My Top 3: Italian Eateries on the UWS

Most of the American population indulges in the saucy, cheesy, doughy, often meatiness of pizza dishes and hero sandwiches. Separating “going out or Italian” from Italian American cuisine, I would like to introduce you to three of the more traditional Italian eateries on the Upper West Side. These places are suited for big family meals, and contain the main ingredients of pasta, pane, and – of course! -all forms of tomato. There’s also an abundance of wine, dairy, and in all cases, pleasant smiles around somewhat large or very large tables (see my number one). A warm atmosphere and fresh ingredients were my top criteria. Read on to get better acquainted with your top 3 Italian options in this fine foodie neighborhood.

1- Carmine’s: A former ballroom, this restaurant easily seats a dozen (10+) parties at once. Smaller groups can fit around the bigger parties, often feeling like a part of the action simply because they are, in fact, at a family-style Italian eatery that encourages wine-splashed enjoyment like no other on the UWS. There’s a Waldorf Salad here that will knock your socks off, but you are more likely to be inspired into cheesy meatiness by your partying neighbors. This is one place where looking over at the other persons table to check out the specials is beyond intense. It might even be a little dangerous, since everything comes in a steaming bowl intended to serve 4 or more people to their pant seams discontent. Getting a sandwich means you will be chock-full of sandwich and will probably have some left for lunch the following day. Getting pasta means sharing it with three others…or yourself, all day for two days (or I’ve underestimated you). And it is all delicious to no end, so don’t even try to keep your head on your shoulders. Dessert is sadly smaller now than it once was and so not as sharable as your entrees and apps, but the likelihood of someone wanting to get up and go somewhere else to get that sugary fix is slim- you’re delightedly full of sandwich, remember? 2450 Broadway, 212-362-2200

2- Pomodoro Rosso: The smallest of the list, this place lacks not in the way of charm, atmosphere, and- probably most importantly- taste. Pomodoro Rosso is packed in and out every night of the week with a younger crowd or suited, dressy professionals. This is the place to take your significant other out for a still fun but lazy night out. It could also be a place to squeeze in with your best foodie friends to eat amazing bakery bread to your hearts content. The capellini pomorosso is an artful blend of broccoli rabe, angel hair pasta, and fresh shrimp gathered in a garlic tomato sauce. Paired with your preferred drinks and good conversation, the night will be one to inform your conscience of what matters most…pasta. And, probably, good friends. 229 Columbus Avenue, 212-721-3009

3- Pesce Pasta: Yum- seafood! That is what I think of when I pass by this dimly-lit little trattoria. They have, as a review from New York Magazine stated, “surprisingly fresh” seafood. Why get the calamari fried when it tastes so darn good all naked in your tomatoey pasta? If all mental attempts to forget your TGI Fridays style helpings fail, just get the little fleshy loops of seafood yumminess both ways. Most everyone who enters notes the coziness of the candlelight. Aside from slightly fishy waiters, this place ranks high on my list of comfort food stops. Pasta soup, fresh bread, just-as-fresh shrimp, and tiramisu- my senses swirl, but it’s lighter by far than Carmine’s (which I prepare myself for, mentally) and a bit more laid back than Pomodoro Rosso on most nights of the week. The crowd ranges from small families to aged couples enjoying a night out, so it is not the place to wear your little black dress, but all this just highlights the delicious simplicity of the food. 625 Columbus Avenue, 212-579-7970

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