You’ll find plenty of lists laying out where to go for outdoor dining, but if you have the time, the best discoveries usually come when you’re strolling through the East Village.
Case in point, Max, a cozy little Italian cucina with a colorful open garden in the back. With overhanging trees, letting in just patches of sunlight, the airy patio-like seating area was a momentary escape from the humid city.
The waiter recommended grilled baby octopus, so that’s what we started with. It might be an acquired taste to some, the lemony zest and hint of char and herbs culminated to a really subtle flavor anyone could appreciate. This plus the lightly-tossed citrusy salad made this appetizer a great summer option.
But then, we took a turn for the heavier. Jay went for his chicken cutlet, topped with a mound of fresh spinach and diced tomatoes. You’d think the thick slab of breaded chicken blanketed underneath would be soggy, but the confluence of ingredients actually made for crisp, hardy bites through to the end.
Considering we were at an Italian joint, and all the tables around us had ordered at least one pasta dish, we figured we had to try a the ravioli special. I’m not a big pasta person, but this ended up being my favorite. The alfredo sauce was light, not overly dense with your typical heavy cream. The flavors were nonetheless pretty powerful and intensely fragrant, with the winning point being the crunchy bits of mushroom and walnuts mixed in. The nutty addition was a wonderful twist to the chewy mushroom-packed pockets.
To top it off, this was all offered at pretty affordable prices, so don’t feel bad tacking on a beer or afternoon bellini to round out the meal.