Translation from English

Monday, September 30, 2013

The History of the Public Health Movement in the United States

It seems NYC was always more or less the center of the Public Health Movement in the U.S.

Today, Bellevue Hospital and its School of Nursing train a lot of people in Public Health

Looking back, I never knew that Frederick Law Olmstead, the designer of Central Park, was involved-- from a site called Places- Design Observer

Posted 11.15.10 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Essay: Thomas Fisher

Frederick Law Olmsted and the Campaign for Public Health

Frederick Law Olmsted
Frederick Law Olmsted. [courtesy of The New York Public Library]

Landscape architects have long studied and admired Frederick Law Olmsted, often considered the founder of the field in the United States. But Olmsted had another career, distinctly different from landscape architecture and rarely studied by landscape historians. For two years during the Civil War, he served as the general secretary of the United States Sanitary Commission, which was dedicated to improving the sanitation of the Union Army's military camps and the health of Union soldiers. This might seem like a detour in Olmsted's career, an admirable but nevertheless tangential interlude in his progress as a landscape architect. But when we examine Olmsted's Sanitary Commission work in light of the history of public health, it is clear that here — just as with his foundational work in public parks — Olmsted has set an example that landscape architects might follow in the future. To see where the field might venture in the 21st century, in other words, it is illuminating to chart an often-overlooked path that Olmsted pioneered in the mid-19th century.

But let's look first at the state of public health in the period just before the Civil War. Commencing in Germany in the 1840s, the public health movement arose out of concerns about the typhoid and typhus epidemics that had begun to endanger Europe's industrial slums, and the cholera epidemic that had hit London years earlier. The German physician Rudolf Virchow, one of the founders of the social medicine movement, was among the first to see the connection between poor sanitation and disease. In the United States, in 1847, the American Medical Association, after studying the unhygienic conditions in American cities, and aware of Virchow's work, called for improvements to sanitation systems and living quarters in order to avoid an epidemic; sanitary commissions were established in several states, where they advocated for measures such as the better venting of domestic water closets to disperse the noxious odors then considered to be a leading cause of disease.

This belief that diseases were caused by bad "vapors" — the miasma theory of disease, which had held sway since the Middle Ages — was disproved in 1854, when the British physician John Snow traced an outbreak of cholera in London to a polluted water well. Snow's discovery is widely viewed as the beginning of the science of epidemiology and of the modern germ theory of disease. While the miasma theory rightly saw the connection between disease and sanitation, it became clear, in the wake of Snow's work, that the mechanism of disease transport was not bad air but viral or bacterial microorganisms.

Public Intellectual
Olmsted, then living in New York City and working as managing editor of Putnam's Monthly, was well aware of this transformation in our understanding of ill health. He traversed daily the packed streets and passed by the crowded tenements of Lower Manhattan on his way to and from his office. He saw the effects of what came to be called the Great Fire of 1845, which destroyed 300 buildings in New York and prompted the city to enact the nation's first comprehensive building code in 1850. And he heard the debates going on in the 1850s about the health effects of poor sanitation in tenements; this culminated in New York passing the nation's first tenement law in 1867 to control unhealthy housing conditions, and which regulated, among other things, the placement and drainage of outdoor latrines.

Tenement housing and public health
Left: Crowded conditions inside a New York tenement house, 1883. [via Library of Congress] Right: Rudolf Virchow (seated) attends an operation, 1904. [via Wikimedia]
In 1857, several events propelled Olmsted away from his role as an editor and public intellectual, which required that he report and reflect on these conditions, to a new role, which required that he play a central part in changing them. In the summer of 1857 his publishing venture failed (although his vision for Putnam's Monthly would live on in the Atlantic Monthly and Harper's Magazine, both founded that year). That same summer Manhattan erupted in riots, as street gangs in overcrowded neighborhoods clashed with police; and the first public health convention convened in Philadelphia. Also that same year, Olmsted became the superintendent of Central Park, then being planned, and less than a year later, in April 1858, the Greensward Plan that he and the architect Calvert Vaux had prepared won the design competition for the Park.
Echoing the miasma theory, still in popular circulation, Olmsted argued that great public parks, such as his proposed Greensward, would function as the "lungs of the city" — green open spaces where city dwellers could breathe clean air. More accurate, in hindsight, was the emphasis Olmsted and Vaux placed on good sanitation — on well-drained land, well-circulating waterways and well-designed sanitary facilities — which reflected their knowledge of the sanitary movement and the connection the nascent field of public health had made between polluted water and disease.
Olmsted served as the chief architect of Central Park up until 1861, when political tensions with the Park's comptroller and board of commissioners led him to resign the position. Meanwhile, the reform-minded Unitarian minister, Henry Whitney Bellows, had been observing and admiring Olmsted's managerial skills in overseeing the construction of Central Park. Bellows, along with a group of prominent physicians, was advocating for the formation of an American Sanitary Commission, patterned after one formed in Britain, with the intent of improving the sanitation of the Union Army camps. Bellows asked Olmsted if he would serve as the general secretary and chief executive officer of the new Commission, which had been authorized by the War Department and created by legislation signed by President Abraham Lincoln in June 1861, two months after the start of the Civil War. Olmsted agreed.

