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Good italian in the village?

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I have a friend coming to visit from D.C. this weekend and he really wants to eat in the village (east, west or central) at a good, but reasonable priced italian restaurant. I was going to make reservations at La Focaccia, but wanted to know if anyone has other ideas? Keep in mind that it's Thursday and I have to get a reservation for Saturday night.

I'm new to the area from SF so I'm also looking for great places I can keep going back to.


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  1. Here are some of my favorites...you can make some reservations online at www.opentable.com

    Lower East Side:
    The Orchard

    East Village:
    Supper (no reservations
    )Max (no reservations)

    West Village:

    Central Village:
    Il Cantinori


    1. Lots of great choices in the Village.

      In the West Village I really like La Cantina--Jane St. and 8th ave--for low key mid-priced Italian. It is also a stone's throw from the Meatpacking District if you want to do the bar scene there afterwards.

      Maurizio Trattoria on 13th between 5th and 6th is a great local Italian.

      If you want to go somewhere with more "energy" or "scene" I would try Mario Batali's Otto. I don't know if they take reservations for two but you can drink wine and graze on appetizers while you wait.

      The list above is pretty good too with the exception of Il Cantinori, which is very good but also very formal and expensive.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gordognyc

        I second Maurizio Trattoria - it's a bit off the radar but very good.

      2. Malatesta, in the West Village, is rather pleasant - I went there on my last trip to New York. It's not too expensive (which is good, as it's cash only), and has a rather pleasant, small menu that has seafood, pasta, and meat dishes. When I went, friends and I split the fried calamari, a shaved artichoke salad, a couple of other appetizers, and whatever the steak was. Service can sometimes be slow and/or forgetful, but it sort of adds to the charm of the place if you're not in a rush. For dessert, skip the profiteroles and get the panna cotta. Unfortunately, I don't think you can make reservations for just two people.

        Lupa is another idea, although I'm not sure you can get reservations this late. But you can always go early and sit at the bar - I had one of my best meals ever doing so early last year.

          1. Thanks so much for all the ideas. I can't wait to eat!

            1. I can't understand why I'm seeing so many recommendations for Gnocco. I find that a merely good restaurant with one great dessert (the chestnut sformato with chocolate sauce).

              My standby Italian restaurant in the East Village is Col Legno, which I don't think is so much more expensive than Gnocco but which I consider a lot better. Expect to pay about $30-40/person for dinner (appetizer, 1/2 portion of pasta, a secondo, dessert, and a beverage).

              1. I love intermezzo and piccolo angolo.

                1. Crispo, Enoteca Barbone, Cacio e Pepe, Max, Piccolo Angolo. For more expensive, Peasant, Apizz.

                  1. Osteria del Sole in the West Village is great.

                    1. Lavagna, in the East Village, is excellent. The papperdelle with rabbit is one of my favorite dishes.

                      1. For fantastic italian food, a convivial and vibrant atmosphere, a top-grade wine list, all at reasonable prices, the best is Il Bagatto on East 2nd St. between Avenues A and B (a bit further east than the village, but easy enough to find). They've been there for 10 years owned by a husband (Dominican) and wife (Roman) team. She's the cook and he's the manager and they've created a truly magical little place. On any given night, it seems like at least half the crowd eats there so often that they all know each other. Its vibe defies simple description: I've been there in shorts and I've been there in a suit and I'm comfortable either way. It can be funky fun or super-romantic (I understand they've had several engagements take place there, and even a wedding!)
                        And then there's the food... This is Italian Italian, not Italian American food, with a focus on Roman. The gnocchi ragu is excellent (the meat is hand cut), and the saltimboca is superb. Unlike many restaurants, the specials here really are special. The basic menu is limited, though fantastic. But every night there are three new special appetizers, three pasta specials and three entree specials. Appetizers are in the $8-10 range, pastas in the 12-18 and entrees in the 18-25. The portions are excellent and the food is sublime. And the wine list is almost exclusively italian and has allocations that are impossible to find in most restaurants in Italy. They own the wine bar next door and you can order from that list as well. I can't recommend this strongly enough.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: maxinnyc

                          I used to like Il Bagatto, but I gave up on them when I discovered that even with reservations, the wait was at least 45 minutes for a table. The place is (or at least was) totally out of control in terms of waiting time, and while it's good, it isn't that cheap, and it isn't _THAT_ good, in my opinion. Col Legno is comparable in quality (though different in style) and you'll never have to wait for a table there, plus, it's brighter and much less loud. And there are other good places in the neighborhood, like Lavagna, which again, is less loud and more relaxed, has a good wine list, and has a really gracious owner and managers. I haven't felt the need to brave the insanity at Il Bagatto in a few years. Il Bagatto for me exemplifies Yogi Berra's remark: "That restaurant is too crowded. No-one goes there anymore."

                        2. I'll confess that I eat there about once a week. While it's true that if you go on a Friday or Saturday, you're likely to wait, other nights there's no such problem -- particularly Sundays, which have the added bonus of being lasagna night! The place is very high energy - though again, calmer during the week and on Sundays. It is not a place for a very quiet dinner, though the wine bar next door is also usually a much quieter option. I agree, I wouldn't call it cheap, but I think it is very reasonable given that the food is very fresh and high quality. Finally, on the wine list, Bagatto's allocations are unbelievable -- and a bargain for what you're getting.