The Michelin coverage over the past week makes Gothamist appreciate the local neighborhood standbys where we do our best eatiing. The five Michelin inspectors that reviewed NYC restaurants over the course of one year probably never had the chance (or desire) to eat at the everyday restaurants New Yorkers think are great.

As a result, some of our favorite everyday restaurants will never be worthy of a star. That might just be a good thing - New Yorkers get to keep their local favorites to themselves.

A Gothamist favorite that will never get a star, or even a listing in the guide, is Celeste . A bustling and crammed Upper West side favorite, Celeste is all about doing the simple, affordable Italian food most of us love.

Gothamist Recipe


Pasta alle Vongole
clams, pancetta, parsley, garlic

You can use fresh clams and serve them in the shell with the pasta or you can buy fresh chopped or frozen clams if you have a good source.

Ingredient Shopping List
Recipe serves two people.

1 box spaghetti, linguini dry pasta
extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds littleneck or Manila clams, scrubbed and rinsed well or 1 cup chopped clams fresh or frozen
1 lemon
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ lb pancetta
parmigiano reggiano (optional)

Estimated cost of ingredients: $15 at Fairway

Prep the Ingredients

Chop two large cloves garlic. Chop handful of parsley, about two tablespoons worth. Cube about ½ cup of pancetta. If using clams in shell, scrub and rinse sand from shells. If using chopped clams, pick through to make sure there aren’t any shells. If using frozen chopped clams, place in a strainer and run under cold water to defrost.

Boil the Pasta
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add ½ box of pasta and cook for 8 minutes or until "al dente”. Make the below sauce while waiting for pasta to boil so you can strain the pasta and place it directly into the below pan with the sauce.


Make the Sauce

Place a large pan with sides on medium heat. Add a touch of olive oil and place the pancetta in the pan and brown both sides, about two minutes each side. Take the pancetta out of the pan and reserve on paper towels. Drain the fat from pan. Place pan on medium heat and add a decent amount olive oil to the pan, about 1/8 cup. Place chopped garlic, a sprinkle of chili flakes to the pan. After a minute, add the clams to the pan. If you are using chopped frozen or fresh, season with salt, pepper and lemon juice and sauté for only one minute. (If using clams in shell, add the clams after sautéing garlic, along with squeeze of lemon juice . Cover and cook, shaking the pan periodically, until all the clams are opened, about 7 minutes. Discard any that have not opened.)

finalpeppersinoil.jpg finalclamsinloil.jpg

Finish the Dish
Crank the sauce up to medium-high heat. Add the hot, drained linguine to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Toss the pasta with the clams and olive oil sauce so it's nicely coated. Add a handful of chopped parsley. Drizzle with a splash of olive oil before serving and if you are not interested in being traditional, a handful of parm cheese.