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Need your recs: Girls reunion, Italian

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I'm looking for a $$-$$$ Italian option for a Saturday night party of 7 girls who will be chatting it up but also appreciate good food and service. One member of the party has never been to NY, so I'd really like it to be a memorable local experience, whether it's a one-of-a-kind "big" restaurant, or a downtown neighborhood option.

I've been considering something along the lines of Da Andrea, but don't know if we'll feel too crunched in there. I'd love to do something like Il Mulino, but think it may break the bank for some of us.

Your ideas are much appreciated.

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  1. And I realize that this will just confuse the issue further, but if we can't come up with a good Italian option for NY ambiance/fun/moderate price, I could consider other cuisine. Maybe something like Red Cat?

    Let me know if you have a favorite restaurant for impressing an out of town group of friends that doesn't break the bank.

    1 Reply
    1. re: littlewilson

      I just read a great review of Il Buco on Mona's Apple. Maybe that would fit the bill?

    2. What about Otto or Peasant/Apizz?

      1 Reply
      1. re: trinyc1979

        otto is pretty noisy.

        I recommend Frankies Spuntino on clinton st...put your names in and go to a bar and they'll call you. good wine, lovely cheese plate, so charming.

      2. Fig & Olive? I remember the dining room can get a bit loud, but I think one of the banquettes off to the side might be perfect.

        1. Possibly Bar Stuzzichini - on Broadway and 21st-ish, with very nice decor and great food. It's a really big space, too, which means that, while they may not be able to seat a party of 7 as a walk-in (though they might), a reservation should be a cinch with a few hours' notice.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/412386

          1. Just realized that I never updated the thread. Sorry to bump up an oldie, but just wanted to report that we went with my old standby Da Andrea, and it was *perfect*. Delicious food, great table (don't know if I'd do any bigger than 7 though; they had a large round table that was just right), great service, limoncelllo shots :-). Everyone had a blast.