Since moving to New York nearly six years ago, Carlo Bigi says he prefers living in East Harlem where he's close to Central Park and can walk his black pug. It's also quieter than downtown, where he's the executive chef of the newly-opened Il Principe in the hip Hotel Hugo. When Bigi is dining out near his home, his choices tend to veer toward the more simple than complicated—just like his own Italian cooking.
Pizza: Lexington Pizza Parlour is not super fancy, but it's one of the best pizza places near my home uptown. It's only a block from my apartment. The pizza is Roman-style with a thin crust, which I like. I love the arugula, prosciutto, and buffalo mozzarella.
Burger: I enjoy Joy Burger at Lexington and 100th Street. It's a super convenient place. I like to go anytime—before or after a long day at work. It's not a gourmet place, but I get my burger medium rare with some fries.
Sandwich: I love Via Quadronno on the Upper East Side, which is quiet and cozy. The caprese sandwich is my favorite. It's delicious and very fresh. The bread is very fresh, too. It's just toasted, and they use nice olive oil. It's very simple, but it's what I like.
Coffee: Dough Loco on Park Avenue. They have an espresso machine that is similar to what we have at Il Principe. It's a little doughnut shop where I can get a great double espresso. that's bitter but not overwhelming. It's like the one I used to try in Italy all the time.
Breakfast/brunch: East Harlem Cafe on Lexington Avenue. I really like the fun and funky decor and the people there—it always has a fun vibe. I like to get a double espresso or cappuccino and pastries. I'm not really into eggs and stuff.
Bakery: My NY Bakery Café, which is also on Lexington. They have a wide selection of things, and the best almond croissant in the city. Nice and crispy on the outside with almond cream inside. Maybe even buttery. I love it, actually. It's the freshest. They maybe prepare it one hour before.
Bar: ABV is fun with great food and drinks. There are not that many great bars near my neighborhood, but this one is my favorite. I order a negroni or a beer and like to have my friends meet me there after work. I like the big tables, especially those by the window. They have some good bar food, too. The appetizers are good to share.
Mexican: El Paso is a Mexican restaurant with nice decor, food, and service. I love their guacamole and enjoy their tacos. They have a small garden in back. The service is cool and easy and the food is not super spicy. It tastes always good and they are very nice.