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Need a good place to take my girlfriend

We'll be in Manhattan nex week and I want to take my girlfriend to a nice place. We'll be mostly walking around Midtown, Greenwich Village and SoHo but we can venture a little further if needed. I've looked at Spice Market but it's full every night, I've looked at Nougatine and Jojo, Babbo, Balthazar, Lupa and others. I would avoid indian as we've already planned one indian place. The big problem I have is my GF is lethally allergic to fish and seafood and absolutely hates mushrooms (but that can be worked around). I'm looking for a place with mains costing no more than $25 (but could do a little more if worth it). So where should we go? She loves italian food as well as asian and french stuff. How about the bar at Gordon Ramsay at the London?

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  1. Avoid Spice Market!

    Lupa sounds like it may be right up your alley. Babbo may be a bit too pricy and hard to get a reservation. I would take a look at both menus and see which one works better. Babbo takes some walk-ins but you end up in the front by the door usually. We've always managed to go to Lupa without a res and get a table. I don't think we've ever waited longer than 45 minutes.

    1. If a more casual atmosphere is fine, and you really love Italian, I would recommend Cantina Toscana. It's not a big place, and it's certainly not a place that is run with the idea of turning over its tables quickly. But it consistently turns out excellent Italian dishes. See: http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...; and http://www.greatrestaurantsmag.com/NY.... They regularly have a separate game menu, which I find neat. If venision chops are on the menu, they are awesome. The gnuddi is a excellent as an appetizer.

      1. Lupa is a good recommendation, but it's a bit frantic and cramped. Slightly more spacious and romantic are Crispo or Cacio e Pepe. Giorgio's of Gramercy and Red Cat are some other good options.

        1. Thanks all, I've also read good thins about Alta, a tapas place. Looked at the menu and many things read deliciously.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Campofiorin

            Alta is great, lots of wonderfully creative tapas in a real "escape from the city" environment. Another place that'd be great for taking your GF is Apizz in the lower east side. Many excellent Italian dishes made in a brick oven and in a lovely space.

          2. Hearth (on First Avenue and 12th St.) prepares mouth-watering Tuscan food. The service is impecable. The wine list is comprehensive. Highly recommended.

            1. The Place (that's the name) on W. 4th btwn Bank St. and W. 12th is a really great, romantic spot...perfect place to take your gf

              1. Thank you all, I'll be picking between Lupa, Alta and Hearth.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Campofiorin

                  Hearth would be a wonderful choice.

                2. Alta is amazing. Anyone who took me to Alta would pretty much be my hero. The lighting is dim and the atmosphere is cozy but inviting. Strongly consider it!

                  1. I wouldn't go to Alta with just one person -- it's great for groups, but it's not a two-person type restaurant. If you're looking for tapas for two tia pol is a better bet.

                    Out of the ones you mentioned, Lupa has the best food, and Hearth will be most romantic.

                    1. I second The Place. It's more romantic than Hearth, but just as delicious.

                      1. If you can get into Little Owl, that would be my choice but I'm not a fan of Alta or of Lupa. I also like Bellevitae - off 6th Ave. on Minetta Place.

                        1. Alta, Hearth, and Lupa are three of my favorites, so you can't go wrong. I actually think Alta is great with two people -- the dishes are very small, so you can get a lot to split and try a variety. With three or more people, you might only get one bite of each dish, which isn't always satisfying. Alta is a mix of food styles, sort of new European, lots of different flavors, most very clean tasting and delicious. Low-lit, and spacious tables. Lupa is more cramped and bustling, a lot of energy, casual atmosphere but top-notch roman food, very rich and astoundingly tasty. Hearth is the most refined of the three you mentioned. Though the space is casual (some people find it too underdone -- there's not much atomosphere here, so keep that in mind if it's important), the food is high end -- pristine ingredients, perfectly prepared. They mix a very nice cocktail, too.

                          I hope this helps, it's really a matter of what you want for your night out!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ABT

                            Thank all, we ended going at Lupa and managed to sneak in on a friday with no reservation. We were seated at one of the 3 tables on the patio, kills the atmosphere but quiet albeit a little chilly. We started out with the sunchokes which I usually don't really like but were great, the GF went crazy for them. I much prefered the escarolle and walnut salad that was light and tasty with a ton of peccorino. Couln'd decice on a wine so our server suggested a grechetto which I had never heard of before and it was really good, crips and refreshing with a good touch of minerality. A word on the foccacia, it was thick and almost cake like in texture with a good dose of rosemary. The accompanying olive oil was also very good. As for the mains, I went for the parpadelle topped with the rosewater glased pork shoulder ragu. Very good. My GF loves carbonara and chose that but was disappointed as it seemed the staff dropped the salt shaker in the pasta boiling water. Still good but way too salty. As accompaniements, we chose the polenta, light and creamy and full of flavor I loved it. We also selected the fried brussel sprouts. I absolutely hate these little things but you know what, I ate almost half of the bowl. That's how good the were. By then, we were too full the eat dessert besides we had Kee's chocolates and about $50 of candy from Economy Candy. The verdict? Really liked Lupa and will head to Babbo next time we're in NYC.