The scene: Saturday night around 8. My friend and I are wandering south down 5th, dinner in mind, no reservations. Trattoria Mulino: packed. Bibi's: packed. Moutarde: packed. Cucina: lots of room. We go in, are seated immediately. A luscious bowl of assorted olives are placed before us. Fresh bread: crusty Italian and spongy olive-oil infused garlic. We share a tri-colore salad with shaved parmesan. Just right. I have the pork chop stuffed with spinach and ricotta on a bed of roasted potatoes. It's crusty and juicy and just plain delicious. Best of all, I get to sop up the gravy with the garlic bread. A glass of merlot binds it all together. Cordials for dessert: Frangelico and (waitress suggestion) Bailey's. Courteous waitress gives attentive, not intrusive serve. A nice corner table where we can converse and not have to shout. Plenty of elbow room. A delightful experience, all around.
I know Cucina has had its ups and downs over the years, but they're still there and classy as ever.