Little Black Book

Where We Go When We’re Sick of Italian in NYC

by Joe Campanale
Joe A chat with the trio. All photos by Tara Donne.

We know (and love) sommelier Joe Campanale, chef Gabe Thompson, and pastry chef Katherine Thompson as the trio that has been feeding us brilliantly for years at L'Artusi, Anfora, Dell'Anima, and L'Apicio in downtown Manhattan. As part of our Chefs Travel week, we're featuring their new cookbook, Downtown Italian, and their recipe for whole wheat pasta with broccoli rabe. We asked Joe (a Fathom contributor) where they like to go when they're sick of Italian food. (Look: It's possible!)

DOWNTOWN NEW YORK – My favorite food in the world is Gabe and Katherine's take on Italian food. I could eat Gabe's pastas and Katherines olive oil cake every night. And for the last seven years, sometimes I do! But outside of Italian food, there's nothing I love more than sushi, tacos, and, because my girlfriend loves Chinese food, I love that too. Here are some places you'll find me, Gabe, and Katherine when we’re not chowing down on (or making!) Bolognese.

Joe Campanale

Sommelier Joe Campanale.


1. Sushi

It's honestly tough to pick one place! Sushi Yasuda and Azabu are my favorite for special occasions, especially with my girlfriend. We often go to Katsuei in our neighborhood, which is really excellent. I also hear such great things about 15 East and would love to go there soon.

2. Nomad

Nomad is the perfect place to have a really nice meal that hits all the right notes. I love everything about it, from the library room to their new bar and, of course, the restaurant. They nail it.

3. Glady's

Glady's has the most delicious Caribbean food and cocktails in Crown Heights, not far from where I live.

4. Great NY Noodletown

Okay, there are probably better and fancier Chinese restaurants, but I just love Great NY Noodletown. I bring a good bottle of wine, order a ton of food, and the bill is always so reasonable.

5. Gramercy Tavern

Need I say more? This place inspires me every time I go. It is simply the best restaurant in New York. One of the great things about Gramercy Tavern is that it is so seasonal, creative, and continually changing. I always like to try new things here.

6. Barboncino

Barboncino has some of my favorite pizza. It's as good as all the pizza that people write about, and the service is so great. The arugula with prosciutto di Parma is my favorite: The peppery arugula balances perfectly with the salty, meaty prosciutto.

Katherine Thompson

Pastry chef extraordinaire Katherine Thompson.


7. Colicchio & Sons

Colicchio & Sons has delicious American food, a gorgeous dining room, and impeccable service. Whether you're grabbing a bite at the bar in front of the open-fire kitchen or sitting in formal dining room, every part of the dining experience is stunning. It's our go-to spot for Thanksgiving, too.

8. Socarrat (Chelsea)

When Gabe and I reluctantly ate at Socarrat for the first time, we thought it was impossible to have good paella at a restaurant. Well, Socarrat turned us into regulars. When we lived in Chelsea, we ate here all the time. The paella is perfectly prepared and great to share on a double date. And don't miss the tapas. Everything from the Spanish tortilla to garlic shrimp is mouthwatering.

9. Buvette

Every detail of Buvette is perfect. The menus are beautiful. The cocktails are spectacular. The decor transports you to another world. But the food is why I return over and over again. It's hard not to order everything on the menu. Each plate is so simple and so beautiful. Chef Jody Williams is killing it. I'm especially in love with her version of apple tarte tatin.

10. Izakaya Ten

Izakaya Ten is great comforting Japanese bar food in Chelsea. And open late, too! Every section of their large menu has so many tempting options. And I fondly remember eating here the night before I gave birth to my son, Luke.

11. The Spotted Pig

The Spotted Pig is our home away from home. We love the staff and our kids love spotting all of the animals on the walls. The burger is the best I've ever tasted, and we love navigating the appetizer portion of the menu. Every soup and salad is exquisite. The deviled eggs are always mandatory.

Gabe Thompson

Restaurant heavyweight Gabe Thompson.


12. Casa Enrique

This has been a neighborhood favorite of Katherine and mine since moving to Long Island City in 2013. Beet and jicima salad, chips and guac, pezole, tortas, and chicken with mole hit the spot every time. Congrats to the Casa Enrique team on their new Michelin star!

13. The Gander

The Gander has amazing food and a beautiful space. It's a great restaurant for a date or a meet-up with friends. They also have one of the largest private dining rooms I know of in the city. It can accommodate around 80 people.

14. Shanghai Café

I love Shanghai Café for soup dumplings. We always order a ton of food. Our kids love the place,  and the restaurant loves kids (although they don't have high chairs).

15. Anissa

For a date night, I love going to Anissa. It has a wonderful, warm feeling. The staff is so gracious and knowledgeable, and Anita's food is just amazing.

16. Hill Country BBQ

Hill Country BBQ is another great spot to take the kids. It's big and spacious and my kids' screaming seems to get drowned out by the ambient noises. This restaurant always reminds me of home.


See all the locations mentioned in this story. (Google Maps)

Downtown Italian


Buy Downtown Italian: Recipes Inspired by Italy, Created in New York’s West Village, by Joe Campanale, Gabriel Thompson, and Katherine Thompson (Amazon).


Cook Like a Downtown Italian: Gabe Thompson's Recipe for Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Broccoli Rabe Pesto
Get to Know Joe Campanale: Fathom Questionnaire
Fathom New York City Guide

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