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50th birthday dinner for my mom....

It's my moms 50th birthday this year. My dad, sisters and myself are looking for a really special restaurant to take her out to. All together we will be between 7-10 people. We wanted a place which wasnt too loud, but not quite, had great food, beautiful atmosphere...can be somehwhat romantic, dimly lit. Def not looking for any gaudy looking places. We didnt want anything too small where we would be sitting on top of the next table.... I absolutely hate hearing other peoples conversations whie trying to hold my own! Any suggestions? preferably Italian food...

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  1. That's a huge pet peeve of mine, too--especially since I have a knack for sitting next to attentive listeners!

    I think the perfect restaurant for you might be Eleven Madison Park--but it's French. If you want to stick with Italian, Fiamma Osteria (upstairs room), Felidia, L'Impero, and Insieme are all excellent for the food and attractive in their different ways. (Insieme is midtown spare and sleek.) Probably a lot of people will recommend Babbo, as well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cimui

      Bouley is an excellent choice or Picholine on the UWS.

      1. re: Will4Food

        Here's another vote for Picholine.

    2. if price is not a problem, Del Posto will be great for you. As for the dining room inside which is dim lit (well, not sure I would consider it as romantic). The space is spacious and the pasta is delicious!

      Another choice is Hearth. It is more contemporary Italian (and some might argue that it is new American), but the space is quite intimate and homey. Excellent food!

      1 Reply
      1. re: kobetobiko

        This is one time I must disagree with you, kobe. In my view, the front room, which is where all large parties are seated, is too large to be considered intimate and homey. The decor is what I would call "early warehouse," the only saving grace being the proper lighting. Also, with so many larger groups, the noise level can get rather high. While the food is quite good, you are right that it is more New American with some tilt toward Italian. Frnakly, overall, I don't think Hearth is special enough for a Big 5-0 celebration.

        I think L'Impero has lovely ambiance, the kind that says, "Celebration." I have not dined there since Michael White took charge of the kitchen. However, he does have an excellent reputation (raves when he was at Fiamma Osteria), so I presume the cuisine he is serving at L'Impero will keep up the excellent level the restaurant maintained under Scott Conant.

        http://www.limpero.com

      2. All of these restaurants look really good.....but I feel like I have not found the right one yet. I was looking for a restaurant with a little bit more conservative menu....were not big on pigs feet and goet tongue!! Moneys not an issue...please give me some more ideas

        6 Replies
        1. re: mishy531

          May be Crispo? While I won't consider it as a celebratory type of restaurant, it is indeed dim lit and quite intimate in atmosphere. It is a bit loud but never to the point where I can't hear my companions. There is a back room which I think you may ask for if you have a big group. Then you may have more private conversation.

          The food is excellent without being too exotic (except the bone marrow...) Check it out and see if that will work for you!

          http://www.crisporestaurant.com/

          1. re: kobetobiko

            How about Gusto in the West Village? It's a lovely Italian restaurant with stunning decor (in my opinion anyway). I think the staff really does try to make their meals and service extra special - especially considering that the price point isn't on a level of Del Posto or Babbo. I think they have a more intimate (possibly private) room downstairs near the wine cellar. Maybe that would be a nice option? Good luck!

          2. re: mishy531

            Barbetta might be a good choice for you. They celebrated their 100th anniversary last year. While I haven't been, my brother and his wife had a special occasion dinner there and said the food was quite good. Photos on their website show that there is gorgeous ambiance both inside and in the garden. What their website does not include is a menu (a sore point for me!), but Menupages has one though it's hard to say if it's up-to-date. If you're interested, you could call the restaurant and ask them to fax or mail you a current one.

            http://www.barbettarestaurant.com
            http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

            1. re: RGR

              Barbetta is nice. The garden is lovely. I last went there for a business dinner and we were in a private room (mishy 531 you mentioned you'd be a party of 7-10, not sure if you were looking for a p. room). Food was traditional Italian, good not great.

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                fdr, How long ago were you at Barbetta? Did you order from the regular menu? If so, is Menupages up-to-date?

                Edited to add: This could be moot. I just looked again at mishy's o.p. and see that she said, "Def not looking for any gaudy looking places." Hmmm... That might eliminate Barbetta.

                1. re: RGR

                  RGR, Someone else hosted and I don't remember if we ordered from the regular or a pre-selected menu. Otherwise I'd be glad to check out menupages menu.

                  Not sure if I agree with your concerns re: gaudy. It is a bit old world (but not like Forlini's downtown), the garden is lovely.

                  Just remembered another Italian I used to go to for business dinners when I was at Citi, Vivolo on 74th & Lex. Haven't been there in a really long time. It was traditionaI. Did anyone mention Felidia's? It's dark, not loud (but not too quiet and formal). I've only been once.

          3. FYI, you can eat conservatively off most of the menus mentioned in this string. But if you want other suggestions, try looking into Il Mulino (I'm personally not at all fond of it, but it's very traditional, has no offal or "strange" parts on the menu) and Cesca (many simply prepared dishes available). The 21 Club is billed as traditional American--but it includes some Italian touches on the menu. That might be your cup of tea.

            If you're not set on Italian, you may also want to consider a steakhouse.

            1. How about Alto? Food is very good and tables are spaced far apart enough so that I don't think it will be loud. They have an upstairs, not sure what it's like since I was seated downstairs, but you might want to check. My only complaint was service, but perhaps it was limited to it being RW.

              1. A Voce, on Madison and 26th. Defintely the best idea for a special Italian dinner. Elegant, modern and really excellent.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Dessertsny

                  While I agree that A Voce's cuisine is excellent, when the room fills up, the noise level gets hideously high; therefore, it definitely does not meet michy's desire for conversation-friendly ambiance.

                  1. re: RGR

                    I hadn't known that. Thank you for pointing it out. I've never been there when it was that crowded.

                2. If you want traditional Italian, excellent food and not too crowded, you should check out Campanile on 29th street between Madison and park avenue south. The owner will treat you great and your mother will probably love it. I brought my parents there this year and they absolutely loved it!

                  1. Anyone have any suggestions near madison square garden?? We may be there earlier in the day and dont want to go to the other end of the for dinner.....

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mishy531

                      Keens is not far from MSG and has been in its 36th St. location, b/t 5th & 6th Avs., since 1885. The food is excellent, service is prompt, and the old NY ambiance is incomparable and charming. You could consider renting one of their gorgeous private rooms. The Lily Langtry would be perfect for your party (photo on website) and would make your mom's 50th birthday celebration feel very special.

                      http://www.keens.com