It occurred to me some time ago (while dining at an Italian restaurant and ordering the same things that I always order at every Italian restaurant: bread, Caesar salad, and lasagna) that if I was going to taste the same items from every place I visited that offered them, I might as well record my thoughts and, just maybe, the end result will offer something of a helpful comparison of a variety of different takes on a classic meal.

In that spirit I present to you Part One of my Quest for Lasagna! I will rank my experience using the following 5-point scale for simplicity’s sake:

  1. Garbage
  2. Edible, but otherwise unremarkable
  3. Decent
  4. Delicious
  5. Biblical manna from heaven






Cucina di Pesce – East Village

87 E 4th St., New York, NY 10003




Bread: 5


The first course is always bread, and Cucina de Pesce’s bread was awesome, featuring a nice, dark crust – rigid and thickly crunchy. Its doughy innards were aerated by huge bubbles, and altogether it had the consistency of a genuine ocean sponge. It comes with a white bean dip that’s pretty tasty, but oil was particularly complimentary (and theirs tasted almost sweet).

Caesar: 3









The lettuce was thin and delicate, almost frail, but not sickly. The dressing was a little watery in viscosity, but flavorful. Its croutons were extremely crunchy – made in the style of prepackaged croutons – yet these were clearly homemade.

Lasagna: 4









I think a lot of food is best when served too hot to eat, which this one was. Each bite remained tethered to the dish via long, thin strings of cheese. Full and meaty, this lasagna was very satisfying. It sat in a 3/4th-of-an-inch deep moat of melted mozzarella, and the internal ricotta was, though economically applied, rich and hearty. It might have scored even higher, but the 5-7 layers of pasta within it had just ever-so-slightly passed al dente.

Service: 5

When I asked for oil and parmesan, our runner, Julio, returned with it promptly – PLUS the black pepper I had forgotten to mention. That level of impeccable service instinct was maintained throughout the experience. He, along with our server Justin, were incredibly polite and attentive.

+1 Bonus: Calamari











They had non-fried calamari! Hurray! AND it’s delicious. Not chewy, but tender, with a lovely consistency and a nice, flavorful degree of char. Served with a very tasty, zesty arugula/tomato salad, this dish was quite pleasing.

+1 Bonus: Ravioli










The seafood ravioli were succulent: nice, thick al dente pasta shells – blackened with squid ink – and filled with a sensible amount of cheese and seafood, topped with a fresh basil leaf and smothered in a dark red marinara. The ink adds an interesting (mostly after) taste of earthy, almost alkaline flavor.

Cucina de Pesce: 19 / 20