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Manhattan Restaurants continued

Ruby Foo’s
2182 Broadway, at 77th St.
1626 Broadway, at 49th St.
Theatrical décor and imaginative (and very good) cuisine make these cavernous spaces pre-theater favorites both in Times Square and near the Beacon Theater. Culinary emperor Steve Hanson woos kids with his dim sum assortment of noodles, sushi, spare ribs, and other Pan-Asian favorites—plus a PB&J roll. Request a table with a lazy Susan and eat family-style. (M–VE)

Saigon Grill
1700 Second Ave., at 88th St.
620 Amsterdam Ave., at 90th St.
Kids love Vietnamese food, especially the delicate angel-hair noodle dishes and the grilled pork chops on the bone. There’s no décor to speak of here, except for the fake banana and coconut trees, but the restaurant offers a quick meal of intricately seasoned dishes including crispy vegetable dumplings and summer rolls filled with shrimp, sprouts, and mint. A nice alternative to Chinese. (I)

20 W. 72nd St., near Columbus Ave.
Anyone who thinks that “family-style” Italian means only red-sauce pasta, veal, and chicken dishes hasn’t visited this wonderful Upper West Side spot with an inventive children’s menu. Order in portions serving two to three, and don’t miss the fruit-and-grilled-vegetable salad with yogurt dressing if it’s offered. (I-M)

The Sea Grill
Rockefeller Center; 19 W. 49th St., near Fifth Ave.
This premier restaurant has a split personality: The Adam Tihany–designed dining room shouts seashore with a bubble-covered floor, while outdoor seating melds with the Rock Center ice-rink festivities. A showcase for chef Ed Brown’s super-fresh, beautifully prepared seafood, Sea Grill is overseen by knowledgeable wait staff who happily attend to your little ones and serve non-fish basics like pasta and chicken followed by an “artists’ palette” of mini sorbet cones that all will love. (E-VE)

Serendipity 3
225 E. 60th St., near Second Ave.
Heavy on the everything, including nostalgia, Serendipity 3’s whirlwind of antiques, toys, and kids is perfect for a little girl’s birthday party. Big burgers, towering sundaes, and drinks like apricot smushes are perennial favorites, but the must-try frozen hot chocolate is what everyone orders. (I–M)

41 Murray St., near W. Broadway
You’ll think you’ve gone to Marblehead for the weekend when you dine at this casual oyster bar and tavern. It’s not quite a New England clam shack, but the fried clams are incredible, the lobster roll tastes pretty darn good, and the fresher-than-fresh raw bar is a thing of beauty. Kids have their own menu and can order as many oyster crackers as their little hearts desire. The lofted seating area is perfect for a noisy group. (M-E)

SouthWest NY
2 World Financial Center, at Liberty St.
Park yourself at the marble café tables outside and enjoy the view of the Hudson River while dining on nachos and other southwest goodies at this World Financial Center eatery. Inside, there’s a water wall that tempts kids to splash. (I–M)

Stage Deli
1481 Second Ave., at 77th St.
There’s a steady parade of strollers at the Upper East Side branch of this 67-year-old New York institution. With lots of space inside, crayons and toys for the kids, and a menu that thankfully offers “half-sandwiches” of colossal classics like pastrami and corned beef, the Stage is super-easy and super-filling. Sandwiches are named for city VIPs like Rudy Giuliani and Derek Jeter, who survey the scene from a wall-long mural. (I-M)

Tony’s Di Napoli
1606 Second Ave., at 83rd St.
147 W. 43rd St., near Broadway
To truly appreciate these restaurants, come with a large family and a large appetite. Portions are huge, designed to serve two to three people. Arrive before 6 p.m. to avoid waiting and waiting. And waiting. Sam the balloon man is a weekend fixture. (I–M)

Two Boots
A veritable Hollywood Squares of obscure celebs, auteurs, and fictional characters, the menu boasts pizzas like the Tony Clifton (wild mushrooms, vidalia onions, sweet red-pepper pesto, and mozzarella), the Mel Cooley (sun-dried tomatoes, basil, pesto, ricotta, and roasted peppers) and the Larry Tate (spinach, plum tomatoes, ricotta, and garlic on a white pie). (I–M)

Utsav Festive India
1185 Sixth Ave., at 46th St.
On weekends, you’ll find yourself side-by-side with Indian families savoring “authentic original” Indian cuisine at airy, super-friendly Utsav. They’ll dial down the spiciness as you wish, and the tandoori chicken won’t leave a red stain on your hands—it’s the real thing, which means a golden brown, not red, crispness. Cool the burn with a delicious “shake” of fresh yogurt and mango, or a bite of peshwari naan—bread stuffed with nuts, raisins, pistachios, and maraschino cherries. (M)

Virgil’s Real BBQ
152 W. 44th St., near Broadway
The burgundy hand towel you get in lieu of a napkin is the tip-off: You don’t do Virgil’s with your pinkie up. This is barbecue you’re supposed to lick off your fingers. The gimmick is wet and dry BBQ styles from around the country, plus crayons, coloring books, and killer hot dogs. (M–E)

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From the Fall 2004 edition of the New York Family Guide