Sun-Thu, 11am-11pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-4am
B, D at Grand St.; J, M, Z at Bowery; 6, J, M, N, Q, R, W, Z at Canal St.
American Express, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
There was a time when mobsters, movie stars, sports heroes, and politicians ate at Umberto's Clam House. Forty years later, a tour bus is perpetually parked out front and, like much of contemporary Little Italy, the restaurant feels like a contrivance—in this case, a Fisherman's Wharfian one. The dining room's decorative oars, floats, life preservers, netting, sea-faring prints, and taxidermied fish are neatly arranged on exposed-brick walls and, sadly, not in the least ramshackle. Wall-mounted TVs broadcast the game. As for the famous clams, the safest bets are littlenecks, topnecks, and cherrystones on the half-shell. Baked or fried, they're a bit tough but buttery breadcrumbs can make up for a lot. Pasta sauces here, be they red, white, spicy or sweet, are one-dimensional. And the truly bizarre biscuits that accompany many entrees, are actually toasted, rock-hard bread served in one of two fashions: buried in red sauce or mounded with olive oil and raw garlic. The wee hours draw a more urbane crowd in search of something more than a slice to quell their hunger. Perhaps the greatest of Umberto's draws is its colorful past: Crazy Joe Gallo was gunned down in 1972 at the restaurant's original location, two blocks south, while eating scungilli with clam sauce.Recommended Dishes
Baked clams, $14.95