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Need recs for good cheap italian

My boyfriend and I are taking both sets of parents out to dinner together for the first time this weekend. We're looking for a casual italian place that's good but reasonably priced (entrees under $20). We were considering the following...Supper, Bianca, and Malatesta. I'm open to suggestions and appreciate your advice! Gramercy, East Village, LES would be preferable, but also willing to head over to the West side for a hidden gem.

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  1. Bar Stuzzinichi, Perbacco, Lavagna

    3 Replies
    1. re: mrnas

      Perbacco is way more expensive lately. I just dropped a mint there and was astonished. I didn't like the food as much as in the past either. Didn't I hear something about a new chef? Everything seemed to have gelatin this or that. Not nearly as homey and fresh perfection tasting.

      1. re: Up With Olives

        Does anyone know where the previous chef from Perbacco has gone?

      1. re: labella

        A strong second for Supper and it's brother Frank. Be aware of a possible long wait, though as I believe that neither takes reservations. Also, cash only.

        1. re: musteat

          Have you been to Frank recently? We went 3 or so months ago and had the gummiest, grossest gnocchi I've had in a restaurant and my husband's pasta was deeply bland. Perhaps it's slipped a little...

          1. re: chompchomp

            Wow, I've been going for years and have never had that experience, I'll have to go try the gnocchi and make sure things aren't slipping. Thanks for the warning.

            1. re: chompchomp

              Wow, that's really a shame. I've liked the place, but it truly isn't cheap - lunch or dinner starting around $35/person, in my experience.

              1. re: chompchomp

                Supper is much better than Frank...imo

                1. re: loveroffood

                  I've enjoyed both and found both somewhat similar, which is not surprising, since they are part of the Frank family of restaurants. Do you find the food superior at Supper, or is it mainly the room and ambiance? If it's the food, please go into more detail.

          2. E. Vill - Enoteca Barbone or Orologio
            LES - Tre

            1. Max
              Frankies
              Il Bagatto

              And since you said you'd be willing to travel west for a gem, Piccolo Angolo...food is really that good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: banjolinana

                I've been to Max a number of times, and I think it fits your price range. The interior is nice too!

              2. Don't waste a single moment at Lavagna. It was highly recommended -- but didn't deliver BIG TIME. It was simply horrendous. And expensive. Never will go back again. Not only was my pasta "special" skimpy beyond belief, but it was tasteless, pooled with olive oil and sprinkled with far too many super-salty olives and capers. I was with 6 others at the table or I would have thrown a fit and sent it back. The roasted artichoke appetizer with white bean puree was also nearly inedible. Tasteless. A better choice? Frozen TV dinner.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Kodozzz

                  That is really too bad. It used to be one of my favorite LES restaurants. What happened? Have others had this experience?

                  1. re: redbecca

                    No, that was not my experience. I was there back in October -ish. I remember having an excellent, excellent pork chop. Some kind of salad to start... which was also satisfying. The only minus of the night was the fact that there was a huge party in there. They were at the bar drinking when I was seated, then they were seated near my table. So they were a little loud. Otherwise, I thought it was a very nice meal.

                    Sad to hear that Kodozz had a bad meal.