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Romantic & Cool restaurant for a Friday night date?

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Help me Chowhound!

I have a date with a girl I've gone out with a few times -- she's coming to NY for the weekend (we're both students spending the summer in different cities) and I'm taking her to dinner on a Friday night.

I'm hoping to find somewhere romantic (i.e., tables not too packed together, not too noisy so you can have an actual conversation, nice wine list) but at the same time nothing too stuffy or formal. I'm not looking for Bouley/Le Bernardin type places -- more like the kind of place that feels like you've just discovered a hidden find.

Budget is not an issue -- perhaps $200 for 2? I'm flexible. Downtown location preferred, but am open to anywhere in Manhattan.

Thanks!

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  1. The Place (that's the name) on West 4th is a great romantic spot for a date

    www.lookatlife.com

    1. Blue Hill for expensive-y right by Wash. Sq. Park. Sapore or A.O.C. for a beautiful summer sunset and a little less heavy on the wallet.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Nick F.

        Go to Apizz on the LES. Dark, quite, romantic, excellent food. Seems like a hidden gem when you walk down the block. Fun hood for drinks before and after.

        1. re: Nick F.

          Blue Hill definitely does not fit the o.p.'s desire for "tables not packed together." Seating along the banquettes, which is where tables for two are located, is exceedingly close. Nothing romantic about your neighbors being privy to your conversation.

        2. What about Wallse?

          http://www.wallse.com/

          1. August

            1. I second the recommendations for Apizz and August. Also, Little Owl, Crispo, Snack Taverna, The Orchard. I wouldn't recommend The Place--food is mediocre, and I find the room cheesy.

              1. I'd recommend Gascogne on 8th street at 18th. They have a beautiful and romantic garden in the back. Couple that with their excellent food and attentive service, and I think it's one of the most romantic venues in New York.

                The other "most romantic" restaurant in New York, imho, is La Grenouille!

                1 Reply
                1. re: ChefJune

                  I totally agree about Gascogne. Small geog. correction: It's on 8th *Avenue*, just off the southeast corner of 18th St.

                2. Thanks for all the great replies. Gascogne looks very nice -- but I think it might a little too traditional French for what I'm looking for. Apizz looks more like the kind of scene I'm hoping to find. I've heard mixed things about the Place -- I know there are people here who absolutely love it, but I agree from the website that the room looks a bit cheesy. I'm still wading through all of the suggestions on this thread -- feel free to keep 'em coming! Thanks again.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: robertgoulet

                    Crispo's

                    1. re: timmy

                      Crispo's looks fantastic -- unfortunately she doesn't really eat cheese (sigh) so northern Italian might not be the best choice of cuisine. But thanks for the suggestion, I'll definitely check it out.

                      1. re: robertgoulet

                        Most of my favorite pasta dishes at Crispo (e.g. pappardelle w/wild mushrooms, spaghetti carbonara, and spaghetti and meatballs) do not have cheese

                  2. Degustation, small and intimate with great food and wine in your price range.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: lanadai

                      Degustation is a great idea. If you can't get a res there, ask them for a res at Jack's. Great food at both places and neither are terribly obvious date choices.

                    2. cuccina de pesi, a great itlaian resturant

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: maxpeck

                        Terrible Italian food. Shocked to see this listed here.

                        1. re: princeofpork

                          Would definitely not go to crispo on a Friday in the summer (B&T) or The Place. I like Apizz amongst what has been discussed above.

                          1. re: LES Snob

                            I heart Grottto on Forsyth Steet. It's downstairs and it feels like a hidden gem. The food is great and you can linger over a nice long dinner, then grab a drink in the backyard or in the bar upfront. All and all, a very sexy little Italian where you can actually hear your self talk.