Now, there are probably at least a few of you out there that scoff at the suggestion that a restaurant anywhere near Midtown could be compared to a fixture of the downtown "scene" like Carbone, and to that we say, good luck out there being the coolest person ever, and also stop using the word "scene". You sound like an asshole. We've actually heard from a few people that we trust (and who are pretty cool) that they prefer the old school Italian grub here to the stuff at Carbone, and that's got our attention. So does this chicken parm pizza that everyone is talking about. More on that shortly.
After a few visits, we're not ready to say that we like this restaurant as much as the one that they are most definitely taking some cues from. But we do like it a lot. We like the food, we like the service, we like the space, and we even like the "scene," which is far from stuffy, but still formal enough to function as a post-work or pre-theater destination for those eating in this area for that purpose. We're also particularly fond of the small street-level bar and shop beneath the massive restaurant, which has a garage door that opens out to the sidewalk and serves drinks, snacks, sandwiches, and something called gelato cake.
But our favorite thing about Quality Italian is how they have managed to take this concept of the new classic Italian restaurant, complete with table-side preparations and waiters in bow-ties, and made it work by melding it with what they've done successfully down the street for so many years - a steakhouse. This place actually feels less like a new concept than it does an update on Quality Meats, with more pasta, some meatballs, and little touches like "gorgonzola dolce" that make a filet mignon sound vaguely more Italian. All in all, it works really well.
And then there's the aforementioned Chicken Parmigiana for two, which is really just a giant meat pizza, and has become something of a calling card for the restaurant. Let us be the ones to tell you that you don't need to spend the $60 it's gonna cost you to try it. We found it to be bland and uninteresting, and honestly this place is better than that. Save your money for the pastas, any sea-born appetizer, and those vaguely Italian steaks instead.
This sort of goes back to the point that Quality Italian is still a steak house, but the raw bar in this place is prominent, and pretty damn excellent. We had a nice variety of Washington and Rhode Island oysters, and they were all expertly shucked and served on a giant silver platter with nice accouterments.
I'm not sure what exactly made this an Italian chopped salad other than just a chopped salad, but it was good. Maybe some salami. You should order it.
For something that costs $60, I shouldn't have to drizzle honey all over it for it to taste good. For that much money it should be drizzling honey all over me.
Steak inside pasta = pasta that tastes like steak. If that sounds good to you, you'll love this. If it doesn't, you'll hate it.
A really excellent filet, served with something called crispy bone marrow, which was less successful. The balsamic glaze was, however, a thing we appreciated.
This simple grilled branzino is one of our favorite things at Quality Italian. No bells and whistles, just a very well cooked piece of fish served with pesto sauce. Highly recommended.
A side dish that should be a main entree. This is like artichoke dip with pasta in it, and it's incredible.
This classic side from Quality Meats made it over to the menu at Quality Italian, and we're glad it did. It's basically creamed corn with a crunchy sugar top, and it's perfect.
I'm not sure if there's some kind of gelato wizard on staff here or if they buy this stuff from somewhere else, but it's all amazing. We sampled two different kids: "Fererro Rocher," with milk chocolate, hazelnut Cream, a crispy wafer, and candied hazelnuts, and "Coffee Crumb Bun," with Brooklyn Roasting Coffee Gelato, cinnamon crumb bun, and candied walnuts. I don't think I need to elaborate further.