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(1st post, very exciting!) Fantastically yummy anniversary dinner recs?

cbean Apr 13, 2009 09:05 AM

Hello! My boyfriend and I will be spending a night in NYC in a few weeks to have a relaxing anniversary weekend. We live in Jersey, so we're in NY a lot, but we always seem to strike out when it comes to choosing a place for dinner. (I think we try too hard and overthink things haha) SO I am hoping to pick my fellow CH's brains for dinner suggestions. The criteria isn't too limited:

-location is completely open
-price: $$ to $$$
-open to all cuisines, but we're not looking to do Mexican. I'd also prefer no steakhouses, unless there are some nicer ones that I'm not aware of. And we're doing sushi for lunch, so we can rule that out for dinner also.
-it's an anniversary dinner, so someplace nice. It doesn’t have to be super romantic, we're totally down with someplace funky.


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  1. r
    RGR RE: cbean Apr 13, 2009 09:28 AM

    Welcome to Chowhound, cbean!

    Those dollar signs are not really helpful in figuring out your budget because people can interpret them differently from what you may have in mind. Also, we can't tell what they are supposed to cover. Instead, it would be better if you give us a per person figure (or range) for food only (drinks, tax & tip additional).

    9 Replies
    1. re: RGR
      cbean RE: RGR Apr 13, 2009 09:51 AM

      Thank you for the welcome, and for the tip!

      ok, so to clear up the price range - I think we'd like to try for under $175 for the two of us. That's not including drinks or tip.

      ( I hope this price range doesn't make us miss out on too too many places :[ )

      1. re: cbean
        Yaqo Homo RE: cbean Apr 13, 2009 10:09 AM

        If that price range *doesn't* include drinks or tip, you can go just about anywhere. Getting the 3-course prix fixe for 2 at Danny Meyer's restaurants would cost less than $175 (Gramecry Tavern, 11 Madison Park, etc. are always good choices for out-of-towners and for special occasions)

        But I get the impression you might have more fun going further downtown. Maybe a trendy LES place like WD50 or Stanton Social.

        Or go to Prune; that's what I would do. It is definitely "funky" but has very serious food, and you can eat like a king on the budget you specified.

        1. re: Yaqo Homo
          cbean RE: Yaqo Homo Apr 13, 2009 10:37 AM

          you're right on with us wanting something a little fun. I do want to mention that fancy-fun over uber-trendy is more the goal. I did a little search on Stanton Social and unfortunately came up with this: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4116...
          I think we'll stay away from there.

          However, as far as Prune goes, I have read a lot about it and the majority were positive. But it was mostly recommended for brunch. You suggest dinner there?

          1. re: cbean
            Yaqo Homo RE: cbean Apr 13, 2009 10:50 AM

            Yes!! I would *rather* go there for dinner than for brunch, because they take reservations (except on Sunday), and you don't have to deal with those silly lines.

            I took my sis there for her birthday last month and had the most splendid time.

            We started with the best fried oysters I've ever had in my life (it was a special; not part of the regular menu) and some delicious marrow bones as well. My sister enjoyed digging the marrow out (served with rock salt and toasty bread), and we both appreciated the fried parsley salad they served as a garnish.

            Then I ordered the delightful oily king mackerel with beets and she had some kind of pot au feu, and a side of decadent artichokes with snails. Everything (including dessert) was tasty and lovingly prepared, and service was spot on.

            The wine list is interesting and reasonably priced too (I think the most expensive bottle was around $80)--we went with a local white wine from the well-regarded Dr. Frank's vineyard in the Finger Lakes and loved it.

            Give it a try.

            1. re: Yaqo Homo
              cbean RE: Yaqo Homo Apr 13, 2009 10:56 AM

              Thanks! I'm definitely going to add Prune to my scribbled list of places to research. Thank goodness I have a few weeks to narrow my choices down!

              1. re: cbean
                RGR RE: cbean Apr 13, 2009 11:06 AM

                The reason we have steered clear of Prune, despite all we've heard about the Gabrielle Hamilton's excellent cuisine, is that the seating is sardine tight. Practially sitting in the lap of a diner at the adjacent table is not my idea of comfortable dining. But, if that won't be an issue for you, then go for it!

