Neighborhood: Greenwich Village
Address: 181 Thompson St.
Carbone is the Italian restaurant you want to be at in 2014. The old world Italian cuisine that boasts big portions of the basics done the best—the veal parm, meatballs (best in the city, sorry everyone else) and the spicy rigatoni ala vodka are absolute musts. Besides the stellar food, Carbone’s decor successfully takes you back to the 50’s—checkered tile floor from “The Godfather” and all. There may be a homage to the classic film, but Carbone succeeds where other Italian restaurants in that the Italian atmosphere isn’t cliche nor corny. The wait staff is friendly, hip and doesn’t try too hard to impress you with their faux Italian accent. During the early evening dinner hours classic music from the 50s and 60s permeates the dining room and later in the night at around 11:30 a perfect all Hip-Hop (Jay Z, Biggie, Tupac, etc etc) playlist kicks in. It’s not often you get to leave a place and brag to your friends “I went to the best Italian spot in the city,” but you can when you leave Carbone. — Joe La Puma