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Ask the Critic: Actually-Good Pre-Theater Dining, Central Park Picnic

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[Illustration: Robyn Lee]

Editor's note: Here to answer your questions is senior managing editor, former SENY editor, and frequent author of our NYC restaurant reviews Carey Jones. We'll take a few of your questions each week and give you the New York restaurant advice you're looking for. Email nyeditor@seriouseats.com with the subject line Ask the Critic to submit your question!

This week on Ask The Critic we're heading uptown, chatting about where to have a non-Theater-District-feeling dinner before a Broadway show, and food worthy of a Central Park picnic.

Actually Good Pre-Theater Restaurants

What's Up Critic, I live in NYC, and my out-of-town parents are visiting and want to see a Broadway show, and do dinner beforehand. I never take myself to shows and I don't know the neighborhood at all. But I assume it's a lot of bad fixed-price overpriced restaurants and such. Where can we go in that neighborhood for an actually good meal?

My go-to: Don Antonio by Starita. It's one of the best Neapolitan pizzerias in the city, definitely the only one of its caliber in Midtown. It's a comfortable sit-down restaurant, still casual but nicer than a typical "pizzeria," such that you can get a bottle of wine and an appetizer to start and feel like you're "out to dinner," which is something that tends to matter to my parents. It scratches that "let's get pizza while we're in New York!" itch, even if it's not New York Pizza. And it satisfies a range of appetites and preferences—you can go vegan, meaty, gluten-free, light with just a salad, simple for picky eaters, oddball for adventurous ones.

Loaded Table

[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

If pizza's not what you're looking for? Consider Danji, an excellent small-plates Korean spot, or Gazala Place, a little BYO Druse Israeli spot; I promise there's nothing like it where your parents are from. (Er, unless they're Druse.)

Central Park Picnicking

What places serve food deserving of a picnic on a warm day in Central Park?

I feel like it's finally time to answer that question—that freak snow last week was the last snow, right?

3. Epicerie Boulud: Extraordinary Sandwiches and Desserts from Daniel Boulud And His Crew

[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

The perimeter of Central Park has more than a few options for picnicking, particularly of the sandwich sort. We'd point you to Epicerie Boulud, a few blocks north of Columbus Circle, for classic French sandwiches and superb desserts; or Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Center, a phenomenal bakery whose sandwiches do justice to their breads.

Ask Us!

Email nyeditor@seriouseats.com with the subject line Ask the Critic to submit your question. All questions will be read, though unfortunately not all can be answered.

Your Thoughts?

Have more advice for these folks? Jump in, in the comment thread!

About the author: Carey Jones is the Senior Managing Editor of Serious Eats. Follow her on Twitter (@careyjones).

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