We are just back from Rome and where we have essentially ate our way across the city, so going to an Italian restaurant in New York is definitely taking our chances. BTW, there is no bad pasta in Rome, but there is terrible Pizza.
Lupa, the she wolf, symbol of Rome, is wonderful bistro, on Thompson Street, nyc, that gets it right. The waiters are extremely knowledgeable, (do you know the difference between Borsci and Lucano digestifs) and are actually helpful, rare in New York.
Appetizers are served in soup bowls and are tasty and distinctive. I liked the Winter Squash alla Romana. Pastas are bountiful and have interesting twists; the Bavette Cacio has a bread crumb topping. The major compliant is that the selection is small. The main courses fish or meat are seasoned just so. Sorry, Vegans need not apply. While the wine list is not cheap the variety is amazing and half carafes are available. Desserts are definitely Italian style and even the Tartufo, an ice cream bombe, has a certain savior faire.
Italians entertain at restaurants not usually at home and Lupa always has several large groups going at one time. Rather than assign a single waiter to a large table teams of waiters work together and that way everyone gets served together.
Warning the front room is noisy and reservations are not only a must, but weekend reservations are hard to get. Dinner for two with an inexpensive wine comes to about $140.
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This is our second favorite Mario restaurant (behind Otto). We actually first discovered this on advice of our nephew (who lived in New York; we live in Utah).
Lots of diversity here and a superb wine list. Plan on waiting a bit.
After dinner, skip dessert and walk around the block to the east (Laguardia Street) and get dessert at the Bruno Bakery.