it seems like you can't walk more than half a block around this city, the east village in particular, without running into one of the many italian restaurants in that area.
my question for the chowhounds is this:
what are your favorite casual downtown italian restaurants (i.e. west village/east village/soho/noho/nolita/lower east side) and what are your favorite dishes at these places? i hate to use the term "trattoria" to describe the type of specific restaurant i'm referring to (since it might not be accurate in every case), but i'm definitely not looking for upscale nouveau places like babbo or wine bars/italian snack sandwich joints like 'ino. i'm talking about places like max, frank, il bagatto, etc.
btw, the inspiration for this thread is a subpar dinner i had this past sunday night at il bagatto in alphabet city. this place was once one of my favorite casual italian eateries in the entire city - probably for a good 5-6 years from the mid-late 90s until 2002 or so - but i'd stopped going because of the waits and atrocious service, not to mention i'd discovered better options for my time and money.
for the sake of keeping this post brief and readable, i'm going to put my negative review of il bagatto as a separate reply to this post.
any feedback for either my query or the il bagatto review in the subsequent post would be greatly appreciated, thanks.