John’s of 12th Street

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Photograph: Tova Carlin
John's of 12th
East Village
You can imagine some ’50s beatnik taking his date to John’s for a rough-around-the-edges romantic dinner. The place has been here for 100 years, and it’s a fine example of its type—caramel-colored vinyl booths, Chianti bottles dripping with candle wax, and pasta with any of ten sauces (from simple garlic, oil and anchovies to rich carbonara). Comfort yourself with the usual: minestrone; mozzarella, basil and tomato; tiramisu topped with chocolate shavings. Or try one of the faultless nightly specials: a bruschetta of the celebrated garlic bread, layered with avocado and diced tomatoes, or veal scaloppine al limone with spaghetti. It’s not fancy, but everything feels just right.
Venue name: John’s of 12th Street
Address: 302 E 12th St
New York
Cross street: between First and Second Aves
Opening hours: Mon–Thu 4–11pm; Fri, Sat 4–11:30pm; Sun 4–10:30pm
Transport: Subway: L to First Ave; N, Q, R, W, 4, 5, 6 to 14th St–Union Sq
Price: Average main course: $14. Cash only
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