With so many eateries offering lunch deals, it can be hard to distinguish the good from the seriously good. Here are four favorites in the Italian genre.
Michael White and Chris Cannon's temple to Northern Italian food aims for the stars and reaches them. The cathedral-like room and the very serious cooking is priced accordingly but you can soften the blow on the wallet by going at lunch for the two-course prix fixe for $36. 11 E. 53rd Street (b/n 5th & Madison Avenue; map); 212-308-1099; altorestaurant.com; Monday through Friday from noon until 2:30 p.m.
The rapidly expanding Frankies mini-chain of Italian eateries (they have two in Brooklyn, including a sister restaurant called Prime Meats) offers rustic food in a casual setting. The Clinton Street location offers sandwiches, soups, and salads during the day but the homemade gnocchi marinara with fresh ricotta ($15) available at both lunch and dinner is very easy to recommend. 17 Clinton Street (b/n Stanton and East Houston Street; map); 212-253-2303; frankiesspuntino.com; Daily between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The dynamic White-and-Cannon duo also offer a $49 four-course lunch prix fixe at their ode to Southern Italian fare, Convivio. Full review here. 45 Tudor City Place (42nd Street, b/n 1st and 2nd Avenue); 212-599-5045; convivionyc.com; Monday through Friday from noon until 2:30 p.m.
The old Italian waiters might be long-gone, and the tough guys sitting at the bar are wannabe shadows of the real villains that probably used to hang here, but the century-old Lanza soldiers on, serving up heaping plates of red sauce on white linen tablecloths. The pasta isn't going to win any awards but it's solid, dependable, generously portioned, and at lunchtime, 20 to 30 percent below dinner prices.168 First Avenue (b/n 10th and 11th Streets; map); 212-674-7014; Daily between noon and 4 p.m.
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