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Jul 8, 2010 01:01 PM

Looking for inspiration for a friend's 60th Birthday Celebration

My inspirational moments seem to have vanished. I need to make a reservation for a 60th birthday celebration for a dear friend and I can't seem to think of a great place. It's scheduled for June 28th for 8-10 people. That doesn't give a lot of time to make a reservation for a large group.

The group's food taste is eclectic but tends to like American, French and Italian food. We have gone to quite expensive places in the past but would be happy to go somewhere a little more moderate now though still celebratory and interesting. (We had thought about going to Blue Hill at Stone Barns but I don't think we could ever get reservation there at this point in time!) My friend lives in the Village but downtown Manhattan, Chelsea, East Village, Union Square area, or even uptown/eastside are all fair game. Even more important than the food is that we be able to hear one another!

I appreciate all suggestions. Just tell me what you think makes the place special.

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  1. July 28th or June 28th. June is gone. I know I do the same thing.

    Scarpetta seems to be getting a lot of good reviews now days. I think Scarpetta gets rated high for just about everyhting and anything. Food, atmosphere and service. I don't know about 8/10 people if it's July 28th though. My personal choice would be Maialino. It has great food, atmosphere and the service is outstanding.

    Scarpetta @ 355 West 14th St., New York, NY 212 - 691 - 0555.

    Maialino @ 2 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 212 - 777 - 2410.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Littleman

      I like the food at Scarpetta but it's pretty noisy if a large group wants to hear itself and not drown out the rest of the place. Maialino is an interesting option. I haven't been but I've wanted to go for some time.

      Maybe I should look for a place with a private room? I really would appreciate more suggestions. The brain freeze is persisting and I need to make a reservation soon. It's now looking like 10-12 people.

      1. re: KingsKetz

        The noise level in the trattoria at Maialino can get kind of high. There is a private room that can easily accommodate 10-12 people. That would enable you not only to hear each other, but to get up and move around. (There are photos of it on the website.) I would definitely contact them to see if it's available and what menu options there are for groups your size.

        Maialino photos:

        1. re: KingsKetz

          You must not have seen my entire post. June 28th is gone. Do you mean July 28th.

          1. re: Littleman

            I did mis-type. It is for July 28th. Can't believe the summer is speeding by so fast!

      2. I arranged a celebration party for 12 at Lupa last year and was very pleased with the experience. For a group that size they do a prix fixe at two different price points--neither inexpensive. They set up a table along the banquette in the back room and although it wasn't, it almost felt private. The back room is cozy, the food was marvelous, the service very professional, and the whole evening just what I had hoped it would be.

        170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

        1. Some ideas for a group of 10-12 where you can hear each other:

          I would try The Smith or Jane, both of which have reasonable party packages for their private rooms (both of which are in the lower level of the restaurant). Note that beverages will be billed separately. The food is good but not exemplary.

          Freemans also has a private room. I actually prefer the food at Freemans over Jane or The Smith and particularly like their bacon wrapped dates and macaroni and cheese. Good cocktails and service as well.

          Public has the "wine room" which is a curtained off, semi private area that might also work.

          'inoteca could also work, there are two locations: LES and Gramercy. Both locations have a family style party menu starting at $34pp with additional add-ons and a wine pairing available, or you can order a la carte. The LES inoteca has a downstairs cellar. I think the food is very good here and while both locations can get rather noisy, a more private area will let you hear each other. I've been to the Gramercy location as well but have no idea about any private room setup. I really like the meatballs, truffled egg toast, panini, and affogato there.

          Alta is another possibility. They have two areas for large groups and you can order "The Whole Shebang" which is every small plate on the menu for $240. But they have large groups all the time--another hound went recently and enjoyed the food but not the sangria or desserts. I can't seem to find the review right now though.

          Blue Ribbon Bakery. They have multiple wings and levels, it will depend where they seat you, presumably in one of the downstairs areas. You might end up with a little wing all to yourself and it will feel semi-private there. But you'll have a lot of choice on the menu and I can never seem to pass up that roasted bone marrow, or the bacon and onion bread, or the duck club sandwich (at lunch).

          The Breslin offers a suckling pig dinner at the "chef's table" for a group that size. I'm not sure of exactly where they would put you -- if it's on the main floor and not the upper level, it may still be a bit noisy. I've not tried their suckling pig but the other food I've had at the Breslin was good, but a little heavy and very meat-centric.

          Resto similarly offers a large format feast for a group. I've been for lunch but not dinner and can't recall the noise level.

          Ma Peche might also work -- I recently did the Beef 7 Ways meal with 8 people and it was actually pretty sedate in the restaurant for a Friday night. It's a ton of food and could be a little overwhelming, though. And they max out at 10 people, though.

          Tia Pol has a private room as well. I've heard that dining in the private room can get pricey but you'll have privacy and theoretically be able to hear one another.

          Boqueria is another possibility; they have a group dining menu for $40pp. The Spanish small plates are very good and there are two locations: Soho and Flatiron. But I don't think the Soho location has a private room, more like a big booth in back. It can get noisy so I'd visit in person perhaps to gauge.

          111 East 29th Street, New York, NY 10016

          Tia Pol
          205 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

          Blue Ribbon Bakery
          33 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014

          53 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011

          323 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

          The Breslin
          20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

          Ma Peche
          15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

          5 Replies
          1. re: kathryn

            Ms. Kathryn.........the Breslin does not take reservations. Nice place though. Good luck.

            The Breslin
            20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

            1. re: Littleman

              The sucking pig dinner requires 2 days advance notice and reservations.

              1. re: Littleman

                The Breslin does take reservations if you ask for the suckling pig dinner. Otherwise, you're right, no reservations.

                The Breslin
                20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

              2. re: kathryn

                KIngsKetz wrote: "Even more important than the food is that we be able to hear one another!"

                There is no way I would ever recommend 'inoteca Gramercy to someone who says that. When 'inoteca's dining room is busy, the noise level is deafening! And the room does not have any kind of separate or "more private" area.

                We have restricted our visits there to lunch and very late in the evening, both midweek, when the dining room is sparsely populated.

                1. re: RGR

                  I did caveat the recommendation of inoteca Gramercy saying I had no idea about any private room setup similar to the LES one.

              3. For French cuisine, I would highly recommend the charming bistro La Mangeoire, on 2nd Av., b/t 53rd & 54th Sts. A few months ago, 4-star Chef Christian Delouvrier took over the kitchen. Six of us had a wonderful dinner there a few weeks ago. Not surprisingly, the food was very well-prepared and delicious. Service was friendly and competent. Our table was in a small space at the rear (open to the main dining area) which can easily be given over to a group of 10-12, thereby providing some privacy.

                La Mangeoire photos here:

                1. Craft, but its not that eclectic