My family tried something new for Thanksgiving this year and we traveled to Manhattan for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Four days in the city meant a lot of new restaurants for us try, although we didn’t get too crazy when it came to the genre – we had Italian three times! The only meal I didn’t take pictures of was our Thanksgiving dinner at The Capital Grille on Wall Street. The Capital Grille is a chain, but their Thanksgiving menu was amazing and it was truly the best Thanksgiving dinner I’ve ever had (and I didn’t even have to do the dishes!). This was my second visit to NYC in the fall (read about my first time in NYC here) and I’m hoping for a spring trip this year so I can finally experience the rooftop bars.
Here are my five favorite restaurants we went to and a couple worth skipping:
This was the cutest coffee shop on the NYU campus and the perfect escape during a cold afternoon. As cozy as this place was, the coffee was even better. I know there’s only so many ways to make a latté, but this one, in particular, was very memorable because it tasted like pure, liquid chocolate. Amorino also has a fabulous dessert case including macarons filled with gelato.
This was our first time exploring Little Italy so we weren’t exactly sure where to go for lunch. My mom is a big Yelper and she found a highly-rated and moderately priced Italian restaurant for us. We all tried something different, but the fettuccine was so rich and perfect. We all loved this restaurant and would 100% go back.
This was our second time at Carmine’s and it was just as good as we remembered it. It’s family-style dining and the portions are insanely huge. We loved the penne alla vodka and fettuccini alfredo.
Ferrara is one of those well-known, iconic dessert places in Little Italy. There was a line that winded through the restaurant just for the to-go orders. Ferrara is famous for their cannolis and they’ve been using the same recipe for the last 100 years. I’m not even a cannoli person, but I became one after trying one from Ferrara. It’s totally worth the line because it goes by quickly as you’re eyeing all the desserts!
This restaurant was recommended by one of my friends who used to live in Hell’s Kitchen. They have several locations in Manhattan and before we got there I imagined some run-down, small meatball shack. You know what they say when you assume, and thank goodness I was wrong. We loved their menu because everything was custom and you write on the menu with a whiteboard marker to build your dream meatball plate. You can add pasta, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and lots of other options. I’m already looking forward to going back to The Meatball Shop the next time I visit Manhattan.
Restaurants to Skip:
I know Junior’s is loved by many and a famous destination in Times Square. I’m not sure if it was just a bad day or if I ordered wrong, but nobody in my party loved their cheesecake. It tasted like the cheesecake had been left sitting in the fridge for hours, uncovered and just soaking up the scents and tastes of other foods. Needless to sayit was bland and not the best cheesecake I’ve ever tasted. I’d love recommendations for a smaller, family-owned restaurant in Manhattan that makes a good cheesecakes because it’s one of my favorite desserts.
It makes me sad to say we had a bad experience at Black Tap because the hype surrounding this place really built up the anticipation. After seeing videos and pictures of their Crazy Shakes on Facebook, Buzzfeed, and every big food blog, I thought this was going to be the best thing ever. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. There are a few Black Tap locations so instead of waiting two hours in line at the Times Square location, we hopped on the subway and went to the one in Chelsea where there was no wait. The service was bad, which was strange because it wasn’t that busy. The burger was decent, but everything was so overpriced it wasn’t worth it. I ordered The Texan Burger and it was close to $17. Shake Shack does the same burger, but in my opinion, better and cheaper.
I was even more disappointed with the shake. We ordered a normal strawberry shake and the crazy cake shake. While it’s beautiful in pictures and showing off on Instagram, the shakes were lukewarm and just overly sweet. The ice cream wasn’t super fresh or homemade tasting. Overall, a huge letdown, which is crazy because I NEVER complain about dessert. My recommendation would be to opt for Shake Shack or maybe try a different location than the one in Chelsea.