This past Saturday night, I was presented with a tough challenge. What restaurant in the East Village might be able to accommodate 11 (and eventually, 13) people without a reservation? I've been seeing some recommendations for John's here, when the subject of family-style or Italian-American cuisine comes up, so I've been wanting to try the place. They were able to give us a long table in the back room in short order. We all really enjoyed the place. I ordered the special plate of antipasti, a house special salad (which turned out to be a caesar or quasi-caesar salad) and an off-menu special of portobello mushrooms, which were fried. These were all fine but not so special, and other things were better. My pasta e fagioli was delicious! It was made with cannelini, plenty of fresh basil, parmigiano, and fettucini, as I recall, and was definitely a soup. I also enjoyed my osso buco, another off-menu special. This was different from the version with gremolata (lemon juice, lemon peel, parsley) that I'm used to. It was instead based on a kind of tomato sauce and long-cooked so that it was like a stew. It also contained carrots and red bell pepper slices (which I discarded because bell peppers are rough on my stomach), among other things. I tried some of my dining partners' dishes and liked them, as they did. I can't remember all of the things they ordered, but I remember parmigiana dishes, rollatini dishes, pollo mimosa, calamari....We also liked their very garlicky garlic bread. Including a couple of bottles of wine and so forth, the total, divided into 12 (one of the diners had his birthday on Saturday) amounted to $40 including the service charge of 18% and a bit extra. I recommend this place.
302 E 12th St (just east of 2nd Av.)