I have found my new favorite date-night spot.
Taking over the former 'ino space, Cotenna (21 Bedford St., 646-861-0175) is warm and welcoming. A wood-paneled ceiling and walls lined with Italian wines makes it feel like you're dining in the cool depths of a cellar -- made even more intimate by flickering white candles and dim lamps hanging from above.
In a nod to its name (Cotenna means pig skin) there are also 18 legs of prosciutto displayed on the wall. Diners can take a seat at the intimate two- or four-tops, or saddle up to the double-sided bar.
Roberto Passon -- of another cute Village wine bar, Aria -- helms Cotenna. His kitchen skillfully slings Venetian cicchetti (or small plates) like a grilled octopus salad and soft, spicy artichokes topped with a flurry of Parmesan.
All of the pastas are made in-house, from the truffled fettuccine to the tagliatelle Bolognese and the rich spaghetti carbonara. Each bowl is only $12 -- and while the portions may seem small, they're buttery, comforting and just enough. Cotenna isn't trying to be anything fancy. Each dish is simple and delivers the flavor you'd expect (and want).
For wine to pair with the pastas, you'll find the usual suspects -- all written on individual slate tablets -- along with more unique options like a cool verdicchio and a light valpolicella. Go for a glass, quartino or, if you're on a date, the whole bottle.
Ariel Kanter is an editor at Gilt City.