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Best Italian for "Classic" Italian?

Hi all - I'm back again to get some expert opinion/advice on a restaurant for my girlfriend's birthday...

I put "classic" in quotes, not because I'm looking for real/authentic Italian, but because I don't know how else to describe the type of Italian she likes...

She likes straight-forward, simple pasta dishes - like bolognese , pomodoro, vodka sauces, etc. One of her favorite restaurants is Bianca on Bleecker Street (http://www.biancanyc.com/home.html), which is great and all, but since it's her birthday I'd love to take her somewhere a little nicer.

I made a reservation at Babbo - but after looking over the menu this seems much more my taste than hers...

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Believe it or not, the closest you're going to come to that kind of food on the high end is Del Posto.

    (High-end Italian restaurants tend not to serve that kind of stuff.)

    She might like Osteria Morini -- but I'm not sure that's up to Birthday Level.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Sneakeater

      Very interesting; I had assumed Del Posto was out of the question given its reputation as a 'higher-end' Babbo (in terms of price anyway). I'll take a look at it... and thanks for the other rec.

      I figured that high-end Italian restaurants don't ordinarily serve pasta vodka, but I figured if anyone would know it would be someone on this forum

      1. re: Sneakeater

        "Believe it or not, the closest you're going to come to that kind of food on the high end is Del Posto."

        I got a very different vibe from the OP. A Vodka sauce at Del Posto? I don't think you would ever find that on the menu. I gathered that the OP was looking for more "classic" Italian-American/rustic food. Del Posto serves a somewhat more authentic Italian menu; such as you might find in a higher end restaurant in Italy. If the OP thinks Babbo is out of the running, then I would venture to guess Del Posto would be also.

        @strikesoutswinging: I don't have a suggestion off the top of my head, but perhaps if you give us a bit more info on her likes and dislikes, I can come up with a suggestion or two.

        1. re: ttoommyy

          I said "the closest". Not "right on target." High-end restaurants just don't serve the exact kind of food he's talking about.

          I think that Del Posto's menu is much more middle-of-the-road than Babbo's, which skews toward the inventive.

          I think, for example, that DP's hundred-layer lasagna would be JUST what the OP's girlfriend would like. Sure, some other things on the menu would be more of a stretch. But there would be things she'd like. Contrast that with Babbo, where practically everything on the menu would terrify her.

          1. re: Sneakeater

            Babbo wouldn't frighten her unless the noise did. Imho Babbo serves the best Bolognese I've ever had in a restaurant.

            1. re: ChefJune

              I may hang out in less sophisticated crowds than you (you're a chef, after all), but I know people who would only have to see the three words "lamb's brain ravioli" on a menu in order to bolt.

      2. Lincoln makes a great bolognese, carbonara, linguine alle vongole, and has also prepared a simple pomodoro for a friend of mine upon request.

        The rest of the menu is more creative but I think your girlfriend would enjoy the classic side dishes like the gnocchi and the eggplant parm. The menu changes daily but the staff tries its best to accommodate requests for simpler dishes.

        Also consider Il Mulino. I haven't been there yet but the restaurant seems to get good reviews and the menu might be what you're looking for.

        1. I'd stick with Babbo and share some pastas.

          A lot of the dishes seem fancy and nontraditional, and some of them are, but many of them are really just excellent versions of dishes you'd find on many "classic" Italian-American menus. For example, at a quick glance I see linguine with clam sauce, orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe, pappardelle bolognese.

          I don't think you'll find vodka or alfredo sauces on any restaurant menu that is worthy of a special occasion.

          1. I recommend you consider Scarpetta where she can have the s paghetti w/ tomato (much loved here, but oft debated for its 24 dollar price tag) and you can get something like pasta w/ rabbit or black cod. And you can start with delicious soup or something like that. I esp like bar dinig there, even for bdays.

            I agree that she might love Osteria Morini's pastas, but its a bit loud/unromantic for a bday.

            And while this is very casual/inexpensive, i can't even count how many women hav told me that their fav place is Malatesta: some simple pasta and wine and tiramisu there, combined with a surprisingly nice gift might be an even more special night than at the higher-end places.

            Cheers and please report back

            1. Parma. 80th and 3rd. Same menu for 30 years.

              Nice service. Good entrees. Great pasta.

              2 Replies
                1. re: arepo

                  <Trattoria Trecolori>

                  definitely NOT birthday worthy!