Not to be confused with the Latina whorehouse ¡Ay Poppi! down the street, this rustic Italian joint features the look and feel of the Italian countryside right here in the East Village. Everything about this place just says, “come on in.” Its warm interior gives way to a wonderful back garden that drips with ivy and candlelight. On a warm evening one can almost ignore the surrounding tenement buildings and imagine dining in a provincial garden in the countryside, or a fancy joint in gay Paris. The waitstaff is friendly and helpful, (and almost certainly auditioning for a part as an East Village waiter) as is the wandering cat that stops every once in a while to beg a meatball or sautéed calamari. The food is simple and devoid of the pretensions of so many downtown restaurants. It’s almost reassuring to see a menu not filled with different goose parts and unpronounceable French crap. The pastas are plentiful and flavored just right. The appetizers are equally tasty. Chalk this up as yet another romantic spot for a date (especially out in the garden). If you can’t find a joint to take a nice lady on a Saturday in NYC, you might as well give up now and donate your Sega thumb to science. [MF]
432 E 9th St.