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Quiet Downtown neighborhoody restaurants

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What's on your list of favorite neighborhoody restaurants below 23rd Street that are low-keyed enough for quiet conversation? Besides being able to talk without screaming, we'd hope for good food (any type of cuisine), good service, a pleasant space, and dim lighting. Perilla, Cafe Loup, August, and the sorry-it's-gone Village would all fit the bill, to give you an idea of what we're looking for. Trying to add to our list of quiet places we can go to everyday, as opposed to pricey or special occassion places. Thanks.

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    1. re: smokeandapancake

      Thank you! It's been on our list of possibilities, now we'll move it to the "go" list. PS, love your screen name.

      1. re: pace

        While the food at Apiary is very good, I want to alert you to the fact that depending on when you go, it may not meet your desire for "low-key enough for quiet conversation."

        We were there early on a very cold Sunday evening back in Februrary and didn't find the noise level much of a problem. But that's because all the tables weren't occupied and there was nobody in the bar area.

        However, since then, there have been numerous posts on this board complaining about a hideously high noise when the place is busy.

        You can read my report and see photos here: http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com/2...

        1. re: pace

          THanks! :)
          I also like rue-b.
          small, quaint, live jazz....

      2. - Blue Ribbon Bakery on Downing St. (well made comfort food and good charcuterie, lovely service and very comfortable without being sloppy)
        - Centro Vinoteca on 7th (very pleasant restaurant for decor and service, food is fine, not great; inexpensive $35 three course prix fixe dinner menu; their biggest claim to fame is probably that Leah from last season's Top Chef used to be in the kitchen, but is no longer)
        - Palma on Cornelia St. (decent Italian with a Sicilian bent)
        - Home on Cornelia St. (comfy like the name implies, but tight seating, depending on where you are; also not always dim lighting... it depends on who's controlling the lights that night, I guess; food is solid)
        - Market Table on Carmine St. (I don't love the preparations, which tend towards being extremely simple with some over- or under-salting, but ingredients are usually fresh and good, so very simple preparations like the roasted baby beets salad shine)
        - Gusto on Greenwich Ave. (I'm mixed in my reaction to the food. Dishes have been either excellent or awful, with little in between. Supposedly the fresh made pastas are good. Wine list is well chosen. There's a prix fixe dinner menu here, as well, but make sure the hostess hands it to you.)

        1. I second Home! Also Gavroche on West 14th and Salam on West 13th.

          1. For a low-key Italian, I LOVE Malatesta Trattoria - Italian, WestVillage.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pepper1983

              While Malatesta might be low-key (i.e., you can show up in jeans and sneakers and still feel welcome) it is certainly not quiet! It is probably one of the noisiest restaurants I've been to in NYC. The food is good for traditional Italian but if you want to have a conversation without shouting I do not recommend it.

            2. In Chelsea, Klee, Le Zie (ask to eat in back room only--much quieter) are two that come to mind. I like Giorgio's of Gramercy for a low-key din and LOVE La Pizza Fresca lately.

                1. Sorry for the delay in thanking you all for your suggestions . . . friends over for Thanksgiving, followed by winter colds, blah, blah, blah.

                  Have not yet been to Apiary, Malatesta, Centro Vinoteca, Klee, or Le Zie -- so will look forward to those. The others mentioned are exactly the types of restaurants we like and were looking for. So thanks!!

                  Agree that when you go and where you're seated will affect whether a restaurant is quiet or noisy on any given visit. We've certainly had that experience at some of our favorite places, which include several of the restaurants you suggested. I guess thems the breaks!

                  In case they're not yet on your list of quiet conversation downtown places, wanted to suggest El Charro, Sevilla, and Gene's. The last is an under-the-radar Italian on W. 11th, just east of 6th Avenue. It's kind of a throwback and has decent food, gentle prices, cozy bar filled with regulars, bartender who knows how to make classic cocktails (he's not an aspiring actor or model), waiters in tuxedoes, and patrons who all seem to be at least 70. We love it!

                  5 Replies
                    1. re: pace

                      I would not recommend Gene's to anyone who cares about what they are eating. We live very nearby so gave it a shot a couple of years ago, and the food varied from barely acceptable to downright awful. The gnocchi (listed on the menu as "homemade") were a joke, the leaden, chewy, frozen supermarket kind. There are many wonderful Italian restaurants in the Village where you can get excellent food for the same price. This is the sort of place that hasn't changed since the 50's and the clueless clientele has mostly been going there since then. If they had to rely on attracting new customers, they would be out of business in a week.

                      1. re: rrems

                        Some nights you just want close and cozy. I said the food at Gene's is decent, not by any means great. And if you order the daily specials, especially the fish, it is very decent. Plus @rrems, I think we just have different sensibilities . . . I've been to Da Andrea and Crispo more than once and wouldn't recommend either, despite the former's loyal following and the latter's good reviews. As the saying goes, that's why there's chocolate and vanilla. Viva la difference!

                        1. re: pace

                          Gene's is a throwback. You go there for the experience of a time and place that is getting rarer in NYC with the passing of every day.

                          1. re: North Bank Ned

                            Sorry I didn't check back sooner, North Bank Ned. My feelings exactly. And that includes the bar and bartender, too.

                    2. My husband and I really enjoy Spina in the East Village. The owner is very friendly, the service great, and the pasta homemade. They also have a nice wine list. The prices are pretty reasonable too!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jenmcee

                        Thanks, jenmcee. We'll put it on the "quiet" list!