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THE BEST: Low-priced Italian restaurant, Manhattan


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Sfoglia. And a shout-out for my 'hood, Regional.

Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

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My experience with Lupa was a downward trajectory from great to good to mediocre and disappointing, and I don't plan on returning. I also consider Crispo clearly superior to Bianca. The meal I had at Franny was great, but the place is rarely convenient for me or my dining partners (witness that I have yet to return, despite great memories of that one meal). However, I haven't been to the rest of the places mentioned so far and appreciate the recommendations. Thanks for starting the thread, Nathan.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Po

If you can get in, the $48 tasting menu is a real bargain.

It's been a while since I've been though. I hear the food can be a little inconsistent.

Edited by Batard (log)

"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."

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Po

If you can get in, the $48 tasting menu is a real bargain.

It's been a while since I've been though. I hear the food can be a little inconsistent.

On a less ambitious level, a lot of people like East Village spots Frank, Max and Il Baggato. Also, Lavagna and Gnocco. Also, I'm not sure if Peasant qualifies.

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Damn dude you beat me too it -

Noodlebot reminds me to mention NOODLE PUDDING, which has always been very very good and even worth a trip from Manhattan to Brooklyn. BUT, I've never been to Al di la.

Still, Noodle Pudding is just right - seemingly eternally wine-soaked, jovial everpresent North Italian owner and consistently great food

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al di là

al di là

and also,

al di là

My dinner at Al di La with wine pairings chosen by the bartender in their Enoteca was one of the best Italian meals I've had in New York, just fabulous!

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I have to cry foul on Sfoglia and Peasant, in terms of the price range set forth in post number one above. Nothing against either restaurant, but they're firmly in the next price category up from what we're talking about here.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'd hazard that few people would call you cheap, tupac. I think the idea is that people often order primi as their main course. Perhaps Nathan was implying that the maximum price for a main, be it primi or secondi or whatever the restaurant chooses to serve in whatever portion size maxes out at around $25.

I think its reasonable to call a decent restaurant with no main above $25 or so (relatively) cheap.

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Becco. You can't beat their pasta prix fixe menu ($16.95 at lunch and $21.95 at dinner) which includes caesar salad or antipasto and all you care to eat of their 3 featured pastas. I've never had a bad meal there.

And the staff is very attentive. I'm a vegetarian, but never had to mention it to the waiter. If I wave off a pasta with meat, they have always come back with a vegetarian-friendly version of the dish.

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My experience with Lupa was a downward trajectory from great to good to mediocre and disappointing, and I don't plan on returning. I also consider Crispo clearly superior to Bianca.

When was your last meal at Lupa? My last two meals were within the past 3 - 4 months, and they were both fabulous - we ate lots of the menu at one of them. Still the best restaurant in the city for food of this style, quality and price. Wine list excellent, too, though not at the level of Otto's. And some decent cocktails.

Aren't Crispo and Bianca really different types of restaurants and price points?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Obviously a big part of a restaurant like this is how one orders. My problem with Lupa is that I enjoy it so much that I manage to spend like $65 for lunch, making it not so cheap.

There are other restaurants, and this category has many of them, where one feels content with a well-cooked main or pasta and can get out of there for $35 with a glass of wine, tax, and tip.

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My experience with Lupa was a downward trajectory from great to good to mediocre and disappointing, and I don't plan on returning. I also consider Crispo clearly superior to Bianca.

When was your last meal at Lupa? My last two meals were within the past 3 - 4 months, and they were both fabulous - we ate lots of the menu at one of them. Still the best restaurant in the city for food of this style, quality and price. Wine list excellent, too, though not at the level of Otto's. And some decent cocktails.

Aren't Crispo and Bianca really different types of restaurants and price points?

I don't remember when my last meal at Lupa was, though if I really wanted to check, I believe I posted about it in the Lupa thread. Bianca is a bit cheaper than Crispo, but Crispo is so much better that the difference in price is well worth it.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I'd hazard that few people would call you cheap, tupac.  I think the idea is that people often order primi as their main course.  Perhaps Nathan was implying that the maximum price for a main, be it primi or secondi or whatever the restaurant chooses to serve in whatever portion size maxes out at around $25.

I think its reasonable to call a decent restaurant with no main above $25 or so (relatively) cheap.

Alas, I overlooked an important word in Nathan's original post: "entrees" . For me a primo portioned as a primo for $25 is not cheap. A primo portioned and often ordered as a main course for $25 is another story. Having no main course above $25 is certainly a reasonable criterion for (NY) "cheap".

And FWIW, I find Al Di La to be the best in this category.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Po

If you can get in, the $48 tasting menu is a real bargain.

It's been a while since I've been though. I hear the food can be a little inconsistent.

On a less ambitious level, a lot of people like East Village spots Frank, Max and Il Baggato. Also, Lavagna and Gnocco. Also, I'm not sure if Peasant qualifies.

I really recommend the Chestnut pudding with hazelnut sauce at Gnocco. It is one of my favorite desserts ever.

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I really recommend the Chestnut pudding with hazelnut sauce at Gnocco. It is one of my favorite desserts ever.

Chocolate sauce, no? Did they change it?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 1 month later...
Becco's "sinfonia di pasta" is $16.95 at lunchtime. That may be a little more -- maybe $2 more? -- than the cost of an antipasto and a pasta entree at a rock-bottom budget Italian restaurant, but at Becco you get a totally superior product: the antipasto is extensive and includes not only fresh mozzarella, high-quality marinated mushrooms and various other cold vegetable items, but also several kinds of cold seafood. For your pasta, you get three house-made fresh pastas, all of which are always several steps up the quality ladder from what you get at cheap Italian restaurants. In addition, the wine list at Becco is cheaper than at even the cheapest restaurants yet better than at restaurants costing three times as much. I often wind up spending less on a meal for four at Becco -- even at dinner when the sinfonia goes up to $21.95 -- than at purportedly cheaper restaurants because when you follow a real-world check-building model you can dine quite well on a restricted budget at Becco: an elaborate appetizer, three pastas, good wine, nice extras like their breadsticks and focaccia with bean puree (no charge), etc. So, yes, I consider it a good-value budget restaurant. I recommend it all the time to people on budgets who want to go out in the theater district and they mostly are very happy with what they get for their money at Becco.

I AGREE WITH YOU COMPLETELY.

Where do you go on Arthur ave for a great dinner?

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