Looking for some exceptional service and great food away from all of tourists? Look no further than Nino’s Restaurant on the Upper East Side. With delicious food, wine, and cocktails, you and your guests are bound to have a great dining experience.
I have been dining with friends and family to Nino’s restaurant for over six years now.
It is funny, when I was a broke college student I stumbled upon Nino’s using the app LivingSocial. LivingSocial at the time had a ‘Prix Fixe’ menu. For less than $100, my date and I were able to get a three course meal featuring some delicious food.
Fast forward six years, I look for any excuse to go into the city (Broadway show, modeling gigs for my daughter, etc) to stop by and see Nino! And every time I have gone over the past six years, I have always had Nino serve some portion of my dinner!
Getting To Nino’s Restaurant in NYC
There are a few options to consider when going to Nino’s in the Upper East Side. Coming in from Connecticut, I do a fairly even split between the train/subway system and driving in.
If taking the train or subway into Grand Central Station, take a quick walk to ‘Times Square – 42nd Street’ subway station and take the Q line uptown. Be sure to get off at the ’72nd Street’ stop. When getting to the surface, walk one block east to 1st Avenue. Take a left onto 1st Avenue (after crossing 1st) and Nino’s will be on your right after the pharmacy!
If you decide to drive in (either on an impromptu trip home or not during rush hour) park across the street at 1351 1st Avenue Garage. You can get up to three hours of parking for $15 with a validated ticket!
Anyone that has been to the city knows that $5/hour is a steal! The only time I get a better rate is if I am staying at a hotel for a night. Then I can get a 24 hour pass for around $40.
Prior to Arrival
Although not required, I recommend making a reservation prior to arriving at Nino’s which is super simple. They have a link to their OpenTable which makes making a reservation a breeze.
It would be a good idea to make a reservation if planning to dine for dinner Thursday-Saturday evening. The ambience is perfect for dates when they bring in pianists or Jazz musicians! The excellent live music always makes my meals more tasteful.
Nino and his staff are always welcoming at the door! This Upper East Side restaurant has dining options for all sorts of occasions.
If you are looking for a casual night out, feel free to sit outside and enjoy the beauty of the Upper East Side. This is the perfect place to be for a nice summer night or temperate fall evening.
If you are looking to have a casual drink and take in the pianist or jazz musicians, feel free to sit at the bar. Otherwise, Nino will take you to the back of the restaurant if you are looking to have a nice meal out with a friend or loved one!
As expected with any fine Italian dining experience, the food at Nino’s is exceptional.
Being a New Englander at heart, I always gravitate toward the seafood. When available, I get the Lobster Fra Diavolo. Our waiter (usually Nino) provides excellent service by making the final touches cooking live in front of the table!
I have been lucky on some instances and Nino has let me pick the lobster out of the tank! If I am really lucky, the staff get personal and give you some history on the lobster. They come up with some pretty cool names for each of the crustaceans!
If you are looking for a fine Italian pastas, look no further. I haven’t had a bad pasta at this restaurant; but, I do have a favorite! I almost always get is the fettuccine alfredo. Always creamy and rich, this pasta pairs well with the Santa Margherita.
What better way to end your evening of fine Italian dining with dessert? If you are looking for something different, I highly recommend getting their banana flambe. The server or Nino will come over with a cooking table and cook your dessert right before your eyes!
If you are lucky and dine later into the evening (when Nino dims the lights), you will have a beautiful fiery display as the alcohols burn off. Below are the liqueurs that are typically added to the banana flambe.
If you want to go with a more conventional dessert, the cannoli is excellent. They also have a chocolate mousse that is rich in flavor and chocolatey!
Cocktails at Nino’s Restaurant
Wrap up dessert with some great cocktails. One of the reasons I come back to Nino’s time and time again is that he makes some of the best espresso martinis around. My friend who bartends at Luce near Krust Middletown in Middletown, CT begs to differ (she may have a little bias)!
Another regular alcoholic beverage I do over dessert would be the limoncello shot. My wife always did ‘Lemon Drop’ shots in college, so these limoncello shots were a pleasant surprise for her.
Looking to try something a little different? Try the birthday cake martini! With some cinnamon, heavy whipping cream, and cake vodka this martini will certainly have you feeling like celebrating!
Besides cocktails and exotic shots, this restaurant has more options for wine than I can count. I always say “the more options, the better” but boy, this list has me picking something new every time. I alway find myself trying at least one new thing while I’m visiting.
Why Visit Nino’s Restaurant
One of my biggest drivers to return to a place would be great service. At Nino’s, Nino treats every one of his patrons as if they are family.
Although I only come a handful of times a year, he still comes over with a big smile or hug to say hello! His memory is good, too! He continues conversations as if we were there yesterday!
As quiet and niche as Nino’s restaurant may be, there have been a lot of famous people that have been clientele for dinner. Some famous celebrities that have dined at Nino’s restaurant include Hilary Duff, Clint Eastwood, Alicia Keys, and Derek Jeter to name a few.
Enjoy some great food, great vibes, and live music (if you go on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday). Whether you make a habit of it or visit while in ‘town’, you won’t be disappointed.
I’ve yet to find other restaurants in the area that compare! I hope to get back on my Broadway/Nino’s combo once my daughter gets a little older so mommy and daddy can have some nights out again in the city!
You’ll find the most common questions about the restaurant here. If you have another question, feel free to leave a comment.
Nino’s is located in the Upper East Side at 1354 1st Avenue in New York City.
Yes! You can get parking validation for up to 3 hours for only $15 in the garage located right across the street. Just provide the parking pass and the restaurant staff will stamp it so you get the discount.
The easiest way to make a reservation is to use OpenTable from the link on the official website.