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Looking for upscale-rustic Italian + critique my lineup

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  • crsin Jan 24, 2012 06:37 PM
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Yes, this is yet another "Italian" thread...sorry! Looking to take some visiting friends out in a few weeks.

I'm looking for something that is upscale but serving more rustic Italian fare is a slightly more relaxed space. Something along the lines of Locanda Verde, or even Babbo. Price and location no object. So far was thinking Torrisi, Osteria Morini, or Maialino (would prefer to avoid Scarpetta). Snagged reservations at Torrisi and OM, but Maialino is booked up (hoping persistence might pay off here). Of these, which would you prefer? Any other suggestions? White table cloth, etc., is fine, I just don't want anything overly stuffy and terribly refined.

Other than one night of Italian, was looking at:

1) The Dutch (is this very scene-y, or just along the lines of LV?)
2) Minetta Tavern
3) ?? Might play it by ear, unless there are some suggestions from you all (nothing coming to mind for me)--again, nothing overly stuffy and probably not looking for $120+ tasting menus. Maybe $80pp pre-tax/tip/drinks...thoughts?

EDIT: one last question--how difficult would it be to get a table for 3-4 at Shopsin's on a weekday, say 10:30-11AM?

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  1. Maybe dell'anima or Lupa?

    I like Maialino over Morini (too loud/crowded) and Torrisi (though I've not had their newfangled tasting, also Italian-American isn't my favorite thing in the world).

    For something not stuffy, maybe The Breslin, Tertulia, Fatty Cue. See also sgordon's writeup of the new Acme.

    Shopsin's on a weekday should be fine.

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    Lupa
    170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

    Shopsin's General Store
    120 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

    Dell'Anima
    38 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10003

    Acme
    9 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012

    The Breslin
    20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

    Maialino
    2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

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

    Osteria Morini
    218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

    Tertulia
    359 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

    Fatty 'Cue
    50 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

    3 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      The Acme is excellent -- I would go there instead of The Dutch, but reserve now, it's popular.

      1. re: Nancy S.

        I would like to try Acme, but am worried as early feedback (and all the coverage on Eater) are making it out to sound like a truly massive scene--as in, chock full of people who are there for the scene and, oh yeah, they happen to be putting out some very good food. There's even a bar/club downstairs??

        What was your impression?

        1. re: crsin

          Although fashionable and beautiful people are going there, from what I could see, every body seems to be thoroughly enjoying the food, because it's really delicious.

    2. Osteria Morini if youre lucky they will have the lasagna, it is amazing. Torrisi is not all that, I went twice, i think it's a rip off. Ristorante Aglio I excellent . Shopsin's hmmm i won't even comment on that one, we used to call it "Dirty People". They do have a huge assortment of soups, but I would just go there as a spur of the moment if youre in the neighborhood. I'd sooner go to Spitzers, or Katz's or get a burger at Big Nick's.

      -----
      Katz's Delicatessen
      205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

      Shopsin's General Store
      120 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

      Big Nick's
      2175 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

      Spitzer's Corner
      101 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

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

      Osteria Morini
      218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

      Ristorante Aglio
      277 Church St, New York, NY 10013

      1. It doesn't get mentioned a lot on this board, but I love Il Buco on Bond Street for upscale rustic Italian.

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        Il Buco
        47 Bond St., New York, NY 10012

        3 Replies
        1. re: City Kid

          I Buco is always what I think of when I hear Italian, rustic and slightly relaxed.

          1. re: bronwen

            Glad you agree - I find it totally charming!

          2. re: City Kid

            Good suggestion. I'll definitely have to try it sometime if not this particular weekend. Thanks.

          3. Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I think my first choice so far is Maialino, if I can catch a cancellation.

            Also looking for recommendations of the "not-too-stuffy" sort in midtown--preferably nothing below, say, the 30's. Thought about Danji, Seasonal, Modern Bar Room, Boulud Sud...

            Have reservations at Ciano. Further downtown than we want to go that night, but willing to head there if it's worth it/better than what we might find on relatively late notice uptown.

            4 Replies
            1. re: crsin

              I had dinner at Danji recently (definitely un-stuffy) and would recommend it, but not super-strongly. The whelk salad is interesting, although I thought it over-sauced, not quite spicy enough, and a bit too sweet. The mushroom jook was very nice, as was the sable. And the fried tofu is pretty special - doesn't sound like much on paper, doesn't look like much on the plate, but it's addictive. I found myself scraping up the last bits of panko. I didn't care for either of my two drinks - sangria and white ale - and would advise you to stick to the basics on that front unless you are a fan of alcohol+sugar (I'm not).

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              Danji
              346 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019

              1. re: crsin

                Ciano is definitely worth it! Fits your request to a T. And it's really not that far from your preferred area.

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                Ciano
                45 E 22nd St, New York, NY 10010

                1. re: ml77

                  I'm debating between Ciano and Seasonal (both have openings). Obviously quite different from what another, but anyone with experience at both have a preference? Seasonal wins for location.

                  What about Ciano vs. Maialino?

                  1. re: crsin

                    Putting differences in cusine aside, I think the choice between Ciano and Seasonal depends more on price, as Seasonal, though really great, with food that is a bit more unusual, is quite pricy, especially the wines. I also prefer the ambience at Ciano, as it has a warmer feeling. Maialino is great, too, but again I prefer Ciano for the atmosphere. I would consider the food at all of these to be of equal quality, so the main consideration would be which menu you find most appealing.

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                    Seasonal
                    132 West 58th Street, New York, NY 10019

                    Ciano
                    45 E 22nd St, New York, NY 10010

                    Maialino
                    2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

              2. Il Tinello is definitely formal, but I don't think too stuffy and it's an all-time favorite Italian of ours. Always a great meal there, and it's in Midtown

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                Il Tinello
                16 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

                1. I Sodi on Christopher Street is delicious straightforward Italian (Florentine), all about the food and excellent service. Not much tomato. Quite small, you need to reserve.

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                  I Sodi
                  105 Christopher St, New York, NY 10014

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: DavyTheFatBoy

                    I thought about I Sodi, but couldn't find a menu online. Am I missing something, or is it some kind of market menu?

                    1. re: crsin

                      I Sodi's Chow restaurant page links to a menu.

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                      I Sodi
                      105 Christopher St, New York, NY 10014