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Oct 11, 2008 05:31 PM

Nice anniversary dinner on a college budget?

My boyfriend and I are going out for our 2nd anniversary dinner together in November, and we'd like to treat ourselves to somewhere with a sort of romantic feel. We're both foodies and appreciate a good meal. However, a lot of the anniversary threads on this board have recommendations for restaurants that are way out of our price range-- unfortunately we're still working with a somewhat-modest college budget (he just graduated, I'm in my last year). We're willing to splurge, but at the same time can't go too crazy.

Any suggestions for us? Anywhere in Manhattan is fine, any kind of food is fine, we just don't have a tremendous amount of money to throw around. Any ideas would be helpful. Thanks!!

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  1. What is the most you can spend, per person, including tax, tip, wine, other drinks? What kind of thing are you looking for? More casual? Romantic? Cozy?

    3 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Around $100 for two people, not too worried about drink costs because neither of us will drink more than a glass of wine. Less casual, but cozy and romantic atmosphere, definitely.

      1. re: christinadutra

        the mermaid inn comes to mind or maybe freeman's alley? i admit that i have not been to the latter but it's on my "list."
        is brooklyn out of the question?

        1. re: oystersallday

          I recommend Giorgios of Gramercy (21 btw Park and Bway). Great food, cozy and romantic atmosphere!

    2. snack taverna on bedford (in the w. village) is one of more delicious, relatively inexpensive, romantic places i can think of. it's dark, cozy and relaxed, and you'll be able to get out at or under $100 for the both of you.

      you could also do three courses at Lupa on Thompson near Houston (in the W. Village) for the same price. again, the space is dark and cozy -- though some say too loud. the food is wonderful, rich, and homey (detractors say its oversalted; i say it's fine, except for the saltimbocca -- for obvious reasons).

      if you prefer not to butt up against the upper bounds of your price range, la lanterna on Macdougal in the W. Village is beautiful, low key and romantic. i wouldn't head there for the food, alone, though it does well with its wood oven fired pizza, desserts, and wines by the glass. there are few places that are as unpretentiously romantic, though -- esp. if you get a seat out in the back, covered garden or by the fireplace in winter.

      the most romantic getaway of all might be to pack a picnic lunch basket and find a grassy hill on governor's island, or pack your dinner and sit out by the water in riverside park. bring a blanket to wrap yourselves up in, against the nighttime breeze.

      happy anniversary!

      5 Replies
      1. re: cimui

        I just reccommended this for another 'hound:

        Symposium Greek Restaurant
        Old School Greek, GREAT food and very inexpensive!!! Cute place!
        544 W 113th St
        New York, NY 10025
        (212) 865-1011
        This will fit all of your foodie.romantic needs without breaking the bank - and your palate will be verrrry happy too!

        1. re: chocolatebirthdaycake

          I'm not sure I'd call Symposium "romantic." In fact that's about the last thing I'd call it... Old school, yes; very inexpensive, for sure; "great" food -- well, half the people I know at Columbia love it and half won't go near the place. But "romantic" only if you like scarred booths, tableware as old as the Parthenon, a general diner ambience, and a clientele that veers between mobs of students and nobody at all.

        2. re: cimui

          Snack Taverna sounds good, but I've read in a few reviews that their portions are kind of small. What can you say about your experience there?

            1. re: christinadutra

              Some of the tapas portions are a bit small, but the entrees have always been adequate in my experience. They don't come in diner- or steakhouse-sized portions, but if you have average sized appetites, they should be fine.

          1. The candlelit private recesses of the cellar at Bacaro are very romantic. The location and food make it a rare find for its location as well.

            Devi has a very luxuriant and sultry feel. The three-course tasting menu would fall right within your price range, though if you opt for to forgo dessert, you would have plenty of money leftover to take a nightcap down the street at House.

            The Moroccan restaurant on West 13th is also a hidden gem for affordable, but romantic.

            4 Replies
            1. re: JungMann

              how beautiful... i just went to the nymag page for bacaro and if it's anywhere as cute and quaint as the picture, i want to go! too bad i don't spend more time in that nabe!

              1. re: cimui

                I don't spend any time in that neighborhood, which made Bacaro all that more exotic and special when I stumbled in after hoofing it from Houston. The pictures don't actually do the place justice once you have see the brick walls glowing and patrons' faces illuminated by candlelight.

                1. re: cimui

                  The NYMag photos for Bacaro do look really nice, and it seems like it would provide a great romantic atmosphere. Thanks for all these great recommendations!!

                  1. re: christinadutra

                    Bacaro is a great suggestion. I ate at Bacaro last week. It's at the end of Chinatown on Division. They are changing their menu. Previous favorites include (some will remain):

                    *Lasagna with radicchio and bechamel sauce
                    *Duck ragu (unfortunately last week is what not as great as it usually is, it was very nice of my server to comp me dessert)
                    *Cold fried sardines
                    *Squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta

                    It's a small, reasonable menu and I am looking forward to the menu change since I've eaten just about everything on it! The amibience is perfect for an anniversary dinner and as suggested previously by D..F a candlelit table downstairs would be perfect.

                    LaVagna (EV) is also very good. They may still have a prix fixe dinner. Only caveat is tables are close together and it can be lively and noisy (like Le Zie, but in a smaller space). Better on weeknights then weekends. The food is very good. Atmosphere is romantic. One of my favorite tables is in the back corner opposite the kitchen/front of restaurant.

              2. I would vote for Degustation. Pick around 6 dishes total? It's quite an experience.

                1. Second Bacaro and Degustation.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: D...DF

                    If you do choose Bacaro, request a table downstairs (where most of them are). Super-romantic down there.

                    1. re: D...DF

                      Noted. What did you think of the food there?

                      1. re: christinadutra

                        Salume e formaggi offered some great options, though I would've liked a little more cheese
                        Crostini offered a good variety of flavors
                        Meatballs were well seasoned, not typical red sauce Italian fare
                        Rice balls were filled with a creamy cheese and rice combo that was delectable
                        Fritti misti were surprisingly light, though nothing impressive
                        Polpette were terrific; I could've finished the entire plate
                        Risotto was equally good. I DID finish the plate
                        Pork shank was the surprise hit of the night that won over all the timid eaters who were put off by the idea of shank

                        What I liked best about the menu was that it offered a wide range of flavors without being overly heavy and greasy as I find Italian food too often to be.