Located near the entrance of Little Italy on Mulberry Street, it was raining hard so my friend Brian and I chose to eat in this restaurant as it appeared lively, social and fun.
We ordered the recommended dish which was four course of horrible food. Included was tomato, basil, and a clump of mozzarela cheese; then vegetables with luke warm, poor quality olive oil (far too much oil, no love in the cooking).
Then there was a pasta dish drowned in melted cheese. I hate melted mozzarela in excess. Their main course did not even offer a meat dish; can you believe that?
As it was my only night in New York City, I was terribly disappointed. It makes me bitter about New York as it seems that unless you know someone or have reservations at the best restaurant, you'll be forced to find lousy restaurants such as this place.
All this being said, there is a nice social environment sitting there and they provide a large bottle of wine which you determine how much you should take. Because the food was lousy, I drank the wine so that the rip off prices (about $80 for two with all that wine) would not seem so painful.
Although I hated the food, I did make friends with just about anyone who sat around me.
Maybe I'm picky, but unless you love oil, excess cheese, and food without flavor, I would seriously recommend you avoid this place.
Favorite Dish: The food was horrible. The wine was ok.
There are very few times when eating out has been an honest culinary delight for me... Dining at La Mela was one of those times. If you want authentic NYC Italian cuisine you need to visit La Mela in Little Italy. The food is out of this world (and my grandmother is Italian, so I know a little bit about the difference between good italian and spaghetti o's).
Not only is the food wonderful, but the dress code is right up my alley: Come As You Are. When the restaurant's motto is "Sit Down, Eat, and Shut up" - you know you're in the right place.
Favorite Dish: Although I've only been there once, I'm going to have to push the 'Family Style Menu'. The platters of food keep coming and everyone at the table shares the dish. One price for everyone ($32 a head for just food, $58 a head for food and unlimited wine and beer), no decisions to make, and 5 courses of some of the best Italian food I've ever tasted.
They kick it off with a basket of real Italian bread, WITH A REAL CRUST. This is very important. :-)
Note: A bottle of wine will be open on your table without you having asked for it. If you choose the $32 per person meal, you will pay for this wine by the glass, so if you are on a budget just order a water and leave the wine be. If money is no object (and you can drink your fair share) I would suggest getting the $58 per person option that come with all the wine you can drink.
Now the important part ~ THE FOOD. They start you off with a must have: Tomato and Mozzarella... and they don't skip on the portions either! Follow with some hot Antipasti: Cooked red peppers, asparagus, stuffed mushrooms, and some type of cheese stuffed pasta I couldn't identify except to know that it was delicious. The next course is of course... what else... the pasta. Rigatoni in red gravy, plain and spinach tortollini, and gnocci. And just when you think it would be a mortal sin to consume any more fabulous food, out come the meat platter. Shrimp marinara, Veal in lemon sauce and garlic chicken.
You sit back, loosen your belt and sigh the sigh of the gastronomically content....
.... Then they bring you the dessert. Is it fabulous? I'm still smiling.
For Photos of all the dishes mentioned here, please visit the La Mela website listed in this tip.
MANGIA & Enjoy!
Of all the wonderful restaurants in Little Italy, La Mela is my favorite. This is true, no kidding around, phenomenal Italian food. Far from snazzy, their motto is “Sit down, eat, and shut up!’ Their prices are very cheap and they really let you take your time.
A note if you’re traveling with children: I’m not quite sure how to phrase this, but there’s a, well, gag that the waiters at La Mela like to play with a little contraption they’ve rigged up on the ceiling. It’s a little, umm, risqué and sort of crude, and I know they’ve gotten some flack for it (not that that’s stopped them from doing it). I think they only have it in the front dining room, so you might want to be asked to be seated in the back if you think it will make you or your children uncomfortable—just don’t let it stop you from eating there. If you’re there with only adults, you’ll probably have a great laugh as the entire dining room usually ends up in hysterics over it. Sorry I can’t be more specific than that—just take my word for it.
Favorite Dish: ANYTHING!
TONS of good food served on big plates, platters and bowls for everyone in your party/ at your table to share.
Huges courses include salad- like tomato mozzarella, hot antipasti, a mixed pasta platter, a meat platter and a dessert platter.
Walls are papered with tons of photographs from past guests, some famous...
Their motto: Sit down, eat, shut up!
And they mean it. Last time we were there, we were with friends we hadn't seen in ages. So we talked A LOT after we'd eaten and eventually one of the owners came over and told us he'd take 10% off our bill if we'd pay the bill and get the heck out! Rude? No, not really, because this place is BUSY and there is always a line out the door to eat here.
I think it's safe to say this is Sicilian-style Italian by the way.
$58 per person: includes unlimited beer, wine, soda iced tea and coffee
$32.00 per person: does not include wine, beer, soda, espresso, cappuccino or tea.
And like I said, this place is BUSY, so expect to wait. It's worth it though. What an atmosphere!
Favorite Dish: I loved the hot antipasti platter and the mixed pasta plate....
La Mella-authentic southern Italian cooking in the middle of New York City's Little Italy
The enviroment is very unique and festive and if you are lucky you just may run into a real Godfather or a couple of mobsters. The waiters are loud but that gives the place it's charm. It's a fun place to dine out at. There is even a plastic phalic symbol hanging from the ceiling that lights up when it's pulled.
Favorite Dish: They just keep serving you huge platters of pasta until you are stuffed. I have no clue what I ate but it was the house special and I washed it down with a glass of red wine and Peroni beer. The food is southern Italian in orgin.