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Italian Restaurant for Tonight

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Inthemood Aug 18, 2012 12:57 PM

I'm in the mood for italian today, which is rare because aside from Rome I've never really been a huge fan of italian cousine since I've associated it with sauce drenched dishes and "Chicken paaarms" :eek: I changed my mind in Italy and in Babbo, Po and Fragole (BK), in that order, really didn't care for Crispo and some other totally not memorable spots. I've got a few ideas and would love it if you could help me decide.

What I don't want: big portions, italian american mush of sauces, deafening noise level

What I want: moderate/manageable noise level; creative/fresh pasta dishes; menus with $18-22 entree option (doesn't all have to be but at least some dishes) pleasant decor.

Here's what I got:

Da Andrea
Lavagna
Giano
Peasant
Lupa
Morini (i think it's a little late to make reservations tonight)

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  1. k
    kathryn RE: Inthemood Aug 18, 2012 01:58 PM

    For Morini and Lupa, I think it'll be too loud for you.

    I would personally try to grab a bar seat at L'Artusi.

    Peasant might work too, but feels more heavy/winter-y to me.

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      alepenazzi RE: Inthemood Aug 18, 2012 02:29 PM

      On the other side I'm quite fond of Italian food.. ;-)

      If you want to try something casual, not expensive but still good and definitely not american/italian I'd go to Lupa, Bianca, Aurora or da Mikele...

      5 Replies
      1. re: alepenazzi
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        Inthemood RE: alepenazzi Aug 19, 2012 09:02 AM

        I read that Bianca can get unbearable loud, is that true? And I love the Aurora and de Mikele suggestions. Both look charming, and the food looks promising. Can you recommend some more of your favorite Italian spots? And I'm definitely going to L'Artusi, it's been on my list for way too long.

        I feel like I should adopt several good restaurants that would satisfy my fix of good/gourmet italian food without breaking the bank. For now aside from Po and Babo, I don't have anything to recommend. :( I also remember going to Malatesta, very loud and just ok.

        Last year we went to Frankies 17, and really enjoyed our meal. I think they only have the brooklyn location now. I couldn't resist and bought their heavenly olive oil, so good!

        1. re: Inthemood
          k
          kathryn RE: Inthemood Aug 19, 2012 09:10 AM

          Your noise requirement plus price range is going to make things more difficult I think. The more expensive places will be quieter.

          Overall, choosing to eat at lunch and/or on a Sun-Wed will yield a quieter atmosphere in a lot of places.

          Frankies 17 is now Francesca, but they also opened Frankies 570 in the West Village.

          1. re: kathryn
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            Inthemood RE: kathryn Aug 19, 2012 09:17 AM

            It makes sense, friendlier prices and good food would draw a large crowd. Who wouldn't want a combination of both right? I guess I also considered that the noise can be a result of the layout, such as distance in the table arrangement or perhaps some noise buffering with the help of construction or other physical alterations of the restaurant space. I don't know if it's possible, or makes any sense but I was hoping. :)

            How is Frankies 570?

            1. re: Inthemood
              k
              kathryn RE: Inthemood Aug 19, 2012 09:26 AM

              This might interest you:
              http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/20/nyr...

              I also like reading the Bloomberg News reviews of restaurants because the critic will measure the decibel level with his reviews.

              1. re: kathryn
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                Inthemood RE: kathryn Aug 19, 2012 09:50 AM

                Ooooh! Thanks for the article. I am on to something, and I thought I was completely off-base. " bred an abundance of hard surfaces that can reflect and amplify sound: ceramic tiles, concrete floors and tin ceilings." I find it fascinating that there is serious science behind creating a certain noise level.

                I realize that younger generation likes very loud atmosphere. But to be honest I'm the same way in my 30s as I was in my 20s, I like conversation, and I always disliked club like restaurants where the music is pumping at mega watt levels. My husband also in his 30s shuts down in very loud places. I love enjoying my food and light buzz or music, but onces the floor starts vibrating my tastebuds give way to different senses.

                We were actually talking about it last night with a friend. I have a theory that many people don't really know how to socialize, and the pressure of appearing interesting or intelligent can make people uneasy. In a very loud atmosphere you don't have to carry a conversation, it takes the pressure off and instead you can engage in little snippets of conversation rather than facing a possible "morbidity" of silence! But again, some noise is energizing, a buzz, music in the background, but that's it. Otherwise go to a club. The only environment I tolerate is when there is live music, like jazz maybe involved. But it's hard for me to eat and focus on jazz at the same time.

      2. i
        Inthemood RE: Inthemood Aug 19, 2012 08:46 AM

        Thanks guys.Wish I had seen your posts before making the decision. I actually ended up going to Peasant. Kathryn, you're quite right it does feel wintery, although I loved the location and the look of the place more than Apizz. I wasn't wowed by the food unfortunately. For the price, the decor, the service and the presentation I feel that it should have been better.

