Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Apr 15, 2008 12:39 PM

Insieme nice enough for special bday dinner?

Hi Chowers,

I used the board search function to find out that Insieme is a good choice for dinner after a show at Studio 54. I checked and liked the menu. However, the pictures of it worry me - it looks like a coffee shop.

It's for my Dad's 60th birthday, so I want it to feel like a special place - doesn't have to be ornate; I just don't want it to feel like Katz's or a Brugger's.

Any thoughts on whether Insieme will give us that special occasion ambiance that I'm after?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It's a little stark looking, but in a cool (as in bordering on chilly, not "cool") sense, not a chintzy, coffee shop sense. the lighting is actually very nice, which helps matters some, as do the window treatments. that's certainly not my decor of choice, but it doesn't detract from the food, which was excellent on my last visit. really nice pre-amuse bouche of canapes, a soup amuse bouche and no disappointments among the dishes we shared. can't vouch for dessert, since we opted for dessert wines on their own instead.

    2 Replies
    1. re: david sprague

      Thanks so much David! That is helpful. If anyone has any alternatives that have special ambiance, I'd welcome those. I was also considering Da Tomasso.

      1. re: Vbr05

        i'd steer away from da tomasso, which has always struck me as just so-so. il gattopardo on 54th is very good, if quite expensive, and does an especially good job with fish. basso est on 56/b'way is also nice. they do a dish -- which i cannot recall the proper italian name for -- that's sort of a lobster canneloni, and i love that. both have a much nicer vibe than insieme

    2. I was there a few months ago for my brother's birthday. The food was very good, and the service was good, also. However, I am not a fan of the decor, and felt that a chef/management team such as theirs should have done a better job at making the surroundings feel more upscale. I, for one, felt the room was a little bit too bare and plain. It was tasteful, and certainly nothing diner-like, but nowhere near as charming or "special-feeling" as Hearth. In the end, I felt a little bit sorry that I hadn't chosen a more impressive place (as far as I know, my brother was perfectly happy with it).
      Should you ultimately decide to change your reservation, I recommend A Voce as a comparably-priced modern upscale Italian restaurant.

      1. After a matinee? On what day? Not Sunday, I hope, as they are closed. I like Insieme, but have to agree the space is a bit sterile-though how many will you be? They have booths along one wall that I think have a bit nicer feel.
        ViceVersa is a nice room but the food is a little less inventive than Insieme-very good, but more standard.
        The dining room at the Modern is a great space...I've enjoyed my two times there, but others have not...
        You aren't that far from Jean Georges for that matter-and you may be in the mood for French food after Sunday in the Park.

        1 Reply
        1. re: David W

          The booths are definitely more cozy-looking, though I'd say they are just about large enough for 4 friendly people :)

        2. I've had the same worry, but I realized after david sprague's post that it sounds like their other place, Hearth, which feels a lot like a coffee shop: it's the bare table tops, polyurathane over wood. At Hearth I eat at the kitchen counter, and that's why: talking to the cooks warms things up.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jolivore

            I really have to disagree. To my mind, you couldn't find a warmer atmosphere than Hearth if you tried, whereas Insieme is possibly the starkest upscale restaurant I have ever eaten at. There is no comparison. I also don't see how Hearth could possibly feel like a coffee shop- dim lighting, candles, plenty of wood and the friendliest service I have ever encountered.

          2. We haven't been to Insieme, but if you're concerned about the stark decor and want to stick with Italian food, you might consider L'Impero, a short cab ride away from Studio 54, on Tudor City Pl., b/t 42nd & 43rd Sts. The contemporary Italian cuisine is delicious, the wine list is excellent, service is friendly and capable, and the space has understated elegant decor. Definitely a fine place to celebrate a special occasion.


            Happy Birthday to your dad and Buon Apetito!