The Best Italian Restaurants In The West Village guide image


The Best Italian Restaurants In The West Village

Our official ranking of the top Italian spots in the neighborhood.

The West Village has roughly one Italian restaurant per capita. These include special-occasion places where you can drink wine that costs $10 per cubic centimeter as well as a bunch of weeknight restaurants with sub-$20 spaghetti and soundtracks that lean heavily on Dean Martin. The next time you need help choosing from the vast selection, consult this definitive ranking.


I Sodi

This tiny spot on Christopher Street is the apex of Italian dining in the West Village, and you’ll realize this as soon as you enter the space that’s roughly the size of the business class cabin of an airplane. With its white tablecloths and servers in ties, I Sodi is nice enough for a birthday or an anniversary, but it isn’t too stuffy, and the only thing that might make you feel underdressed is the lasagna, which is never seen in public wearing fewer than 20 layers of pasta. Order that, drink a negroni, and have some fried artichokes. Reservations are, unfortunately, near-impossible, but that’s why bars were invented. Show up around 6pm, and you might not even have to wait for a seat.

I Sodi’s younger sibling Via Carota is only a few blocks away, and it makes I Sodi look calmer than a water park in the middle of winter. It’s walk-in-only, and every single night you’ll find people lined up in the dark, brick-walled entryway, waiting for a table with a quiet desperation. Waits can be anywhere from one to three hours, and it confuses us emotionally to say that, yes, this place is worth a three-hour wait. The cacio e pepe is the best in the city, the garlicky chopped steak is richer and more compelling than the majority of non-chopped steaks, and sometimes you just feel like sitting in a somewhat noisy room with taxidermy, rustic wooden cabinets, and the occasional actor who once starred alongside Scarlett Johansson.

In a neighborhood where most gnocchi is not covered in poppyseeds, Don Angie is brave enough to cover its gnocchi in poppyseeds. That’s sort of a joke, but it also isn’t—because these delicate, cheese-filled gnocchi are indicative of how this place operates. Everything here is a little different, from the cheese-covered chrysanthemum salad and large-format lasagna for two, to the coffee cocktail with “all the brown spirits” and the notably large bathroom with a heavy sliding door that’s somewhat hard to lock. If you’re tired of your standard amatricianas and cacio e pepes, come here. The food is creative, the space is sleek and date-night-appropriate, and, while reservations are tough, the bar is saved for walk-ins.

If you're celebrating something, and you know, deep down, that you absolutely need to eat Italian food in the West Village, go to L’Artusi. The generically classy ambiance here is perfect for an anniversary or a night out with your in-laws, and the pastas are near-flawless. Get the simply dressed spaghetti, pair it with the garlicky beef carpaccio, and round things out with the roast chicken. Yes, every other restaurant in a 20-block radius serves some type of roast chicken, but the buttery version here is a non-optional order. This is one of the largest Italian spots in the West Village, but seeing as how existence is a simulation designed to test how much people like pasta, decent reservations tend to be nonexistent. The solution? Sit at the bar.

It’s entirely possible that whoever built Malaparte used a checklist for cute, casual Italian spots. Just look at the brick walls, the stubby wine glasses, and the charmingly distressed wooden furniture. The food here is simple yet elegant, and it's better than what you'll find at the majority of casual Italian spots in the city. Get a pizza for the table, then have some spaghetti al carbonara or a plate of chewy pasta covered in pesto. Malaparte isn't doing anything especially new or mind-blowing, but, after one visit, you'll wish you lived closer.

Barbuto used to be on Washington Street in a space with big garage doors that would open in the summertime. Now, the restaurant is a little further west on Horatio Street, and it's pretty much the same. So if you never made it over to the original iteration, plan a meal here. The famous chicken with salsa verde is still on the menu, and it's still something you should eat. We're also fans of the stuffed, cheesy meatballs and smoked salmon pizza that makes you feel like you're eating in Beverly Hills circa 1984. The big, industrial space feels fun and lively, and reservations are actually pretty attainable.

Anton's—billed as a "New York Cafe"—isn't 100% Italian, but a whole section of its menu is dedicated to “Macaroni." So the influence is pretty clear. This old-school restaurant on Hudson Street is decorated with oil paintings and lots of dark wood, and it’s perfect for when you want to drink a martini and eat some pasta by candlelight. The bucatini that comes absolutely stuffed with bacon is our top choice, but the spaghetti anchoiade is another intelligent route, as long as you don’t mind having a face that smells like anchovy.

