Good luck trying to get a reservation at the Little Owl in the West Village. This tiny neighborhoody restaurant has seating room for merely 30 people, and with a reputation of having the best pork chop and meatball sliders in town, the supply simply doesn’t meet demand. Located on the corner of a quiet downtown street, the Little Owl’s charming and intimate setting draws a steady crowd for brunch, lunch and dinner (even after its recent DOH violation). If you don’t give a hoot about being in tight quarters or waiting for a table, then this picturesque date spot is sure to turn heads.
Spring Flings & Picnicking Things
As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” Spring is in full bloom and despite a mild winter, New Yorkers have been yearning for all of the joys of the season. And what better way to fully soak in the sights, smells and sounds of spring than an afternoon picnic in one of the city’s many picturesque parks. At Crave The Date, it’s our job to make sure you’re smarter – and smoother – than the average bear, especially when it comes to dating. So, before you decide to stuff a shopping bag with whatever’s left in your fridge, check out our tips for picnicking in style.
Wine bars in NYC might seem like a dime a dozen, but on the Upper West Side, they are few and far between. That’s probably why Osteria Cotta was welcomed with open arms upon opening in late 2011 (even by the likes of Madonna).
Practically hidden at the end of a LES alleyway, this “secret” dining den is a haven for New Yorkers who like a scene, but without the hassle of being seen.
Maialino is located in the Gramercy Park Hotel, but don’t be fooled by the swank surroundings – if you are looking for a truly elegant dining experience (like sister Danny Meyer restaurant, Eleven Madison Park), you won’t find one. This self-proclaimed Roman-style trattoria is warm and welcoming, with good food & good service as the main focal points.
There’s not a square foot to spare at this South Village/SoHo hotspot. The Dutch, which serves brunch, lunch, dinner and late-night bar snacks, keeps its three spacious dining rooms full & its crowds fresh. Since opening in Summer 2011, The Dutch has proven to be another successful venture by the team behind Locanda Verde and Burger & Barrel. Anyone into clever comfort food and a buzzing scene should have this downtown bar/restaurant on their to-do list.
A non-descript white façade next to a comedy club is sure to go unnoticed in the midst of the usual Meatpacking mayhem. What’s inside, however, is a standout restaurant and date spot courtesy of a celebrity chef with a penchant for the unexpected. Scarpetta’s impeccable service and refined take on Italian cuisine come at a price, but in the end, it’s totally worth the splurge.
Top Theater District Eats
Taking in dinner & a show, but don’t know where to go? Don’t fret. We’re giving you some of our favorite pre and post-theater date spots. Curtain’s up!
Abe & Arthur’s
Abe & Arthur’s fits the mold of a Meatpacking hotspot – swank décor, sex appeal and could-be models [as Lil John would say] from the windows to the walls.
If you’re craving some romance, conversation or something as simple as grabbing a bite to eat at a nice neighborhood spot, Spasso is sure to get the job done – and likely please, no matter the type of crowd.
From the exposed brick to the hand-painted writing on the wall, this petite tapas restaurant resembles a secret dining refuge you’d find on a side street in Spain. And if it weren’t for the buzz about Lady Gaga sightings, Caliu would be just that, except on Hudson Street in the West Village.
A seemingly “Mom and Pop” luncheonette by day, a bustling restaurant by night – people don’t go to Jeffrey’s Grocery for a gallon of milk. The cool, relaxed vibe is similar to those at sister restaurants in the neighborhood, Joseph Leonard and Fedora – and token no reservation policy that leaves packs of loiterers outside the door.
A dark West Village wine bar that’s hardly visible from the street, Entwine is a perfect meeting place for a post-work or pre-dinner drink. This neighborhood spot flies under-the-radar, and its homey feel can keep you lingering for a few extra rounds.
While eclectic antique furniture makes for a cozy interior setting, the true jewel of Entwine is the back patio. Always quiet and very intimate, it’s easy to forget that you’re at a drinking establishment and not your friend’s porch.
Arguably the best Italian restaurant on the UWS, Spiga’s authentic cuisine and homey ambiance are of a different caliber than what you might find on neighboring Amsterdam. With small square footage and intimate surroundings, you get the best of both worlds – a downtown vibe, but with uptown nonchalance.
The restaurant itself might seem hidden among the brownstones of residential W. 84th Street, but it’s part of Spiga’s understated appeal. The cozy interior is encased in exposed brick and mahogany molding, with matching built-in wine racks that stretch from head to toe. Not overly quiet, the setting can be considered romantic or simply conducive to conversation.
A lavish addition to the Flatiron District, Nuela’s South American roots run deeper than food. The cool, sexy vibe of this Latin restaurant is sure to bring some va-va-voom to your date, whether you’re rolling with a crowd or part of a couple.
Nuela’s spacious, loft-like interior is vibrant and modern in both decor & atmosphere. The sleek design has a South Beach aura to it, with matching house music to boot.
