De Nunzio's

This wonderfully cluttered, dark-red cellar joint (in the best sense of the term) looks as much like an Italian restaurant museum as an Italian restaurant—down to the scallop-shell corner booth, the folksongs and Sinatra on the jukebox, and the Neapolitan waitress (Rosanna). As if all this wasn't atmospheric enough, during my visit there an actual priest walked in: dark-haired, short-sleeved, be-collared, the sort of fresh-from-the-seminary young cleric that makes you think, "Hmmm—isn't that Vito and Theresa's boy?" The menu for De Nunzio's happy hour (seven days, 4-7 p.m.) offers an abbondanza of small plates ("Italian tapas," my amico dubbed it): breads, sandwiches, salads, pasta, meats, almost all $5 or $6. The prosciutto came with ideally complementary thick chewy bread; the sausages and garlic-sautéed mushrooms were splendidly aromatic; the spaghetti and meatballs perfectly al dente with a light herby sauce. House wines are $3-$4 a glass; the beer selection is Italian only, Birra Menabrea at $3.50.

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