Fiaschetteria's East Village location is one of our favorite places to eat pasta in that neighborhood, and their West Village outpost is a similarly nice spot to nerd out over fresh parpardelle. The walk-in-only space is the size of a mid-sized U-Haul, and all seven tables have views of the open kitchen, where spaghetti is rolled by hand and pasta is cut and tossed with duck ragu. There’s usually little to no wait for a table, so keep this restaurant in mind for last-minute dinners with a friend or date.

In an odd, cyclical twist, red sauce Italian food is coming back into fashion. We fully support this, as red sauce dishes are just as delicious as anything you'll find at the more regionally-focused spots that have opened in the past decade. Arthur & Sons leans heavily into the old-school Italian American aesthetic, and it's a fun time all around. Yes, a plate of rigatoni with vodka sauce will cost you $30, but this is the West Village. The overheads are not insubstantial. Also, the portions are large, and you can listen to Frank Sinatra and sit in a booth as you enjoy some creamy, mushroom-packed veal valdastano.

Some of the places on this ranking are too fancy, pricey, or intimidating for a weeknight. Malatesta is not. This unpretentious restaurant just wants you to be happy and eat a solid plate of gnocchi, maybe even at a table on the sidewalk. The dining room has vintage posters, scuffed tile floors, and handwritten menus, and most things cost less than $20. You'll probably see a small crowd waiting for tables when you arrive, but don't let that scare you. The wait times usually aren't too bad, and the relatively reasonable prices are worth a small amount of lingering.

If you've been to Lil' Frankies in the East Village, you already know what to expect from Daddies. This place is from the same owner, and it's a great choice for a casual night out when you'd like to eat some pizza diavola or spaghetti limone. The food is straightforward and well-executed, and it's actually a little better than what you'll find at Malatesta. There are only a few tables inside, however, so the space can feel a bit cramped. Fortunately, there's plenty of sidewalk seating. On the next reasonably nice day, grab a table outside, and be sure to order the charred eggplant.

Rosemary’s is proof that if you put enough string lights, white tile, and faux-vintage wooden furniture in one restaurant, you’ll never run out of customers. This place is, first and foremost, about the atmosphere. It’s a big open space on a busy corner of Greenwich Ave., and it’s lined with windows—which comes in handy when you want to check to see if any of your exes are inside before you commit to a table. The food here is perfectly satisfactory, although it probably won't inspire you to sign up for a cavatelli-making class. We will admit: This place is good for groups.

Morandi is a good restaurant. But it isn't a very noteworthy one. This place—from the people behind Balthazar and Minetta Tavern—opened in 2007, when there weren't quite so many options for creative, well-made Italian food in the neighborhood. One of the owners of Via Carota was actually the original head chef here. We prefer Via Carota. Still, this place has a sprawling menu and a dark, charming brick-lined space, and the majority of the food is competent and occasionally delicious. It all just feels a tad generic (and pricey). If you need a last-minute table, Morandi is a fine backup plan, especially if you're eating with a group. The space is large, and there's plenty of outdoor seating.

The original Aria was on Perry Street, and honestly, we miss that place. It didn't serve the absolute best Italian food in the neighborhood—but it was charming, chaotic, and perfect for a first dinner date. Now, Aria is on Bedford in a significantly smaller space, and it's still a decent choice for when you want to sit in a candlelit room and eat $16 orecchiette with someone you just started seeing. But the energy isn't the same, and you probably won't leave this place with the urge to stay out until 4am. That's probably for the best, although that energy was half the reason why you went to Aria.

This place looks exactly like Aria. It’s almost as if someone took a swab of Aria’s DNA, then threw that swab into a small space directly across the way on Bedford Street. The menu is the same, the white-tiled bar is the same, and the crowd is mostly the same (lots of dates and friends catching up). And that’s because this place is from the same owners. Turns out, there’s a huge demand for tuna tartare and sub-$20 linguine in the West Village.

It makes us a little sad to put Gaetana’s this low in the ranking. This is a wonderful, old-school Italian spot where you’ll probably hear some Glen Miller on the stereo, like whoever’s running the playlist fell asleep in 1939. There are also a bunch of framed photos on the walls, but they aren’t limited to your standard portraits of famous people. There’s one of a dog, for example, and a few of a little league team. If you’re looking for a mostly-empty spot with vintage ceiling fans and candles on every table, come here. The food is basic red sauce stuff like chicken parm and penne alla vodka that you’ll forget about as soon as you leave the premises.

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photo credit: Teddy Wolff

The Best Italian Restaurants In The West Village guide image