Met two friends for dinner at Cafe Veneto tonight at 7. It's the casual place opened by the Locanda Veneta people two doors down. Sparsely populated when we got there, the room is nicely appointed, comfortably laid out with space between tables, has a nice communal table for about six. Servers wear black tees with one of various Italian culinary terms ("al dente," "extravergine") in white lettering. Reasonably friendly. Desserts and wines by the glass listed on large chalkboards.
It's a small-plates place that also serves some pizzas and calzones. The regular menu is available until 11, pizzas till 12. We split several dishes:
-- yummy tuna tartare with well-dressed and yummy greens;
-- a well-dressed green salad with delicious red onion and fontina cheese (on the side for me);
-- skewered chicken, good if a bit too smoky;
-- simple, basic but good potato gnocchi in red sauce;
-- excellent ratatouille;
-- mashed potatoes that first came swimming in butter and, when we got them back, were still rubbery, gummy and basically inedible; and
-- for the non-dieters, crema de vaniglia which was reported to be very good.
All this food -- we left stuffed -- and I had a soft drink. The bill was under $43.50!!! Wow.
By the time we left, the place was largely filled, with a nice hip crowd (yet thankfully none of the blaring music of other hip joints), we were not rushed out, and most people had either glasses of wine or were splitting bottles.
This place has a great neighborhood feel, a savvy and hip crowd, good solid food, and incredible prices. I'll be heading back soon!