Prospect Park plan
Design of Prospect Park, by Olmsted and Vaux, ca. 1868. [via New York City Department of Parks and Recreation]

Public Servant
Amazingly, the federal government, at first, resisted the requests of the Sanitary Commission to be allowed to enter the military camps with the intent of improving living quarters. Some in the government worried that the Commission's efforts would distract the military from the campaign then underway — a hesitancy that underscores that public health, as a discipline, had not yet had much impact on either the broader public or even on the military establishment. Evidence for the military's lack of awareness was all too evident, from the rudimentary army hospitals then in operation to the archaic operations of the government's military bureau. And military attitudes reflected the wider contemporary acceptance of chronic illness as a part of everyday urban life. Periodic epidemics of smallpox and yellow fever got people's attention, but in the mid 19th century crowded housing and bad sanitation made killers of more common ailments such as tuberculosis, malaria, and respiratory and digestive diseases.
A turning point — a growing awareness of the harmful effects of poor sanitation — came in the wake of the Union army's horrible defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run, in July 1861, in Manassas, Virginia. Beyond the military reasons for this defeat — including the inexperience of the new troops — the Sanitary Commission showed how the soldier's poor living environs had contributed to the rout, and the U.S. government finally gave Olmsted and his medical colleagues access to the camps. In his report in September 1861, on Bull Run, Olmsted showed how "excessive fatigue . . . heat, and . . . want of food and drink" led to the "demoralization" of the troops. Such observations may seem far removed from his experience in the design of public landscapes, but Olmsted viewed the field broadly, not separating the quality of a person's life from the quality of the physical or natural environment. The Sanitary Commission inspected and made recommendations not just about the soldiers' exhaustion levels but also about design issues such as the location of camps, the provision of drainage and waste disposal, the ventilation of tents, and the storage and preparation of food.
Olmsted directed the Sanitary Commission through mid-1863, at which point conflicts with colleagues and his executive committee, combined with exhaustion from overwork, led him to resign. The Commission continued through the end of the Civil War, along the lines Olmsted had established for it, and it became the core of the American Red Cross, founded 20 years later. Olmsted resumed his extraordinary career in landscape architecture, for which he is best known. Yet it now seems clear that with Olmsted's resignation from the Sanitary Commission a potentially vital connection was severed — the connection between physical design and public health. The disconnection would remain in place for more than a century — and only very recently have the ties begun to be restored.

U.S. Sanitary Commission
Headquarters of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, ca. 1863. [courtesy of the New York Public Library]

EpidemiologyThis disconnection was not the fault of Olmsted; nor can we attribute it to landscape architecture as a field. In the decades after the Civil War, public health, as a discipline, began to move in a very different direction, focusing less on the physical, on sanitary conditions, and more on the medical, on epidemiology. To be sure, this new emphasis resulted in part from the very success of the sanitation movement in the latter half of the 19th century, when dramatic improvements in city building standards led to the elimination of many of the sources of diseases that had once been widespread. Indoor plumbing and water closets eventually became required in housing, as did sewers that separated storm and wastewater. And when New York City passed the Tenement Housing Act of 1901, features we now consider essential to basic livability, such as daylight, natural ventilation, sanitation and security, became available to even the poorest people.

Public health entered an epidemiological phase after the Civil War for another reason as well: the growing efficacy of the medical and pharmaceutical fields in ameliorating chronic diseases and epidemic outbreaks. Through the development of new drugs, the public health community managed to control once serious threats ranging from smallpox and measles to polio and diphtheria. And through the application of environmental chemicals, diseases such as malaria and yellow fever virtually disappeared from North America. Improved living standards certainly helped to curb such diseases, but the physical environment became, at best, a secondary concern for public health.
That has changed in recent years. The public health community continues successfully to curb the incidence of the diseases that respond to drug or chemical interventions. But today we face public health challenges very different in nature from those of earlier generations.

