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looking for cozy italian place

Hi, new poster here, but I read the guidelines and i'll try to be as specific as possible

I'm looking for an Italian place, and the first place I searched for on here was Little italy, and so far everyone said to avoid it at all costs.

I'm also bringing a date, so I'm looking for a place where it's not super crowded to the point we can't hear each other, but also a place where we're not the only ones in the room.

I'm also a college student, so... something not too expensive would be nice: under 35 dollars with tip for two people?

And probably most important of all... something in either the village, chelsea, or even somewhere near the MET? We haven't decided what we're doing yet, but one of these three locations is our destination.

thanks ahead of time!

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  1. Hi, tom and welcome. A $35 total for 2 people will be difficult to do in a sit-down restaurant with decent food (assuming about $7 of this goes to tip). It shouldn't be, but it is. If you really want pasta, and don't mind bringing your date somewhere very casual (and I mean very casual) and without table service, I recommend Pepe Rosso on Sullivan St. just south of Houston. It's a hole-in-the-wall with a few seats and you bus your own table- but the pasta is quite good, and definitely better than anything I've tried on Mulberry St. in the past 15 years. At any other inexpensive place in Manhattan you'd be lucky to get two basic pasta dishes and come out with enough cash for a tip after tax. At Pepe Rosso, you will be able to get an antipasto and salad to share, as well as your two pastas.
    One other option I can think of is to go to Otto Pizzeria and have a pizza each, that should come to about the right total.
    My favorite inexpensive Italian restaurant in the city is Malatesta Trattoria in the far west village (their spaghetti alla chitarra is killer) but you will need about $45 (cash only) to do that one properly, as their pasta portions aren't that big and you'll probably need an appetizer along with them.
    For more info on any of these, you can search this board by clicking the link on the top of the page next to where it says "Manhattan" and typing in any of these names, and you'll find many comments, I'm sure.
    I would also suggest that you stick with downtown if good Italian is what you're looking for. You definitely won't find it anywhere near that price in the neighborhood of the Met.
    Good luck!

    2 Replies
    1. re: vvvindaloo

      thanks for the recommendation for Malatesta Trattoria, I'll definitely consider it. And you're right about the whole alcohol thing, she and I don't drink plus we're underage :P 20, 19.

      1. re: tom007gw

        You're welcome, let us know how it goes.

    2. hi...i agree w/ vvindaloo that 35 bucks will be very difficult, and that Malatesta is a lovely idea...

      i also like Cacio e Vino in the East Village (2nd Ave/4th St)...they have pizzas and Sicilians specialties...it's about the same price range as Malatesta...you could split an appetizer and salad and pizza, but once you toss in two glasses wine and tip, you'll be at 50 bucks...but it's a charming place and somewhere where just splitting an appetizer and pizza would be fun...

      1. In terms of near the Met - that's my neighborhood and I just can't think of any Italian place nearby that would fit your budget, unfortunately. It tends to be an expensive neighborhood in which to eat. I checked Cafe Grazie, but the pastas are in the $20 range, so that wouldn't work. Looks like you've gotten some good recs in the other neighborhoods, though. Have fun!

        1. 'ino might be your best bet for that price point.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Lucia

            I just thought it might be a little weird to take someone to a wine bar when you don't really have room for wine in your budget. The bruschette really add up, and they won't be able to afford enough of them to be satisfied, IMO. If they each get a panino, they may be able to squeeze in one glass of wine. I got the impression that the OP was looking for a more "traditional" Italian meal, and was not expecting to spend half of the $ on alcohol. But maybe he'll come back and let us know what he thinks of these recs so far...

            1. re: Lucia

              'ino is not really a dinner place. I mean, you surely can MAKE a dinner out of the food, but for a celebration dinner, it wouldn't work for me...

            2. yikes...that is hard! I always go to franks trattoria which is a pizza place but a restaurant in the back and im itlaian and i find their food to be fantastic....little old itlaian lady cooking on the background...its family favorite!
              1st ave between 22nd and 21st