It’s cathartic to write this piece—first, because I’ll be graduating college in a weeks time, and second because that means a celebratory graduation dinner is in order. And of course, I’ll have first choice regarding where and what I want to eat.
Both of Fordham’s campuses are uniquely delicious when it comes to what options graduating students and their families have—once diplomas have been handed over and embarrassing photos have been taken.
Fordham’s Rose Hill campus is located a few steps away from the real Little Italy of the Bronx, while Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus sits near a plethora of restaurants, in both Hell’s Kitchen and Midtown, to choose from.
Here is a list of dining options for recent graduates to enjoy well after the tears have stopped and when the stomachs start rumbling.
Happy Graduation Rams! Now go stuff your faces with every relative possible.
Rose Hill Campus
Roberto’s is unique for its tasty, Tuscan-inspired food, but also because a majority of the time, customers can meet the man himself. Restaurant owner, Roberto, recommends everything on the menu, and with good reason.
This spot is one of the more expensive places to on this list, with wine bottles coming in around $50 and plates around $25, but the portions are generous (it might be best to share). The traditional Italian menu is split between just meat or just pasta, and it is one of the highlights of the experience. Also, the chef creativity cannot go unnoticed.
One of the highly recommended Roberto specials is the Penne con Piselli e Guanciale—a steaming, decadent pasta topped with bacon and peas. With the happy Italian staff, traditional setting, classic menu and option to be seated in a private dining area downstairs, Roberto’s has got it all covered.
Tra Di Noi screams Italian. Sure, it is situated right in the center of Little Italy, but it is still nonetheless regarded as a purely authentic spot to dine whether you’re feasting with the family or out on a candlelight date with a significant other.
The fried calamari, baby clams and buffalo mozzarella lasagna are among customer favorites. The service is friendly and simple and the overall ambiance is elegant. The food is of the highest quality and portions are very generous, with plates fresh and made to order.
The restaurant is also on the higher end of Arthur Avenue, but a customer described the food quality as, “scrumptiousness,” making Tra Di Noi well worth the price tag.
Zero. Eight. Nine. It is probably worth saying that no one really knows the significance behind the name of this gem on Arthur Avenue, but who cares when the food is easily a 10. Zero Otto Nove is another great option for a post-grad dinner due to a variety of heavy and filling specialty appetizers and a plethora of pizza options.
The ambiance can be described as a small Italian village feel, but without the tourists. There are only hungry customers looking to have a good time and an even better meal, often lingering after dinner just to chat.
While the restaurant does not take reservations and it is often busy, the consensus is that despite busy lunch and dinner hours, it is worth the wait. There are numerous pasta specials with everything pipin’ hot, extra saucy and well-prepared. If you come to find the line outside Roberto’s or Tra Di Noi too long, Zero Otto Nove is definitely the next best thing.
A friendly face and warm Italian herb bread are the first things to welcome you at Antonio’s. The waiters always recommend the newest drink specials, and wine options are “plentiful.” Classic appetizers, like the Mozzarella Caprese are richly flavored and delicate at Antonio’s.
Tomatoes, sausage, broccoli and mozzarella drive a lot of the menu items, but is more variety in pasta options, including penne, gnocchi, lasagna, ravioli dishes and more.
If you’re not big on pasta, Antonio’s offers a unique list of salads. They even make their own croutons! This lunch/dinner spot is also great for families with a large, cozy, relaxing space inside. If these generous portions don’t have you full by the end of your meal, the dessert choices are vibrant. Strawberry and chocolate mousse cake? Yes, please.
“Old school Little Italy from Mulberry Street” transported right up to the Bronx, Dominick’s brings customers pure Italian charm and hospitality. Seating and portions are also completely family-style, so you will get to know your dining neighbors and fellow Rams at dinner.
This restaurant on Arthur is ideal for a late family lunch and dinner, though at peak times, it can get crowded. The friendly, authentic feel coupled with food rich in a variety of sauces and flavors is a perfect option to host a post-grad feast.
The cool thing about Dominick’s is that there is no menu. Instead, the waiter seats you and recites the specials and meals of the day. Some alleged favorites include the stuffed artichoke, baked clams, and the pork chop pizzaiola.
