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Romantic (inexpensive) dinner in East Village?

My husband and I are going to be in NYC next weekend. I'm looking for a cozy, romantic, but fun (but not overly hip) restaurant preferably in the East Village area that isn't too loud, inexpensive (entrees under $25), with hearty food (no teeny portions). Please help!!!

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  1. if you like thai, i'd suggest holy basil

    Holy Basil
    149 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

    1. Holy Basil isn't really romantic, nor is it fun. Its ambience is blah, but the food is good.

      I suggest:
      - Supper for great Italian (2nd b/w A and B)
      - Bao 111 on Ave C near 7th for really good Vietnamese
      - Against the Grain/Grape and Grain on E 6th b/w B and C for small plates and good wine
      - Hearth on 1st @ 12th for American/Italian
      - Knife + Fork on E 4th (haven't been, but I've heard it's good)

      11 Replies
      1. re: scarlet starlet

        I haven't been to Holy Basil in years, but when I did go, I found it more expensive than other Thai restaurants for smaller portions that lacked spiciness. I was very unimpressed and felt it was a place that was mainly about decor and image.

        netster, if you're looking more for atmosphere than food, consider Lavagna and try to get the table that overlooks the garden. I haven't been there for a couple of years, too, because I prefer to go to other Italian restaurants (Hearth for expensive, if someone else is paying, or Cacio e Vino, Col Legno, and such-like for moderate), but I did like the food.

        1. re: Pan

          yikes. i guess holy basil has really gone downhill. granted i haven't been there for a very long time, but i had some great food and pretty intimate, enjoyable meals there way back when.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I haven't been there for quite a long time, so it's really hard to know what the difference in our time frames might or might not be.

            1. re: Pan

              i'm sure my last trip was well before yours. we're talking 2001...

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                I'm guessing I was last there before that.

                1. re: Pan

                  well then, since i'm moving back to NY next month, i'll just have to revisit holy basil and see for both of us!

          2. re: Pan

            LaVagna is a good suggestion if OP is looking for Italian cuisine. It is cozy and romantic. Not sure if it will meet OP's request for hearty food and fun. They do have a prix fixe dinner for $35. We just went again recently.

            1. re: financialdistrictresident

              LOVE Lavagna, but I found it to be pretty loud when I went on the weekend.


              1. re: LeahBaila

                LeahBaila, agree noise can be an issue there. Like Pylos, it's a small, cozy space. Last time we went it was a Sunday evening.

          3. re: scarlet starlet

            Knife and Fork didn't impress me at all. The tasting for $45 (I think) is a steal, but a lot of the ingredients were repetitive.

            1. re: kathryn

              Me neither. I thought everything was overly precious/contrived and just not good enough.

          4. I second Supper-- nice place and not too expensive. Bao 111 and Hearth are above your budget.

            I like Cafe Itzocan for interesting french-mexican food, but it may be less romantic than cramped. There are like 6 tables in there.

              1. re: LeahBaila

                Thanks for all of your suggestions. I was reading a review of Cafe Cortadito and it sounds really good. Has anyone been there? Also, if you have, which would you choose - Supper or Cafe Cortadito?

                  1. re: netster

                    My bf and I had dinner at Cafe Cortadito about a month ago and we both were very pleased w/our meals especially for the value. It was byob when I went but you should call to make sure. I prefer Cafe Cortadito over Cafecito for Cuban food in regards to the quality of the food and atmosphere. I can't comment on Supper. Perbacco is fun b/c you have the small plate options however I don't find it as intimate as Cafe Cortadito. Pylos is another good option. Knife and Fork is over your budget however there is an early bird prix-fix of $35 I believe. Hope this helps...

                    1. re: netster

                      Cortadito was really delicious when I went. Yuca fries, and plantains stood out as being exceptional stand outs that we could have easily overlooked, so make sure you try those if you go. I loved my Ropa Viejo.

                      It's a matchbox sized place, and while I wouldn't say there's much ambience, most of the tables appeared to be on dates. To me an ideal date place is on the darker side, or has more private booths, so people aren't listening in on the ridiculous conversations that come along with courting someone. I loved the food at Lavagna a while back, but whenever it's suggested for a date I just flashback to how the layout of the chairs is very cramped with extra tiny tables.

                  2. There is a new charming French spot called Antibes at 127 1st Avenue that would completely fit your bill. Hearty French food, a 30 pre fixe and lovely service.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: earla3

                      Friends of mine really didn't like the food, though. What have you ordered there, and how good was it?

                      1. re: Pan

                        I've had most of the entree's on the menu and think the place is a great value. The food is consistant in quality, value and service. I think my two favorites so far are the beef short ribs and the chicken. If your looking for something that's quiet, comfortable and with consistantly good food, then give Antibes a try.

                      2. re: earla3

                        I second that - we found it by chance last night, looking for dessert. Loved the ambience (including very cool music playing), and had excellent desserts. Looks like a good value to us and we are eager to go back for dinner. We hope they make a go of it.

                      3. Resto Leon on 12th (btw 1st & 2nd) for French/American. Decor is great with low lights/candles; servers are fun and friendly - they also play really fun music (but it can get it a little loud some nights...)

                        Via Della Pace (7th at 2nd ave) is great for Italian - great atmosphere - very cozy and romantic.

                        1. I recommend Hearth on E12th & 1st Avenue. The atmosphere is romantic and not overly loud. There is some ample space between tables so you won't feel like you are dining with another couple. The american cuisine is tasty and affordable. I think this restaurant is just what you are looking for.

                          For other reviews: www.hermanweb.us/category/food-reviews/

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: skepner169

                            Hearth is great, but above the OP's price range...

                          2. How about 9th Street Market. Tiny, cozy and has a fireplace. Good, southern influenced food.

                              1. Frank has really great food. It can be romantic with the dark home-y interior but you're also sitting really really close to the patrons at the table next to you. They really stuff you in like sardines. However, it's worth it for great italian. Reminds me of when I lived in Italy..

                                1. I like the menu at Cafecito cause they have this potato picadilo thing that sounds delish so we are going there. Will check our the other Cuban place though

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: lisettte

                                    Bianca on Bleecker Street at Bowery seems like it would fit the bill.

                                    Inexpensive but good, Italian dinner in a cozy, romantic, not too loud but not too quiet atmosphere. It's so reliable that i've recommended it for Valentine's day, Anniversaries, etc.. to couples looking for something juuuust right. And each time, they've thanked me for recommending such a perfect little spot.

                                    Knife and Fork is too quiet & serious and not very "fun". I live on that street so i see the vibe there everyday when i walk past.

                                    Frank has great food but it's so small you'll be jammed in with lots of other people and shouting over the din.

                                    9th street market is also a great choice. tiny and cozy, you feel like you're in someone's living room. i love this place.

                                  2. I thought Pylos was pretty romantic with its dim lights and cozy tables. the food was damn good, too.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: glutton

                                      I agree with you. Slightly close quarters, perhaps, and it can be insane on weekend nights, but I'm really grateful to have the place in my neighborhood.