                If you want something less "formal," with reasonably comfortable seating, and an upbeat vibe, Apiary would be a good choice. Excellent New American cuisine via Chef Scott Bryan (formerly of Veritas), friendly service, and very nice atmospherics.


                Convivio serves delicious Italian food in a space with eye-catching decor and a vibe best described by the restaurant's name: convivial. The 4-course prix-fixe for $59 is definitely the way to go, a bargain for food of such high quality.


                1. re: RGR
                  Yaqo Homo RE: RGR Apr 14, 2009 11:31 AM

                  I think claims of overcrowding at *dinner* (not at the brunch madhouse) may be overblown.

                  First of all, Prune is a tiny, charming little restaurant, if you *like* that sort of thing. I happen to like it; for example, one of my other favorite restaurants, the original Snack in Soho, is smaller than many restaurants' coat check rooms. I like the cozy vibe at Prune and have never felt that I was "on top" of another diner.

                  Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Prune--like all but the most extremely popular restaurants--isn't exactly packing 'em in night after night during this grim economic slump. I went there at about 7:00 on a Sunday, and we were the only customers. I'm just sayin'.

        2. re: cbean
          RGR RE: cbean Apr 13, 2009 10:10 AM

          A $175 budget for two for food only offers great possibilities. Here are a few of our favorites, all of which, in my view, would be excellent for a celebratory dinner. As you can see, we favor French.

          Contemporary French:
          Eleven Madison Park - htp://www.elevenmadisonpark.com
          Veritas - http://www.veritas-nyc.com
          Tocqueville - http://www.tocquevillerestaurant.com

          Provençal French:
          Allegretti - http://www.allegrettinyc.com

          Happy Anniversary and Bon Appetit!

          1. re: RGR
            cbean RE: RGR Apr 13, 2009 10:58 AM

            I've seen Veritas come up on a handful of other threads, and from what I can tell it seems to have the vibe we're looking for. I'm going to peruse their site a bit.

      2. b
        balabanian RE: cbean Apr 13, 2009 10:15 AM

        i'd recommend Bacaro,
        on division street. sort of an out of the way location downtown, but super deilcious and special-occasion worthy- though in a downtown, italian restaurant way- not as elegant as gramercy tavern, etc, which would also be a great choice.

        2 Replies
        1. re: balabanian
          cbean RE: balabanian Apr 13, 2009 11:08 AM

          wow, Bacaro looks gorgeous. Seems a very buttoned up...is it a stuffy atmosphere?

          1. re: cbean
            balabanian RE: cbean Apr 13, 2009 02:27 PM

            no, not stuffy at all. pretty authentic italian, very dark/candlelit in the restaurant, but enough noise that doesn't feel tense. but like i said, it is a little out of the way, but if you like that (i do) it's a fun/interesting walk through chinatown.

        2. princeofpork RE: cbean Apr 13, 2009 10:43 AM

          I would recommend Apizz. Excellent Italian food, very romantic atmosphere but not stuffy. You will be in a very fun cool hood for activities before or after.

          1. c
            cbean RE: cbean Apr 13, 2009 11:15 AM

            That Crispo review that was just put up on the board is making me drool a bit. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6113...

            Anyone else with good experiences there?

            1 Reply
            1. re: cbean
              ukitali RE: cbean Apr 13, 2009 12:27 PM

              I second the Apizz recommendation.

            2. p
              Pan RE: cbean Apr 13, 2009 02:58 PM

              You might consider Degustation. I had a wonderful dinner with my girlfriend to celebrate her birthday. It did cost more than $175 all told, though, and not everyone likes to sit at a counter of an open kitchen. We did, though. Here are some threads where you can get a better idea of what's involved:


              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6070... (includes links to some Degustation "food porn" that also shows what the room looks like



              8 Replies
              1. re: Pan
                cbean RE: Pan Apr 13, 2009 06:31 PM

                Degustation is definitely on my list to try one day, and I do think it would be perfect for a birthday celebration. But I'm not feeling it for the anniversary dinner.

