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Not another Little Italy Post, sorry.

Yeah, its one of those.

Need a little italy restaurant recommendation for dinner with my girlfriend, her mom, and mom's friend. Now I live pretty close to little italy but havent been there since senior prom. Me and the gf love cinghiale, but I know that is not what the mom & friend had in mind.

So i guess im looking for fun, not too expensive place where we can all hopefully a middle ground food wise. Now im not sure if this place exists in Little Italy, but im hoping someone thinks it does.

Scanned the boards before posting this, and got a huge mixed bag, so i know the opinions will vary a lot. Thank you, and sorry for starting another one of these posts.

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  1. try amicci's - it is fun and not expensive. Food is as good or better than most of the higher priced places.

    1. Go for Amicci's or La Scala

      2 Replies
      1. re: rpb

        2 out of 3 non-hate responses, I'd call that pretty good. Thanks. Checked out both places' menus online, i think this is the middle ground i was looking for. Never been to either, but have been to La Scala's sandwich spot, which I enjoyed.

        Would it be fair to say that Amicci's is the more causal of the two? Any specific dish recs at either?

        I think the guests would be happy at either of these places, which was the point of the whole thing. Thanks.

        1. re: ingramcol

          I had some kind of chicken in a white wine reduction with spinach and sundried tomatoes at La Scala, which was decent. The pasta on the side sucked, though, but that could be because I'm from Philadelphia and am a hideous pasta snob. All in all, definitely not a bad meal, and don't feel bad about doing the Little Italy thing- it's fun to see.

      2. La Tavola is nice. I've never had a bad meal there and the service is top notch.

        5 Replies
        1. re: maddogg280

          I also liked La Tavola, but, to be fair, I have not been in several years. I have eaten there about 10 times and can not recall a bad meal. And Maddogg is right---the service is excellent.

          1. re: diablo

            Hmmm, La Tavola menu looks better to me than amicci's at a similar price point.

            Probably between those two.

            Thanks everyone.

            1. re: ingramcol

              La Tavola has a decent wine list, so if you're into cinghiale, you prob love wine. food is satisfying there. my default place in Little I, if i must.

              1. re: ingramcol

                La Tavola, at least, will cook your pasta al dente.

                (Actually, my experience with them has been quite good -- one of the neighborhood's exceptions. Moreso for the pastas than the rest.)

                1. re: Dmnkly

                  Perfect, thanks everyone.

                  Fresh pasta won over, and will be going with La Tavola. Will be sure to report back. Glad to hear the wine list has something to work with.

          2. Aldo is great, but can be pricey- or try Chiapparelli's- both are on high street.
            **My favorite is NOT in Little Italy- La Famiglia near JHU. It is owned by Dino who ran Boccaccios.www.lafamigliabaltimore.com

            1 Reply
            1. re: BawlmerWhites

              chiapparelli's.....salad....mouth........watering...

              1. re: namret

                Alright, the write-up.

                Decided on La Tavola. Members of our party were meeting us directly from the airport, so when they arrived, it was decided that drinks were in order. This sort of set the tone for the meal, as service let us take our time and linger, never feeling rushed to order or to depart. Service was on point.

                Food. We shared the calamari and bruschetta for appetizers. Good solid renditions of classics, what I expected to eat in Little Italy, but I guess ones that dont always come through. Of note, the basil for the bruschetta served as a bed for the bruschetta itself, allowing you to control the amount of basil yourself. Not entirely sure the point of this, but it was a novel approach.

                As far as mains go, I knew i was selecting one of the fresh pastas, as that was kind of what helped me decide on the place. Alright, im not gonna lie, i knew i was gonna order the black spaghetti w/ crab as soon as i saw it on their online menu, and i just pretended to peruse the menu. Ive had this preparation before, and while enjoyed it (maybe in Tokyo) I remember it being more about visual appeal than flavor (squid-ink, yes?). But La Tavola's rendition was phenomenal. Like all good pasta dishes, this one was all about the pasta itself, with that great toothsome texture. The whole dish tasted of the sea, in that great way that Italian seafood dishes can (but rarely do). Being honest, i havent had pasta this good since Italy two summers ago. And the lump crab meat had actual crab flavor. Overall, a winner, a real winner. Oh, and to boot, the server actually told me NOT to put the parmesan cheese he was offering on the pasta. Cheese discretion in Lil Italy, well i never...

                Rest of their menu seemed pretty standard Italian with the experimentation left to the pasta dishes. Which to me seems the ideal approach for a Lil Italy restaurant. With the pastas ranging from $14-20 one can get an interesting dish w/o having the break the bank on a "special" and the more conservative eater is still left with 80% of the menu to safe choices. As for the portion size, it was a proper portion in my eyes, and a bargain @ $20 for the level of sophistication of the dish. Only other dish I tried was the GF's pasta, a rich linguini dish w/ truffles. I didnt get that much truffle flavor, but it was quite good. I guess a fair amount of truffle flavor the $18-19 it cost.

                Only complaint was the wine list. Not very many reasonable priced bottles. I think only 1 or 2 Italian reds under $40, with a couple additional american reds under $40 as well. This doesnt really make sense to me with a lot of cheaper italian reds in vogue right now, a couple Montepulciano d'Abruzzo or Nero D'Avolas would go along away. Cinghiale has plenty of affordable choices on their encyclopedic list.

                La Tavola fit my needs perfectly. A Lil Italy restaurant that let me quote myself here: "not too expensive place where we can all hopefully a middle ground food wise." So if anyone has been afraid to go Lil Italy (not getting into this one) or is entertaining people who must go there, I think La Tavola more than fits the bill.