A multi-tiered maze of a tapas restaurant, Alta offers a variety of Spanish-inspired small plates from octopus to empanadas. For flowing sangria and candlelight, consider this cozy spot with someone you’re just getting to know, or someone you know too well.
Alta appears from the street to be a tiny tapas joint in the Village, but the inside opens up to a bi-level rustic restaurant packed with patrons every night of the week. Candles are lit throughout the restaurant, which gives the interior a cozy and romantic feel.
Beauty & Essex
Located in what appears to be an old-school pawn shop (complete with vintage goods in display counters and dolled up “sales girls” manning a register), this lower east side “see and be seen” restaurant come nightclub defines NYC hotspot.
When you step inside Beauty & Essex for the very first time, you might question whether you’ve gone through the right door. It’s not until you follow the bass-pumping sounds and walk through a narrow hallway that you’ll get an aha moment – when you’re submerged into the sea of New York’s young and fabulous, with some copycat Kardashian clans mixed in.
The original Annisa burned down in 2009, but its reincarnation shines brighter than ever before. The airy ambiance and modern décor is only a taste of what’s to come on the menu. expect innovative dishes with classic ingredients, complete with a Michelin Star.
This upscale thirteen-table restaurant in the West Village has a fresh, clean feel to it, as it should – the original Annisa burned down in a freak electrical fire two years ago. The new Annisa reopened last year by the same Executive Chef (and Top Chef Master), Anita Lo. The interior is very chic and surprisingly bright-colored, and for such a small space, you don’t feel crowded.
A diamond in the “rough?” Sorella’s grungy surroundings is just one characteristic that makes this LES hotspot en vogue. The interior of this combination wine bar and restaurant can best be described as stylish with a cellar-like feel, appealing to a casual-chic crowd looking to engage in not-so-quiet conversation over candlelight.
In true Lower East Side fashion, you’ll have to pass a few boarded up, graffiti-covered buildings before you come across Sorella’s illuminated cherry-red sign. But once inside, its romantic, trendy vibe makes you feel like you’ve discovered a well-kept secret that only the “cool” and fashionable know about. A long, narrow bar will lead you to the hostess, who will either seat you in a small, back dining room or send you to the bar, which is already packed with attractive couples nibbling on small plates or sipping wine.
Reopened in late 2010, the only thing that remains from the old Veritas is its impressive wine collection. Thanks to new owners and executive chef, who ditched the snooty prix-fixed menu and added more affordable wine options, this cozy Gramercy restaurant has transformed into what could become one of the city’s brightest shining stars.
Snack Taverna’s menu may be all Greek to you, but it offers comforting classics that feature bold Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors. While the square footage of the dining room might be the equivalent of a studio apartment, the atmosphere of this West Village eatery makes you want to overeat and overstay your welcome.
The dark and cozy, yet chic décor of this West Village hole-in-the-wall is a perfect depiction of the food – comforting Greek classics with a modern taste. Snack Taverna’s warm and accommodating staff makes you feel at ease immediately upon entering.
Top Chef winner Harold Dieterle’s freshman attempt continues to earn high marks – Perilla does Modern American fare in a quaint space on Jones Street and does it well.
What keeps people flowing into this cozy West Village restaurant is its consistently inventive New American dishes and attentive service. Not too loud and not too crowded, Perilla’s versatile setting makes it a great spot for a romantic evening, or a night out with family or friends.
Ouest’s neon lights don’t have to be bright to draw a crowd – the food, service and ambiance does it itself every night of the week. Right on Broadway, this Upper West Side beacon serves New American dishes filled with bold, elegant flavors.
Parisian café meets American steakhouse, with plush red leather booths accenting the dimly lit dining area. Ouest exudes sophistication without pretension, creating a dining experience that will make you want to keep coming back.
Getting better with age, or aging gracefully? Either way, Cesca remains a darling of the Upper West Side, serving consistently good food to be enjoyed in good company.
Cesca adds some style to a neighborhood not typically known for its trendy restaurants. The dining room’s dark wooden tables and iron chandeliers provide a chic, yet homey atmosphere. Its friendly, attentive service makes this upscale Italian restaurant a great spot to celebrate or simply spend time with family, friends and loved ones.
Sure to be crowded, but sure to impress, this Italian eatery brings a distinct style and modern twist on classic cuisine to the always charming West Village.
L’Artusi is a modern Italian restaurant and pseudo-wine bar that echoes with dinner table chatter and clamor from an open stainless steel kitchen. Albeit crowded, this West Village hotspot boasts two stories of dining areas that are contemporary classic in décor and lively in atmosphere.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry at this bustling West Village wine bar slash Italian Cantina, where small plates and vino are meant to be shared – and leave you with a satisfying buzz.
The newest addition from the folks at ‘inoteca, Corsino has the same rustic Italian cantina feel, but with a nouveau look and a splash of West Village charm.