211 Waverly Place, New York, NY (Charles St & 7th Ave)
This bustling eatery – Keith McNally’s Italian outpost – has the European brasserie feel of Pastis, Balthazar, and Schiller’s, yet maintains a unique atmosphere all its own. The interior is warmly designed with stripped wood panels, antique tiles, and bottles of Chianti lining the walls alongside rustic loaves of bread. An energetic and beautiful crowd appears to be ever-present along its sidewalk tables outside; however, Morandi’s simple yet delicious menu is worth the wait. Standouts include the insalata di faro, grilled octopus with olives and roasted fennel with orange honey and entrees such as spaghetti vongole, grilled hanger steak with anchovies, and the grilled chicken with chilis and lime. Without reservations, you might wait up to an hour for a table, but do try to snap up a seat at the bar: we’ve often found they were the best in house. Libation-wise, King of Cocktails Dale DeGroff crafted the libations (the Bloody Bull gets our gold star), or you can enjoy top-notch wines by the glass or bottle.