Restaurant Name: Da Nico Ristorante
Restaurant Address: 164 Mulberry Street, New York, New York 10013
Restaurant Type: Sit-Down
Here’s the Deal on the Meal: Eggplant Parmesan with Spaghetti all’Arrabbiata, Four cheese Ziti, and Pizza Fiesta (thin-crust, roasted peppers and onions).
If you go to Little Italy without going to a restaurant, you’re not doing it right. Although the quality of the restaurants in the area have been gradually falling as higher-end Italian restaurants pop up in nicer areas, the restaurants are what the area is known for. Da Nico is a Little Italy staple and one of Rudy Guiliani’s favorite restaurants. It has a very authentic and classy atmosphere. In fact, I felt underdressed until I noticed others in the restaurant. They are one of the only restaurants in Little Italy that serves pizza, but their authentic Italian style has not yet been compromised.
Bread and butter was provided at the beginning of the meal: average.
The Eggplant Parmesan was great with the spaghetti, although the taste was nothing special. The arrabbiata sauce (which was special order, replacing the original marinara) consisted of a perfect mix of tomato and spices. It was the best I have had outside of Italy. It wasn’t just a “spicy marinara” sauce; it was unique—it was arrabbiato (angry). The Ziti, however, was not restaurant-worthy. The cream/four-cheese sauce was good, but it was something I could have made in my kitchen. The pizza was amazing, though: the sauce was sweet, the peppers and onions were fresh and tasty, and the cheese still had a distinct taste on top of it all.
Don’t order dessert: the free zeppole provided at the end was pretty good as well.
The total price for the three dishes was around $50. For a popular Little Italy restaurant, and for the food, this is a decent price. However, the prices are rather arbitrary. The enormous plate of eggplant parm with a side bowl of spaghetti cost the same as a personal bowl of ziti.
Like I said before, the prices were rather arbitrary based on serving size. The eggplant parmesan was enough for two, and the ziti wasn’t even enough for one, but they cost the same. These three dishes were shared between two college students, and we were stuffed afterwards. So, from dish to dish, the serving size varies, but if you share dishes, “no man [will be] denied their fair portion” (Iliad).
Variety of Taste
Among the three dishes we ordered, each had a distinct taste (something pretty tough to achieve in cuisine that relies so heavily on a core set of ingredients). The two pastas (spaghetti (eggplant parm) and penne (ziti)) were cooked differently to complement the dish in which they were used. The arrabbiata, pizza, and four-cheese sauces were all very distinct from each other and much different and fresher than similar sauces from other Italian restaurants.
The staff was prompt and dressed nicely, and the food came quickly; however, our server was rude and impatient. We were asked at least five times if we were done before we were actually done. Also, it was clear that we were trying to call the server, but they did not listen.
Make sure to order arrabbiata sauce instead of marinara (if you are up for a less tomato-y and more spicy sauce).