Visiting certain restaurants during the holidays is as much a tradition as visiting family. Every year, I look forward to seeing them, with the benefit that instead of being annoyed by Aunt Mable, I can look forward to that feeling of home with great food in a casual setting. These gems are sure to make you feel festive, but make a reservation soon.
Located near the Theater District, Nizza is a nice choice for a good meal if you’re going to see a show. Try the burrata appetizer and one of their many homemade pastas — they’re all tasty, but I love the pansoti with walnut pesto. They offer a dozen thin crust pizzas starting at $13. Brunch is served on weekends from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and starts at $10. 630 Ninth Ave.
This place is all about meatballs; I love the “stolen” ones served without sauce that remind me of my grandmother’s. Their homemade pastas start at $17 and are bursting with flavor — try the gnocchi or the papardelle bolognese. I recommend starting with a few orders of meatballs and the sausage and broccoli rabe sliders to share. Monday through Friday, take advantage of two-for-one drinks from 5-7 p.m. On weekends from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. indulge in the bottomless brunch with an entree and beverage of your choice for $30. 483 Amsterdam Ave.
One of my favorite Irish pubs, with a large bar area with high tables if you’re looking for a place to meet friends for drinks, in addition to a spacious dining area. There is always a great vibe here, and they offer seasonal beverages like $5 eggnog shots. Share the flatbread pizza of the day or the Angus beef sliders. On Sundays from 11:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. enjoy their jazz brunch for $15.95 that includes one drink. 150 W. 47th St.
Monica DiNatale is a deals expert, food host and author of “365 Guide New York City,” a treasure trove of restaurant deals and bar specials in New York. Monica has hosted segments for The New York Chocolate Show and Craft Beer Week festivals. She dines out eight days a week in search of the best deals in the Big Apple. “365 Guide New York City” is available in paperback and e-book.