As temperatures start to drop, we start dreaming of warmer days—ideally lounging somewhere miles away from New York while sipping on a cold glass of Pinot Grigio and overlooking the Med. And while a trip to the Bel Paese may not be in the cards right now, one way to escape the dreariness of the city is to take a gastronomical trip to Southern Italy—in Midtown, no less.

Yeah, we were surprised too. Just steps away from Rockefeller Center and the bustling shops on Fifth Avenue lies Casa Limone, a delightful restaurant offering Amalfi Coast vibes (hand-made ceramics dot the walls and flowers hang from the ceiling) and mouthwatering cuisine (ingredients are imported from Italy and mixed with local and seasonal produce).

Casa Limone food
Casa Limone

With Michelin-starred chef Antonio Salvatore at the helm, the food here is unfussy, flavor-packed and unmistakably Mediterranean. Think: Burrata Pugliese (the star cheese of the south nestled atop a bed of ripe cherry tomatoes), Timballo alla Trapanese (anelli pasta baked with eggplant, salami, mozzarella, peas and tomato sauce) and Meringata al Limone (a lemon meringue cake). Of course, classics like Neopolitan-style pizza and the requisite Aperol Spritz are also on the menu.

Casa Limone Second Floor Dining
Casa Limone

While we enjoyed our meal al fresco a visit to the bathroom inside revealed a bright and cheery multi-floor interior featuring orange velvet chairs, bottles of Limoncello and authentic window shutters. And while the traffic from Fifth Avenue makes it hard to forget that you’re not actually slurping pasta in a charming ristorante near Naples, the restored antique lemon-yellow Vespa and hand-painted plates from Sicily do a damn good job of bringing us those vacation vibes we so desperately need.

You would be remiss not to make a pitstop here while doing your holiday shopping this year (or after working up an appetite ice skating at Rockefeller Center), but we’re planning on making a special trip over to Casa Limone whenever we have a hankering for authentic Italian cuisine (which is often). Happily, the menu here can be enjoyed during any part of the day—a light Italian breakfast (a cornetto and a cappuccino on the way to work, perhaps?), a leisurely lunch (we’re trying the ricotta ravioli with mushrooms and guanciale), aperitivo hour or an evening out with friends (hello, roasted octopus with cherry tomatoes and crispy polenta). Buon appetito.

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