Today millions of people on the planet, especially in the rapidly growing cities of the developing world, endure living conditions much worse than what Olmsted witnessed in Lower Manhattan, and almost a billion lack easy access to clean water. We confront as well — perhaps for the first time in history — the public health challenges of prosperity. We now identify diseases like cancer, heart failure, diabetes, emphysema and even obesity as "lifestyle diseases," resulting from individual and social behaviors, from personal choices and cultural patterns; indeed the Centers for Disease Control have been studying "urban sprawl and public health" for several years now. [1] We understand the problem: the increasingly sedentary, high-calorie lifestyle that's become common in wealthier countries has made obesity an epidemic, with all of the attendant malignancies and infarctions that come with it. Here, the causes lie even closer, no farther than the car-dominated cities we build, and the corn-syrup-laced beverages and high-fat foods we produce and market so aggressively.

Ocean Parkway bicycle path
Ocean Parkway Bicycle Path, designed by Olmsted and Vaux, ca. 1894. [via New York City Department of Parks and Recreation]

Landscape Architecture and Public Health
And so, almost a century and a half after Olmsted left the U.S. Sanitary Commission, we find ourselves, once again, in an era when the larger issues of public health intersect the practices of landscape architecture, architecture and urbanism. And we might well wonder: What would Olmsted do, were he alive today, and facing such paradoxical threats, arising from scarcity in some places and from abundance in others? We might hazard a few guesses, as guides to what we might do now.

First, he would write and speak out about these issues. Olmsted achieved lasting fame as a landscape architect, but he began his career as a public intellectual, and he remained one to the very end of his career. As we can see from his collected papers, Olmsted wrote well and persuasively, and we need to do the same today. Landscape architecture, like all of the design disciplines, has become extremely dependent upon what others — clients mostly, but also communities — deem important; for this reason landscape architects more often than not implement the visions or policies of others. In an era of great change, such as ours, we need to adapt the methods Olmsted used in another turbulent time: defining the discourse, identifying the problems, and proposing the strategies and policies needed to resolve them. Some of that can happen through design, but nothing can replace the power of persuasive writing and speaking. We need more often to put aside the mouse, and take to the keyboard.

Second, Olmsted would partner with a wider range of disciplines than designers typically do now. At the Sanitary Commission, Olmsted's colleagues included an architect, Alfred Bloor, and an engineer, Bridgham Curtis, but they also included physicians, theologians, philanthropists and financial analysts. Olmsted needed such radically interdisciplinary teams to do the varied work required of the Commission, and the same is true today. The causes of homegrown lifestyle diseases and of global pandemics are complex and interwoven; it will take many disciplines, working together, to devise solutions. And of course Olmsted's example suggests that the landscape architect can function not only as an expert in how we inhabit and steward the land, but also as a manager of diverse teams of people. Olmsted knew something about sanitation — but just as important, he knew how to organize and operate a complex commission and oversee the work of a large multidisciplinary staff. This may in fact be among the more important skills landscape architects can offer today, as the field studies how settlement patterns, transportation modes, water quality, etc., relate to the ramifying problems of public health in an urbanizing world.
Finally, Olmsted would bring a sense of high professional purpose to the work; throughout his life he pursued larger social goals, regardless of cost, as opposed to the politically expedient or personally beneficial course. His conflicts with the Board of Commissioners at Central Park or with the Executive Committee of the Sanitary Commission arose out of his insistence that they authorize the money necessary to do the job right. (To a lesser extent, the conflicts also followed from his resistance to playing political favorites, something that, particularly in the case of Central Park, alienated him from the New York political bosses.) Surely a similar politics is at least partly responsible for the environments we have created for ourselves. The low-density development that contributes to our obesity, the air and water pollution that contributes to our cancer rates, and the systemic impoverishment that contributes to our pandemics — all are traceable to political decisions and cultures that favor property owners, developers, and landlords, and the banks and shareholders who benefit as well. We will never confront our contemporary public health problems in any meaningful way unless we question the prevailing power structures — unless we make a powerful case for long-range social good and challenge those who skew the rules in favor of short-term gain for an increasingly remote elite. It will take professionalism and political will, but the price of ignoring our contemporary public health crises — pandemics that will endanger billions, chronic diseases that damage lives and by extension the whole society — will be steep, and we will all pay it.

