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La Mela, Old-School, Touristy Italian in Little Italy - 167 Mulberry between Broome and Grand Street


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Oh my, what to say, what to say.  We often give my Father in Law a hard time about despite really trying to pick good restaurants, ending up with real doozies.  Such a night occurred this past weekend at La Mela.  As we were walking up Mulberry MIL and me saw a cute restaurant next to our restaurant and were like, oh that must be it, nope.  We were at the place next door, plastic table clothes, statues, tv with pictures of people who have eaten there, I swear 50 Cent was in that mix.

Going in wearing our little black dresses we sat down hoping to be surprised with stellar food.  We were not.  My clams oreganata were gloppy.  House salad was fine, with a nice light dressing.  I don't really like calamari, but that was also good.  My clam pasta was fine, although the garlic was overpowering, pasta was fine.  Hubby's vodka penne was swimming in sauce and I could tell by the color it wasn't good.  There was a musician that came around, he sang a song about a gigolo in front of my MIL that might have been the crowning moment and she sat there smiling, not moving a muscle.  We left before the musician made his second round.  I think I am the only person that had something remotely decent as an entree.

We learned a valuable lesson and are passing it on, so you don't have to.  My husband and his brother left some amusing foursquare tips, "try the door".

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How sad.  My dad's family had a business around the corner from there.  I ate in quite a few restaurants in little Italy ...but it was decades ago.  Some were fantabulous...but not all.

Are there any good restaurants there anymore????

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The easy answer is "no" & weinoo is correct -- dont eat in Little Italy. But there are kitchens there that have chefs in them & I'm sure that, if you know someone or have been in the area for 30 or more years, you could bring your family there & have a great time & eat well. However, the entire area is not set up for this and their focus is on the tourist trade, getting the most out of the appearance of genuine Italian culture without any content. Almost 100% of the time you'll get overcooked pasta, big batch sauces, made from canned ingredients, and poor cuts of meats at as much $$ as they think they can extract. These places are, by & large, the equivalent of buying that cheap bag or watch down the block on Canal St. You wind up with a Roll-ex, not a Rolex.

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