I'm looking for a $$-$$$ Italian option for a Saturday night party of 7 girls who will be chatting it up but also appreciate good food and service. One member of the party has never been to NY, so I'd really like it to be a memorable local experience, whether it's a one-of-a-kind "big" restaurant, or a downtown neighborhood option.
I've been considering something along the lines of Da Andrea, but don't know if we'll feel too crunched in there. I'd love to do something like Il Mulino, but think it may break the bank for some of us.
Your ideas are much appreciated.