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Italian Restaurant Recommendations


Dave Weinstein
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Please be more specific. What do you want to spend? Do you care how loud it is? Any other criteria? And by the way, would the East Village be OK for you?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Please be more specific. What do you want to spend? Do you care how loud it is? Any other criteria? And by the way, would the East Village be OK for you?

Good questions.

East village is fine.

We need to be able to hear each other talk, so noise is an important factor.

And I'd prefer the total (tax + tip, not including wine) per person to be under $50.

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You could go to Lupa but it might be a wait for 4. They take a limited # of reservations and save the rest for walkins. If you order well and don't drink you could get out for $50/person.

I like Otto, for a lighter, more grazing kind of meal (salad, bruschetta, pizza, pasta) definitely within your budget, but it's really loud. Really. Loud.

I really liked L'Artusi in the West Village a few weeks ago. The food was excellent and is more of a small plate kind of deal, so it's not very expensive. Fun vibe too. dell'anima is their other spot, but it's smaller and tougher to get in. Great food though.

Cacio e Pepe in the East Village has been solid in the past but I haven't been there in the last year. It's not fun like L'Artusi or even Lupa, more sedate and homey.

Places I've enjoyed and frequented in the past but haven't been to lately (and are within your budget): Bellavitae and Po (Village), 'inoteca and Falai (LES). Frankie's Sputino (LES) has been on my list forever and I've heard it's great, but I haven't made it there yet.

I used to LOVE Pepolino right by Tribeca but haven't been there in forever - anyone know if it's still good?

(You had mentioned Little Italy - I would avoid it like the plague.)

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I agree with Lupa. Reservations would probably be late; they seem never to have reservations available at peak times, but maybe that's partly because I don't usually plan far ahead. Get a table in the back, if possible. I haven't been to Cacio e Pepe in a long time, but wasn't terribly impressed; then again, I've never had their signature dish (cacio e pepe, of course). I haven't tried the other places Daisy mentions.

One other place you could consider, if you can't get reservations at Lupa at a reasonable hour and don't feel like risking it as walk-ins, is Supper. It's considerably cheaper than Lupa and certainly not on the same level, but it serves honest, well-cooked food in a pleasant environment. I like to sit at the bar and watch the cooks work in the open kitchen. I don't know whether Supper takes reservations.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I agree with all of the above. In the general area of the Village I love Lupa.

I would add Crispo to the list, I'm always impressed by it and the prices are reasonable. The creamy polenta with prosciutto and smoked mozzarella is a great appetizer. He also does this really interesting veal parmigiana with crispy veal breast.

I also like Gonzo.

Morandi gets mixed reviews, the one meal I had there was very good.

Edited by mjc (log)

Mike

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Places I've enjoyed and frequented in the past but haven't been to lately (and are within your budget): Bellavitae and Po (Village), 'inoteca and Falai (LES).  Frankie's Sputino (LES) has been on my list forever and I've heard it's great, but I haven't made it there yet.

Is Falai really within the budget - oh, I guess it can be, without wine.

Frankie's Spuntino on Clinton is one of our faves; it's tiny (like 24 seats) and I don't think they take reservations; delicious and pretty casual food.

Cacio and Pepe is good - but may be too loud for your needs. Varied menu - I like their "Sicilian" pizza and calzone, starters, pastas, etc. Their secondi leave a bit to be desired.

I believe Hearth is doing a very reasonable prix-fixe (maybe $35 a head) - excellent food, mellow room - would be perfect at that price point.

Bianca on Bleecker just west of Bowery - although, once again, crowded and noisy, though not as bad as Otto (and Lupa, unless you're in the back room), but very reasonable.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Had an amazing dinner at Scarpetta last night.  Probably more west than you are looking for but I was amazed at the food, service, and especially the price.  I look forward to returning soon.

In addition to all the above recommendations, which I think make up a pretty good list, you might also want to look into Il Bagatto, Frank and Max in the East Village. Not fancy at all, but each is solid for Southern Italian, homey kind of fare. Also, Lavagna used to be very good value, as did Gnocco. All are in the East Village.

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Had an amazing dinner at Scarpetta last night.  Probably more west than you are looking for but I was amazed at the food, service, and especially the price.  I look forward to returning soon.

I loved scarpetta, thought it was probably out of the $50/head price range though.

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[...]Cacio and Pepe is good - but may be too loud for your needs.  Varied menu - I like their "Sicilian" pizza and calzone, starters, pastas, etc.  Their secondi leave a bit to be desired.[...]

Are you sure you're talking about Cacio e Pepe here, not Cacio e Vino, about which the things you write are true? Oh, by the way, if loudness is an issue, don't go to Crispo, either: The place can be very loud.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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[...]Cacio and Pepe is good - but may be too loud for your needs.  Varied menu - I like their "Sicilian" pizza and calzone, starters, pastas, etc.  Their secondi leave a bit to be desired.[...]

Are you sure you're talking about Cacio e Pepe here, not Cacio e Vino, about which the things you write are true? Oh, by the way, if loudness is an issue, don't go to Crispo, either: The place can be very loud.

