Homemade pasta is my favorite comfort food. On a chilly winters day, warm your belly with lovingly crafted pasta served swimming in hand made sauces. Your day will seem just a little better.
San Marzano Pasta Fresca (117 Second Avenue) San Marzano offers countless options of shapes and sauces with every pasta being made in-house. Sauces include the standards like Bolognese and Pesto but also exciting combinations of Butternut Squash and Sausage and Wild Boar Ragu. It’s best to go with a group so you can sample many different combos. I prefer the Pappardelle and Garganelli noodles. Appetizers and salads are $7-8 and pastas are $11. Yes, $11. Hold on to your fork, all wine bottles are under $30. There is plenty of bar seating and large tables for families of all sizes. For parties of six or more at dinner, there’s a prix-fixe menu for $45 that includes house wine, draft beer and sangria, three appetizers to be served family style and one main course per person. It does get crowded and while service is friendly, it’s not super speedy. All this considered, this is a must try for affordable homemade Italian food. Arrive by 5:30 p.m. for less of a wait.
Mercato (352 West 39th Street) I almost don’t want to share the location of this tiny find near Penn Station. With only twenty seats, this cozy rustic trattoria will melt your cold heart. Choose from one of their many homemade pastas like Trenette Al Pesto, ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta, or Fettuccine with mild mushrooms sauteed in garlic and oil. You really can’t go wrong with anything from the menu. Cheeses and cured meats are imported from the Apulia region of Italy. Start with fresh Stracciatella with Speck or Polpette Con Cristini. Pastas come with an affordable price tag, starting at $16. Most wine bottles are under $50. While not great for groups larger than four, it’s a beautifully romantic spot for a date night.
Tableside Italian Cook Shoppe (345 East 6th Street) Tableside Italian Cook Shoppe is a family owned and operated restaurant that feels like eating in your grandmother’s home. They offer a fine dining experience nestled into the casual vibe of the East Village. A must order are the Truffled Moneybags, ricotta filled beggar’s purse shaped pasta with white truffle infused cream sauce ($23). Another favorite is the Little Ears of Apulia, orecchiette pasta with Italian sweet sausage, broccoli rabe, toasted bread crumbs and fennel pollen ($22). Start with Grandma’s Beef Traditional Italian Meatballs in a san marzano tomato sauce, topped with fresh ricotta ($17). The space is on the small side so be sure to make a reservation. Happy hour is from 5-7 p.m. daily at the bar and includes $5 sangria and beer and $6 wines. Appetizers offered are Beef, Lamb and Chicken Meatball Sliders for $3.50. Sunday through Thursday from 5-6 p.m. take advantage of their three-course prix-fixe for $32.