If you know one thing about me... it's likely to be my obsession with pasta. Pasta, is truly the absolute most delicious thing I can eat. It's why Italian is my favorite cuisine and perhaps why I chose to study Italian in high school/college and study abroad in Verona, Italy for a semester. It's also my favorite item to order at a restaurant, which is funny because I actually enjoy it when I make it myself, despite the fact that I hate cooking and am pretty terrible at it. Perhaps it's because the bar has now been set so very low? Or because I can almost be certain it's going to be really, really good when prepared by a professional? The jury is still out on that one.

What I will say is that every time I make dinner reservations at home in Los Angeles or before a trip somewhere else, I do my best to find somewhere that's perfected my favorite food group. So naturally I asked many friends, did my online research and checked my outstanding lists before heading to New York City this past October. I came in with a lot of information, some disappointment from hard to book spots, and lots of optimism for my next trip. Here's what I found. Enjoy!

1. Sant Ambroeus, (multiple locations)

I love this place for many reasons, the first being how legitimate it feels. There's something about being here that feels safe and enjoyable. It's a no fuss, traditional, upscale spot where you can easily go for any meal or just a coffee and something sweet. But despite the dark wood, white tablecloth and otherwise classic decor, they added a little pink accent that I feel connected to. It's a simple, yet powerful piece of marketing that is clearly working on me. So since I have become so eager to eat a proper meal here I decided I'd make it a mission to try some pasta, even if it meant eating alone in the early afternoon. Luckily my husband was game and we found a perfect spot outside, right in front of the entrance at the West Village location, perfectly positioned to people watch and relax while I got my middle of the day, pasta fix. I went back to basics and ordered the cacio e pepe, which I must say is always a reliable pasta choice at pretty much any Italian restaurant. Even if it's not on the menu I have always gotten it by asking since it's so simple for them to make. I honestly can't say I have ever had a bad one, but how can it be bad when you combine pasta, butter and pepper? But back to Sant Ambroeus, the pasta was delicious! I really wish I had been able to come back every day of the trip and try more of their pasta dishes, but unfortunately I wanted to branch out. No worries thought, I will most certainly be coming back next time.

2. Il Mulino, Greenwich Village 

We came here on our last trip to NYC with friends and honestly, I wish we had chosen to come back this trip too. Even my husband, who tends to devalue eating out at restaurants, was impressed, given how much free food they give you before you even order anything off the menu. First things first, you need to go to the original location in Greenwich Village, as it's just so legitimate, I am scared to try the newer locations and be disappointed. Every waiter appears to be a distinguished Italian man who seems to know food well. We ordered a bunch of things to share but of course my favorite was the pasta. We had the Capellini Il Mulino and I believe another pasta dish too, however, the Capellini was my favorite. We also ordered a delicious chicken parm and a few other things for the table, but whenever I go back I will be solely ordering pasta, likely the gnocchi which looks to die for!!

3. L'Artusi, West Village

Okay, so I need to be really honest here. I didn't really love it. And to be honest, I was actually very disappointed because this place was overly recommended to me by so many people, particularly for their popular pasta dishes! I ordered the garganelli after so many great reviews and due to a very enticing menu description, the mushroom ragu, how genius is that for any mushroom lover like myself!? Arthur got the other very popular pasta, a simple spaghetti with garlic, chiller's and parmesan, which was very good, but not life changing by any stretch of the imagination. This was one time where I regretted taking my own advice to just order a cacio e pepe, and I am sure it would have been absolutely delicious had I done so. To make matters worse, we were pretty disappointed finding out we had ordered the more expensive bottle of brut rosé, but I will say it was delicious and fueled a fun night for us, so in the end it was worth it I suppose. Aside from the less than great meal I was hoping for, I also wasn't really a fan of the ambiance in the restaurant, even though it was packed with people, dark and modern, it just didn't feel authentic or cool or particularly fun. Perhaps I just went on an off night, but that was my honest experience unfortunately. 

4. Palma, West Villlage 

This place was also heavily recommended, and appeared consistently beloved on social media given how equally enchanting the space is, in addition to the menu. Tucked away on a quiet cobblestone street in the West Village, this shabby chic restaurant has the most charming little courtyard with candlelit tables, surrounded by ivy covered walls. It's no surprise they frequently host private events and some of the most intimate weddings. Smartly, the courtyard was covered, which I appreciated given I met some girlfriends there for dinner on a cold, rainy night. I sat at the romantic bar before our table was ready outside and ordered The Garden cocktail, of course, while waiting for my friends. I knew they too would appreciate how pretty the place was and I couldn't help but think how perfect it must be for a date night. {more photos from Palma below}

But aside from how lovely the decor was, I did also love the food. We started with the delicious arancini before shamelessly ordering three pasta dishes to share. We had the cacio e pepe ravioli, fettuccine fungi e tartufo (mushrooms and truffle) and the agnolotti ricotta e spinaci; all of which were delicious. I wasn't as impressed by the agnolotti, however, I am also not a huge ricotta lover so I'm not the best judge, but both the fettuccine and ravioli were absolutely amazing. Overall, this is now one of my favorites for sure. 


1. Carbone, Greenwich Village

I still can't believe I haven't been here yet, but given the difficult reservation system, perhaps not? Nonetheless I really hope when I do ultimately go, it's worth the hype. I keep hearing about the spicy rigatoni, which I assume is quite similar to the spicy fusilli, also a vodka based sauce, at Jon & Vinny's in Los Angeles, which I love. 

2. Nello, Upper East Side

This place has always been on my list as another reliably good Italian spot in New York. The only thing that's held me back is it's not exactly the type of place my friends want to go before a fun night out, it seems to be of a ladies who lunch type of spot. This is perfect for me however, because I was born 50 and quite frankly love an older crowd. 

3. Lilia, Williamsburg & Misi, South Williamsburg

I've had several New Yorkers recommend I head to Brooklyn, where admittingly I have not been yet, to try these spots. At Lilia, Instagram has me drooling over the cappelletti and the mafaldini and Misi's occhi looks so good, similar to a tortellini but wider and perhaps stuffed with something different. I'd also be open to trying the fettucine there, which looks simple but yummy. If you have been to either, send me your recommendations! The next time I head to NYC I will definitely prioritize a trip over the bridge, for pasta of course, among all the other wonderful things I have heard about. 

4. Elio's, Upper East Side

Elio's seems to be a pricey, but reliably good, reliably classic Italian restaurant that everyone seems to love. From most reviews it sounds like a nice spot for group, an older crowd perhaps, but a lively one, which I am all about. I have heard really good things about the chicken parm but as for pasta, this is the kind of place where I am almost certain the red sauce must be good. But if I am wrong, please do tell me!

5. Sorbillo, Noho

I found this place on Instagram and even though they seem to focus mostly on Neapolitan pizza, I couldn't help but obsess over the images of the gnocchi in a vodka looking sauce and the carbonara that I would order without the meat. It's a bit more casual but appears to be quality nonetheless. 

Going to stop here before I end up booking another flight to NYC for another full-fledged pasta tour! 


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