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legit Italian - not crazy $

We're Italy-bound. Where's good to eat that has really great Italian food & wine that won't break the bank? (The trip's already going to do that.) =)

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  1. How resilient is your bank?

    1. Cantina Toscana, 1st Ave. just below 61st St., across the Ave from Bed, Bath & Beyond. The food is great, and it is run by italians, who are not trying to turn the tabels over quickly. One of my favorites. Order the gnudi for an appetizer.

      1. Cacio e Pepe is very good.Food is good but what stands out the most is the warmth of the place and the friendly service.I've eaten there 3 times and loved it every time.Would say the food is good,not great.But very authentic and half-way through our first meal there we felt like regulars.It's on 2nd Ave,between 11th and 12th.

        1. Le Zie, 7th Avenue and 20th St.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Blumie

            How is Le Zie? I saw mixed reviews..

            1. re: nycgirl08

              Pretty solid. Not worth going out of your way for but good if you're in the area, especially at the price point. I think I'd stick to pastas when ordering.

              1. re: nycgirl08

                I don't recall mixed review on this board. That said I agree with Lucia that it's a great neighborhood place, with solid food at reasonable prices, but I wouldn't traverse Manhattan to get there. I do, however, disagree about sticking with the pasta. Although I usually order their spaghetti and meatballs -- which are fabulous -- they do a fine job with meats and fish too.

            2. I would suggest Otto. 5th Ave at 8th Street. This is the "cheap" Mario Batali place. I am not crazy about the pizzas, but the pastas, vegetables, sides, etc. are very good.

              4 Replies
              1. re: 10yrresident

                I totally agree with the Otto suggestion. Pastas and apps and of course the wines are all top notch. I know this place gets mixed reviews here, but we've always had a great time here and love the atmosphere and Dennis (the bartender) is great. In fact, having been to Babbo as well as Otto, every bartender I've had the pleasure of waiting on me, has been outstanding. Knowledgable and personable.

                1. re: 10yrresident

                  i was really put off by the atmosphere. i am not from NY but i went there on a saturday night when visiting my sister, and the loud music made conversation IMPOSSIBLE. I am not a granny either - 30 years old! I don't know if it is always like that. I preferred Lupa much more to that.
                  Someone told me they crank up the music so people will drink more - not talk. I will post something on general Chowhounding right now!

                  1. re: Pappardelle

                    otto's food is pretty horrid. the pastas are not homemade...its like an assembly line in there. i felt like i was eating at an italian ikea.

                    da andrea on hudson is the best least expensive italian ive found.

                    1. re: sam1

                      I forgot about da andrea--it is delicious, i definitely second the recommendation

                2. How about going to Astoria? Trattoria L'Incontro would fit the bill.

                  1. Peasant is great and very reasonably priced. If you know Italian then it is even better!

                    1. Lupa. I love Peasant too, but it is a little pricey.

                      1. Po!
                        Via Emilia's good for northern italian fare, inexpensive, but only takes cash.

                        1. I really, really love Lupa.

                          1. Bar Pitti!!! I have lived in Italy, and this is extremely authentic and delicious, and does not break the bank. Via Emilia has some delicious homemade pasta, although it depends on what you order. Some pastas are average, some excellent.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: OliveJuice123

                              Which are recommended? (And while you're at it, where is it? Yeah, I know I can check menupages.com, but...)

                              1. re: Pan

                                I believe you are asking which pastas are recommended at Via Emilia, correct? If so, I would highly recommend the Tortelloni di Pollo, it has chicken and wild mushroom in a truffle olive oil and is delicious. I also really like the frutti di Mare, which I asked for with one of their homemade pastas, and some of the raviolis. I had a fresh-made spinich pasta special once with pomadora, and it was only okay, kind of bland. It is located on 21st between Broadway and Park, and it can be a little loud in the restaurant.

                                At Bar Pitti, I recommend everything! Seriously, everything I have ever eaten there has been delicious--the raviolis, specials, I crave the pounded chicken with sundried tomatoes...it is located on 6th Ave between Houston and Bleeker, right next to Da Silvano (which I have never eaten at).

