Gift: Piperade or NOPA
Piperade, but only because the "reservation" process at NOPA is so harrowing. It's not much of a gift if it comes with instructions to start hitting re-dial at 2pm only on the day your friends wish to dine.
Even if they want to go through that, if a colleague's recent experience is any indication, it will go something like this:
2pm: dial, get busy signal, repeat for 20 minutes.
2:20PM: Get through to annoyed and rude host who deigns to offer you one table at 10:00 PM only
9:30 PM: check in to host stand early to be safe and go get drinks at bar
10:15 PM: be told your table will be ready in "just one moment"
10:45 PM: watch as another person gets your table because she's from the neighborhood, and "she's been waiting for 2 hours." (never mind you've been waiting since 2:20 PM.).
Unless your friends can wait until NOPA burns through the goodwill of everyone in this city, I say steer clear. Offer to go with them some time during the week when you all can enjoy the ordeal together.
Better yet, buy them a gift certificate to Quince or Ame - places where they'll be treated with a seamless service experience.
We got reservations without much trouble. You can only make reservations for the same day starting at 2 p.m. It is a bit off-putting, especially if your watch is fast and you call at 1:57. Anyway, we got reservations for 7:00 during the week with only one callback. It was one of the best meals I've had in a long time. Interesting and delicious food.
I'm sorry you had a bad experience, but we were seated promptly and had a wonderful evening. We were never rushed.
If the newlyweds want to go during the week for their gift meal, I don't think they'd have any trouble. Foodiegirl, did you call on a weekend?
Hmm, I've been to NOPA several times and have never had issues with the reservations. I've always gotten them at decent time slots and have been seated promptly. I actually like the same day reservation system. Having no reservations or preparing a month in advance is a p.i.t.a.
I've found that the reservation process works brilliantly during the week, but is pretty much a mess on the weekend. Throw in that the crowd seems to transform into a drunken posse of scenesters (that's right), and maybe NOPA works best Monday-Thursday. As far as I'm concerned, that's what neighborhood joints are all about anyway.
My sob story regards getting busy signals for almost 20 minutes straight on a Friday, getting through (ring, ring), and then accidentally hanging up and hitting redial due to some sort of hand spasm (or stupidity).
Piperade is probably a quieter, more appropriate destination for your friends anyway...
Well, if my Bridezilla friends are any indication...
Stick to the registry, dude!
That's a brililant idea you've stumbled on, though: the restaurant-meal registry. You could have one wedding guest get you a meal at Chez Panisse, then another guest for French Laundry, still another at Boulevard... much more fun than getting useless bits from Bloomie's.
(not been to NOPA so cannot say, sorry...)