        I had the uni pasta, we shared the chicken liver and the pizza for appetizers (I just had a taste of the pizza, it was actually quite good), and my friend had the risotto in squid ink. While I love uni in every form and format, the spaghetti was way too salty and didn't have much of a flavor, just the uni and the grape tomatoes. I was given some lemon to cut down on salt, it actually helped. My friend's risotto had some bite to it and tasted like black beans, it's weird but that's the flavor i picked up. Our chocolate cake tasted like it sat in one of those refrigerated cabinets on a plate with all of the toppings, ready to be brought out. I didn't really like that one either. It was like chocolate mousse was compressed into a very dense form.

        All of that with two aperitifs, a bottle of sicilian white wine, it came out to $196. The total wouldn't be so bad if the food was better. It wasn't bad, but it didn't really match the ambiance. Also, the noise level got to be quite overwhelming around 8-9. It was very chill around 7:30 when we arrived.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Inthemood
          m
          mitchleeny RE: Inthemood Aug 19, 2012 12:53 PM

          Try Corsino next time.

          Lupa is loud, but not unmanageable, and the pastas are still some of the best in the city - at reasonable rates, no less.

          1. re: mitchleeny
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            Pan RE: mitchleeny Aug 20, 2012 01:18 AM

            The back section of Lupa is more sedate. But I've found the food too salty there lately and have been going to other places.

            1. re: Pan
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              Inthemood RE: Pan Aug 20, 2012 11:38 AM

              Would you be willing to share the names of these places? :) Always happy to get suggestions!

              1. re: Inthemood
                p
                Pan RE: Inthemood Aug 20, 2012 04:27 PM

                I thought about that. I go to Chinese and something Thai restaurant a lot more than Italian ones, except for South Brooklyn Pizza, because they are more expensive, on the whole. But I've been liking Malatesta and sometimes Crispo, and a local standby for me is Supper (I don't argue they're better than Lupa, but they aren't as salty and are closer to me). For a wine bar, I like Aria. I tried Salumeria Rosi fairly recently and found it excellent, but it's a very different kind of restaurant than Lupa, with some things in common (after all, Lupa does have good salumi). Another place I tried fairly recently and liked quite a lot was Quinto Quarto, a Roman osteria on Bedford St.

                By the way, I've never found Bianca the least bit overwhelming.

        2. r
          Raisel RE: Inthemood Aug 20, 2012 11:41 AM

          We like Circo, the food is always good there. The pasta dishes are really good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Raisel
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            Inthemood RE: Raisel Aug 20, 2012 11:58 AM

            looks really good! it's going on my list.

          2. i
            Inthemood RE: Inthemood Aug 20, 2012 12:12 PM

            So tonight I'm going with DH to an italian spot. I'm determined to find a couple of my favorites which are on the more affordable side. Here's today's deliberation list:

            Bianca
            Aurora
            Emporio
            Supper
            Da Mikele
            Da Andrea
            Morini
            Corsino

            Which one should we try first? I'm wearing my beatles tshirt today, so dressier establishments are out.

            I would love to start with L'Artusi but it seems on a dressier side, is that the case?

            3 Replies
            1. re: Inthemood
              r
              rae305 RE: Inthemood Aug 20, 2012 05:08 PM

              i find Boom in Soho to be good; also like the live music

              1. re: Inthemood
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                foodwhisperer RE: Inthemood Aug 20, 2012 10:30 PM

                Da Andrea has several good dishes and suits your noise level requirements. Osteria Morini, as kathryn said , is gonna be way to loud for you . Lavagna on your original list is good, menu is limited. I happen to be a big fan of Po, you might want to go back and try some of the dishes you didn't try.
                Greenwich Grill for a twist on italian food ( Asian flavor i.e. pasta with thai crab sauce) low noise level also.

                1. re: foodwhisperer
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                  Inthemood RE: foodwhisperer Aug 21, 2012 08:03 AM

                  Thanks for the Greenwich Grill suggestion, very interesting fusion! It's definitely going on the list.

              2. i
                Inthemood RE: Inthemood Aug 21, 2012 07:32 AM

                Last night we chose Corsino. I loooved it! For some reason I enjoyed it better than Peasant. W sat outside and had a ridiculously good wine, Falanghina di montagna, masseria frattasi from taburno. Better recommendation than at Peasant. The wine was breathtaking, wood and pears! For appetizers we had crostinis with anchovies, radicchio and goat cheese, and sweet onion with wallnuts. I had the tagliatelle with pork shoulder and mint and DH had cavatelli with sweet sausage & tomato.

                For dessert we went with panacotta with rosemary and honey. There wasn't one dish I didn't like. The crostinis were so flavorful, with perfect textures and very well balanced. The pasta was al dente, with the perfect amount of sauce and flavor. The panacotta was cloud-like, perfect consistency and the rosemary was crispy because of the flash seared method. Everything was absolutely superb. Very happy and we spend exactly half of what was spent on a Peasant dinner for 2 people.

                As for the noise level, it did get loud around 8-9 on a Monday night, but not unbearable. We were able to have a comfortable conversation. But then again we were sitting outside.

                Thanks mitchleeny! Good suggestion!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Inthemood
                  m
                  mitchleeny RE: Inthemood Aug 27, 2012 05:06 AM

                  Glad you liked it. It's one of my favorite casual Italian places; fantastic wine list with knowledgeable servers. It's a step up a bit from the 'ino and 'inoteca restaurants, which are also in the family.

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