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Very Casual Italian Restaurant Suggestions for Sunday Evening

Hello, Two of us are staying near Grand Central this weekend and would like some recommendations on restaurants that serve decent Italian/American food. My son is a college student and more than likely will wear shorts and loafers. Would prefer to keep the food and bar bill with gratuity to < $150 for our meal. We enjoy pasta,red sauces, calamari, veal, salads,and pretty much eat anything with our beverages of choice being beer in this steamy weather. We have plans to sample some pizza slice places for lunch. Traveling on public transportation is fine for us and enjoyable. Being able to snag a reservation would also be a plus near 7 PM along with a lower noise level restaurant. Thank you.

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  1. Casual Italian - Da Andrea always comes to mind

    9 Replies
    1. re: Ziggy41

      Crispo , Bar Pitti, Becco, Il Cantinori, Villa Mosconi. Frankie's on Hudson St. ,
      Da Andrea is not really a red sauce place.

      1. re: foodwhisperer

        Da Andrea is not really a red sauce but their top dish pappardelle with sausage and truffle oil is. Add the Tigelle with prosciutto and you got yourself a nice meal. I like taking out of town visitors there. Always a success

        1. re: Ziggy41

          Is the truffle oil what makes it downscale? Or is the truffle oil in a red sauce?

          1. re: barberinibee

            Truffle oil in red sauce. I know, I know truffle oil is not true Italian and frowned upon, but this dish tastes good to me.

            1. re: Ziggy41

              wow. I have never heard of truffle oil in red sauce before.

              1. re: barberinibee

                Il Melograno (chef/owner form Brescia) in midtown serves a similar dish but I prefer Da Andreas version. Fresh Pappardelle with sausages tomato sauce and truffle oil. They add peas sometimes for good luck.

                Perhaps try it Barber? I'll treat you for one in exchange for Piedmont tips. Looking to go in the fall of next year

                1. re: Ziggy41

                  That's okay. You can have my Piemonte tips for free!

                  Actually, I don't get up to Piemonte all that often, so you should check the many threads on the Italy board. The recommendations don't change all that often, and of course you should also read the Osterie d'Italia. But be aware of when truffle season is if that is why you are going. (And keep it to yourself that you're ok with truffle oil).

              2. re: Ziggy41

                I agree. I normally would not expect it but it is delicious in this dish. Everyone I know who has tried it loved it.

                1. re: rrems

                  I'll take everybody's word for it!

                  (Edited to add: I did find a recipe online in Italian for bacala with tomatoes and fresh truffles, but even leaving aside that it is truffle oil, it just is hard to imagine truffles in tomato sauce, although now that I think if it, I have seen jarred sauce like that, but not in Italy -- but I don't see everything.)

      2. Crispo might be it. I am not big on Da Andrea.

          1. Rubirosa. Maybe skip the pizza for lunch and have it as part of your dinner instead. Their other dishes are all great, especially pastas, but pizza is the star. It can be noisy, but early on a Sunday night may not be bad.

            2 Replies
              1. re: rrems

                LOVE Rubirosa. Great pizza (get half vodka no matter what) and the meatballs are awesome. Never had a bad dish there: arugula salad, octopus, all pizzas/pastas.

                Call if you don't see anything on OT and if not, go at 6:30, put your names down, and grab a drink nearby. They generally over-estimate the wait by a lot.

              2. I just have to mention Dell'Anima cuz I like it so much.

                1. Maybe someone can speak about Le Zie these days? I haven't been for a couple of years, but it could fit the bill.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: wasny

                    Le Zie is Venetian inspired. Far from "Italian-American red sauce."

                  2. Take a short walk down Lexington to:
                    I Trulli
                    All casual!!

                    1. Galli

                      1. I don't really frequent "red-sauce" Italian-American places these days, so I don't have a suggestion, but a lot of places suggested in this thread do not seem to be "red-sauce" type places. "Red-sauce Italian-American" as requested by the OP makes me think of fried calamari with marinara sauce for dipping, veal or eggplant parm, spaghetti with meatballs, veal piccata, mussels in red sauce, etc. For example, I would never think of I Trulli or Le Zie as "Italian/American." But then, maybe I am wrong.

