These are the rest of the places I visited while I was in town. Because they are so well known, I won't say anything about USC or GT, other than that I ate at the bar without reservations at both restaurants. USC late Friday evening, after the theater, Gramercy Tavern about 4 pm Monday afternoon. One note: I had pear cider at GT that was great. More details on request.
I had dinner at I Trulli (27th E. of Fifth Avenue; there is a wine bar next door, and a wine store, Vino, across the street) Friday night, again, after the theater (it was a 7 pm show). No reservation, no trouble getting a seat, in the garden room. It was a little hot. I was right next to one of the heaters.
I had an appetizer portion of orecchiette with ragu of rabbit, duck great with mushrooms and polenta cakes, and stracciatella gelato. The orecchiette was fabulous, one of the best pasta dishes I've ever had. The duck was great too, but I didn't like the mushrooms or polenta cakes that much. The cakes were soft and bland; the mushrooms didn't integrate with the duck. I side order of broccoli was ample, but boring, simply steam, virtually minced, wildly underseasoned. The gelato wasn't creamy like I expected; almost more like ice milk.
When I return, I will go with an appetizer and a full portion of pasta ... that was the winner.