Best Old NY-Style Restaurants in NYC

October 25, 2016
·
by Zagat Staff

Feeling nostalgic? Here are the top-rated restaurants that have old New York vibes.

Bamonte's
Italian · Williamsburg · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.3

“Red sauce is king” at this “long-established” (since 1900) Williamsburg Italian, which remains “the ultimate old-school Brooklyn” joint for “belly-bustin’” standards “like grandma made” ; the “time warp” backdrop’s “not fancy” , but the “tuxedoed waiters” and assorted “characters” (e.g. “wise guys” ) are “wildly entertaining.”
Barney Greengrass
Breakfast · West 80s · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.0 · Service 3.7

An “essential” UWS “institution” , this circa-1908 “temple to smoked fish” “still reigns” with its “fabulous fresh bagels” , “silky” nova and other “quintessential” Jewish deli fare; on weekends service turns more “brusque” and the “cramped” space gets “chaotic” , but “so what?” – it's “part of the charm.”
Il Mulino New York
Italian · Greenwich Village · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

“As good as ever” , these “old-school” Italians “don’t miss” , offering “overabundant portions” , “loads of freebies” and all-around “luscious” fare; servers must “perform a ballet” to get around the “cramped” Village “landmark” (UES is roomier), and though it’s “memorable” for sure, your wallet may “hurt afterwards.”
Il Mulino New York
Italian · East 60s · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

“As good as ever” , these “old-school” Italians “don’t miss” , offering “overabundant portions” , “loads of freebies” and all-around “luscious” fare; servers must “perform a ballet” to get around the “cramped” Village “landmark” (UES is roomier), and though it’s “memorable” for sure, your wallet may “hurt afterwards.”
Keens Steakhouse
Steakhouse · West 30s · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.4

The “granddaddy of all NYC steakhouses” , this circa-1885 Midtown “temple to meat” remains “rock solid” , with “sinful” “Flintstones-size” mutton chops and other “succulent” slabs of beef in “masculine” “museum” -like surrounds with “lines upon lines” of antique pipes on the ceiling; it’s “not for the weak of wallet” , but “welcoming” service and an “endless” scotch selection are other reasons you “won't regret splurging.”
Minetta Tavern
French · Greenwich Village · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

“Nostalgia trip” meets “trendiness” at Keith McNally’s “energetic” Village “standout” that revives a circa-1937 tavern with “vintage” knickknacks, “snappy” service and “excellent” French fare including a “mind-blowing” Black Label burger ( “holy cow!” ); the prospect of “famous” faces in the back room keeps it a “tough table” , despite digs “more crowded than the subway.”
Old Homestead Steakhouse
Steakhouse · Chelsea · $$$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.2

Still serving a “hell of a steak” , this “legendary” Chelsea chophouse has been drawing “big spenders” in “big suspenders” since 1868, and its “clubby” (soon to be expanded) quarters “capture a bygone era” ; “robber baron” prices are part of the package, but given the “William Howard Taft” –worthy portions, some call it a “comparative value.”
Peter Luger Steak House
Steakhouse · Williamsburg · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.2

“Still the one and only” , this circa-1887 Williamsburg “monument to meat” sets the bar with its “buttery” house-aged beef ( “they define porterhouse” ) served by “cantankerous” career waiters in a “busy” “old-time” German beer hall setting; the “rough-and-tumble” style “only adds to the charm” , but prices are “stiff” and they don’t take plastic, so come with “a lot of cash.”
21 Club
American · West 50s · $$$$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

A “New York institution” and “class operation” , this circa-1929 former speakeasy in Midtown turns out “dependably good” traditional American dishes in an “old-school” , “dress-up” setting (jackets required, no jeans) with “spectacular” old toys hanging from the ceiling and “serene” private rooms upstairs; an “impeccable” staff furthers the “welcoming” vibes, though you may have to “liquidate some stocks to cover the bill.”
Waverly Inn
American · West Village · $$$
Food 4.2 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.0

Maybe the “celebrity buzz has slowed” , but Graydon Carter's “clubby” West Villager still offers “high-end” spins on American “home cooking” favorites in “charming” confines (adorned with droll Edward Sorel murals); in winter, regulars say a “cozy booth by the fireplace” is “where it's at.”