80 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-3269

There is no short supply of wine bars in New York. I live in central Queens and can walk to two. There is also no short supply of Italian restaurants. I live in central Queens and can walk to seven hundred. The trick is being able to blend them together into something enjoyable and Cacio E Vino in the East Village (which seems to be where I live these days) manages to do this. If you want a place that avoids pretense and allows you to feel like you live two blocks away, Cacio E Vino is where to go. If you want something more, it's not.

The truth is, Cacio E Vino is pretty generic. It did nothing wrong, but it didn't do anything that stood out either. The service was fine without being amazing. The food was pretty good without being amazing. The wine list was decent without being amazing. The decor was fine. I would probably go here every so often if I lived a block away, and if I had a friend who wanted to go here I would far from bemoan their request, but if I was going to choose a place to travel out of my way for, I don't think Cacio E Vino would be on the list.

I started the meal with Grilled Calamari. I really need to start ordering some new dishes. Lately, I feel like I'm drowning in grilled calamari. Anyway. It was served with some cherry tomato and a lot of olive oil. As I said, the food lacked oomph. There was nothing "wrong" with it, save a bit of rubberyness, but I didn't find myself itching for a second round. I far preferred Myna's choice, the Arancina, a rice ball stuffed with beef, peas, saffron, and tomato sauce. This was pretty good. It's a rice ball, so it's heavy, but being stuffed with ground beef and peas tempers the heavy starch bomb that will hit your stomach.

My entree was the Involtino Di Pollo Al Marsala, a chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, spinach and primosale cheese. It came with thin potato slices and broccoli and was topped with a marsala sauce. Making a stuffed chicken is hard and it takes a lot of skill getting the meat to that sweet spot where it's moist without being raw and cooked without being dry. This was a little dry. The sauce was nice but the steamed broccoli seemed boring and uninspired. I realize how douchey that sounds. But I'm saying it anyway. Myna went for the Branzino Filet, a pan seared fillet served with spinach, pine nuts, raisins, and mashed potato. She enjoyed it and preferred her fish over my chicken, but I was, yet again, nonplussed. My advice: take her word for it over mine.

Tiramisu has always been a favorite dessert of mine, ever since I was a little kid. Myna, not so much. But reason won out and we ordered it. It was enjoyable. Like so many places, Cacio E Vino went a little heavy with the espresso powder. But other than that, it was a good choice.

Multiple glasses of wine, two appetizers, two entrees, a dessert, tax, tip = $178.

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