Frederick Law Olmsted's career as a landscape architect foretold where the field would go for its first century and a half in America. His career as the leader of the Sanitary Commission may foretell where the field needs to go in the next century. The health of all of us may depend on it.

1. See Howard Frumkin, MD, "Urban Sprawl and Public Health," Public Health Reports, May–June 2002, Centers for Disease Control, vol. 117.


Frederick Law Olmsted, The Passion of a Public Artist, Melvin Kalfus, New York University Press, New York, 1990.

The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, Volume IV: Defending the Union, The Civil War and the U.S. Sanitary Commission 1861-1863, Jane Tuner Censer, editor. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1986.

"Report on the Demoralization of the Volunteers," Ibid. p. 153-194.

A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the 19th Century. Witold Rybczynski. Touchstone, New York, 1999.

Bagel Cafe

I decided just to post on this one just because it IS such a typical neighborhood looking place

No surprises here-- and mixed reviews

Bagel Cafe

2.5 star rating
63 reviews Rating Details
Category: Bagels  [Edit]
429 3rd Ave
(between 29th St & 30th St)
New York, NY 10016
Neighborhoods: Midtown East, Kips Bay
(212) 679-9845

Order Delivery or Pickup

Bagel Cafe opens Tue at 6 am.
Nearest Transit Station:
28 St. (4, 6, 6X)
33 St. (4, 6, 6X)
23 St. (4, 6, 6X)
Mon-Sun 6 am - 7 pm
Price Range:
Accepts Credit Cards:
Wheelchair Accessible:

Review Highlights   What's this?

  • " that they have tofu cream cheese for us dairy intolerant/vegans." In 20 reviews
  • "...a full blown café with outdoor seating and gourmet desserts, not to..." In 4 reviews
  • "Even my iced coffee was yummy." In 4 reviews
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63 reviews in English

  • Review from

    New York, NY
    Updated - 6/9/2013
    Wow, since my last review it seems they fired all the problems guys.

    Staff works together to create a great experience here.

    1 Previous Review: Show all »

    • 1/6/2013
      I used to go here all the time, and when I moved back to Manhattan in October, I looked forward to… Read more »
  • Review from

    • 20 friends
    • 50 reviews
    Manhattan, NY
    Seriously overpriced. A bagel with tofu cream cheese and a large coffee normally costs me $5 at either Pick-A-Bagel or Bagel Express; here it was $7.08.

    The coffee is pretty good. The bagels: not so great.

    The ordering system seems much more complicated than it needs to be.

    On the plus side, the dining area is large and welcoming.
  • Review from

    • 27 friends
    • 10 reviews
    New York, NY
    I'm quite the bagel connoisseur so I love trying out new places for bagel sandwiches.  I live in the area and have always passed this place but never ventured in, even though I did hear that the service is awful.  My experience with the service was totally fine, but it was not busy when I came in (around 10am on a Friday morning).  The bagels/flagels are good but about twice the price of other places.  Also, the drink prices are THROUGH THE ROOF.  I'm sorry but a flagel with cream cheese and an iced coffee cost me $9.50?!  Come on, that's insane.

    However, I think the bagels here are better than overly soft and often overly sweet Bagel N Schmear (Lexington and 28th).  Get a bagel at Bagel cafe and venture across the street to Oren's for great and reasonably priced coffee to compliment your meal.
  • Review from

    • 1 friend
    • 72 reviews
    I'm going to give this place 2 stars for getting my order correct each time and then having flagels. Flagel = flat bagel for those who don't know what a flagel is.

    That aside I am disappointed in this place. I've been going here for a long time and I believe the bagels have gotten worse. Plus its expensive. $7.08 for a bagel with lowfat veggie cream cheese and iced tea?! really?!  John P. we had the experience! They are "some what" friendly at bagel cafe. I like the cashiers, they always ask how your day is. Which is a perk when coming in the morning. :)

    Overall, I might give this place another chance. I do like that they added more seating and its a little bit more open.
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 11 reviews
    Philadelphia, PA
    Boy have I been waiting to get on yelp so I could write a review for this place....

    The bagels: Pretty good for your options in the area.
    The service: Sleezy and unfriendly guys who are too busy checking out the girls
    The price: TOTAL SCAM

    The owner and his staff have probably made thousands of dollars by ripping off hungover murray hill kids who are still half asleep when they pay for their orders.

