545 East 5th Street
New York, NY 10009
(212) 979-1005

"You have to try this place in the East Village," Speeds told me. "It's so good!" Her boyfriend, Saint Love, nodded his head in agreement. "But," she added, "you can't trash it on that blog of yours." Trash it? Me? Heavens no. I agreed to give the place a shot.

The place that she and Saint Love were insistent up on was Lavagna, a cozy Italian bistro nestled along a quiet tree lined street with all of its windows wide open and a Ducati parked in front. I arrived before they did, so I stood at the small bar, nursed a glass of wine, and looked at all of the Wine Spectator awards on the wall. Nothing inside Lavagna tells you that it's Italian. Its high tin ceilings and exposed brick are standard New York bistro, the staff is made up of young, non-FOB twenty/thirty-somethings, and there are no garish mass-produced Lady In the Tramp-esque chef statuettes. I had a good feeling about Lavagna.

When the happy couple arrived, we were shown a seat just inside the large windows, and we began our feast. I ordered the Octopus Carpaccio, paper-thin sliced cold octopus under a glaze of lemon juice and olive oil. I liked it very much. One benefit of slicing octopus so thinly is that it's automatically tender. It also makes the plate look far more full than it is. What looks like a massive volume of food is actually only about a quarter of an inch thick. It's good, but it leaves you wanting more. I noshed on bread while I waited for my entree. Saint Love skipped an appetizer, but Speeds ordered Prosciutto Di San Daniele, which is basically a prosciutto salad topped with figs and balsamic vinegar. It doesn't sound like much, but it was actually very good.

Speeds and Saint Love both got pasta dinners. Speeds ordered the one that I would have gotten, the Fresh Pappardelle with Braised Rabbit, while Saint Love went the more traditional route, choosing a Fettucini with Oxtail Ragu. The pappardelle dish, which Speeds says she ordered every time she goes here, was fantastic. The pasta was soft without being boiled to death and the rabbit, peppered in olives and thyme, had some bite to it. The oxtail was a little on the dry and gamey side, but oxtail usually is. Still, I liked it and if any of you reading this are all about red sauce pastas, this is as close as you'll get. Thankfully, it barely counts. My entree was the Roast Pork Chop. It cost a bit more than I would have liked, but it was delicious. And look at it! It's three inches thick of tender meat and sitting on a cushion of barlotti beans, Parmesan and bacon. I couldn't have asked for a better meal. Only dessert could ruin it.

But dessert certainly did not. We ordered a round of coffees and each of us tried a different dessert. My dessert was the Panna Cotta, a smooth vanilla custard coated in fresh strawberries and with a drizzling of tart balsamic reduction that I thought was just... wow! Saint Love wasn't prepared for the texture of firm pudding, but he got over it quickly. Saint Love ordered a round of Ice Cream. I'm not sure what one can say about it beyond: who doesn't love ice cream?! yay ice cream!!! Speeds tried the Crostata Del Giorno, a little pie sitting in a puddle of butterscotch with a boulder of vanilla ice cream as its crown.

Two appetizers, three entrees, three desserts, some coffee and some wine, with tax and tip cost $179.

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