Editor's note: Here to answer your questions is contributing writer, former managing and 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 [email protected] with the subject line Ask the Critic to submit your question!
This week on Ask the Critic: a family lunch in Soho and Italian heroes in Manhattan.
Lunch in Soho
Hi Critic. I've got family coming into town in a few weeks and they're staying in Soho, and want to do lunch in the area (so Soho or Nolita). They appreciate good food, but they'll have their 12-year-old daughters with them, so nothing a kid couldn't appreciate. Reservations would be ideal. Any ideas?
Perhaps Osteria Morini? Michael White's Soho restaurant is one of his more casual, a rustically comfortable place to have a good meal, and it tends to be quiet at lunch. And it's a place that can accommodate many kinds of diners: an excellent seafood salad for a lighter eater, steak or a mortadella meatball sandwich for a bigger appetite, pasta for the kids, gorgeous cured meat spreads for the adults.
Other ideas? Einat Admony's Balaboosta, a lovely Middle Eastern spot that falls somewhere between charmingly homestyle and simply elegant; and Back Forty West, the second outpost of Peter Hoffman's farm-to-table restaurant, whose menu starts with straightforward salads and sandwiches but gets more interesting from there—"pork face nuggets," a fluke sandwich with pickled rhubarb.
Big Ol' Sandwiches
I'm visiting New York next week and I'm dying for a well-made, meaty big ol' Italian sub. Classic, nothing fancy. Preferably Manhattan.
My go-to massive hero, conveniently located in the middle of the West Village, is the Italian Special at Faicco's. Cappicola, soppressata, prosciutto, with mozzarella, peppers, lettuce and tomato, and enough oil and vinegar to bind it all together—it's the sort of meaty specimen you can hardly wrap your jaw around, the sort where a one-inch sliver would be a substantial amount of food, but you'll eat the whole thing regardless. It's a remarkable sandwich.
But New York, even when limited to Manhattan, has dozens of options. It's hard to go wrong at Alidoro, where the Italian subs don't have quite that high of a meat tower, but that's probably for the best; all the better to appreciate their inventive meat-and-cheese combos, like the Pinocchio, a prosciutto-soppressata number with an aggressive olive tapenade. There's Parisi, a Little Italy bakery with sandwiches that do justice to their bread; the mortadella and provolone is a particular favorite. And there's Parm, which, while a little pricier and a little higher-brow than its old-school brethren, does an Italian combo up there with any I've ever eaten. Get it to stay, and add a side of cauliflower or garlic knots, or just finish it up with ice cream cake.
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