    My roommate and I lived pretty much above this spot and since the bagels were good I started making a game of how much I was going to catch them over charging me after i placed the same order I got every time.

    In living there a year i probably ate their 20 times.
    Got my order correct about 15 times, charged the same price on about 8 of them.

    The $3.75 bagel/egg/cheese I ordered would be $4.25 until I went thru the menu with the cashier and showed him how it should only cost $3.75.
    The next week $5.25... then $4.50... Then $4.75.

    I'm pretty sure the guys who work there would just write a price on the bag as quick as he could to make it seem as though they already know the price, instead of adding up the additions on the menu board. I mean how much more basic does it get then a bagel with egg & cheese? Do they think they are just geting a lot of 1 time visitors or tourists who wont question "nyc prices"

    Id say "sir how can a bacon/egg/cheese be $1.50 cheaper then my egg/cheese?"
    immediately scribbles out the price and deducts $1.50.

    It seemed as though they were well aware of what they were doing and immediately rectified the discrepancy once getting caught.

    Good bagels and worth the visit , and possibly the long (but quickly flowing) lines.. JUST DO THE MATH AND MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR PAYING FOR !

    Or take the 33rd st path across to Hoboken and get some REAL bagels.

    1 Star for the food
    -4 for being a dirt-bag run establishment
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 7 reviews
    Fresh Meadows, NY
    I just got charged $9.20 for a whole wheat Bagel (with a very very thin spread of "avocado" salad) and a coconut water...I think it was an abuse!
  • Review from

    • 4 friends
    • 6 reviews
    Astoria, NY
    At first I was upset because I ordered an everything bagel with tofu cream cheese and instead I got a plain bagel with regular cream cheese. I called up and they were so nice about it, and delivered my correct order within 20 minutes (during busy time- 9 AM!)
    Food is good. I love that they have tofu cream cheese for us dairy intolerant/vegans. I had a vanilla ice coffee which was a bit too sweet/chemical tasting, but overall good place.
  • Review from

    • 25 friends
    • 82 reviews
    Manhattan, NY

    I've gotten food here before, just once, and it's MUCH easier to walk in, order and walk out with your food than it is to get it delivered (even though the place is small and packed on weekends). If you live in the area, do yourself a favor and just go to the restaurant instead of ordering online. Or just order from somewhere else.

    I ordered a bagel, toasted with veggie cream cheese with an iced coffee and a side of turkey bacon. AN HOUR AND A HALF LATER, it finally showed up at my doorstep. I'm not even sure the bacon was cooked, I ended up throwing it all out because it was so cold and sort of slimy looking. The bagel was good but nothing to write home about...especially after waiting so long for it. Luckily, iced coffee is really hard to screw up so that was pretty good.

    When will Vic's bagel bar open up again?? I miss it.....
  • Review from

    Manhattan, NY
    Decent bagels and pleasant staff.  For a neighborhood bagel spot, it definitely hits the spot.

    On the weekends it can get pretty crowded with typical Murray hill clientele, so you may want to brace yourself when trying to pickup a Gatorade and bagel sandwich hungover on Saturday.
  • Review from

    Pittsburgh, PA
    After waiting over an hour for a table at Penelope, my friends and I gave up and decided to try the "best tuna salad in the city" according to my friend.

    Well as soon as we approached and I saw a line out the door, at a bagel place in Murray Hill where they're a dime a dozen, I knew this place had to be good!

    I tried the basil chicken salad on a toasted everything bagel and it was OUTSTANDING. The bagel, the salad, everything! Even my iced coffee was yummy!

    My only complaint, I ordered 5 macaroons which were not priced, and it took my order from around $8 to $20 without warning and things were way too hectic and busy for me to even try and complain!

    I'll definitely go back next time I'm in NYC.
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 4 reviews
    New York, NY
    Bagel Cafe used to be a good spot, but I stopped ordering from there.They screw up orders, takes forever, they are kind of rude, food is average and expensive. Everything has gone downhill in this joint. Stay away.
  • Review from

    • 9 friends
    • 7 reviews
    New York, NY
    7/22/2012 8 check-ins here

    I used to be a fan of this place a year ago when I moved to Murray Hill but have seen it sadly deteriorate from a nice corner bagel shop to a waaay below average cafe.

    The sandwiches here are disgusting.  The ingredients are not fresh, the egg on their sandwiches is gross, and overall they are just slapped together with often way too much or way too little of different sauces/ingredients.

    The only good thing about bagel cafe anymore is their cream cheese but even that is going downhill.

