dinner or weekend lunch.
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This West Village Italian spot is starting to feel just a tad dated - but the food is as good as ever. Try it for a special dinner, and order pasta.
Carbone is red sauce Italian restaurant theater, and it’s a show you shouldn’t miss. This is one of New York City’s absolute best restaurants.
The only thing that is keeping Rubriosa from being one of NYC’s classic Italian restaurants is time. Let’s eat vodka sauce pizza while we wait.
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