Oh shit, you're right...Cacio e Vino, on 2nd Ave. between 4th and 5th streets is what I was referring to. Thanks, Pan. It's a likable restaurant, good staff, cool pizza oven, and some very good food if chosen correctly.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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i had a fantastic dinner at perbacco in east village for around $50 including wine. i think they're back to no reservations but try to snag the communal table. bar-bo-ne, also in east vill, has a $35 pasta tasting menu and they take reservations. sorella is also excellent but it's in chinatown. i second others' recommendation for frankie's spuntino (recently expanded) and 'inoteca (large wine selection in $35-45 range).

falai, lupa and hearth are doable for $50 but it means you'll be compromising on what you order.

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i had a fantastic dinner at perbacco in east village for around $50 including wine. i think they're back to no reservations but try to snag the communal table. bar-bo-ne, also in east vill, has a $35 pasta tasting menu and they take reservations. sorella is also excellent but it's in chinatown. i second others' recommendation for frankie's spuntino (recently expanded) and 'inoteca (large wine selection in $35-45 range).

falai, lupa and hearth are doable for $50 but it means you'll be compromising on what you order.

I've heard great things about Barbone as well. Completely agree that Hearth would be really tough on $50/person (other than the set menu weinoo mentions). For Lupa though, if you're not drinking, I don't think it's very hard. Antipasti/salads are $6-10, pastas in the mid teens, and entrees top out at $25. Had lunch at the bar yesterday, fantastic as usual. Still, could be hard for 4 for dinner w/o a reservation.

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I used to LOVE Pepolino right by Tribeca but haven't been there in forever - anyone know if it's still good?

(You had mentioned Little Italy - I would avoid it like the plague.)

Pepolino is still good - very good - a warm and friendly place in a comfortably Tuscan way. I'm always surprised how much I spend there, but always feel satisfied and well treated.

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I've heard great things about Barbone as well.  Completely agree that Hearth would be really tough on $50/person (other than the set menu weinoo mentions).  For Lupa though, if you're not drinking, I don't think it's very hard.  Antipasti/salads are $6-10, pastas in the mid teens, and entrees top out at $25.  Had lunch at the bar yesterday, fantastic as usual.  Still, could be hard for 4 for dinner w/o a reservation.

Barbone is really good and Lupa is totally doable - getting into Lupa, otoh, may not be as easy.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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[...]falai, lupa and hearth are doable for $50 but it means you'll be compromising on what you order.

For all practical purposes, although perhaps theoretically possible (I've never actually tried), I doubt Hearth is really doable for $50. $80 is more reasonable.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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For all practical purposes, although perhaps theoretically possible (I've never actually tried), I doubt Hearth is really doable for $50. $80 is more reasonable.

Well, I beg to differ. Their 3-course Cucina Povera menu is $35. Tonight it includes a Ribollita soup, braised lamb shank with polenta and rapini and a hazelnut budino for dessert.

Ordering smartly off the regular menu, a nice meal can be put together at $50 for food.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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For all practical purposes, although perhaps theoretically possible (I've never actually tried), I doubt Hearth is really doable for $50. $80 is more reasonable.

Well, I beg to differ. Their 3-course Cucina Povera menu is $35. Tonight it includes a Ribollita soup, braised lamb shank with polenta and rapini and a hazelnut budino for dessert.

Ordering smartly off the regular menu, a nice meal can be put together at $50 for food.

Btw, thanks for the correction.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 5 months later...

Should have put this in my wine bar post, but I travel to Italy regularly but live in Chicago. Not really many good places here that can provide a similar culinary experience to what I eat in Italy, or can just as easily make at home.

I hate loud restaurants, so have always avoided Babbo. I have liked Bellavitae in the past, but want to stretch out a little on this NY visit, and have considered Insieme. Are there others, probably smaller, chef-driven places I should consider?

Consigliatemi, per favore. Thanks.

Edited by Michael M (log)
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Should have put this in my wine bar post, but I travel to Italy regularly but live in Chicago.  Not really many good places here that can provide a similar culinary experience to what I eat in Italy, or can just as easily make at home.

I hate loud restaurants, so have always avoided Babbo.  I have liked Bellavitae in the past, but want to stretch out a little on this NY visit, and have considered Insieme.  Are there others, probably smaller, chef-driven places I should consider?

Consigliatemi, per favore.  Thanks.

One thing about NYC is that it's somewhat hard to avoid loud restaurants.

Some newer places garnering varying levels of praise are Locanda Verde and Marea; Marea being Michael White's (as chef) newest place. His other places are also well liked - Alto and Convivio.

Locanda Verde is where chef Andrew Carmellini ended up, now that he is no longer at A Voce.

Franny's, in Brooklyn, is beloved by many. Esca in Manhattan is too, as is Lupa.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Should have put this in my wine bar post, but I travel to Italy regularly but live in Chicago.  Not really many good places here that can provide a similar culinary experience to what I eat in Italy, or can just as easily make at home.

I hate loud restaurants, so have always avoided Babbo.  I have liked Bellavitae in the past, but want to stretch out a little on this NY visit, and have considered Insieme.  Are there others, probably smaller, chef-driven places I should consider?

Consigliatemi, per favore.  Thanks.

Has anyone been to Perbacco lately? As of the last time I went, this would probably fit the bill. It may be slightly on the loud side at times, but small, cute and very inventive. It was totally chef-driven and the food was special in its employment of creative ingredients and techniques, while still staying pretty true to its roots.

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