Two words: olive bread—which is just one of the simple, yet delicious choices to try at Enzo’s, and the cheese and veggie platter are among others. Enzo’s offers simple, southern Italian food in a warm, inviting space.
Many locals and professionals swarm the restaurant after hours. The bar is small, the dining room also intimate and just the right size. Enzo’s is a the ideal choice for a close-knit family gathering.
Plus, the wine list is huge, even if the menu isn’t.
Blue is the one, the only and the best Mediterranean, seafood-style dining option down Arthur. Oysters, clams, mussels and octopus! Oh my! Not only is the food menu extensive, but the same can be said for the wine and champagne list.
Of course, the restaurant also offers Italian favorites like chicken parmigiana and a few pastas, but the seafood is what truly takes the cake at this dining spot.
Speaking of cake, the perfectly seasoned crab cake is also among crowd pleasers, served alongside a mix of veggies and fresh greens. While the portions don’t always match up to the prices, Blue Mediterranean is definitely among the list of Arthur Ave. favorites, happily shifting away from conventional Italian roots down the street.
Hidden between the array of Italian spots on Arthur Avenue lies Estrellita’s, a staple and famous ‘dormhold’ name among the Fordham community.
While the restaurant is relatively small, no more than six sets of families at most, the food servings easily make up for it. Chips and a special pico de gallo salsa are served upon seating and the staff are always helpful and friendly.
Tamales and tacos are only a few of the ridiculously low costing options on the menu, for $2.50 to $3.00 a piece. The burritos, nachos con pollo and any-meat-of-your-choice quesadillas (with a complimentary side of guac and plate of rice and beans) are among the restaurant’s finest.
Pitchers of fruity sangria are definitely a crowd-pleaser and available at reasonable prices, which is great both for the family altogether or just you alone—ahem, celebratory graduation jug!
Outdoor patio, a hidden downstairs, and a menu with as many green options as there are pastas and cheeses. Sound promising? Then Gerbasi is the place for you. The ambiance has a romantic vibe to it by night, and an ideal graduation feast venue for 4, 8, even 12 people.
The outside area is spacious, offering a mix of both a Mediterranean and Bronx vines. From zucchini flowers, figs stuffed with goat cheese & wrapped in prosciutto, grilled octopus, solid pizzas topped with prosciutto and arugula, the options here are endless and exotic.
And if you have nothing else to look forward to, the dessert menu is just as extensive.
Last, but certainly not least, there’s Michaelangelo’s. While Michael’s doesn’t hold the authentic Italian vibe that other restaurants down the Avenue do, it certainly has character.
The dining hall and bar area are both very spacious, palm trees lining every corner of the interior. This spot is a typical Fordham student’s go to on a Thursday and Friday night out, but even for a Saturday afternoon lunch it is still a perfect place to be.
The inviting menu, strong drinks, fast service and beautiful indoor garden are just some of this bright and roomy restaurant’s highlights.
Lincoln Center Campus
The bustling frenzy that is New York City has also found its way right to The Smith. Right across the street from Lincoln Center, this classic restaurant, serving all types of New American cuisine, is an obvious choice for fun post-grad festivities.
The outdoor seating is a signature of The Smith. Although at peak hours, it can get a little tight and loud. Regardless, the food is hearty and plentiful.
Some favorites include the famous skillet Mac ‘n Cheese, the tagliatelle pasta served with shrimp and garlic, the pork chop and others. You can also order eggs for lunch and dinner, served in a skillet, as rancheros, even deviled.
If that’s not enough to get you coming down, the big drinks should be (they’re strong too). The Smith can also serve as a great place for brunch the next morning!
Great service. Killer wine. Truffle fries. All three are only some of the pros at The Capital Grille in Hell’s Kitchen. It is pretty much known as a high-quality steakhouse, yet the ambiance more low-key than you would think. It is actually quite casual for a family gathering.
Presentation is key at The Capital Grille. Not only are the famous steaks adorned beautifully but so are the burgers, the potatoes, even down to the chocolate cake. Whether you’re in the area or not, if you’re craving a mean, savory steak, this spot is definitely worth the trip.
