N, Q, R at 49th St.; 1 at 50th St.
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At a time when Times Square tourists head to Olive Garden for Italian food, it’s reassuring to know Pasquale Marino’s still serving his nonna’s Calabrian recipes right around the corner. Though it’s just off Broadway, Da Marino’s subterranean room feels like the kind of unpolished hideaway you’d find farther west. Décor, like wraparound tableaus of Neapolitan landscapes, is an endearing mix of charm and cheese. Food swings wildly between hits and misses; over salting spoils grilled calamari, and a pallid seafood grill recalls Garden State diners. But classic salmone al cartoccio bursts with intense tomato and garlic flavors, and homemade pastas arrive properly al dente. Synthetic-tasting tiramisu disappoints. If you dine late enough, you can spy on famous regulars here, including Usher, Laurence Fishburne, and cast members from neighbor Chicago; Sex in the City’s Chris Noth has been a habitué since Da Marino opened in 1996.Recommended Dishes
Insalata di pere, $13.50; gnocchi al pomodoro e basilico, $14.50; salmone al cartoccio, $22