                Right now, after reading this and a bunch of other threads, I am leaning towards the following:


                But what's really strange is, we never intended to have Italian haha! But I'm sure we'll enjoy anywhere we wind up.
                SO out of those, please give your #1 choice, and maybe throw out an American cuisine choice.

                1. re: cbean
                  CMG920 RE: cbean Apr 13, 2009 07:01 PM

                  Crispo is definitely special! The food there is fantastic. Apizz is very good as well and a very cool & comfy atmosphere. You could also try Hearth which is in the East Village and start off the evening with wine at Terroir which is right down the block. I also think that 26 Seats in the East Village is very cozy and has delicious French food.

                  1. re: cbean
                    ABT RE: cbean Apr 14, 2009 07:54 AM

                    I love Crispo, but it's not a big night out kind of place. It's a casual, brick-walled Italian, the kind of place I go with a few friends, or with my parents or in-laws when they're in town and want to do something comfortable with good food. Babbo is definitely more of a special night out kind of place, you get the fun vibe but also feel pampered. Lupa is more casual, with a crowded and hectic vibe, but the food is great. I like Apizz, but it never feels as special to me as other people find it.

                    I haven't beent to Scarpetta, but it seems to fit your bill and friends who've been loved it. So I'd put Babbo and Scarpetta on the top of your list.

                    1. re: ABT
                      cbean RE: ABT Apr 14, 2009 08:53 AM

                      ahh thank you for giving me an idea of the atmospheres at all my picks! Very very helpful. yes, right now I am strongly leaning toward Scarpetta. Babbo might be a little out of my price range once all is said and done.

                      1. re: cbean
                        prdct RE: cbean Apr 14, 2009 10:36 AM

                        I would vote Babbo if you have enough time to make a reservation. Though I have not been to Scarpetta it seems that the prices at Scarbetta and Babbo.

                      2. re: ABT
                        Pan RE: ABT Apr 14, 2009 12:56 PM

                        The thing about Lupa is that the back and front rooms have very different feels. In the front, it's more crowded and busy, while in the back, it tends to be calmer and more relaxed.

                      3. re: cbean
                        Slob RE: cbean Apr 14, 2009 02:53 PM

                        Of the places on your list, I've been to Scarpetta, Lupa and Babbo. Lupa wasn't anything super special. It was good but not great. We sat in the back room, and the service was spotty and detached.

                        Scarpetta was a fantastic room. Best of the 3 rooms by a long shot. Most comfortable and best overall feel. The food was also incredible. We had the polenta and short rib risotto appetizers. UNREAL! And we had the foie gras ravioli and the spaghetti with tomato sauce as main entrees. Both were VERY good. This would likely be my choice of the 3 I've been to.

                        Babbo was really cramped because we sat in the front. I mean REALLY cramped like we could barely move. We had the pasta tasting menu, which I loved. My girlfriend didn't love it as much as me because she is kind of sensitive to rich food. And the tasting menu is very rich. By the end we were ready to explode.

                        We actually scored reservations for our next trip at the beginning of May. Had to get a 10 pm slot because everything else was booked for the whole 3 days we'll be there. But we don't mind eating a late dinner because it gives us more time throughout the day to feast at other places. This time, instead of the tasting menu, we'll likely go with a couple appetizers and 2 or 3 pasta dishes as mains.

                        1. re: Slob
                          planetjess RE: Slob Apr 14, 2009 03:43 PM

                          Seconding Scarpetta (and I'm a Babbo lover).

                          For an anniversary, the atmosphere is perfect (I think I've just responded on this very question on one of your (the OP) other threads), and while this is pretty unscientific, my price point has definitely always been higher at Babbo--which is to say that you'll be able to spend more on wine at Scarpetta (where, by the way, the service I've received has been consistently sublime). I think whichever way you go you're in good shape not to "strike out" this year.

                          p.s. don't snack between lunch and dinner!

                    2. c
                      cbean RE: cbean Apr 14, 2009 07:54 PM

                      wow everyone has been sooo great and super helpful, thank you guys so much! I am falling further and further in love with this site and my fellow chowhounds! I hope I can be just as helpful as you've all been to me at some point in the near future!

                      I will be calling Scarpetta tomorrow to attempt to get a reservation for our weekend in nyc. wish me luck!

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