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Delicious, casual but pretty Italian, under $100 pp?

I'm trying to plan a birthday dinner for my Mom this Saturday night and am looking for an Italian restaurant that is fun & casual, though still pretty (no checkered table cloths, but no fine dining either), delicious from apps to desserts (Mom is a dessert fiend), great (and consistent) service, and around $100 pp including a drink or two. Neighborhood not an issue. I've heard good things about Pepolino and Apizz, thoughts?

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  1. I LOVE Apizz..
    it's very simple, and delicious - th gnocchi is AMAZING, and so is the lasagna (it's the only restaurant lasagna that I have ever been impressed by)
    I would describe it as an absolutely delicious "red sauce" Italian... in a modern style.

    I also love Aqua at Peck Slip
    I have been blown away by my meals there....simple rustic, and the food is real Italian food not "red sauce" Italian...The apps, pasta and desserts are all to die for...my Italian mother who is never impressed still raves over her meal there.
    (I've never had the meat or fish dishes)

    I think they are both moderately priced - depending on your drinks - you could easily be under $200

      1. I'm an avid fan of Scarpetta. You'll also make it out of L'Artusi under $100 pp. Their panna cotta and their olive oil cake are amazing

        13 Replies
        1. re: kelea

          Oh - L'Artusi's menu does look intriguing!

          1. re: NellyNel

            Yup! It's the sister resto to Dell'Anima. There are a couple dishes i LOVE - the scallop crudo, the grilled endive and the bianco bolognese

            1. re: kelea

              Kelea -
              Thanks so much - I am planning to book L'Artusi for me BD dinner!

              1. re: NellyNel

                Awesome! I really hope you enjoy it as well :) I find the wait staff there extremely accommodating and friendly

                1. re: kelea

                  Yep thanks so much - I booked it yesterday.

                  I've read allot about the insane noise levels and am a bit worried ...but not enough to discourage me from going!

                  Cheers!

                  1. re: NellyNel

                    I think the downstairs can get a little loud but I've always been seated upstairs and never had a problem. Maybe you could request for this?

                    1. re: kelea

                      I have read upstairs is a wee bit quieter...so I will def request it.

                      From your pic - you seem like a young and happening chick - so I'm thinking you might be used to the noise!!
                      Me - I'm an old fart!

                      Tell me Kelea -bianco bolognese sounds so good - is it a white bolognese - no tomatoes?

                      1. re: NellyNel

                        haha thanks :) despite my age, i can't deal with noise too well so i definitely know where u are coming from. I actually went there with my mom's friends and they had a great time as well. so hopefully it should work for u.

                        yeah, the bolognese has no tomatoes. i have no idea what is in the sauce but it is amazing. it's a light ground mean (either pork/sausage/veal) with a sauce from reduce broth. or so i'm guessing :)

                        1. re: kelea

                          :)

                          Okay great!!

                          Wow - that sounds so good right now - I really have to stop reading CH before lunch!!!

                          Thanks for all your help - I really appreciate it!!

              2. re: kelea

                Kelea -
                I just wanted to update you on my experience at L'Artusi -
                I LOVED it!!
                I had an amazing experience from top to bottom - from the ambiance (bustling but not too loud at all) - to the service - to the food - everthing was spot on.

                The very helpful waiter suggested the most delicious wine to go with our meal and we ordered 2 cheeses while we looked over the menu.
                They had a special ricotta that night, and we also ordered a blue.
                The ricotta was to die for - so fresh and creamy, sprinled with a tad of sea salt - so that one bite would be sweet, and the next slightly salty...oh and with those crackers they have - the pairing was sublime (think very upscale Ritz - buttery and flaky). The bleu cheese was fresh, creamy and intense - wow.
                Then I ordered the scallop crudo - which was light and fresh. Very good.
                We shared the mushrooms - which was suggested by the waiter. Oh my Gawd - you have to try the mushrooms - they were lick the plate amazingly delcious with chunks of pancetta and quite spicy with a lovely egg on top - which dh didnt think would work - but totally did. It was darn good.
                The waiter also picked my pasta dish because I could not decide - the pici (?) with lamb ragu. again WOW - it was super rich and tasty...The pasta was clearly homemade and dense - and the sauce, rich, buttery and meaty all at the same time. I struggled to finish this -the waiter noticed and offered to wrap it up for me.
                Naturally, there was room for dessert, and I had to try the olive oil cake.
                Seriously, this was may be the best dessert I have ever had. I can honestly say i have never had anything quite like it before - The taste and the texture - paired with that rich and dense creme fraise mousse - oh my gosh !!!
                I would kill for some right now.
                The waiter had also paired some nice dessert wine with it - so I was in heaven.

                At that point the chef/owner who I recognised from reading a review - stopped by the table and asked how eveything was. He seemed genuinely happy that I so enjoyed the meal.

                So all in all - a perfect bd meal!
                Thanks Kelea for all your help!
                Cheers

                1. re: NellyNel

                  Nelly,

                  I'm glad you had such a great experience. I really do believe in this resto. The food is great and well price, the wait staff from my experience has been nothing but friendly and extremely helpful.

                  I actually have had that mushroom dish...i can't believe i forgot about it! it was delicious! yeah we actually did clean off every crumb and morsel from that dish. but then again i love anything with pancetta. now i can't wait to go back

                  1. re: kelea

                    Yeah - the mushrooms did not tast of mushroom - I got much more crunchy/meatiness from it -IMO (which is not a bad thing)

                    I can't wait to go back too - to try some more dishes...still want to try the white bolognese.And def looking forward to that olive oil cake again!

            2. re: kelea

              If it's a few days from now, Scarpetta might be tough to get into at a normal / prime time hour. Note: they hold back a lot of tables from OpenTable so calling will work better.

            3. You may also consider Convivio. I won't describe it as "fun" but it is more causal than the sister restaurant Alto and defintiely pretty. With their prix-fixed dinner plus drink you can probably stay within your budget.

              Scarpetta is another good choice

              1. Well, I know that I would have a hard time getting out of Convivio or Scarpetta under $100pp, but your mileage may vary.

                Apizz and Aqua are both very nice. You should also take a look at Peasant, in the same hood as Apizz.

                1 Reply
                1. re: egit

                  Scarpetta would be tricky unless you don't order much, but Convivio can definitely be under $100 pp if you get the four course $59 prix fixe.