Okay, so Osteria Laguna is in New York City and not Italy but it is the best Italian food I have had outside of Italy. I initially visited Osteria Laguna because it is located across the street from the Helmsley Hotel. Normally I cannot afford the Helmsley Hotel but I hit the jackpot one year and was able to book a room at a reasonable price through priceline.
At first I avoided the Osteria Laguna thinking it would be touristy since it was right across the street from the hotel but by the second night I needed Italian and it was just so convenient. I wish I had gone there every night. It is a real find. Now I eat there every time I am in the City, usually with a friend or sister in tow.
I visited Osteria Laguna most recently a week ago on a visit to New York City with my sister. I had built the restaurant up to my sister and was afraid it would not meet the high expectations we both had, but the restaurant did not disappoint.
Bread accompanies every meal. Real grissini as well as great crossitini senza oil and Italian bread accompany every meal. Along with your bread you get a nice selection of Italian olives. Well, I don’t know for sure that the olives come from Italy but they are certainly Italian style olives.
My sister and I split an Insalata Mista that was light and fresh. The salad dressing, a lemon vinaigrette, was tasty but just barely there. For the true Italian experience you can ask to have the salad brought after the meal.
Susan had the Saltinbocca di Vitello. The veal was exceptionally tender and the sauce was flavorful without being overpowering and there was a lot of it. If I remember correctly, she got four pieces of veal.
I ordered the cheese Tortellini that came in a light tomato cream sauce, not too creamy. I cannot abide heavy sauces and I like this. In fact it is a sauce worthy to be sopped up with bread. These were really big Tortellini and I had eight which was more than enough. The Tortellini were cooked “al dente” just like I like them so I was very happy with my choice.
The restaurant is noisy but not nearly as bad as most of the restaurants I have been to in NYC. Normally I don’t like loud restaurants and tend to avoid them in Atlanta. But in New York, if I wanted to avoid noisy restaurants I would never eat. In a noisy city you have to get used to eating in noisy restaurants
The lighting in the restaurant is low which contributes to the cozy neighborhood Osteria feel. Since the restaurant is on East 42nd Street, just a couple of blocks from Grand Central Station, it is not really in a typical New York neighborhood.
Every time I have been there the service has been good with the waiters being attentive but not overly so. If you want to grab a quick meal before the theater this is probably not the place for you since no one seems to be in a hurry. On the other hand compared to the restaurants you go to in Italy the service is speedy indeed.
The main pasta courses are generally less than $20 and the meat courses run $25 to $30 which is reasonable for New York. Although I have never had the pizza at Osteria Laguna I have heard it more than meets or exceeds the rather high standards New Yorkers have for their pizza. I always order my pizza crispy which means they keep it in the oven a little longer so the crust is crunchy.
I have eaten at Osteria Laguna several times and have never had a bad meal so I would highly recommend it. Oh, and the lady eating next to us ordered a Tiramisu that looked wonderful. She is lucky I did not sneak my spoon over for a taste.
209 East 42nd Street
New York, New York 10017