Photo by Suzanne Cohen Photography
It is a rare treat to go out to eat out by myself. With three little ones, my meals usually involve a circus act of pulling toys out of my bag to trying to shovel food in my mouth before a meltdown/cry fest happens. The enjoyment factor isn’t really part of the deal, but at least I don’t have to cook that night.
So, I was thrilled when several bloggers organized a holiday party in NYC at La Mela Ristorante, an Italian eatery located in the heart of Little Italy, where I could sit, enjoy, and stuff my face in peace.
After the hectic dash from Grand Central to Little Italy, I was thrilled to see La Mela filled with some many blogging friends as we all brought items to donate for a group raffle. There were tons of cool selections from wine to a bra/underwear bag (yes, it exists!) to games and toys for the kids. After some wine and bread, we all got to chatting to learn more about this unique restaurant.
The restaurant first opened 25 years ago, and quickly become a staple of the neighborhood. Natalie Diaz, Founder of Twinversity, told us about how her uncle purchased the place after two Italian men left. “We don’t want a Starbucks on Mulberry Street,” she added. As a 4th generation resident on Mulberry Street the culture and history of her life in NYC and throughout the walls of the restaurant runs deep.
Today, her husband John manages and overseas the place that is a popular spot for locals and tourists, and after our delicious experience it is easy to see why. We started with a family-style experience by enjoying some incredible apps including mozzarella with tomatoes, calamari, and crazy/good baked claims. Platters of grilled vegetables came out next with an incredible cheese side, and then pasta (gnocchi, tortellini and penne). The sauces on all of these dishes were incredible, especially the marinara that I wish I could take home. I was so stuffed at that point, and even more food came out including shrimp, veal and chicken – so incredible!
What was really distinct to me was how high quality the food was while also being affordable. They have a $9.95 lunch, and a typical entree is around $20-$29 dollars – that is definitely rare for NYC and lower Manhattan! They also have different family-style options (ranging from $25-$85per person), which is a really great option for events, holiday parties, and family gatherings.
Natalie then gave us a tour of the amazing space, which is actually composed of four separate rooms. We winded through a lively main area, to a prep area to separate party rooms that featured cool Italian art, murals, and a Matthew Modine picture (who also happens to be a regular at La Mela).
An incredible evening of laughs, friends, and delicious food made this a wonderful NYC experience that will stay in my heart (and belly) for a long time. I can’t wait to go back with my own family and for La Mela the juggling act will be so worth it!
La Mela Ristorante
167 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013
I was given a complimentary dinner as part of the blogger holiday party – thank you Natalie and La Mela Ristorante!