For over 40 years, Giambelli 50th has graced the East Side with renowned authentic Italian cuisine. You can expect the white glove treatment from host Frank Giambelli and his staff in this elegant, upscale restaurant.

Giambellis is a classic Italian restaurant in midtown that has stood the test of time. It is a restaurant her family has visited many times and someplace I wanted to experience too. So V and I went for "Christmas dinner" before heading home for the holidays.

The restaurant appears as though is hasn't changed at all in its more than 40 years. From the arrangement of the tables, to the upholstery, to the menu and staff (though I suppose they have aged), everything seems original, and classic.

Perhaps my palate is becoming more refined, or my standards too high, but I wasn't entirely impressed with our first two courses. I ordered fried zucchini to start that was rather tasteless, and I found myself adding lots of salt to the dish. V had a mushroom salad that was good, but nothing terribly unique. My pasta, Linguine "Amatricana," flat spaghetti with prosciutto, onions and tomato sauce, too was a bit bland, though I really liked V's Paglia e Fieno, white and green noodles with prosciutto, onions, and cream sauce.

The real treat though was dessert: Zabaione, a frothy concoction of egg yolks whipped with wine and sugar served over fresh berries. We loved the table-side preparation of the dessert and it was a delicious indulgence to kick-start the rest of our approaching "filling" holiday meals.

I'm glad I experienced Giambellis and I wouldn't turn anyone away from such a classic New York experience as dining here, where even the Pope once came. Next time I'll choose a little more carefully from the menu. Oh and one other surprise—this was the first restaurant I've been to with a "captain" and an associated line on the bill for a "Captain Tip" (as I first saw on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Johnny Utah's

I went to Johnny Utahs with my office for our holiday party. Really, the highlight here is the mechanical bull in the middle of the restaurant - which several of my colleagues attempted to ride, while I fended off the peer pressure to climb on. The atmosphere has a nice country feel, for New York City, that is it isn't too country-esque though the walls are wood, and the decor is southwestern. We pretty much had the main room to ourselves and most of the service was appetizers - chips and salsa, guacamole, wings, etc. The food was good, but nothing too notable our extraordinary. I think it is more of a touristy place, but it served a good purpose for our party and we definitely had a good time. Maybe I'd go back in the future if it fit a specific desire - or if I wanted to compete in the bull riding championships!


Enjoy inventive American cuisine with a coastal Mediterranean flair in an exquisite environment blending old world baroque elements such as silk chinoserie wallpaper and black Murano glass chandeliers with downtown touches like distressed brick walls, granite archways and a magnificent backlit mosaic tile "floating staircase" custom made by Sicis of Italy.

Amalia is sure good at run-on sentences in their descriptions. But there is more I'd add, notably the unique placement of artwork and old-world paintings...on the ceilings! The dark atmosphere and candlelight combine with a trendy crowd to make a pretty happening restaurant.

I'd say that Amalia isn't quite a formal restaurant but it is definitely upscale (and pricey - luckily this meal was compliments of my alma mater, thanking me for my donations). We had excellent service throughout our three-course meal with wine. The food was very good and the menu had some interesting selections, with a handful of words I'd probably have to look up before ordering. I think I'd go back if I had the budget for a fancy pre-theater meal, or a guest who'd appreciate the cool crowd and atmosphere.

Five Guys NYC

Five Guys is a burger place that started down in the D.C. area and I went there every now and then before I moved to New York. I was excited to see that they're now spreading up to the city. A few weeks ago Five Guys opened in midtown, a few blocks from my office. The day it opened, the line was out the door with an hour and a half wait! Now, fortunately things have calmed down a bit and when I went, the wait was a more reasonable 5-10 minutes.

Five guys isn't gourmet, but they make one of the best burgers I've ever had. Compared to so many other burgers, from McDonalds to any other pub or the frozen patties I often have off the grill at barbecues, Five Guys tops them all. The burgers (made with two hand-formed patties) are juicy and flavorful, and the free toppings are great too. I do wish there was a little more grill char taste, but really the burgers are just great. I like to let the burger sit for a few minutes after I get it to allow all the flavors to combine. In those few minutes, I simply enjoy the great fries Five Guys makes from fresh potatoes. They're more like boardwalk fries, a little crispy, but also a little soggy, with the skin sill on. The fries are served in a foam cup but really that serves little purpose because they add probably double that amount of fries to the brown paper bag everything comes served in. Simple and tasty, with malt vinegar, or ketchup. Plus, don't forget the barrels of peanuts set out for snacking while waiting in line. All in all it makes Five Guys a great place for a great burger. I'm glad its close to the office, but not so close that I'll be there every day for lunch!

Mickey Mantle's

Since opening in 1988, Mickey Mantle's Restaurant and Sports Bar has established itself as a New York Institution, one of the city's most popular restaurants.

V and I went for dinner at Mickey Mantle's - overall it was a fine experience, but I wouldn't rate it as one of my favorites. The restaurant is pretty typical of most sports bars and the food is rather expensive. Admittedly I had a large steak, and it is New York City, on Central Park South.

The atmosphere is basic sports bar, with a good umber of TV's throughout the restaurant, and of course Mickey Mantle and other sports paraphernalia on the walls. There were a few odd things though, our table had a booth seat on one side and a chair on the other and they were not at the same level, meaning V was sitting a few inches lower than I.

We started with a spinach and cheese dip that was very good. It remained creamy even after it cooled down, and the flavor was smooth and rich, but not too strong. As I mentioned, I had a steak, the Cowboy Steak, which was described to me as a steak on the bone rubbed with a mix of spices and peppers. I couldn't taste many spices when it came out, mostly just the nice flavor of a good char on the grill. The steak was huge, 21 ounces, and I attempted my best effort at finishing it, but with the spinach dip, a side of mashed potatoes (which were quite good, a little chunky, with a cream gravy) and the broiled tomato it was too much to finish (though I got close). Fortunately I had a good workout at the gym earlier in the day. V had a more reasonable Kobe Chopped Steak with mushrooms and asparagus. It was basically a fancy hamburger patty, and even though it was Kobe beef, that's how it tasted.

The service was adequate, but nothing special. I'd say overall, Mickey Mantle's is a bit expensive - or really it's just not that special of a place to me. I suppose I prefer something other than a sports bar aimed at more of the tourist crowd.