Max is a classic East Village Italian restaurant. Cosy, buzzing, but not crowded and very unpretentious. You can eat in the dining room indoors and when the weather's good they open up the back patio. It's typically full of New York hipsters, but the place is laid back and easy-going so families work fine too.
The food is delicious, portions are hearty and the price is right. My favorite dish is the Lamb Chitara. This is slow-cooked lamb ragu served with home-made spaghetti. The price of this hearty goodness? Less than 10 dollars.
They don't take reservations and they're cash only. It's a great place to go if you're trying to impress a date with your knowledge of out-of-the-way eateries in the city. I've never had to wait more than 15 minutes and there are worse things to do than soak up the atmosphere over a glass of Sangiovese at the bar while you wait.
If you go, let me know what you think. If you know a better Italian joint in the area, I'd love to hear about it.