Michael Imperioli’s Favorite Italian, Chinese, & Sandwiches In NYC

From the Upper West Side to Little Italy, these are the (vegetarian) actor’s favorite restaurants.
the actor michael imperioli wears sunglasses and a black jacket and stands behind a bar decked out with gold tumblers and accents

Michael Imperioli is a neighborhood guy. That means grabbing an omelet at Carnegie Diner, unwinding at Sake Bar Hagi with his castmates from An Enemy Of The People, and people-watching on a Verdi Square bench. The Sopranos and White Lotus actor moved from Santa Barbara back to New York in 2020, and settled down on the Upper West Side. Now, many of his favorite spots are local: restaurants that are “part of the fabric of the neighborhood.”

On the UWS, that includes Scarlet Lounge, the bar he and his wife Victoria back, and its little sister, the brand-new Dahlia—even though Imperioli himself is a teetotaler. He's also a vegetarian who appreciates a good eggplant parm, and will go all the way to Little Italy for a rigatoni alla vodka. Here are the spots Imperioli returns to for meals—and for a taste of quintessential New York:


photo credit: Sonal Shah

Osteria Accademia

“This Italian restaurant on Amsterdam in the 90s is very small—there’s books lining the walls and it looks like a library. It's casual and elegant at the same time. The eggplant parmigiano is really good, which is, for me, the mark of an Italian restaurant. The eggplant has to be cut properly, and there has to be the right balance between the cheese and the sauce and the eggplant itself—soft, with some texture, but not too much. It can’t be with too much skin. The pistachio pesto they make there is really good too.”


Upper West Side

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastLate Night EatsLunch

“There’s a couple of them—the Viand I go to is near The Beacon, 75th and Broadway. I like diners a lot, at every opportunity. There’s something very New York, kind of communal. It's everybody's restaurant, you know? They're getting expensive but they're not as expensive as most restaurants. I like to sit at the counter at Viand and have an egg salad sandwich on a weekday afternoon. It just feels like the New York I've always loved.”

“It’s a neighborhood place that’s not too expensive, but Leyla still feels like a night out when you’re there. It's Turkish, but it’s a mix of Mediterranean food. For vegetarians, there's a lot—like fried zucchini fritters, fava bean bruschetta, manti, which is almost like tortellini and it's mixed with mushrooms and this kind of creamy sauce. They have stuff for meat eaters and fish eaters as well, but their salads are really good. And they do great stuff with eggplant.”

“I go there for dinner. My favorite is the yuba verde. I love that sandwich. I think it’s tremendous. They do really, really flavorful things for vegetarians, and their desserts are off the hook. I just like their creativity. And it's very New York. That place was Odessa for many years—a Ukrainian diner, basically. They've kept that vibe and they're very committed to it. The staff is great and always friendly.”

Da Nico



OpenTable logo

“When I was a kid, my grandfather, my father would take us down to the feast [of San Gennaro] to eat. And then, when I was a teenager, I worked at Forlini’s, which was actually below Canal, but still kind of considered a Little Italy restaurant, even though it was officially Chinatown. In the mornings, I'd have to go to Mulberry Street to get the cannolis for service. So Mulberry Street always has a real place in my heart, and Da Nico keeps that tradition up. To me, it’s the last really good old-school Italian restaurant there. There used to be a lot more, and over the years it's gotten a little more touristy. They make the best rigatoni alla vodka that I've ever had—a little spicy. And they have a great garden. It’s great to be in Little Italy eating good Italian food, especially in the summer.”

photo credit: Noah Devereaux

$$$$Perfect For:Classic Establishment

“I love Hop Kee. That's an old-school Chinese restaurant we've been going to for years. We used to live not far from there when my kids were little, and they grew up going there. They like the salt and pepper shrimp, and then the squid with the hot peppers. We'd get egg foo yung, the beef chow fun. Their string beans are really good, and the chinese broccoli. I know a lot of the waiters—they've been there for at least 20-something years.”

“Jody Williams is an old friend who my brother used to work with back when she was at Gusto, and Giorgione. Jody trained in Rome, so her pastas are incredible and authentic. She also makes one of the best green salads that tastes like a real Sunday Italian dinner—an at-home green salad. It’s very specific, very simple but flavorful, and it tastes like home. And that place has a good vibe, you know?”

“Raoul’s is a place you go with old friends, because it is exactly what it's always been since it opened. I remember Raoul’s from the mid ’80s, and it always feels like what Soho used to be—there's kind of an exclusivity about it, but at the same time it's very casual, very welcoming. The food has always been good, very consistent—they make a good pasta. And the bar is a classic New York hangout, where you'll always run into interesting people; probably people you know—if you've been in New York for a long time.”

Tribeca Grill



OpenTable logo

“It’s a good place for meetings because you’ve got some space there between tables and it's just a beautiful comfortable room. Steve Schirripa and I did some recordings there for our podcast. It looks great. It tastes great. I like the caesar salad and their french fries. I love the location. It feels like a special place—a really great restaurant that has been great for a really long time. It's not easy to maintain those standards over decades.”

photo credit: Teddy Wolff

“It's amazing what [Mark Iacono's] done there. He’s managed to kind of create the classic New York slice, instead of doing some artisanal, Neapolitan thing, bringing Naples here. He just said, ‘I'm gonna perfect the New York slice,’ and he's managed to do it. The last time I went with a friend of mine in the winter, I had pizza with shallots and hot peppers and it was really, really good.” 

“It's a lot of neighborhood people, a lot of Upper West Siders during the week. And then later in the week and weekends, [we get] more people from different parts of the city, with a mixed age range. Monday nights have been really fun because we've been getting some really good musical acts. It's a small space but we kind of try to connect the music to the jazz age period of [Victoria, a decorator's] design. I like putting musicians to work. I love the idea of a neighborhood place that people feel is theirs, and it's a little different than everything else in the area. And the truffle fries are really good.”

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

Suggested Reading

The Best Restaurants On The Upper West Side image

The Best Restaurants On The Upper West Side

Our favorite Upper West Side restaurants for all sorts of dining situations.

Where To Have An Excellent Vegetarian Meal In NYC image

Where to eat when you want more vegetarian options than “seasonal market sides.”

a few pastas and other dishes from Roscioli in NYC

Where to eat Italian in NYC when you aren’t willing to settle.

The NYC Cold Brew, Burgers, & Omelets That Power Antoni Porowski image

The ‘Queer Eye’ food expert takes us on a downtown restaurant tour.

Infatuation Logo


2024 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The views and opinions expressed on The Infatuation’s site and other platforms are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of (or endorsement by) JPMorgan Chase. The Infatuation and its affiliates assume no responsibility or liability for the content of this site, or any errors or omissions. The Information contained in this site is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.


Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store