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CGY: Birthday dinner

Hey guys,
I get to choose where to go for my birthday dinner later this month. I've come up with a short list and would love your reviews if you've been to any of these or heard anything about them.

I'm looking for great food above all, preferably in a cozy and unpretentious atmosphere.

Thanks!

-Skazka, 515 1 Street SE
-Bodega, 720 11th Ave SW
-The Conga Room - 109 8th Ave SW
-Buon Giorno, 17th Ave

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  1. Bodega's been closed for a couple of years, so that would not be my first choice. :)

    Conga Room - interesting menu, Latin American cocktails (pound back a few caipirinhas and everybody has a happy b-day) beautiful festive setting in a historic Stephen Ave bldg- I've never eaten there but it sure looks like a winner.

    Buon Giorno has IMO good food but the atmosphere is cramped, not a good b-day option.

    Have heard mixed reviews about Skazka.

    1 Reply
    1. re: John Manzo

      What have you heard about Skazka?

      UPDATE: Oops, never mind. I've found previous postings on that restaurant. I don't want to waste your time!

    2. I've eaten at the Conga Room a few times, and im not a huge fan.I would rule out Buon Giorno as well.

      And i've been to Skazka, and it was definitely hit and miss.

      Alternatives:

      Try Jonas' instead of Skazka.

      Consider Il Pescatore (potentially pretentious..they use white linen, but it's a small neighbouhood place), or La Brezza instead of Buon Giorno.

      What price range and types of food are you willing to consider?
      What do you want ruled out? More details, and we can narrow it down into a better range of restaurants.

      Im sure someone will mention Aida's, and Greek of some sort as well. I'll preemptively mention these :)

      3 Replies
      1. re: yen

        Pescatore is going to close any day now, in fact it's probably closed now, so they can demolish that block for the Kai Mortensen condo towers.

        Aida's is nice- and if you're leaning in that direction, SAHARA is fantastic (IMHO better Lebanese than Aida's) and a MUCH bigger space if that's an issue.

        1. re: John Manzo

          I just checked out Sahara's web site. It actually sounds perfect! Thanks.

          1. re: John Manzo

            Aida's does have Muhamara, which Sahara seemingly doesn't have. It is a must try if you go to Aida's.

        2. Price range I'm hoping is less than River Cafe but more than Earl's? I'm leaning more towards ethnic food and Italian if possible. I'm always looking to try things I've never had before. And I'd prefer a quiet cozy atmosphere.

          Rule out Indian - not in the mood - or Greek - I had a very disappointing first visit to Pegasus last weekend. Also rule out Chinese or sushi - which I eat too much of already.

          Thanks in advance!

          1. What about Sandro's? Its very cozy, festive and great italian. I am sure they'll send you off with (at least a couple) shots of sambucca.

            1. I've actually had a nice meal at the conga room, but that was several years ago. I've had fantastic meals at bodega too. too bad it closed.

              I'll second/third the sahara recommendation, it's a great alternative to aida's (which can get crowded pretty quick) for persian food. The owner (i assume he's the owner) is a consumate host, and the food's always been of fairly good quality. It's also a really big space, so fitting in groups is never an issue. If you're lucky, they'll set you up upstairs, which is nice and cozy.

              2 Replies
              1. re: marcopolo

                sorry to quibble, but this is definitely Lebanese and not Persian.

                1. re: John Manzo

                  Yikes! excuse my ignorance and thanks for the correction.

              2. The best new Italian place is called Antolini's and is where the Arden Diner used to be on 17th Ave SW. Unbelievable food, exceptional service, and not as pricey as River Cafe!

                1 Reply
                1. re: JulieVR

                  Julie- we tried Antolini's, which had excellent friendly service even for takeout (they helped me carry my purchases to my car out back on 16th!), but we likely made bad choices because we got 3 pastas and all were sauced the same (a kind of rose sauce) and the whole experience was bland.Gnocchi were not great either. I hate to say it but advertising handmade pasta is not really that much of a draw anymore since most places make their own pasta. I prefer Buon Giorno.