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My girlfriend, son, and I had a pre-theater dinner at Cascina last Saturday night. The menu, service, and attitude very much reminded me of Little Italy—and in case it’s not obvious, that’s not a compliment.

The word “Cascina” refers to the farmhouse or lodging on an Italian vinyard. Wine, indeed, is the theme of the restaurant. There are several large images of vinyards and wine-making equipment. Many of the wine bottles are on display. We weren’t in a drinking mood that day, but the wine list appears to be serious, with bottles anywhere from $35 to the thousands.

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Swordfish risotto (left); Pizza Caprese (right)

The food turned out to be quite respectable, once they got around to serving it. Swordfish risotto ($19) was slightly runny, but in the end I had no serious complaint with it. My son, who is not easily pleased, raved about Pizza Caprese ($15), with buffalo mozarella, cherry tomatoes, and basil. My girlfriend seemed satisfied with Meat-stuffed tortellini in cream sauce with prosciutto ($16).

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Tiramisu (left); Italian-style cheesecake (right)

Tiramisu ($8) was most impressive, so airy and light that one almost forgot it was dessert. Italian-style cheesecake ($8) was a bit too dry and crumbly.

One might chalk it up to the pre-theater rush, but service was frenetic and impersonal. Perhaps things improve later on in the evening. The food was reasonable, but on this showing, I wouldn’t rush back except as a friendly and inexpensive pre-theater dining option.

Cascina Ristorante (647 Ninth Avenue between 45th & 46th Streets, Hell’s Kitchen)

Food: *
Service: frenetic
Ambiance: *
Overall: *

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