What is your favorite Italian? The most confusing, challenging subject since sex education in High School. Not only I don’t really know, but I also don’t have a clue what is your definition of “Italian”. Italian can mean 21 different things, for the 21 very different regions including the Italian region of Staten Island. It could also be a steakhouse (Costata), a pizza joint (Marta, Don Antonio), or a fusiony place like Piora. Many of the so called “Italian” dont really have much in common. In fact whenever we talk to Italian chefs in Italy about what they do and where they eat in NYC, they often mention Italian restaurants. Because to a chef from Piedmont, a Roman restaurant may be just as foreign as Korean. Ok, maybe not. But to them there’s no such thing as Italian restaurants. They are just restaurants.
But if you would ask me which of our so called Italian restaurants I frequent the most, the answer is fairly simple. For lunch, Mercato. For dinner, Da Andrea. Ok, maybe not as simple as I thought, as you can see. Da Andrea is not what I would call a foodie destination. Its a fun, fairly popular family operated neighborhood joint specializing primarily in Emilia Romagna cooking (owners from Bologna). We’ve been frequenting Da Andrea since they were located on Hudson street deeper in the Village. Back then they were half their current size, with lines around the block sometimes. They didnt take reservations then, and they dont do now, unless you are 4 or more. When I have to pick a place for groups between 4 and 12, Da Andrea is the first place that pops to mind. Why?
1) As busy as they are on a nightly basis, it’s easy to reserve large tables with a phone call. Otherwise, trying to reserve large tables in Manhattan is like having a three day root canal
2) It’s cheap. At least for NYC standards.
3) The food is generally good and family/group friendly. My idea of family style dining is not Carmines where the dishes are super-sized low quality. Regular size dishes can be just as family style. You just need to know what to order and how many of them. At Da Andrea, we must get the Tigelle, Modenese style baked to order flat buns that come with Prosciutto di Parma. The simple, always fresh grilled calamari here is fantastic. The tower of veggies is normally a big hit. And as far as pastas go, the Pappardelle with sausage ragu and truffle oil has to be one of the most popular pasta dishes in town. Its my guilty red sauce pleasure. Although, admittedly I didnt detect much truffle flavor or scent last time.
4) The house wine is good (and cheap)
5) You can linger. Chances are your large table isnt booked for another party, so you can take your time. In fact last time, our waitress advised us to order our mains later on, in order to have ample time between courses. You can take your time here
6) 100% success rate. If it aint broke, why fix it. Generally, everyone enjoys this place (you can tell), and at the end of the day that is really what counts
Courtesy of https://whyhaventwebeenherebefore.wordpress.com/