Most travelers who repeat cities have favorite restaurants in those cities. Ruth & I have 3 favorites in New York, 2 of them long-term and one new, to us.
We found Patsy’s several years ago and have taken friends and family members there ever since. Stories develop from repeating restaurants that stay in business. One afternoon several years ago I made the mistake of ordering Patsy’s Fra Diavolo sauce with pasta for lunch. Ruth reported that I changed several shades of red while eating it because it was the most fiery dish I’ve ever been served in a restaurant on a hot summer day. A couple of times I thought I might expire but kept on eating because it was so delicious. Oddly, I completely accepted the possibility of dying at Patsy’s. Veal meatballs and spaghetti is its signature dish.
Patsy’s has been run by the Scognamillo family since 1944. The Grand Dame of the family, or at least I assumed that was her role, used to sit near the register speaking to no one like a Tussand wax figure. I haven’t seen her lately. Many celebrities dine at Patsy’s. There’s a picture of grinning George Clooney on Patsy’s website. Patsy’s is at 235 West 56th Street near Broadway.
A couple of years ago we were attending an evening performance at Playwrights Horizons. Not sure exactly where it was and needing to pick up tickets, we arrived 1½ hours before the performance. It was easy to find but we had skipped dinner. I asked the guy in the box office if there was some place to eat close by. He recommended West Bank Cafe across the street at 407 West 42nd Street in Hell’s Kitchen. West Bank’s kitchen was far from hellish. In fact, we’ve been going back ever since. We recently ate there twice in 3 days because Ruth could not get West Bank’s Wild Mushroom Risotto Balls off her mind. Many Broadway performers dote on this restaurant’s progressive American cooking. The Laurie Beechman Theatre is downstairs.
We went to lower Manhattan to visit historic Fraunces Tavern on our last trip to The Big Apple. We found the man in charge, Charlie, both comprehensive in his knowledge of this part of Manhattan and a delightful conversationalist. On the way out I asked him if there was a place nearby to grab some lunch before heading to the Staten Island Ferry. Was there! He recommended Delmonico’s at 56 Beaver Street. This venerable restaurant, the first fine dining establishment in the United States, has been around since 1837. Most of the other mid-day diners in the bar (the main dining room was closed) were Asian tourists. Most everybody was ordering the house specialty, an authentic Delmonico steak. The Manhattan clam chowder was popular too and superb. Less than 30 years after it opened, Delmonico’s reigning chef invented Lobster Newburg. Today, many of its mid-day customers are business-types. One hostess told Ruth, “A group of men come in from Wall Street every day and order steaks. I don’t know how they keep from having heart attacks.”
PS I saw this book at Delmonico’s. It looks like a good read. So does Ten Restaurants That Changed America.