Thursday, April 30, 2009


Trying to find a good Italian restaurant in the Theater District can indeed be dramatic! What's palatable, veg-accommodating, and reasonably priced? Those criteria alone can rule out many of the Italian spots in the West 40s around 8th Avenue, Times Square, and Restaurant Row.

But if you wander just another block over to 9th Avenue, your options only get better. After ensuring our eyes weren't going to pop out of our heads after glancing at the overpriced Italian menus on 46th Street's Restaurant Row, a friend and I wandered around the corner and found Nizza, and no bug-eyes. And we arrived with just enough time to snag the last table outside. Despite the car horns, crowded sidewalks, and other typical NYC al-fresco dining stipulations, it was nice to finally be outside with a glass of Gavi after a seemingly long winter. With several vegetarian options (and sadly, no vegan options, but to their credit, they do offer a gluten-free menu), Nizza seemed to have promise.

As we weighed our decision of telling the waitress that we weren't rushing to see a show that night (if a restaurant is crowded and you're hungry, you better just say yes!), we were quickly presented with foccacia slices and fresh ricotta in olive oil. The foccacia wasn't particularly herb-y, but that was all well and good with me as I delightedly scooped up ricotta. Even more of a surprise- we couldn't have waited any longer than 10 minutes for our main courses to arrive.

I wasn't blown away by the food, but I did enjoy my ravioli di fava in a creamy, cheesy, butter sauce. To be clear, it wasn't alfredo sauce; I'm not quite sure what you'd call it actually, but it was a bit too cheesy for my liking, and I'd have preferred to cook the sauce with sage in it rather than use it as garnish. The ricotta and fava bean filling was thick and hearty, with neither a strong cheesy taste or bean taste. My pal ordered a personal margarita pizza with a sweet tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella (the only way a margarita pizza should be made!). Nothing particularly standout here as well, but again, it was pretty good.

Considering the neighborhood, I can't argue with the prices at Nizza (all of the entrees were under $20) or the great service from an amiable waitstaff. And considering the neighborhood again, it's a place worth dropping in on- no dining drama here!

Nizza, 630 9th Avenue, between 44th and 45th Streets, 212-956-1800

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