Little Italy

Da Nico Ristorante – 164 Mulberry St – Little Italy

By Melissa Limberg

In a place like Little Italy, a restaurant is a dime a dozen.  It’s hard to even walk through on a nice day because everyone is running up to you saying, “TABLE?! I GOT A TABLE! OUTSIDE!!” you don’t even really know where to start.  That annoys me.  You know what else is frustrating? A lot of these places are just run-of-the-mill Italian.  Nothing special.  I find that when friends from out of town are visiting New York, they are all interested in checking out Little Italy.  Luckily, with help from a friend I have found the best restaurant on Mulberry St.

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Da Nico Ristorante is in the heart of the are, and it’s the only one I go to.  Every dish I’ve had at Da Nico has been really well prepared and delicious.  It’s classic Italian home cooking with no real frills.  When I say “no frills” I mean you’re not going to see anything out of the ordinary, no twists, no avant garde liberties taken with preparation.  I’m ok with that when it comes to an Italian craving.  I would say you’re probably going to find it difficult to find a “light” option on the menu, but that’s ok… we all have to splurge once in a while.  That’s what Italians do best!

A little something extra this restaurant does is serve an appetizer of fresh bruschetta to each table.  No charge, just a really nice gesture.  That’s important in a spot where every restaurant wants your business.  Remember, though, this is authentic bruschetta without the mozzarella cheese like you find at the Olive Garden 😉 At the end of the meal they bring out a plate of fresh zeppoles too!  Warm sweet dough covered in powdered sugar really says “this was a great dinner location choice” in practically every language if you ask me.  But what happens in between the appetizer and dessert is the best part…

 I’ve had a few different dishes here during my many visits but I always go back to one that is really superior.  It’s a dish that’s not on the menu – but always offered.  Frutti del Mar.  It’s a giant bowl of spicy linguine with lobster claws, crab legs, mussels and clams.  There is nothing to be upset about when this is in front of you.  Served to you with a lobster bib, you’ll definitely need to roll up your sleeves to tackle this dish.  It’s hard for me to not just get this every time, but other menu items are always so good that I know I won’t be disappointed.  Also, it’s a huge dish and sometimes (believe it or not) I’m not that hungry.
The last time I was in, the waiter told me that he thought the Osso Bucco was the “best dish on the menu.”  I can’t resist a description like that, so I ordered it.  I was really pleased.  I’m normally not a fan of bone-in meat (remember my steak drama at BLT?) but this meat was so absolutely flavorful and tender, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  It was served with gnocchi, which I thought was an excellent combination.  I’ve also had a couple chicken dishes that were flavorful and satisfying.  Ugh, is there anything worse than a dish that doesn’t satisfy?  I can say this has never happened to me at Da Nico.

If you’re visiting, have visitors in town, or just want to try Little Italy for dinner one night – this is the only place I’d recommend.  Pictures show the Osso Bucco, Bruschetta, Frutti del Mar, Zeppoles, and a mystery sausage dish that I didn’t order… but I tried and it was thumbs up.  🙂

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