Editor's note: In "Apps Only," Ben Fishner will be eating his way through New York's appetizer, bar, and lounge menus as your guide to fine dining on a budget. He blogs at Ben Cooks Everything.

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House made coppa cotta. [Photos: Ben Fishner]

Lupa Osteria Romana is Mario Batali's Roman restaurant in Greenwich Village. The menu is full of fish and vegetable antipasti as well as a number of house-made charcuterie options. It's not super cheap, but it's certainly at the more affordable end the Batali spectrum. You probably won't ever see Apps Only: Babbo, but Lupa is certainly doable on a budget.

We started with some antipasti. From the verdure menu we ordered the Asparagus with Pecorino ($6) and Beets with Walnuts ($6), and the Baccala with Celery and Olives ($10) from the pesce menu. These three dishes were all served room temperature, simple preparations that let the quality of the ingredients shine through. If you're familiar with Otto's veggie selections, these will make you feel right at home.

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Asparagus with pecorino.

The asparagus, thinly shaved and just barely cooked so it was still crunchy, was the real winner here due to the generous amount of pecorino. The beets were perfectly cooked, soft without being mushy, and topped with a luscious pistachio butter.

The baccalo was refreshing, with the celery adding a bit of crunch to the flaky white fish while the olives imparted a nice dose of salt.

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Baccala with celery and olives.

We also had a plate of the house made Coppa Cotta ($10), a pork shoulder that is similar to capicola, but cooked. Ten dollars seemed steep at first for a plate of cold cuts, but the serving size is generous and the quality is top notch.

To balance out these snacky summertime antipasti, we split a plate of Spaghetti alla Carbonara ($16), perfectly al dente pasta coated in creamy, eggy goodness and flavored with browned bits of guanciale and lots of black pepper. It was rich and luxurious, and I was glad we split this—a whole plate of it might have been a bit much.

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Spaghetti alla carbonara.

Overall, our meal at Lupa was a success, and we ended up just barely over budget at $48—$16/person before tax and tip. I'd certainly recommend Lupa to someone looking to have a snacky meal on a budget, but I'd sooner recommend Batali's Otto Enoteca Pizzeria (which has been featured in this space before) just a few blocks away—for its more casual environment and a menu that is both more robust and better suited to the Apps Only method of fine dining.

Still, Lupa is far from overpriced, and it'd be hard to go wrong there--everything we tried at this meal was delicious.

Fun With First Courses: More Apps Only

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Lupa Osteria Romana

170 Thompson Street, New York NY 10012 (map)
212-691-0404
luparestaurant.com

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