Forlini’s is the name that comes up all over the internet when searching for the ‘best Italian restaurant in Little Italy’! It’s supposed to be one of the oldest and most authentic but who can really say?
As it consistently comes up at the top of the review boards, we decided to check it out. Unlike most of the other restaurants in Little Italy, Forlini’s is not located on Mulberry Street but it’s not far off at all! It’s also an indoor restaurant with no street seating, so if you’re looking for al fresco dining and people watching, this isn’t the place for you.
Overall Score: 3.5/10
Would I eat here again? Maybe. I would probably bring someone who’d never been before just for the experience.
What did we eat?
Manicolli Parmigiana ($15.50) – 4/5
I completely forgot to take a photo of this dish. Actually I was pretty crappy at taking photos here altogether! It’s basically made up of 2 thin sheets of pasta, each rolled around a LOAD of mozzarella, and then topped with marinara sauce and more cheese. TBH this was really good. It was recommended to us by the waiter who vetoed Mr H’s choice of the ravioli and said this was the way to go. The red sauce was good and the pasta was fresh but it was a very heavy dish and after a while, eating so much cheese got boring.
Spaghetti Primavera ($15) – 2/5
I came to Forlini’s craving spaghetti in tomato sauce and I wish I’d stuck to what I wanted. When I told the waiter that we didn’t eat meat, he told me I had to have the spaghetti primavera – “It’s what I call movie pasta!”, he said.
Unfortunately, what I received was a plate full of vegetables! The chef had obviously just added a bucket of veg to some spaghetti in marinara sauce but there was just way too much. I could barely see the spaghetti that was left, and the seasoning hadn’t been adjusted so it just tasted like bland vegetables with some pasta. It was not good. I ended up stealing some cheese from Mr H’s plate to try and make it better but it didn’t work. It didn’t even look like ‘movie pasta’!
Also, just a side note, they give butter with their bread here. This is fine but it’s fun to have garlicky olive oil to dip your bread in at Italian restaurants and I feel they’re missing out here.
I had no problems with the atmosphere inside here. There are no windows but there is plenty of space and the room feels cosy and comfortable. There are cute little booths to sit in – always my preference over tables, and art hanging up along the walls. It’s almost like you’re eating in someone’s living room.
To add to the homey feel, the owner welcomes everyone at the door with such hospitality that you feel like you’ve stepped into some kind of mafia movie where everyone knows each other! It’s fun and it’s nothing like I’ve experienced before!
You can’t knock the service here. Well, apart from the bad food recommendation, but he was only trying to help!
We were welcomed at the door by the owner who seated us straight away. Our waiter, Jack, was friendly, jokey and a perfect stereotype of the New York Italian American. He complained about his girlfriend and told us how he was on his way to the UK next month. He even used the phrase ‘fughedda bout it!’, which I obviously loved! At times, it felt like he was in character, doing an act for the customers (every table was his favourite!), but tbh, it was worth it for the experience!
Other than that, our food and drinks were served quickly and our water glasses were always kept topped up. I don’t think you can beat the service you receive at Forlini’s. I felt like I was in an interactive dining show.
The price is fairly average for Little Italy. Considering my vegetable pasta had no taste, our particular bill was overpriced, but I would happily pay the same again for food that was the same quality as the manicolli.
Take home message: Go for the experience and stick to items on the menu.