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Italian Restaurant Advice For My Birthday!!!

So my birthday is coming up and I'm trying to do an italian restaurant in Manhattan. I've narrowed it down to some places and I was curious which of them has the best food and atmosphere or if anyone could give me a ranking or analysis that'd be great.

Thank You

http://www.luparestaurant.com/ - lupa

http://crisporestaurant.com/food/ - crispo

http://www.restaurantpassion.com/exte... - pepolino

http://lavagnanyc.com/menu/specials/ - lavagna

http://www.biassanot.com/ - da andrea

http://www.supperrestaurant.com/menus... - supper

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    1. How many people? Price range? Just had a fantastic meal at Ciano so that would be high on my recommedations.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Spiritchaser

        its only four people. The rest of my family isn't as adventurous as me so I wanted to keep the restaurants tamer. I've been to Ciano and really enjoyed it but am looking for somewhere I haven't been. I got approval from my family for the restaurants I picked based on what they'd eat so I kind of want to stay with one of those that I listed but i appreciate the rec!!!

        1. re: frankcarter

          Ah. I misread your orignal post. I thought you had listed places you liked in the past and wanted something similar. My bad.

          1. re: frankcarter

            Lupa is good for pasta but Crispo has better main dishes. I'd choose either one over Da Andrea. I haven't been to the other restaurants on your list.

        2. I have not been to Lavagna or Supper. The others are all good, so I would go with whichever one has the menu that appeals to you most.

          Though I agree with Spiritchaser regarding Ciano, be aware it is considerably more expensive than these.

          1. I'm a huge fan of Supper, but it can be a hassle to get a table on the weekend, as they don't take reservations. They have a tiny wine bar next door, but it's often packed. If you don't mind waiting, though, I don't think you can go wrong there. Very reasonably priced, as well. The Caesar salad, spaghetti al limone, and risotto are awesome.

            I also really liked Crispo, though I've only been there once. The ambiance was a little weird (we were seated in the atrium-type portion of the restaurant during the winter) and the place was quite loud, but I thought the food was good. Had a really great super-Tuscan wine there as well, though I can't recall the name.

            Agree with the above that Lupa is great for pasta, but leaves something to be desired with regard to entrees.

            1. From your list I've only been to Lupa and Da Andrea. I like both but prefer Lupa. You say, "The rest of my family isn't as adventurous as me so I wanted to keep the restaurants tamer." That said, either Lupa or Da Andrea would be fine, with Da Andrea being the "tamer" of the two, in my opinion.

              1. I prefer da Andrea over crispo and lupa. I have never been to the other 3, you don't say what type of dishes you like. I'm curious why you didn't o morini,,babbo, al fiord, il mulino, da silvano

                1. I've been to Lupa, Crispo, Lavagna (not recently) and Supper, from that list. To me, Supper is a good everyday restaurant, not a special birthday celebration place. Lavagna, from what I remember, had only a few really good dishes, like the radiatore pasta with sausage (if I remember correctly), and everything else was just OK, though they had a good wine list. I wouldn't choose them, but if you do, reserve the table that overlooks the garden.

                  So that leaves Lupa and Crispo. I like both places. My feeling is, if you can get reservations at Lupa at a reasonable hour, especially in the back room, which is quieter (if that's what you want), go. If you go on Tuesday, get the duck. On other days, I've really liked their peppery pollo arrosto. I do agree that the highlights are appetizers and pasta, but I have not had the bad luck with mains that others have. And I love their tartuffo for dessert. They have a very good and fairly-priced wine list and a good list of grappa, too.

                  Crispo is also very good, but tends to be loud, and sometimes very loud. If that's what you want, it is a celebratory atmosphere, and they have a garden that's covered and heated, which you can reserve a table in. If you go to Crispo, they also have many good appetizers, good pasta, and there, too, I really like the duck. Their best dessert by far is the tasting of pot au creme and creme brulee. They also have a good wine list, though I may have had somewhat better luck at Lupa.

                  When you make a decision, let us know, and we can recommend specific items to order.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Pan

                    I think we're going with crispo. any suggestions? I heard the carbonara is good.

                    1. re: frankcarter

                      It is. Other recommendations from their menu:


                      Risotto Balls “Arancini”

                      Eggplant Caponata

                      Also, get the zucchini flowers if they're on the specials menu, and the artichoke, which is a "regular special."


                      Caramelized Cauliflower, Currants & Pine Nuts

                      Affettati Misti:

                      Basically, get a selection of a few things that strike your fancy. I don't remember whether I like the bresaola best or what, but it's all good.


                      Yes, the carbonara is good, but my favorite is:

                      Butternut Tortelloni, Pumpkin Seed Brown Butter, Sage & Parmigiano

                      I also like the pastas with mushrooms and the Fettucine & Duck Bolognese, Parmigiano, but I usually don't get the latter because I get duck for my secondo.


                      Gotta go with Crisp Duck Breast, Fig, Brussel Sprouts, Port Wine Reduction, unless you don't like duck. It's by far the best secondo I've had there. I'd probably rate the hanger steak in 2nd place; it's very good.


                      All of them are good.


                      Tasting of Crème Brûlée & Chocolate Pot de Crème is by far the best dessert you can get there, but you won't go wrong with any other dessert. For example, the panna cotta is always good, and the berries with mascarpone are also very pleasant. I find flourless chocolate cake kind of boring, but they do a good one, and their gelati and sorbetti are also fine. Or you can always have a drink in lieu of dessert.

