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Best Downtown Italian (but no Batali please)

I' was a fan of Lavagna in the late 1990s, but I hear that it's gone down hill and not as inexpensive as it used to be. I once had a wonderful meal at I Coppi. Is it still great? I found Cacio e Pepe interesting and friendly, but the food was inconsistent. I've eaten at most of the Frank restaurants and find them fun but don't think that the food is special. I've enjoyed Crispo, Pepolino, and I Trulli's Enoteca.

Anyone been to the above restaurants recently, and can you suggest anything else very good, not one of the usual suspects, and moderately priced that I should try? I'm not looking for cheapness over quality, but I can't afford the truly upscale. (added later: Both Perbacco and Scarpetta look too expensive).

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  1. -- in the same neighborhood as your other favorites, i'd suggest trying Cacio e Vino...

    -- a bit more upscale but still doable for a moderate price is Scarpetta

    4 Replies
    1. re: Simon

      Scarpetta looks awesome, but very expensive to me. How can you go for a moderate price?

      1. re: redbecca

        well, it's fun to sit at the bar and split a couple dishes...my favorite things are the chickpea soup and the black cod w/ fennel&stewed tomato...the scallop tartar is good too, and fairly big portion, and the cavatelli is awesome...if you shared three of those dishes your food cost (pre-tax/tip) would be about 55 or 60 dollars and you'd probably be pretty happy...

        While the bill can add up there if you drink a lot of wine (and if tempted to order more and more dishes since they are so good), i think Scarpetta is a relative bargain given the quality of the food...

        1. re: redbecca

          Scarpetta was great. Also, downtown rustic Italian I would pick Po or Piccolo Angelo.

        2. re: Simon

          Yes on Cacio e Vino. I went there again on Friday night with my girlfriend. Very good, honest, well-priced food, good wine, excellent, friendly service. No comment on Scarpetta, because I haven't been there.

        3. Perbacco worked out to be about $50 for me, with an appetizer, pasta & glass of wine. The food is very good, and creative. There was also a longish list of specials, which I always like to see.

          http://www.perbacconyc.com/

          1. >I've enjoyed Crispo...<
            >(added later: Both Perbacco and Scarpetta look too expensive).<

            Now I'm confused. Crispo is in your price range, but Perbacco is too expensive. Note that Crispo's pastas range from $19-$22, while Perbacco's are $11-$13. Crispo's main courses are $19.50-$23.50. Perbacco's are $16-$22. What am I missing, here?

            2 Replies
            1. re: small h

              Maybe you were looking at Perbacco's lunch menu?
              Their dinner entrees are $24-30 according to their online menu. That's what I looked at when I decided they were too expensive. But you're right that Crispo's prices on pasta are higher, so I stand corrected. I didn't remember that Crispo was that expensive. I've been curious about Perbacco, so I'm glad to see that it's possible to eat there for less that $60/person which is what it looked like to me at first glance.

              1. re: redbecca

                I was looking at NYMag's menu, which is different than Menupages menu, so who the hell knows what to believe? since Perbacco's website has no prices. I went there to break my Yom Kippur fast, and it's certainly possible that 24 hours of starvation clouded my memory. ANYway, I hope you find a lovely spot to enjoy reasonably priced Italian, and that you'll report back.

            2. Po is good. L'Artusi is on my list and I'm hoping to go this weekend.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Lucia

                I love Po! Also recommend Emilia Via on 21st btw Park and Broadway. Fantastic Pasta.

                1. re: silencespeak

                  I like Po too. It's my favorite Batali place, though maybe because it's not Batali's anymore, you don't have to fight the crowd to get in.

                  1. re: redbecca

                    When I went to PO it was jammed and people were still trying to get in at 10:30PM for tables. A nice rustic atmosphere with great service.

                  2. re: silencespeak

                    Po is also located in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn on Smith St. (Same management, same staff, same menu). It can get fairly busy on weekends but not as bad as the manhattan branch.

                2. Rec Bar Pitti (6th bet. Houston and Downing)? Anyone else like Bar Pitti?

                  'Scheap, good and they even let you sit outside on these balmy winter days.

                  Get the cheese-ball if they have the specialty on their menu.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Nick F.

                    i do not like bar pitti.

                    Peasant is fantastic. It's a bit pricey tho.

                  2. For cheap/value, Frankies 17 on Clinton Street -- I'm always amazed at the quality for the price. For small plates (which can be cheap, depending on what you have), Bacaro on Division is very nice and rustic/romantic (sit downstairs). I had the lasagna with bechamel there a couple weeks ago and literally licked the pan clean.

                    I agree that Lavagna is not so great right now. Perbacco is good, and if you have a small appetite, it can be less expensive than you think. The dishes are priced fairly well, but they are also really small, so you have to at least get an app and a main if not an app, a pasta and a main.

                    1. My favorite downtown Italian is apizz. Delicious pastas (especially the gnocchi), warm room and reasonable prices.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: KiwiGirl625

                        I am a a big fan of Aurora in Soho - pretty authentic, good cooking, reasonable wine list, good atmosphere (although can get loud).

                        1. re: KiwiGirl625

                          I, too, am really impressed with Apizz.

                            1. re: KiwiGirl625

                              I also like Apizz but didn't suggest it b/c it seems ot be outside the op's budget constraints.

                              1. re: Lucia

                                Aren't the prices at Apizz comparable to Crispo?

                            2. We really like I Trulli, and it's not too pricy.