Per Se offers some fine French dining, courtesy of the famous chef, Thomas Keller, so it is only natural that the cuisine here comes at a hefty price. The flavors in one plate alone at this restaurant are subtle and succulent, sophisticated and unique.
Be mindful, that at a spot this classy, the portions are rather small. Don’t come too hungry.
Nevertheless, the array of options and attentive and interesting staff make Per Se an unforgettable and promising dining experience. French food for graduation dinner, why not? Plus, the views of Columbus Circle and Central Park from your table aren’t too shabby, either.
Three levels of seating with a full bar and Modern European ambiance, the Hourglass Tavern is a prime spot for a late afternoon brunch or dinner, though the dining area isn’t as large.
Not only has the service been described as more than accommodating, but the swiftness it takes, from when the food is ordered to then delivered, is one of the many pros at this tavern.
Portions are large and colorful, with prices equally matching the options. Only $18 for a full steak? Don’t mind if I do. There is even the option to dine with a pre-fixe menu if the actual one gets too overwhelming.
Some favorites include the sliders, lobster ravioli, and the potato pancakes. Also, the well-known Betti Bar is located upstairs from the tavern, offering a comfortable environment, affordable drinks and a lengthy happy-hour!
Peruvian food at its best: Pio Pio offers customers an authentic Latin American dining experience. For starters, there are no domestic drinks nor beers sold at Pio, only Mexican and Peruvian ones.
Even if that throws you off and you don’t know what to expect from the menu, the staff at this spot are super helpful and willing to guide customers through every inch of the menu.
Not only will you be surrounded by good company, celebrating the occasion but there will also be decadent and exotic food to complete the picture. Sampler plates and combos are popular; so is the seafood and the chicken.
If you’re looking for a quiet, intimate gathering, Pio Pio might not be what you’re looking for. Now, if you’re looking to loudly and proudly celebrate graduating, step right in!
Strong drinks, fast service and an air that smells like fresh truffles, Il Punto offers upscale Italian eating in a cozy, comfortable and friendly atmosphere. Service is exceptional and everyone, from the owner to the waiters to the kitchen staff, make sure a customer is completely satisfied and content after every meal.
Plus, there is something for everyone at Il Punto. Whether you’re torn between ordering the sea bass or the braciolette, or a vegan or vegetarian, or even if you’re only here for the artichoke appetizer all in the effort to save room for a tiramisu dessert, this secret gem down 9th Avenue is worth every penny.
Oh, the countless number of times I’ve tried convincing people to go to Room Service, only for them to be confused when we don’t end up at a fancy hotel. Room Service offers some of the best and cheapest Thai food in all of Hell’s Kitchen.
The themed, well-dressed staff and huge chandelier in the middle of the restaurant aren’t the only things that’ll capture your attention here. The food is also a hit with many options that are savory and fun to look at.
New to the Thai scene? You can’t go wrong with ordering the Pad Thai, but why stop there when you can customize your order of noodles or fried rice with pineapples, cashews, even coconut.
The prices at Room Service are inexpensive, a small plate going for about $10, so if you’re really feasting, start with drinks or appetizers. Some favorites include the thai iced tea, thai mojito, curry puffs and the fried calamari, paired with a decadent plum sauce. Yum!
The French really know how to keep things classy…and delicious. At this upscale (yes, suits are required gentlemen), seafood fine dining experience, anything you order will be cooked and served to perfection.
Presentation is everything. Restaurant decor, waiter attire, and food are all beautiful, maybe even too beautiful to eat. Reservations must be made in advance, as the restaurant itself only fits 80-90 people.
Halibut, octopus, lobster and black bass are a few of the delectable, delicious plates offered at Le Bernardin, a seafood foodie’s dream. Expensive? Very. Worth it? Absolutely. Better to go big than go home on graduation, don’t you think? Thanks, Eric!
Well, that’s all for now. Congratulations to the Class of 2015! A la Elle Woods, “We did it!“
Looking for graduation brunch the next morning?