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Mar 1, 2011 05:44 AM


On a recommendation from some friends, Ginny and I tried this place on the corner of Ave B & E. 11th St a couple of months ago. We really liked it, so we've now gone back with others twice, including last night. Highly recommended.

A lot of restaurants have opened in the past 5 years and there is no shortage of places I want to try. And I get to a lot of them. My take, overall, is that there are a lot of places that use good ingredients, have good concepts, sound good on paper and somehow dont execute in a way that brings out flavors that should be there. Basically, I've had way too many meals where the kitchen is competent but no one knows how to make the food, well, delicious.

This is not a problem at Spina. It's a relatively small menu and, going with friends, I think we've now tried almost all of it, including several daily specials. Everything I've had... yep, everything... has been flavorful, well thought out, and a joy to eat. The mussels float in a broth that is tastier than almost any I've had previously (& I'm a moule guy), the meatballs (made 3 ways) are each distinctively excellent), the boar sausage app. is a winner (and I'm not a sausage guy), the burrata is fresh and alive (well, one quibble... kept a little too cold), and every pasta is hand done daily at an open counter (excellent viewing). Without going on forever, our visit last night included an ox tail that was rich but was in a gravy with ingredients that made it both unusual but very tasty (in a great way). A whole bronzino last week was meaty and simply done, but in a way that brought out the fish's flavor & complemented it with simple additions. The pasta with duck ragu was similarly excellent, as was the mallordurus (cant remember the spelling.... Sardinian pasta, home made), the chittara, the black/white pasta (not made from squid ink but a black flour), and all the others we tried. All winners... really.

The price point of this place is not low, but its more than reasonable for the quality served. And the wine list doesnt have many under $35s, but what it does have is an excellent selection for the money and a half price Sun/Mon deal, where any bottle $60 or over is 1/2 price. And, since the list is basically a double retail mark-up (very nice), this deal has you drinking very good wine at wine store prices. And Happy Hour Tues-Fri includes very good wine by the glass deals, as well as $5 portions of the mussels and meatballs.

In summary, one of the better choices for very tasty Italian food and one that I'll be returning to pretty often. Others seem to know about it, but it hasnt been overly crowded when we've gone. And its on Try it.

175 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

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    1. Thanks for the review, Steve. I'm looking for a new interesting place in the area tonight, and if it's not too crowded there, I think I'll take my girlfriend there. Low-carb for me, so no pasta, but their menu looks like it's got enough for me to eat.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Pan

        Sorry I'm a bit late but I hope you enjoyed it. I've been there twice, the first time we had apps and pastas, second time shared a pasta and had entrees. The branzino was exceptional.

        1. re: rrems

          Didn't go. They closed at 10, and we didn't go to dinner until after 11. We went to Supper tonight. Reliable, as usual.

          156 E 2nd St, New York, NY 10009

      2. I've been hearing nothing but praise for Spina which is great as I thought that location was cursed (I've seen so many restaurants come & go over the years Uovo, Cafe Margaux, La Scarpetta). I guess I really need to put them on my 'go-to list'. Have you been there on a Fri. or Sat. yet? Does it get busy? Thanks for the review!
        East Village Eats

        175 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

        4 Replies
        1. re: EV_Eats

          I went there on a Tuesday and it was eerily quiet, which may not be a great sign.

          I wasn't blown away by the food when I went actually, but it was decent.

          1. re: InfoMofo

            We were going pretty regularly for awhile and I gotta say that the food was always very good, especially the fish and fresh pasta. However, the last time we went (maybe a month ago?), they had significantly raised the prices on the wine and we felt that they pushed it too far (a $70 bottle became $105; a $35 or so bottle was in the mid $50s). Havent gone back again.

          2. re: EV_Eats

            I was here recently on a Saturday night and by 8PM the entire place was packed.

            1. re: jenmcee

              The place was packed on a Saturday eve, the food was wonderful but, Jesus, the service was awful. Endless delays in taking orders and delivering bread to the table, unconscionable waits between courses...ugh. And, for my taste, just a little too much East Village snark/attitude from the staff. In this day and age, be thankful you've got a job, waitpeople.