No School Like the Old School: 9 Best Old School Italian Restaurants in NYC

ATTN: If you’re interested in learning more about our newest interactive food events, including ‘Make Pizza Drink Wine’, you can read more and purchase tickets HERE.

When most people come to New York City, the first thing they do is grab a slice.

However, a dollar slice will merely scratch the surface of the incredible Italian cuisine we have to offer in NYC.

These old school classic Italian restaurants have been serving impeccable food while simultaneously making their guests feel like a member of their own family. 

In short, they're exactly what you need in your life. 

These restaurants don't rely only on their food to encourage you to come back, though their food is out of this world... they rely on quality, welcoming service. No matter what mood you're in when you enter, you're sure to leave happy and well fed. 

Here are the best old school Italian restaurants in NYC though in no particular order: 

1. John's of 12th Street (302 East 12th Street)

crownsbass5 Dinner tonight in NYC. Chicken parmigiana & spaghetti at the long-standing Classic Italian place called @johnsof12thstreet best chicken parm I've ever had! #nyceats

For a restaurant to survive in the brutal NYC restaurant industry for over 100 years, it needs to be spectacular. Did we mention that John's has been around since 1908? 

This neighborhood joint is is a classic East Village, old school Italian restaurant.


Both the food and decor hasn't changed much since its opening, but we're obsessed with it all the more for it. John's red sauce is perfect for a chilly night out, particularly over chicken parmigiana, an American-Italian favorite. 

However, be aware that this old school spot still isn't messing with plastic; it's cash only. 

2. Dominick's (2335 Arthur Avenue - the Bronx)

rachelsoleil Arthur Avenue : A little red sauce goes a long way 🍝 after a lovely afternoon at @NYBG #FridaKhalo exhibit. #redsauce #italianfood #arthurave #eeeeeats #nycfat #grubshotsnyc

Anyone who considers themselves a New Yorker knows that the real Little Italy is actually in the Bronx, Arthur Avenue to be specific. Dominick's is one of the best Italian restaurants in the Bronx's Little Italy. When you eat at Dominick's, it's pretty much a sure bet you'll be getting great food and service. 

This old school Italian restaurant hasn't changed much in the last 50 years, though they have put a menu with prices on display outside the restaurant. 

The food, however, is just as good as always. Try the Linguini alla Gianni, but your server will be more than willing to help you (or intimidate you) into deciding on something more your style. Like most old school restaurants, it's cash only.

3. Manducatis (13-27 Jackson Avenue - Queens)

baconneggz #gnocchi #food #foodporn #sony #sonyqx100 #pasta #lic #nyc #italian

This spot in Long Island City is truly a family business serving up delicious old school Italian like your Nonna used to make. Manducatis opened on Christmas Day in 1977 by Vincenzo and Ida Cerbone. 

Though it took a few years for the restaurant to really take off, Manducatis has received the seal of approval from New Yorkers and celebrities, including Queens born Tony Bennett. 

We recommend the ricotta gnocchi, which is homemade of course, or the piccata of veal with lemon. 

4. Ferdinando's Focacceria (151 Union Street - Brooklyn)

natylek Heaven on earth! Burrata #chewdoin #food #foodporn #ferdinandos #focacheria #amazing #dinner #burrata #eggplant #delish #фото #красота #ужин #еда @chefdavidburke #italian

Though Ferdinando's Focacceria was opened in 1904, it was originally called Paul's Focacceria. Even though the name has changed, the food, floors, ceiling tiles, and some tables have remained the same. 

The current owner, Frank Buffa, took over after his father-in-law's, Ferdinando, death 40 years ago.


Frank hasn't changed much about the restaurant, though he did add a dinner service and a few more classic Sicilian dishes for variation. 

While at Ferdinando's, you must try the freshly made burrata as an appetizer. You'd be doing yourself a disservice if you pass it up. 

5. Bamonte's (32 Withers Street - Brooklyn)

bwaybaby109 I've stepped back in time 30 years or so. The only other customers in here are contractors named Sully and Vic. #brooklyn

Bamonte's has been a staple in Williamsburg since 1900, as in way before hipsters came to the scene. While it might have been known as Liberty Hall, it has always been owned by a member of the Bamonte family. 

Bamonte's is great for the welcoming atmosphere, as well as their 1950's era decor. It isn't surprising that Bamonte's was the setting for three episodes of The Sopranos

Though we're obsessed with their red sauces, you can't leave Bamonte's without having their cheese ravioli. They are incredibly large housemade ravioli served in a light red meat sauce. 


6. Mario's (2342 Arthur Avenue - the Bronx)

mariosarthurave #Repost @sfirshein with @repostapp. ・・・ Joseph, third-generation Mario's owner, lighting the world's largest parmigiana wheel on fire for the sake of a pasta dish.#pasta #italian #foodie #foodporn

Though it's relatively unsurprising that an old school, classic Italian restaurant in NYC has stayed within the family, being passed down five generations over 92 years, it is surprising to find a restaurant that has a history as the first Italian restaurant in Egypt. 

Yeah, you read that right. After leaving Naples in the early 1900s, the Migliucci family opened an Italian restaurant in Egypt, but was brought to the Bronx not long after. 


Still owned by the Migliucci family, the food is right out of a Napoleon restaurant. We're obsessed with the penne alla vodka with cream, tomato, vodka, shallots, and prosciutto. 

7. Barbetta (321 West 46th Street)

pinupyvonne My #view last #night 😍 #interior #baroque #vintage #dinner #NYC

Barbetta opened in 1906 by Sebastiano Maioglio, but is now owned by his daughter, Laura Maioglio. 

When you step inside this breathtaking dining room, you will understand why the location has become a historical establishment by the Associazione Locali Storici d'Italia, the only American restaurant to receive the high honor. 

The food and decor primarily hails from the area of Piemonte, Italy. Unlike many other classic Italian-American restaurants, Barbetta serves elegant Italian cuisine, rather than rustic. 

8. La Palina (159 Avenue O - Brooklyn)

tonylugos #italianfood #Gnocchi #sausage and their huge #meatballs with a wonderful sauce of #Prociutto and sliced onions. And of course a bottle of Chianti 🍴 🍷🍷😍😍

La Palina has been serving delicious Neapolitan food since 1930, though at that time it did not have a name. La Palina was given its name by a diner, singer Kate Smith, who was advertising La Palina Cigars. She suggested the name, which means "little ball," and it stuck. 


La Palina is still as well known for good food and impeccable service as it was back in the 1930's. Instead of focusing on drama, La Palina has perfected the art of simplicity to display their food. We recommend the veal scaloppine ala marsala. 

9. Monte's Trattoria (97 MacDougal Street)

blueboyroy #nyc #greenwichvillage #italian #vacation #foodporn

This little restaurant is perfect for an romantic authentic Italian meal. The Mosconi family continues to deliver the authentic Northern Italian cuisine that Monte's was founded on in 1918. 

Make sure you try the Veal Picata after an appetizer of the baked artichokes. When you're finished, be sure to thank Chef Pietro for his incredible authentic food. 

Check out 8 Best Creperies in NYC.

[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram] 

get spoiled in your inbox