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Steve R | Mar 1, 201105:44 AM     8

On a recommendation from some friends, Ginny and I tried this place on the corner of Ave B & E. 11th St a couple of months ago. We really liked it, so we've now gone back with others twice, including last night. Highly recommended.

A lot of restaurants have opened in the past 5 years and there is no shortage of places I want to try. And I get to a lot of them. My take, overall, is that there are a lot of places that use good ingredients, have good concepts, sound good on paper and somehow dont execute in a way that brings out flavors that should be there. Basically, I've had way too many meals where the kitchen is competent but no one knows how to make the food, well, delicious.

This is not a problem at Spina. It's a relatively small menu and, going with friends, I think we've now tried almost all of it, including several daily specials. Everything I've had... yep, everything... has been flavorful, well thought out, and a joy to eat. The mussels float in a broth that is tastier than almost any I've had previously (& I'm a moule guy), the meatballs (made 3 ways) are each distinctively excellent), the boar sausage app. is a winner (and I'm not a sausage guy), the burrata is fresh and alive (well, one quibble... kept a little too cold), and every pasta is hand done daily at an open counter (excellent viewing). Without going on forever, our visit last night included an ox tail that was rich but was in a gravy with ingredients that made it both unusual but very tasty (in a great way). A whole bronzino last week was meaty and simply done, but in a way that brought out the fish's flavor & complemented it with simple additions. The pasta with duck ragu was similarly excellent, as was the mallordurus (cant remember the spelling.... Sardinian pasta, home made), the chittara, the black/white pasta (not made from squid ink but a black flour), and all the others we tried. All winners... really.

The price point of this place is not low, but its more than reasonable for the quality served. And the wine list doesnt have many under $35s, but what it does have is an excellent selection for the money and a half price Sun/Mon deal, where any bottle $60 or over is 1/2 price. And, since the list is basically a double retail mark-up (very nice), this deal has you drinking very good wine at wine store prices. And Happy Hour Tues-Fri includes very good wine by the glass deals, as well as $5 portions of the mussels and meatballs.

In summary, one of the better choices for very tasty Italian food and one that I'll be returning to pretty often. Others seem to know about it, but it hasnt been overly crowded when we've gone. And its on Opentable.com Try it.

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Spina
175 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

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