    Furthermore, MAKE SURE to check your order before you walk out the door.  Literally 3/4 most recent times I went they screwed up my order (this most recent time they gave me a plain crossaint when I ordered a crossaint sandwhich), prompting me to have to go back after I was already home.

    I was once a loyal customer but sadly will never be going back.
  • Review from

    Brooklyn, NY
    11/20/2012 1 check-in here
    Bagel Cafe is the perfect name for this place. I came here in at 7:30 on a Saturday morning expecting a not so fancy deli and got so much more. I ordered a bacon egg and cheese on a wheat bagel plus a coffee. They have a large selection of breakfast and lunch items and drinks whether it be bottled or tea or coffee. They also had an impressive selection of desserts by the cashier. Moreover, they also had some seats in front to sit down and enjoy your meal.

Nino's Positano

Upscale looking place in Midtown East

Let us see again--Definitely mixed, another one of these places that people seem to take to or they just don't at all

Nino's Positano

3.0 star rating
82 reviews Rating Details
Category: Italian  [Edit]
890 2nd Ave
(between 47th St & 48th St)
New York, NY 10017
Neighborhood: Midtown East
(212) 355-5540
Get It While You Can! 4 Course Surf & Turf Dinner For Two & Bottle Of Wine with Live Entertainment $59.00.
Nearest Transit Station:
51 St. (4, 6, 6X)
Lexington Ave./53 St. (E, M)
Grand Central - 42 St. (7, 7X)
Mon-Tue, Sun 12 pm - 10 pm
Wed-Thu 12 pm - 10:30 pm
Fri-Sat 12 pm - 11 pm
Accepts Credit Cards:
Price Range:
Good for Groups:
Good for Kids:
Takes Reservations:
Waiter Service:
Outdoor Seating:
Good For:
Full Bar
Noise Level:
Has TV:
Wheelchair Accessible:

Review Highlights   What's this?

  • "Grilled Calamari with Arugula Cherry Tomatoes and Citrus Vinaigrette." In 7 reviews
  • "The wild mushroom ravioli was earthy and flavorful." In 3 reviews
  • "I never have room for dessert, but could not resist the tiramisu." In 8 reviews
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82 reviews in English

  • Review from

    • 17 friends
    • 89 reviews
    Manhattan, NY
    Many other people comment on the outstanding service, and I wholeheartedly agree.  We came here on a Friday evening around 7:30pm after other dinner plans fell through.  Even though we didn't have a reservation, they sat us right away and treated us like royalty the entire evening.  It almost felt like a special occasion and we were the guests of honor.

    The ambiance was delightfully romantic.  There was a lovely female singer/pianist who sang (quiet) Italian music all night and it was a wonderful addition to the already romantic atmosphere.

    We almost always get a caprese salad when we eat Italian and theirs was very good.  For entrees, I had the gnocchi and my husband had the chicken marsala.  Both were excellent.  The food is slightly overpriced for what it is, but I would definitely return to the restaurant for the exceptional service, ambiance, and live music.
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 5 reviews
    Manhattan, NY
    I've now been here twice. The first time the food was excellent, service was great, and we had an overall great experience. However, the second time we went the food for the most part was enjoyable but while the staff was very nice, service was not great.  On the positive side it was a very enjoyable ambiance with a piano player playing throughout the meal and the asparagus with truffle oil was excellent. I also loved how they offer a whole wheat linguine option which I ended up ordering and it was definitely homemade and delicious. On the negative side, the waiter forgot one of our appetizers, the oysters were bad, and they overcooked both salmon dishes.

    My boyfriend still very much likes the restaurant so we might come back but I do not think it is some place I would go out of my way to return.
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 37 reviews
    Fairfield, CT
    Violations recorded in the following area (s) and a Notice of Violation issued at the reinspection conducted on 07/17/2013.
    "Critical" violations are displayed in red.

    Violation points: 24

    Sanitary Violations
    1) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
    2) Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.
    3) Sanitized equipment or utensil, including in-use food dispensing utensil, improperly used or stored.
    4) Wiping cloths soiled or not stored in sanitizing solution.
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 11 reviews
    Venice, CA
    The wait staff and host seem clueless about how to treat guests from the minute they walk in the door. The atmosphere is very chaotic and unwelcoming. Food here is mediocre at best, and overpriced. Go somewhere else.
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 2 reviews
    Monroe Township, NJ
    Delicious meal and great service.  Highly recommend the piZZAS!
  • Review from

    • 25 friends
    • 47 reviews
    Manhattan, NY
    Came here for a date. The first awkward thing is they didn't have a wine list or drink menu. I asked for a bottle of Pinot noir and the waiter hinted it was expensive. So we ended up just having a glass of wine and a beer.

