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I Sodi
Photograph: Courtesy of I Sodi

Three great neighborhood Italian restaurants

Every 'hood needs a solid, honest Italian standby like Porsena. Here are three of our faves.


West Village: I Sodi
Locals pack this narrow spot for chef-owner Rita Sodi's fine renditions of her Tuscan mother's recipes. You can post up at the marble-topped bar for an Italian aperitif and a quick bite, or settle in for a full meal. The homespun bill of fare—featuring dishes like succulent fried-chicken chunks—changes weekly according to Sodi's whim. But you'll always find the bubbling meat-rag lasagna—regulars won't let her take it off the menu. 105 Christopher St between Bleecker and Hudson Sts (212-414-5774)

Brooklyn Heights: Noodle Pudding
Don't be fooled by the oddball name and unlikely location: This gem is one of Brooklyn's best Italian joints. Rustic dishes—like braised rabbit with roasted vegetables and polenta, and rigatoni with eggplant, tomato and ricotta—have been drawing locals and itinerant gastronomes since the restaurant opened in 1994. In the winter, the warmly lit brick-and-dark-wood space provides a cozy refuge. Come summer, large windows lined with blooming flower boxes open up to the street. 38 Henry St between Cranberry and Middagh Sts, Brooklyn Heights (718-625-3737)

Upper East Side: Spigolo
Husband-and-wife team Scott and Heather Fratangelo, both Union Square Cafe vets, are behind this unassuming favorite. He dispatches satisfying and rustic plates, like grilled octopus with gigante beans and preserved lemon, or cavatelli with a hearty fennel-sausage rag. Heather oversees the pastry program, and over the years, both have taken turns welcoming both regulars and newcomers to the brick-walled dining room with a friendly ease. 1561 Second Ave at 81st St (212-744-1100)

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See restaurant review for Porsena

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