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Till the throngs descend, you can be the super suave bastard among your friends, introducing them to the winsome, neighborhood Epistrophy just down the street from Lombardi's. It's the lounge with the well-priced selection of Italian reds ($6-$10 a glass), hefty wooden boards piled with Sopressata and fresh figs; and attractive Italian clientele, always milling about. Sardinian owners (and comely couple) Luca Fadda and Giorgia Zedda outfitted Epistrophy with all the "handsome den" comforts: dark wood shelves stocked with books, bottles, and a lone old-world globe; kitchen tables burnished to "Shabby Chic" perfection; folding chairs hanging from the wall for extra seating; and artwork from some painter no one's ever heard of.
The great score here are the couches and cushions up against the front windows; it's better than sidewalk seating, since there's no fear of getting mowed down from frustrated pedestrians. Fadda and Zedda plan to roll out a more expansive menu of light fare in a month or two, adding easy dishes like carpaccio to the caprese salads and cheese platters already in place, as well as simple breakfasts of croissants and coffee. Expect a few jazz nights thrown in there tooathey didn't name the bar after a Thelonious Monk tune for no reason.