Emporio is a cute Italian neighborhood spot in Nolita that adds support to my claim (tourists read here): the best authentic Italian restaurants are in this area and not below in the “Little Italy” trap. The staff is very friendly, accommodating and knowledgable about the ingredients and wine list. It’s comfortable and casual and still feels like a big night out without an obnoxious overpriced, trendy or sceney feel. The pizzas are meant for sharing and are crispy and thin like you crave while the pastas wow the table and most come in under $20. I absolutely loved the scallops as the size and tenderness were extremely impressive and not something you get hit with at all restaurants. The Agnolotti pasta is fresh, soft and pillowy . For this reason it’s one of my favorite kinds of pastas and one you don’t see on ever menu -order it. Even the specials are spectacular and very well thought out using seasonal ingredients not just left overs that they are trying to get rid of.

I took some good friends visiting from Texas here and they claimed “it was the best pasta and pizza they’d ever had.” Well, I did laugh at this striking claim, but the point is whoever you bring here whether it be parents, friends or a romantic lover, you will look like a champion. While the small, front room is cute, make sure you get a table in the back with the nice booths, a glass ceiling roof similar to a green house and the open brick oven. Emporio brings its game and definitely makes my list of top Italian restaurants in the city. Skip dessert and hop over to Little Cupcake Bakeshop across the street where you can end  with a life-size slice of cake, cupcakes or even rice krispie treats.