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Italian Restaurant Recommendations

Dave Weinstein

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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.

went back to perbacco tonight and it's still as solid as ever. full house around 9:30. your description is very accurate. take their creme brulee di parmigiano reggiano with aged balsamic vinegar for example. daring but still true to its roots and ingredients, not to mention delicious. it's a common theme applied to several items on the menu. the noise level isn't too bad and i enjoy the casual service/vibe. they also accept reservations now and are on open table.

i don't consider babbo to be loud once you're past the crowded bar/walk-in area. don't let that deter you. even with the music, i don't have any issues conversing on either floor. my experiences have been nothing less than spectacular though it has been getting mixed reviews, especially more so these days. i recommend ordering adventurously instead of the pasta/traditional tasting menus.

a smaller, chef-driven place that i recommend is sorella. i believe weinoo suggested it in the italian wine bar thread. i consider it one of the more unique italian options in the city and the food just resonates with me. however it's closed until the 28th as i discovered at the door last week so hopefully the timing works out.

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We just returned, and thanks for everyone's help. We ended up dining at Lupa and having a great meal at the bar. Well made pastas, good quality ingredients, great talk with the sommelier, and a very knowledgeable bartender. It's worth a reservation next time we're there.

Our other meal was at Barbone and luckily we had visited 2 wine bars before arriving. Pleasant service from the staff and (presumably) the owner, and a wonderful surprise in the Vernaccia Nera we found there (just when you thought you knew all those obscure varietals), but the food was subpar. The two pastas (spaghetti carbonara and a ragu) were incredibly salty, and I say this as one who likes the sodium. The carbonara was that type where it seems bechamel has been added, and with a heavy touch on the flour.

But, when they saw we weren't eating it, they brought a free dessert and some dessert wine, which was a good response, though I wish they'd just removed it from the bill, as we hadn't eaten any.

So, Lupa was great. In the Italian Wine thread I also talked about Perbacco, which I would also recommend, though without having had a full dinner there.

Thanks again.

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The carbonara was that type where it seems bechamel has been added, and with a heavy touch on the flour. 

They added bechamel to carbonara?

You shouldn't! Some add cream to the recipe, also unnecessary. My not-too-clear point was that there was not only cream/milk in it, it had the heavy consistency of gooey, cold bechamel. I don't mean to slam them too much; we just didn't get the best dishes, perhaps.

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