January 15, 2010

Celeste: Our go-to Italian place UWS, NYC

Everyone one in NYC has their favorite neighborhood go-to restaurant (please send your suggestions our way in the comment section!) where the food is consistently good and the prices are so reasonable that you can afford to regularly dine there.  Our go-to place when our fridge is empty or we tire of leftovers is Celeste, a small, often-crowded, tight Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side.

With crunchy thin-crust pizzas made in their wood-burning oven and homemade pastas, Celeste features traditional Italian fare for significantly under $20/dish.

Homemade Tagliatelle with shrimp, cabbage, and pecorino cheese ($9.50):  Who could pass up homemade egg pasta for under $10?  The shaved cabbage added a different texture to the dish, and though the dominant flavor was the pecorino cheese, we could easily taste the eggy pasta.

The other pasta option we were eyeing was the Vermicelli with open baby clams ($10.50).  Our neighboring tables all ordered this dish and it looked really good (all plates were left empty).  We opted for the tagliatelle, however, because we wanted their daily homemade pasta versus the vermicelli which was dried pasta from Italy. 

Quattro Stagioni pizza ($13):  This is really 4 pizzas in one pie.  Clockwise from the top, this crispy, thin-crust pizza had prosicutto di parma, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, and artichoke.  Not only do we get a variety of slices, but having only one quarter of the pizza in cheese allowed the other sections to remain extra-crispy. 

We were split on our favorites - I loved the earthy mushrooms and the sweet melted mozzarella slices while my husband's preference for salty foods was reflected in his favorite slice - the Prosicutto di Parma slice.

To end our meal on a high note, we always get the Tartufo al Limoncello ($6).  It's bright, refreshing, and lemony.  It is a lemon-flavored hybrid of sorbet and gelato with the limoncello infused into it, all enclosed with a frozen sponge cake crust.  It's the perfect palette cleanser.

The food as always was wonderful and for 2 entrees, 1 dessert, and 1 glass of wine, we spent less than $50 (after tax and tip) for the two of us.

Celeste is located at 502 Amsterdam Ave (btwn W84th and W85th Sts) in NYC.  Please note that the restaurant is cash only and that they do not take reservations.


  1. I am drooling here... I do have a suggestion, when i lived in NYC about 10 years ago, I was an upper east guy (86th between 2nd and 3rd). Most of the neighborhood places are probably gone now, but I do have a small out of teh way suggestion next time you are heading to a Broadway show...

    POMAIRE, a Chilean themed place, on "Restaurant Row (46th St off 8th Ave.). Close to the Broadway, wallking distance to just about any of the shows. Their fish will blow you away, they always have a guitar player and very authentic. Worth a look


  2. Gonna have to try it! Looks rustic and cozy. Not to mention the food looks good enough to eat through the screen

  3. This looks like a great place to drop in. How long is the wait for dinner on a Friday/Saturday night?

  4. oh wow the pizza looks amazing great restaurant your right can't beat home cooked food


  5. @A Year on the Grill - Thanks for the suggestion! We've been exploring the Hell's Kitchen area (Restaurant Row) since it's continuously changing and updating with new restos. We'll definitely check out Pomaire!

    @foreverflavor: Celeste is close quarters

    @FLB: It's less of a wait (sometimes no wait) if you go early (6pm), but generally weekend waits can be around 30 minutes (or less). We usually take that time to go to the Citibank at 86/Broadway to get cash for the meal.

    @Chow and Chatter: Pizza is a must here because of its old wood-burning oven. Maybe the next time you're in NYC, we can have a food blogger meal here!


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