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Best Downtown Italian (but no Batali please)

redbecca Dec 14, 2008 07:38 AM

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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    Simon RE: redbecca Dec 14, 2008 07:43 AM

    -- 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
      redbecca RE: Simon Dec 14, 2008 07:44 AM

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

      1. re: redbecca
        Simon RE: redbecca Dec 14, 2008 12:23 PM

        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
          taboo RE: redbecca Dec 14, 2008 12:30 PM

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

        2. re: Simon
          Pan RE: Simon Dec 14, 2008 06:49 PM

          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. s
          small h RE: redbecca Dec 14, 2008 08:06 AM

          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.


          1. s
            small h RE: redbecca Dec 14, 2008 12:53 PM

            >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
              redbecca RE: small h Dec 14, 2008 05:05 PM

              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
                small h RE: redbecca Dec 14, 2008 05:18 PM

                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. l
              Lucia RE: redbecca Dec 14, 2008 04:36 PM

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

              4 Replies
              1. re: Lucia
                silencespeak RE: Lucia Dec 14, 2008 05:50 PM

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

                1. re: silencespeak
                  redbecca RE: silencespeak Dec 14, 2008 07:00 PM

                  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
                    taboo RE: redbecca Dec 15, 2008 05:14 AM

                    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
                    silencespeak RE: silencespeak Dec 15, 2008 06:12 AM

                    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. Nick F. RE: redbecca Dec 15, 2008 04:35 AM

                  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.
                    2slices RE: Nick F. Dec 15, 2008 06:50 AM

                    i do not like bar pitti.

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

                  2. _emilie_ RE: redbecca Dec 15, 2008 09:26 AM

                    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. k
                      KiwiGirl625 RE: redbecca Dec 15, 2008 09:44 AM

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

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: KiwiGirl625
                        BillyBob RE: KiwiGirl625 Dec 15, 2008 10:13 AM

                        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: BillyBob
                          2slices RE: BillyBob Dec 15, 2008 11:45 AM


                        2. re: KiwiGirl625
                          a_and_w RE: KiwiGirl625 Dec 15, 2008 10:15 AM

                          I, too, am really impressed with Apizz.

                          1. re: KiwiGirl625
                            nikky RE: KiwiGirl625 Dec 15, 2008 10:35 AM

                            Must third apizz...

                            1. re: KiwiGirl625
                              Lucia RE: KiwiGirl625 Dec 15, 2008 10:41 AM

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

                              1. re: Lucia
                                a_and_w RE: Lucia Dec 15, 2008 11:13 AM

                                Aren't the prices at Apizz comparable to Crispo?

                            2. ChefJune RE: redbecca Dec 15, 2008 10:17 AM

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

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