                        4 Replies
                          1. re: ttoommyy

                            The OP doesn't specify "Red-sauce Italian-American" however. Anyway, Le Zie touts its spaghetti and meatballs, which fits pretty well into the red-sauce category. And that restaurant certainly serves pasta, calamari and salads, as also listed in the OP (I've never had veal there though that's not to say it's not on the menu). It's also a quite casual place where keeping the bill under $150 would be manageable.

                            1. re: wasny

                              The OP does point out that he/she likes pasta with red sauces..."We enjoy pasta,red sauces, calamari, veal, salads,and ..."
                              that's why I think Crispo or Bar Pitti is the right choice or even Becco.

                              1. re: wasny

                                The OP mentions both red sauce and italian american in her post. I stll do not think that Le Zie, which touts itself as serving a Venetian cuisine, fits the bill. Just my opinion; the OP will make her own decision. We all read these posts in our own way and interpret them differently; we then base our answers on that interpretation. It's all good. :)

                            2. I like Franks and Supper

                              1. Rossini's is a classic red sauce place. If your son is wearing "nice" shorts and a button shirt he will be ok.

                                16 Replies
                                1. re: Motosport

                                  Now THAT'S the kind of place I read the OP as wanting to visit.

                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                        Ah haw!! I mean Ah hah!!
                                        Sorry about that. I used to be a proofreader. It is a curse of sorts.

                                        1. re: Motosport

                                          I'm a copywriter and have been a proofreader... make of that what you will.

                                          1. re: ttoommyy

                                            ttoommyy iPhones must drive you crazy as the spell correct causes so many proofreading issues.

                                            1. re: foodwhisperer

                                              Yes, they do. But I've gotten used to it. I'm constantly amazed at how much my life has changed in the last ten years due to electronic devices. At one point I just had to give in to reading others typos and autocorrecting them in my head. :)

                                              1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                That auto correct was making me so insane I went to the genius bar to have it disabled!!

                                                1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                  What kind of drunks do they serve there? I typed drinks!!!!!

                                      2. re: ttoommyy

                                        Can anybody recommend Fagiolini on 40th? Never eaten there but the menu looks right.

                                        Looks like it is closed Sunday night but open otherwise, but I can't tell if they serve beer.

                                        1. re: barberinibee

                                          Both Fagiolini restaurants are ok but not memorable.
                                          My other recs are much better.
                                          There is also Sam's Place on 39th just off Lex.

                                          1. re: barberinibee

                                            Fagiolini used to be good for years. Pretty good food at very fair prices. I was really unhappy when I went baclk last January and found they had significantly dumbed down the menu. Much shorter and the dishes were more basic. The execution was off too. My meal was a C+.

                                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                                              Ok. Never ate there. But I did eat at Rossini's and thought the food was impossible to recommend, to be avoided.

                                              I've never eaten at Nanni's either and it seems to be out their price range and wardrobe needs -- but any recent experiences (just curious).

                                        2. re: Motosport

                                          But Rossini's is really terrible! I have tried to kill recommendations for this place more than once, and it is not cheap, either. Most of the other diners would not be dressed super-casual.

                                          1. re: barberinibee


                                            If I could butt into this thread with a question of my own...

                                            I've been to i trulli and liked it, so there's that.. it's Apulian, yes (trulli?)...?

                                            Of any of the above in this list, have you had killer ravioli in a butter / sage sauce at any of them? And who makes the best bolognese sauce, in your opinion?

                                            Many thanks.

                                            1. re: flygirl

                                              Yes, I Trulli is a Pugliese restaurant, named after the cone-shaped huts that are found only in the Puglia region of Italy.

                                              I can't answer your other questions but you might want to start a separate thread asking them, because the above list of Italian restaurants in Manhattan is focused on places that are OK with guys wearing shorts and who also prefer Italian-American "red sauce" cooking.

                                              A "killer" stuffed pasta with butter and sage or a "best" bolognese ragu in Manhattan might be at a restaurant not mentioned in this thread.