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Help! have to make reservations now!!

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I need recs for a very important dinner next month. Here are the criteria:

Italian in Manhattan
can be up to $150 per person
great service, but not uptight/stuffy
moderate loudness is fine, but would prefer to be able to carry on a conversation without yelling
dinner is for a group of girls, so romance not necessary
want fantastic food AND fantastic wine list!!

Please give me your recommendation for the BEST restaurant that meets those criteria - I know, there is some debate as to the best italian in manhattan, but I am overwhelmed!!!

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  1. Crispo is really a known factor in great Italian food.
    For a more white tablecloth experience, try my favorite place, Vice Versa.

    1. Crispo and Vice Versa are very good, but If you are willing to go that high in price, I think l'Impero or Alto would be a better choice. Also, Fiamma just got 3 stars from the Times and sounds wonderful. I have not been there since the new chef took over, but intend to try it soon. Babbo is another possibility if you can get a reservation (must call exactly one month in advance at 10 am).

      3 Replies
      1. re: rrems

        re: Babbo reservation. What is the definition of one month in advance? 30 days? 31 days? Call on the same calendar date the previous month (what if you want reservations on March 31st, there isn't a February 31st?!?)?

        1. re: pestep

          I can answer that one for you, as I was one day late in trying to make reservations...if you want to book for Jan 12, you need to call on Dec 12. When I called on the 13th, they had an opening at like 10pm, which we were not willing to take - don't know about what they would say re: the end of February...good luck!

          1. re: pestep

            Exactly one month in advance, with some fudging due to the lengths of months. If you want, say, March 29th or 20th or 31st, you would call on the 1st of March since February has no equivalent.

            More details here:
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/375691

        2. definitely try a voce. the fresh goat's milk ricotta with grilled bread is so simple yet so good!

          1. Insieme on 7th. The benefit here is they also have a non-Italian side to their menu.