Welcome to Ask Eater, a column from Eater New York where the site’s editors, reporters, and critics answer specific or baffling restaurant requests from readers and friends. Have a question for us? Submit your question in this form.
Baby-boomer here. Overweight, out of shape, omnivore-gourmand. Importantly, love Eater. With an empty nest I am now free to travel and dine! I am looking forward to a mid-November trip to NYC from the middle of nowhere, our charming home in Hawaii.
What is happening out there?!!! In New York City all the tables seem crammed together and all the seats are stools, planks of wood, or sheets of metal. Where is that cozy, intimate place to eat where you can muse away a couple hours with old friends, great wine, great food, great conversation, and comfort?
It all looks crowded and hurried. Any tips?
Most kindly yours,
I love this question so much. We get requests for quiet restaurants all the time, but yours goes one step further into also asking for that NYC charm that typically comes in smaller, rowdier venues. I must admit I was a bit stumped on this one — cozy and comfortable aren’t often bedfellows in this city, especially not at a lower price point, which I think is essential if you want to spend multiple hours at a place ordering with abandon.
But I think I have the answer in Il Tinello, a super old-school Italian restaurant with tableside service in Midtown. Il Tinello is absolute oozing with charm: Servers in suits curry around appetizer and dessert carts and gently chide you toward making the right choices. White tablecloths take you back in time, and, more importantly in this case, ensure a quieter atmosphere. Almost every table starts with a cold martini and moves onto multiple bottles of wine.
Simple dishes like spaghetti al pomodoro, chicken scarpariello, and veal parmesan — red sauce classics essential to New York City — are all made to feel more fancy in these environs. You will feel quite well taken care of, though one word of warning: Beware the upsell from these servers who are quite adept at padding a check with items offered tableside.