Old School, New SummerCanaletto208 East 60th Street
The old-school Italian mainstay may be jammed during Christmas week, but during the summer you probably have a better shot at scoring a weekend table. The warm service makes East Siders feel like they’re in their living rooms — but fresh pastas remind us that the cooking’s better.
Essentially FrenchChez Napoleon365 West 50th Street
Can’t make it to Paris to walk the beautiful boulevards on a summer night? Then walk west on 50th Street for this theater district treat. Romantic, too. Tip: don’t annoy the waitress by acting like a phone-addicted suburbanite. Demonstrate some class to go with the classic cuisine. Also, order the soufflé early in the evening so they can get started.
(Very) Happy HourCocu26 Carmine Street
Rotisserie chicken somehow seems more interesting once you eat it at the Cocu’s sidewalk café, which is all set for summer. Owner Christian Ternoir offers a happy hour special, which means $4 beer, $6 wine and the Froze alcoholic beverage, which mixes rosé with lemon juice and grapefruit juice.
A Park’s PlaceA Taste of Ecuador Food CartNorth of 96th Street within Riverside Park
If it’s summer, it’s the season for Guillermo Rivera to set up shop in Riverside Park. He’s not far from the soccer fields and the tennis courts, and you can enter the park at 103rd Street and head down to what turns out to be a fine, inexpensive Ecuadorean restaurant. Okay, it’s a cart. But try the tamales and you’ll see — taste, actually — that they are seasoned perfectly. Rivera promises to be on the scene — unless it’s raining.