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Aug 18, 2012 12:57 PM

Italian Restaurant for Tonight

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
Morini (i think it's a little late to make reservations tonight)

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  1. 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.

    1. 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

        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

          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

            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

              This might interest you:

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

              1. re: kathryn

                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. 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

          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

            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

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

              1. re: Inthemood

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

          1 Reply
          1. re: Raisel

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

          2. 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:

            Da Mikele
            Da Andrea

            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

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

              1. re: Inthemood

                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

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