Los Angeles Times

Italian restaurants


Pizza or pasta, Italian cooking is the hometown star. Here are some of our favorite places, where you can mangia to your heart's content..


La Bottega. Just about everybody loves La Bottega, a cheery spot in the very trendy Maritime Hotel. White walls and comfy leather-topped banquettes set the scene, peopled with good-looking folks from the neighborhood and beyond. Food is tasty and fairly priced; the pizza is a standout. And, come summer, there will be tables out in the garden. (88 Ninth Avenue; 212-243-8400)

Ristorante Pisticci. Regulars at this Morningside Heights restaurant want to keep this newcomer a secret. The word, however, seems to be spreading since a wait for a table can be expected on most weekend evenings. The restaurant -- decorated in brick, wood and rotating art installations -- offers good quality Italian fare at reasonable prices. Fresh mozzarella of bufala in a Caprese salad and homemade fettucine with wild mushrooms and truffle oil were stand-outs during a recent meal. No reservations or credit cards accepted. (125 La Salle Street; 212-932-3500)

Bivio. The owners of Bottino in Chelsea have a second hot spot. This casual, busy place is stylish, with orange banquettes and a small bar that sees a good amount of traffic. The menu offers a good choice of pastas and salads, plus well-prepared entrees. Some complain about slow service, and the noise level is high, but the buzz is good and the food is fairly priced. (637 Hudson Street: 212-206-0601)

Dominick's. In the heart of Arthur Avenue's Little Italy, Dominick's is all about the food -- no trendy-looking decor, no actorish wait-people, no faddish menu additions (in fact, there is no menu). What you do get is perfectly prepared pastas, meat, and fish dishes, served on communal tables in the company of people who come here to eat. (2335 Arthur Avenue; 718-733-2807. Note: cash only)

Roberto's. The place doesn't look like much, but once they start bringing platter after heaping platter to your table, you'll know why you came here. The owner hails from the Amalfi coast, and there's lots of fish and seafood, although the place does a fine job on meats, too. (632 East 186th Street; 718-733-9503)

Portofino. In Forest Hills, this pretty Italian place has a loyal local following. Traditional Italian specialties, such as veal with olives and capers and chicken francese are served up in a cheerful room with big picture windows that look out onto the street. (109-32 Ascan Avenue, Forest Hills; 718-261-1239)

Manducati's. The place has been around for years, but it still has a warm welcome and a menu that keeps diners coming back again and again. Traditional Italian cooking turns into artistry here, with dishes like veal marsala and baked clams -- which elsewhere have become cliches -- done so well you can see how they turned into classics. (13-27 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City; 718-729-4602)

Queen. On a shabby stretch of Court Street, the venerable Queen keeps turning out dishes like veal stew with tomatoes and cream, scallops in white wine, a perfectly tender filet mignon, and a good selection of pastas. The dining room is as classic as the menu, with its crisp linen and efficient, well-ordered waitstaff, and the patrons range from lawyers from the nearby courts to neighborhood types from Brooklyn Heights. (84 Court Street; 718-596-5954)

Locanda Vini et Olii. One of Brooklyn's nicest Italian restaurants, this place, set in a restore pharmacy, offers classic Italian cooking with a modernist twist and a menu that changes nightly. Thr crowd is a happy mix of neighborhood types and well-dressed 30-somethings from elsewhere in Brooklyn and beyond. (129 Gates Avenue; 718-622-9202)

The Bistro. A neighborhood favorite, the Bistro serves up large portions of classic pastas as well as meaty lamb chops, herbed steaks,, and grilled swordfish. The place can get noisy late in the evening, so an early dinner is a good bet. (2561 Hylan Boulevard; 718-987-1700)

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