                                1. re: OliveJuice123

                                  Thanks. I really appreciate the recommendations.

                                  1. re: Pan

                                    Tripe is one of their specialties. Though I think mine tastes better, DH said Bar Pitti has the best preparation of tripe he's ever had.

                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                      I love tripe. What style do they make their tripe in?

                                      1. re: Pan

                                        It's honeycomb tripe in a simple tomato sauce topped with Pecorino, I think (or a combo of pecorino and parmesan). If you've eaten at Babbo, it's similar to their tripe.

                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                          I have yet to go to Babbo. That doesn't sound like either Trippa alla Romana or Trippa alla Napoletana, because both of those also contain hot peppers and are very spicy.

                                          1. re: Pan

                                            You know, I never had trippa alla romana that was spicy ever before. Perhaps a tiny bit of dried red chili pepper but nothing I can classify as spicy.

                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                              Interesting. I had Trippa alla Romana at a trattoria in Trastevere. It had a lot of quite spicy green peppers sliced up in it and was considerably spicy.

                                              1. re: Pan

                                                Perhaps it's a regional difference. I've never been to Italy so I can't tell you what the tripe is there. But the versions I've had in the States, none of them have been spicy. And I've seen your reports on Chinese food, so your idea of spicy probably means more than the one arbol chile they may use in a whole pot of tripe.

                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                  Most definitely. I figure that one chile in a whole pot would just give a little flavoring.

                            2. Enoteca Barbone on Avenue B -- amazing fried asparagus, carbonara, chicken liver ravioli. And a nice outdoor garden as well. Very reasonably priced, nice wine list. All in all a nice neighborhood place with solid, affordable food and nice atmosphere but not trendy or mobbed.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: toovernator

                                The fried asparagus, and chicken liver raviola, along with the gnoochi are indeed amazing. Unfortunately, the entrees tend to take a nosedive, and the service can be blatantly negligent.

                              2. piccolo angolo on hudson street is great too. and not expensive at all. the meatballs are seriously the size of my head

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: cocoloco14

                                  if for going out on a warm night. go to barolo on w broad by spring st. and eat in the garden

                                2. I loved Bianca on Bleecker at Bowery. Homey, inexpensive, and the loveliest lasagna I've had in a long time.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Sophia.

                                    Celeste on upper west side is delicious and cheap too... go early because they don't take reservations and the line can get pretty long!

                                    1. re: Sophia.

                                      I had a horrible meal at Bianca. Much of what we ordered didn't match the menu, and the cream on my gnoochi tasted off. Service was obnoxious too.

                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                        The cream sauce that comes with the gnoochi is a gorganzola cream and can be quite strong but I love it. If it was "off" did you send it back? The GM is incredibly affable and helpful and I can't imagine he would not have fixed the situation.

                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                          They really weren't sympathetic, or interested in hearing a complaint. They just brought us the check for the entire meal. I made it through about half of my Gnoochi before I started to really worry, but I normally love a good Gorganzola with a lot of kick. This was something else. Waitstaff wasn't interested. The fried artichokes were just outright burnt. We picked at our food and then gave up. It really wasn't good....and that's not even describing the inappropriate behavior on the part of the waitstaff, rubbing my shoulders while I was ordering my food....it would be unacceptable even if the food had been good, but this wasn't. People at the other tables looked really happier then we were.

                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                            Sorry to hear about your experience and as much as I like Bianca I totally agree that the fried artichokes are fried to the point of cremation.

                                    2. Go to Celeste on Amsterdam between 84th and 85th. Its cash only, no reservations - go early or be prepared for a long wait. The owner is there every night and he takes special pride in everything and can be relied on for affordable wine reccomendations to go with the food. Every dish is excellent and the specials are always worth checking out as well. Also the cheeses...

                                      1. Tante Bacci or it's sister around the corner, good food , reasonable in the west village. Other suggestions are D'Andrea on Hudson, Malatesta for pasta,,and Ennio and Michael's on La Guardia Place.

                                        1. ZaZa, Crispo, DaVino, Elios