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Need recs for Union Square - 13th St area

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I'm looking for a nice, casual restaurant around the 13th Street/Union Square area for a pre-bachelorette party dinner. We will be a party of 6-8, Saturday night 7pm and looking to spend around $30 per person. Open to any cuisine except Indian or Mexican. Don't mind casual but preferably no chain/franchises. I've searched the archives and yielded no good options. Everything is either high end (Gramercy Tavern, Craft) or too casual (California Pizza, Heartland...)

Open to any suggestions. Thanks.

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  1. How about Via Emilia, on 20th St., just west of Park Av. S.? Excellent homemade pastas with the lasagna being a stand-out. Cash only. They don't accept reservations, but since restaurants tend to be a little slower on summer weekends, the wait may not be too long.

    http://www.viaemilianyc.net

    1. I went to a bachelorette dinner at Gonzo on 13th between 6th and 7th. It sounds like what you might be looking for. You can read the menu on menupages.com.

      1. Sala, a tapas place on 19th between 5th and 6th has good food, drinks and a fun atmosphere. Just down the street is another tapas place that gets a lot of good chatter on the boards, Boqueria (but I haven't had the chance to go yet).

        2 Replies
        1. re: pellegrino31

          Casa Mono on Irving place

          1. re: AK21

            this probably wouldn't be good for a group that size. Stand (12th & University) is really for burgers and that's sure to be cheap. otherwise, via emilia is excellent italian that's really reasonable! Crispo is good, but a little far - 8th & 14th

        2. Borgo Antico is right there on 13th Street and has a nice upstairs room that could accommodate your party size and would be within your budget. It's a neighborhood Italian place.

          I've found that any tapas night out (e.g. Sala or Boqueria) gets expensive very quickly.

          1 Reply
          1. re: josephsm

            I really enjoy Borgo as well, it would be a lovely start to your night. Borgo is much quieter and more low key than some of the other places mentioned, so it depends on what you are looking for in terms of atmosphere. Otto would be a good choice if you are looking for loud and lively.

          2. Also, Alta is great for affordable small plates!

            1. Otto Enoteca on 8th Street just east of 5th ave. Nice casual, but slightly upscale restaurant/pizzeria from Mario Batali. Good for groups, great wine list and great salumis and gelato. If you search these boards you can find numerous reviews

              www.ottopizzeria.com

              1 Reply
              1. re: ESNY

                Ditto

              2. I second the recs for Via Emilia, Casa Mono, and Otto.
                I'll throw in Giorgio's of Gramercy, Tavern Room at Gramercy Tavern, Crispo, and Craftbar.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Lucia

                  Thanks everyone. Please keep the recs coming.
                  I would love to have the dinner at Casa Mono but that place is simply too small for a party my size and I can only imagine the hassle on a warm Sat eve.

                  1. re: moymoy

                    Casa Mono can get expensive very quickly, too. Plus, unless you're all adventurous eaters, it may not suit you.

                    I'll second Via Emilia, Gonzo and Crispo. They're all really good and would probably suit your reqs.

                    1. re: egit

                      I initially just suggested Gonzo, but I think that Crispo is also great for this kind of occasion. You could ask to sit near the back room, which might be good for a group. Otto is also fun and tasty, but I've had trouble getting reservations there in the past.

                  2. re: Lucia

                    I just went to Giorgio's of Gramercy for the first time. Lovely. Go early it is a small place. Desserts are nothing special.

                  3. I think Republic is a fun environment with excellent martinis!

                    Allows for a start of a rowdy night

                    1. Maybe Cafetasia?

                      1. A few suggestions- (1)osso bucco on univ/12th- solid family style italian in nice setting and obviously good for groups- (2) kitchen 22 on 22nd. bit of a walk from usq but in the vicinity. pros- good value- very good prefix for 22$ and wine fairly reasonable; cons -place is small and will likely be a long not round table if memory holds; don't know if they take reservations (they did not not when i was there last year but wasnt a problem as our group ate on the early side @6pm); service at times can be rushed and im sure a saturday @primetime (7-9 ) will be that way (3) spain on 13th/6th ave-- dingy looking and dark but food is good, sangria is good and would likely treat your party well ( they often throw in free appetizers anyway)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ekdd

                          fyi - Kitchen 22 (charlie palmer's joint) has closed officially as of today according to citysearch and eater.com. so I don't think group dining will work there!!

                        2. What about Japonais? Not as high end as Gramercy Tavern or Craft, but definitely not casual either. The atmosphere is incredibly beautiful, the drinks superb, AND they have a great lounge section that could easily accomodate a larger party for cocktails before dinner or just dinner and cocktails. The prices of entrees may be a bit steep, but we always order a number of different apps and share them for dinner.

                          1. Patsy's - University around 11th street
                            Pan e Ciocolato - Waverly place bewteen Broadwy and University

                            1. Where did you end up going?