                      1. re: Pan

                        I'm a huge Crispo fan! I've been probably 10 times in the past year alone. I second the Rosotto Balls, and I highly recommend the Spaghetti & Shrimp Fra Diavola!!

                  2. I finally tried Lavagna, and I would not hesitate to recommend it. In another post I made some other recommendations including Da Andrea. Lavagna's pasta with sausage and peas in a creamy spicy tomato sauce is excellent. It is similar to the Ennio sauce at Ennio and Michael's and the Contadina pasta at Da Silvano. The whole striped bass for 2, was amazing. they presented it flaming and then brought tit back in the kitchen to filet it and portion it for two. it is served with spinach and grape tomatoes. The skin was perfectly flavored and crisp. This is a great dish. The octopus carpaccio was good. The atmosphere, although loud, was very pleasant. The service was excellent and friendly. There was no wait to get in. I like this place better than Lupa and Crispo.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                      Lupa and Crispo have much broader menus than Lavagna. You got their second-best pasta dish and probably their best secondo.

                      1. re: Pan

                        I enjoyed Lavagna very much. What is their best pasta dish?

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          They used to have a dish with radiatore pasta. It's no longer on their menu, I see, and the one you got actually is the most similar to that dish, so you probably in fact got their best pasta dish.

                      2. re: foodwhisperer

                        The whole striped bass for 2 is dynamite. Love Lavagna and glad you enjoyed, too.

                        1. re: LeahBaila

                          I think I will become a regular at this restaurant. Lately it's Da Andrea, Bar Pitti, and now Lavagna, I'll throw in Basta Pasta. My old favorites have closed. Joe's on MacDougal St. and Ennio and Michael's, Cent'anni, San Domenico.

                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                            Right? If only it weren't so far away from my apt, I'd be there much more often.
                            I, too, love Da Andrea. Have not been to Basta Pasta, but recall someone else talking about how much they loved it. What are your favorites there?
                            TIA :)

                        2. re: foodwhisperer

                          I want to revise my previous comments about Lavagna. I went there as part of a party of 6 on Thursday night, and we had a very good meal and good wine. I wish the pasta with sausage and peas were a little less sweet, but except for the panna cotta (way too gelatinous!), everything was very good. Their chocolate mousse dessert is made with a cooked mousse, with excellent dark chocolate, and I definitely recommend it.

                        3. I am sure your birthday has passed but I have been curious about Nannies, and have loved the food at Rossini's on 38th both claim Northern Italian Cuisine.

                          "Nanni's on 46th and Lex. One of the first Northern Italian restaurants in NY. Still very good with friendly service. I usually just go with the specials. You can't go wrong."quote from this: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/304054

                          I do have to say that Franks on 2nd just up from Moonstruck Diner around 5th street is exceptional. So many people have claimed Franks is their favorite. I love their food too.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jonkyo

                            Exceptional is a pretty strong word. I've found it good and honest but a bit pricey for what they serve, and not beyond criticism. What are your favorite dishes at Frank?

                            1. re: Pan

                              I recall Frank having good meatballs and spaghetti. Personally, the place is way to cramped, loud, and crowded.

                          2. I don't mean to hijack this post, although it is over a month old, but everyone on here seems to know the answers to what I am looking for.

                            I am taking my wife out for her birthday on Saturday with some family members and she wants Italian.. It is late notice so my initial choices of Lupa, Osteria Morini and Ciano are booked. I am a huge fan of Crispo, Le Zie, Da Andrea and Bianca so my wife want to go someplace new. I have never tried Basta Pasta but it looks interesting. Has anyone eaten there and knows how it compares to my other favorites? Are there any other Italian restaurants similar that I might be missing? (larger menu, below 14th street, great pasta,etc) Thanks everyone, it has been awhile since I have been here and have always received the best recs.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: bobby06877


                              Maybe Manzo if you're willing to go above 14th Street.

                              1. re: fm1963

                                I have been to Po and Perla looks interesting but their menu is not as appealing for my tastes. L'Artusi is a possibility. Thank you for your recs.

                              2. re: bobby06877

                                I wouldnt suggest Basta Pasta. I'd look into Spina (11th and A) or Il Cantinori (10th b/w bdwy and univ).

                                1. re: ilovetoeat23

                                  I'd second Spina. You might also consider Rubirosa. Known mainly for pizza, but the pastas are wonderful, and the appetizers and main courses are very good too.

                                  1. re: ilovetoeat23

                                    Spina is on my list for a future date. It looks great. Thank you.

                                  2. re: bobby06877

                                    Ok, I ended up at Basta Pasta since I could not get a reservation for a party of 6 on late notice. It was a disappointment. We sat for 10 minutes before even getting a menu and it was 30 minutes before we had our drink order taken, Bread arrived around the same time but no plates or olive oil, that took another 10 minutes. They have the waiters handling too many tasks. Even with the poor service, it would not have mattered if the food was great.

                                    The food was not bad, it was just not memorable. Within a few hours no one could remember what they had ordered, nothing really stood out. Everything was just bland. It was also expensive, our bill for a party of 6 was almost $400.00 and we did not order any wine. A similar meal at Le Zie or Da Andrea, possibly even Crispo, would have cost a lot less and been a much better overall experience, both food and service. I was hoping to like this place but this will fall under the "one and done" category for us.

                                    1. re: bobby06877

                                      Basta Pasta...I've never heard of this place, literally, until this post. Sorry to hear about your experience. Ugh.