    We had a prosciutto pizza, which was yummy but not particularly flavorful. Then, we awkwardly got bread and olives after the pizza.

    For entrees, I had the gnocchi. They were very disappointing! Tasted like store bought packaged gnocchi. The BF had rigatoni, which was average.

    In general the restaurant has a nice ambiance but the bland food, overpriced-ness, and general awkwardness of service make it so I wouldn't return.
  • Review from

    • 128 friends
    • 45 reviews
    Manhattan, NY
    This could be a fun lunch experience with the right Italian ;).

    I ordered gnocci and a beet salad. I was surprised the gnocci was so dry. It was disappointing--and I love gnocci!!! How could you do this to me? The beet salad was the highlight of the lunch because it helped to wash out the taste of my disappointment. Bleh.
  • Review from

    • 9 friends
    • 48 reviews
    San Francisco, CA
    Groupon was excellent. The location is great. Very pleased with dinner; the food and service!

    2 bottles of wine for a party of 4 is exactly the right attitude.
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 3 reviews
    Manhattan, NY
    I like this place for lunch and dinner but went by this afternoon to get gelatto.  As I arrived I noticed the guy licking his fingers and handling the scoops.  Yuk.  I kept going to find it elsewhere.  The server should start wearing gloves and practicing better hygiene.
  • Review from

    • 8 friends
    • 3 reviews
    Bronx, NY
    4/28/2013 1 check-in here
    We had dinner at this restaurant on a  Saturday night.   The services was phenomenal.   We were treated like guest of honor the whole time.   The food was amazing.   The entire experience was just great . Manager come by to make sure we enjoying everything  and I will definitely be back.
  • Review from

    • 40 friends
    • 26 reviews
    Long Island City, NY
    This place is terrible food wise.  Nothing special on the menu, same old stuff you can get from the next Italian place down the block and you're paying up for it.  Place is nice, but it seems too big, especially considering they don't have the clientele to fill it.  I had to go to Spasso in the west village to eat again to fulfill my craving for a decent Italian meal.  I wonder to myself what does a Slavic owner know about cooking an Italian meal.....?

    No wonder this place is going under, I knew I shouldn't have ate there....oh well....I'm off to Spassos in the West Village, now that place is awesome.
  • Review from

    • 6 friends
    • 19 reviews
    Manhattan, NY
    Do not go here.  The food was awful and although the staff was friendly, they were unprofessional and forgot parts of our order.  My Salmon tasted like charcoal and my boyfriend's seafood risotto tasted absolutely horrendous.  The bathroom was disgusting and the food is extremely overpriced for what you get.  Overall, not a good experience.
  • Review from

    • 0 friends
    • 3 reviews
    New York, NY
    This restaurant is a good find if you're looking for a little more upscale casual Italian restaurant. I had a great food experience and was pleased with the service.

    I highly recommend the yellowfin tuna with garlic truffle oil and roasted vegetables. So delicious! I also tasted the chicken parmigiana, which was very tasty as well.

    The chocololate cake was okay (not very rich in taste)--the cappuccino was the perfect end to the meal!
  • Review from

    • 16 friends
    • 33 reviews
    New York, NY
    Everything looks nice (maybe a bit cheesy) until you mention the Travelzoo deal.

    Then the real menu goes away, and the special limited menu comes out.  And when they say no substitutions, they mean NO substitutions.  I'm a bit of a picky eater, but if there is any type of food I can usually find a number of things on the menu to choose it is at an Italian place.  Since I couldn't substitute sides, I was left with ordering Chicken Parm.  Instead of the spaghetti it comes with, I asked for ziti or some sort of other pasta (it was a third date - spaghetti is messy!) You would have thought I asked for fillet Mignon as a substitution for the federal case they made of that.  We asked one waiter to talk to the manager, and were told there was no manager.  Then we asked someone else, who said that the manager was busy.  I mean really, get your story straight!

