The city is a treasure trove of Italian food. Whether it’s rustic Tuscan dishes or saucy Sicilian specialties, sit-down restaurants devoted to Italy offer something for everyone. Some are brand new, while others have been around for years. Regardless, they all feature dishes that are as true to the flavors of Italy as possible. Authenticity is also important, because each region of Italy has its own distinct flavor, which you’ll notice in the ingredients used at a restaurant.
When you’re looking for a meal that’s full of classics, head to Michael’s, which opened in 1964 with a dining room that features rusticated stone walls and a pianist who plays Sinatra classics. You’ll find linguine with red clam sauce and veal scaloppini in a garlicky tomato sauce here, along with other classics.
For a more contemporary approach, book a table at Lilia in Williamsburg. The restaurant’s executive chefs, Balente Barroso and Jesus Candia (both from Del Posto), have created a menu that’s as straightforward as it is satisfying. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but the dishes that really shine are the pastas. Sheep’s milk ricotta agnolotti slathered in a heady saffron honey sauce and cacio e pepe are both worth the wait.
There’s a reason that the tiny, old-school Brooklyn Heights space Noodle Pudding is known as one of the best Italian restaurants in the city. It serves big, hearty dishes like jumbo fritto misto and lasagna, and the restaurant’s staff is friendly without being stuffy. Visit on a warm day, and the restaurant’s big front windows might be open, letting in a gentle breeze.
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