Solving your Penn Station problem

7 Dec

“Near Penn Station” always seems like a convenient place to meet for food or drinks when someone is coming or going—until you remember it’s actually a wasteland of crowded sports bars overrun with rush-hour douchebaggery. Well, I found a spot! Not necessarily a destination in itself, but a yummy, spacious, well-decorated, clean, much-needed option in that area: CASA NONNA.

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Order light Italian bites like salami, cheese or antipasto platters to go with the focaccia-like table bread: little triangles of crispy, garlicky, cheesy goodness. A wood-fire oven churns out perfectly thin-crust pizzas (from $15), and the pastas (from $20) are made in-house. Main dishes (carne/pesce) are a little pricier. The arancini, by the way, are perfect.

Casa Nonna‘s location (38th b/t Eighth and Ninth, but closer to Eighth) near Times Square also makes it convenient for pre-theater. In addition to the huge, marble pizza bar, there’s also a comfy beverage bar in front, where you can get free snacks with the purchase of a drink during happy hour.

This venue happens to be strikingly huge—good for groups, office parties or events. It’s so big that I wondered how they afforded the lease, until I realized it’s owned by ESquared Hospitality, parent company of BLT Steak/Burger/Prime/Market/Fish Shack, etc.

Ultimately, this is the best place I know of in the area for dependable food in a warm and inviting space. While it’s not cheap (it’s still midtown, after all), you won’t feel completely hosed. They also take reservations, which are prob unnecessary … but may be worth the peace of mind if one of your drinking or dining companions has a train to catch.

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