What is the favorite Amsterdam pastime? There are plenty of candidates for this honor. Bowling used to be high up on the list and gambling, softball, shopping and bitching about anything and everything still are. But if I had to pick the number one all-time favorite Amsterdam pastime it would be going out to eat. So in today’s All Time Top Ten List for Amsterdam, I’ve defined three different types of dining out options and present five of the ten establishments in each of those categories that made my list. Bon appetite!
Restaurants with Full Menu and Bar Service
Isabel’s – That wonderful booth-room, thin-sliced eggplant, Danny Haver’s illustrations on the wall, their hamburgers were made with ground sirloin – best I ever had! Fresh cut fries! Guy & Ida, Pup & Louie, Bam & Flo, Mike & Pete. Nobody has ever done it any better in this town.
Russo’s – Not really a full-menu restaurant but full enough, good enough and in business long enough to become this town’s best-known place to eat ever!
Armory Grill – Great food, innovators, community pride and most importantly, the place is still open for business. Hat’s off to all those past and present who have worked so hard and long to make “the Grill” a South Side institution,
Lorenzo’s – You waited an hour for a table but didn’t mind at all because everybody you knew was there too and so were those Lanzi boys.Only about six entree choices on the dinner menu plus that homemade pasta, When you left your belly was full, you had a bit of a buzz and your sides hurt from laughing so hard.
Pepe’s & Bosco’s – If in the Godfather movie, Michael Corleone had to kill Solozzo and that crooked cop in Amsterdam instead of the Bronx, no doubt he would have done it at Pepe’s. Sammy Pepe Sr. was one of the most colorful characters in Amsterdam during his heyday and he created an iconic west end restaurant that his sons kept alive for a second generation.Bosco’s invented the Amsterdam version of a calzone and they serve some of the best tasting dinner entrees you’ll find anywhere.
Bars that also served food
Tuman’s – While Bill poured the short ones with beer chasers, Nadia was in the kitchen making the food that filled the hungry bellies of the workers who in turn filled the rug factories and offices on the other side of Forest Ave. Both of them did their jobs very well.
Shorty’s – As good as his sausage and provolone sandwich was, the real pleasure of stopping at this Broad Street classic was getting a chance to talk to it’s original owner. Shorty Persico was the best! By the way, Shorty’s is still open and their food is outstanding!
Tony’s – Tony and Anna Fischetti created the perfect food and drink environment for a good time on the corner of Division and Bayard.
Skiba’s – If I had a nickel for every shot glass emptied at this place I’d be a rich man but what you may not have known about Skiba’s is that besides Brownies, they served the best hot dogs in town.
Crystal Bar – Gabe Centi and an old fashioned pizza went together like good food and good friends do!
Food but no Booze
Brownie’s – Two dogs all the way, fries with gravy and a chocolate milk equaled 3AM heaven on Amsterdam’s Reid Street
Carmel’s Diner – I could eat twenty of their greasy grilled hamburgers and still want another one. They would put a perfect circular pool of gravy smack in the middle of your mash potatoes and a scoop of vanilla ice cream in half a cantaloupe.
DiCaprio’s Diner – The best sausage on a hard-roll anywhere and of course the one and only Jigger’s.
Johnny’s Seafood – I heard one of the reasons the Catholic Church ended its no-eating-meat on Friday’s mandate was because going to this place wasn’t a sacrifice, it was a pleasure.
Ralph’s Deli & Europa– Ralph’s had the best pastrami, corned beef, roast beef and charcoal-broiled burgers there ever has been in Amsterdam. Unlike Ralph’s, Europa is still in business and their Forest Avenue eatery serves the best breakfast and one of the best lunches in the city.
Want to see my other five selections in each of the above categories? I’ll include the rest of my picks for the “Top Ten All-Time Amsterdam Restaurants with Full Menu and Bar Service” in the May 2017 version of my free e-mailed newsletter. If you’re not on the distribution list for the newsletter you can sign up here.
You can read about the rest of my top ten picks for the two other restaurant categories when my new book “50 All Time Amsterdam Top Ten Lists” is released later this year.