Just wanted to report on a very, very good meal I had at this place last night (on Waverly Pl., a block or so east of Wash. Sq. park). We ended up at this restaurant almost as a joke (w/a long story behind it) with very low expectations. The regular menu is a typical Italian-American diner type thing - chicken marsala, veal parm, and hamburgers. The atmosphere is kind of college cafeteria - definitely no white linen, although the bus boy was very generous w/the paper napkins. He gave us new ones between each course, including the bread basket. We each had a stack of them by the end.
We sat down and the (very adorable young Italian) waiter gave us the "new" menu, that their week-old chef had put together. Something about the handwriting told us to stick to this menu - you know that distinctive European script, especially where number 1's are involved? Also, there were no translations and at least half of the dishes were unfamiliar preparations. We started with a fennel salad, which was fine, nothing special though. For a first course, I had the Ravioli Dolci, which as you would imagine, were ravioli w/lightly sweetened ricotta in a red sauce. These were really spectacular - the fresh pasta was perfectly cooked - I feel like it's hard to cook large, fresh past so that it still has the bite. The ricotta was the perfect sweetness too. Really delicious. Then I had baccala al pescarese - oven baked bacalhau (that's cod, right?) with potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and olives. This was the softest, richest, most flavorful and comforting dishes I've had in a long time. Not a new dish, but really, really well done. The desserts were ok - mostly cakes and cannoli bought elsewhere, but they were fine. The chef came out of the kitchen at the end - a portly italian woman in her 50's, I'd guess. The ravioli are apparently the specialty of her home town. Anyway, I recommend checking this place out.