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Looking for amazing but cheap Italian place for casual birthday dinner

Hey Everyone:

I'm looking to take my boyfriend out for his birthday this Tuesday evening and looking for suggestions. The thing is . . . I'm pretty . . . broke . . . He's broke, too, and knows I am so he's not expecting much but I was hoping to find some place that we've never been that has amazing food with an inexpensive price tag.

Unlike me, he likes very simple food and prefers Italian. Doesn't need to be fancy or romantic and we definitely don't want to dress up.

Basically "foodwise" a place like John's would be perfect . . . but I don't want that "old school" atmosphere.

He lives in Williamsburg and I live in Astoria, so any place in Manhanttan, Brooklyn or Queens is great.

Right now, the best choice I've come up with is Veloce Pizzeria. Fairly cheap, great food and a fun atmosphere.

Can you suggest anything else along those lines?

Thanks!

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Veloce Pizzeria
103 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003

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  1. Motorino, or Frankie's 17.

    http://www.motorinopizza.com/
    http://www.frankiesspuntino.com/17/17...

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    Frankies 17 Spuntino
    17 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

    Motorino
    349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

    1 Reply
    1. re: small h

      I agree - Motorino will be about the same price point as Veloce and is a little more inventive and fun. They have locations in both Williamsburg and East Village.

      If cost is the dominating factor, I do think you should try to stick to the outer boroughs, and there is a separate forum where they can probably give you more specific suggestions than I would be able to.

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      Motorino
      349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

    2. What about Trattoria L'Incontro in Astoria? I haven't been there in ages but the prices used to be reasonable and the food is very good. But you should post on the other board for suggestions for Brooklyn and Queens.

      1. Is the prix fixe at Torrisi too pricey for you?

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        Torrisi Italian Specialties
        250 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

        5 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          I don't think the prices in Little Italy are very high. Il Cortile is very nice.

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          Il Cortile
          125 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

          1. re: kathryn

            How is Torrisi for dinner? I've only been for a sandwich lunch.

              1. re: kathryn

                Thanks. I don't think I'll be going anytime soon. The lack of wine options, including by the glass, is a turnoff.

                I don't get the raves. My one visit for lunch (turkey sandwich) was underwhelming. My recollection of the sandwich's taste and composition actually resembled what I might expect to get at the house of a friend with a mother who's a really good cook, to your point.

                1. re: uwsgrazer

                  I don't get it either. My only visit was lunch, too, and the mixed Italian meat sandwich that I had was OK, but nowhere near worth lining up for.
                  Didn't have wine, but with sucky option that you mention, this doesn't bode well for me, too.

          2. 'inoteca - I prefer the LES location.

            apizz

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            Apizz
            217 Eldridge St., New York, NY 10002

            'inoteca
            98 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

            1. How about Rubirosa, followed by gelato at La Cremeria?

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              Rubirosa
              235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

              La Cremeria
              178 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012

              1 Reply
              1. re: peter j

                Another vote for Rubirosa. You might also check out Da Andrea.

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                Da Andrea
                35 W 13th St, New York, NY 10011

                Rubirosa
                235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

              2. how about max in the east village

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                Max
                51 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                1 Reply
                1. re: jamala

                  Lots of good options mentioned in this thread, but wanted to throw in my two cents and say I am also fond of Max, and the prices are very affordable.

                2. Malatesta in W Village might work for you. Has good food, fun and lively atmosphere and not "old school". I think it's reasonably cheap, but you'll have to check menupages to see the prices, though.

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                  Malatesta
                  649 Washington St, New York, NY 10014

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: RCC

                    agreed...imo, Malatesta is the clear choice here...i've taken people there for bday dinners in the past, and it's always been a wonderful evening...share the grilled calamari salad to start, then share either the lamb chops and a pasta, or a couple of pasta specials, a couple glasses of wine, and a dessert...

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                    Malatesta
                    649 Washington St, New York, NY 10014

                  2. If you want to venture up to East Harlem give La Corsa Pizza a try. They have a very nice courtyard out back and fabulous pizza and creative entrees. Good pastries too. Let them know it's a birthday and I am sure they'll bring out something with a candle in it.
                    They are about 50 feet from the 110 St Lexington subway stop.

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                    La Corsa
                    123 E 110th St, New York, NY 10029

                    1. I really like L'Asso on the Little Italy/Chinatown border. Kind of funky and fun, and usually a good beer list. Great neighborhood, so easy to find some places to go for drinks or dessert afterwards.

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                      L'Asso
                      192 Mott St, New York, NY 10012

                      1. Lil' Frankie's would be a nice choice. Food is good, not too expensive, and you can get a decent glass of wine. They have an amazing chocolate torte for dessert.

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                        Lil' Frankie's
                        21 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                        1. It has been years, but I have had decent meals at Piadina in the West Village (10th St.). Nothing over $15 or so, as I recall, and a cozy atmosphere.

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                          Piadina
                          57 W 10th St, New York, NY 10011

                          1. Thank you for all of the great suggestions. Lots of places I've never been. Mortorino looks like it's the frontrunner right now but I'll let you know!

                            1. I'll second the rec for Frankie's 17 on Clinton St and offer another: Bianca on Bleecker. Nothing on the menu is over $15. I really like the Gnocco Fritto, the Lasagnette and the Lasagna.

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                              Frankies 17 Spuntino
                              17 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                              Bianca
                              5 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

                              1. I second both Max and Malatesta. Another option might be Spina where onn Sunday any bottle of winner retailing for over $60 is half price. Buon apetitio.

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                                Malatesta
                                649 Washington St, New York, NY 10014

                                Max
                                51 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                                Spina
                                175 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009