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Nov 19, 2007 11:12 PM


Hey hounds. Heading to the city for the 2nd wkend of Dec., and was hoping to score some fine Italian --

Love pasta and seafood, so Esca seems like the perfect choice. We'll be on E. 12th between University and Broadway, but are willing to travel for the perfect pasta and/or seafood dish...

Not even sure if I'll still get a table for a Sat. night, but I'd be calling tomorrow.

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  1. I think Vice Versa would be a much better choice. I was very unimpressed with Esca.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rrems

      Seems to me that Esca is one of those restaurants that is either on or off. Some people rant about the problems with them -- others have had better experiences.
      Vice Versa (pronounced Veecha Versa) is a known quantity, I think but Esca is more seafood savvy.

    2. I think Esca is delicious. I've actually had the best meals eating at the bar. The bartender really knows the wine list (which is one of my favorites for whites) and the crudo can be spectacular. Enjoy!

      1. I think raw seafood and pasta is Esca's strong point-as to reserving-check out opentable.com...if the Broadway strike continues, you may not have a problem.

        1. Fresco by scotto on 34 East 52nd Street between Madison and Park Avenues.
          212-935-3434 for reservations. http://www.frescobyscotto.com/home.html
          Buzzing, lively, friendly, excellent Italian fare and wines. Reasonable.
          Penne Gratin and Linguettine with Lobster are fantastic.

          1. OK, here's the deal. Couldn't get a table for 4 for that Sat. night at Esca, so made a rez just for me and the man. Now, however, the other folks we had to ditch for the evening seem more interested in hanging out. Italian would still be my first choice, but now we'd be a group of 5. No way Esca will happen with that many at this late stage.

            I was looking thru the Manhattan board, and am now torn between a few places:

            L'impero, Centro Vinoteca, Crispo...

            Preference is still for anything relatively near where we are staying -- E. 12th St. -- and we'd be more willing to venture downtown than up, if that helps.

            Also, it'd be great and hopefully not overly naive to budget $75/person incl. wine...

            am I crazy or what?

            9 Replies
            1. re: linguafood

              l'Impero is wonderful, but will not work within your budget. Crispo will be easy to stay within budget.

              1. re: rrems

                Agreed. And Hearth, which is on 12th St. and 1st Av., may stretch your budget a bit but is better than Crispo, which I like very much! Compare the menus and wine lists:


                If you do go to Crispo, get the Seared Duck Breast "Figs & Port." It also includes bitter endives and fresh watercress, and it's great! If they have a veal special (not the medaglione, but a cotoletto), with artichoke hearts in a lemon sauce, it's just as good in a different way.

                Also, keep in mind that Crispo will give you a half portion of any pasta for half price, if you also order a main dish. Or you can share a full portion, and they'll divide it in half for you at no extra charge if you like.

                I love Hearth, but I find Crispo a better value, because I can go there with someone else and spend $90-110 or so, whereas at Hearth, I'd be more likely to spend $160 or more.

                1. re: Pan

                  Pan, that is some very valuable and awesome info on the half pasta dishes! I usually go for pasta when having Italian, and after that there's no room for a secondo.... so this sounds really great: I think Crispo will be it! Will try Hearth (or Esca, for that matter) some other time, then.

                  mille grazie to all!

                  1. re: linguafood

                    Enjoy! It was because hounds recommended Crispo that I tried it, and I've been back a few times already, with every intention of going more. Let us know how your meal was.

              2. re: linguafood

                Only been to Centro Vinoteca and Crispo, both fairly recently. You might want to do a search of this site for reviews/comments. There have been a lot of recent posts. If I had to decide I'd choose Crispo over Centro Vinoteca. That said, Crispo can be lively and noisy. You want to sit in the garden or the main dining room NOT the bar area. Also suggest not dining there during prime time/weekends.

                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  I was at Crispo on Saturday evening.
                  I discovered 2 tables that seat 4 people that astounded me because they are right opposite the kitchen in a tiny room that people pass through to get to the back garden and that room is quiet and private. That's the table I would opt for if I had my druthers. Then Crispo would be just Purrfect!

                  1. re: idia

                    idia, I think that's where we sat on a Friday night and it wasn't too noisy (and that part of the restaurant was full). The garden was only a third full when we got there. The duck with figs and port pan mentions sounds good, I'll have to go back on a weeknight and start eating my way through the menu.

                2. re: linguafood

                  Centro Vinoteca and Crispo are the closest to where you'll be staying and within your budget. Crispo might be easier to get a table. for Centro you need to book a couple of weeks in advance, especially primetime on weekends

                  1. re: linguafood

                    Crispo--much better than Centro Vinoteca, and I think it'll be hard to stay under $75 pp at L'Impero. I haven't been since the chef change, so I can't speak to food quality at L'Impero.