    The food we finally ate wasn't bad by any means, but in a city with so many Italian restaurants, why not go to a place that seems to want you there...
  • Review from

    • 4 friends
    • 25 reviews
    Manhattan, NY
    Ended up here one night due to a Groupon deal.  Of course, what they don't tell you at the time of purchase is that the menu for the deal is a "special" limited menu.  The options were ok, but nothing was really striking my fancy.  The Caprese salad was the worst Caprese I have ever had.  The Chicken Parm was right down there as well.  The sauce was watery and overall bland.  I barely ate any of the food, nibbled at it, felt disgusted and called it a day.  The meal to that point was bad enough that we opted to skip the coffee and desert.

    Spare yourself, there are far better options out there.
  • Review from

    • 36 friends
    • 20 reviews
    New York, NY
    Horrible! The food was flavorless and the service was bad. - worst Italian EVER!
    I think because this is a Groupon deal, I feel like all the food were pre-made. Dried, greasy and tasteless.
    Isn't the whole point of having a deal on Groupon to drive new potential customers. Oh my, it was waste of our $100, we could have gotten a better meal somewhere else.

    The Special Nino's Signature "off the menu" Surf and turf  dinner was more like, "Nino's getting rid of old steak and lobster supplies"  menu!

    Appetizers ( We knew that the main course will be bad as the grilled calamari was super tough to eat and the fresh mozzarella was not fresh and unripe tomatoes did not help)
    Grilled Calamari with Arugula Cherry Tomatoes and Citrus Vinaigrette
    Fresh Mozzarella, Basil and Farmhouse Tomatoes

    Main courses (Outrageous to how they can serve poor quality food like this)
    Nino's Signature "Off The Menu" Surf & Turf, Fresh Maine Lobster Tail And Prime Dry
    Aged Filet Mignon
    Chicken Parmegiana served with Spaghetti in a Fresh Tomato Sauce

    Homemade Dessert (Entenmann's cakes are superior compared to Nino's desserts)

    After disappointing meal, we left Nino, walked about a block away from the place when my husband realized that he left his cell phone, we when right back and they did not have the phone (hmm we know we left it there, don't you have camera to check". Of course the manager was not helpful...

    Not only we wasted $100 but also husband's biz smart phone....=/

    Spare yourself, there are far better options out there!
  • Review from

    • 5 friends
    • 3 reviews
    New York, NY
    I had a wonderful dinner here a few nights ago. I started off with the crabcakes. They were some of the finest I have ever had! I followed that with the pan seared Yellowfin Tuna...absolutely marvelous! I could not have asked for a better tuna preparation. The grilled polenta and broccoli rabe were excellent "contorni". I had a couple glasses of the pinot noir recommended by the waiter. Very nice and quite reasonably priced. I finished with the homemade Italian cheesecake...Divine! The atmosphere is quite stylish and sophisticated. The waiters were exceptional and not intrusive. What a wonderful meal and evening. I look forward to going back again very soon!
  • Review from

    • 144 friends
    • 180 reviews
    New York, NY
    So, the food here, for me, was pretty good! I had the house salad, chopped, and pasta bolognese and I can't complain. However, the service, took forever, and wasn't very attentive.

    With all the competition in the area, I wouldn't return. For the $$$$ the food/service did not suffice.
  • Review from

    New Orleans, LA
    I visited Nino's for a business lunch with a large group, and I can see why the reviews are pretty mixed. I don't have any real knocks against it, but it seemed very average to me.

    I will say that the service was very nice. They quickly adjusted the volume of the music after I complained that it was drowning out all of our oh-so-interesting conversation. The wait staff was on top of everything, quickly refilling drinks and bringing out the food pretty much all at the same time, even though there were about 15 of us.

    The atmosphere was fine, aside from the aforementioned blasting music. It had a bistro kind of feel, at least for lunch. The food was perfectly fine but not mind blowing in any way. The presentation was nice and the food had taste, but it was all very standard. Except for dessert.

    I ordered the cheesecake. I won't order cheesecake there again. It had a spongy consistency and a very tart, lemony flavor. It was very strange.

    But I still ate it. Who am I turn down free food?! It's just not in my nature.
  • Review from

    • 17 friends
    • 11 reviews
    New York, NY
    Nino's is a great place to have luch or have a business dinner!  it has a very ornate and classy decore.  professional staff.  This place is by far better than Lombardi's pizza across the board on every standard.  I ordered a pizza with pepperoni and sauage and it was superb!  great sauce and ingrediates. it has a flavor that popps in your mouth.

    My brother order the salmon with mash and green beans and it was an excellect choice.  They seasoned the salmon with spices that complimented the entree.

    Lastly, please try their ceasar salad!  one of the best i ever experienced.
    I will definitely return soon!