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Wedding Dinner, December 2012, 40-50 ppl, $5000 Budget

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Dear Chowhounders,

I hope you can help as I am clueless about good food/restaurants in the city! I'm sure this question has been asked a thousand times on the site; but I can't seem to find a thread that fits my info and/or answers from this year.
My husband and I got married at city hall earlier this year, but would love to have a dinner for our closest family and friends; we were thinking on the anniversary of when we first met, December 14th of this year, which falls on a Friday.
I'm embarrassed to say I was born and raised in NYC yet have no real knowledge of good food in the city other than local Chinese take-out. And the food being great is of utmost importance to us! Here's what we're aiming for, if it's not too unrealistic in Manhattan:

(1) A place that can accommodate a group of 50 ppl, on a budget of no more than $5000 including tax & gratuity-- We do NOT want Liquor, so hopefully this helps a bit.
(2) Italian or Latin or American Cuisine
(3) A romantic, warm, intimate ambiance; rustic decor, since we can't really afford decor to dress it up.
(4) I have no clue if a restaurant would think of sticking a group of 50 ppl in their public space so this may go without saying, but a private area would be preferred, as we might want to exchange vows in front of our guests..

Sorry this is lengthy! I just really have no clue were to start and I must admit I am a bit intimidated by the whole process of calling restaurants up.

Thanks again!

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  1. Since Latin cuisine is OK, you may want to look into what it would cost to rent a Dominican place in the Bronx or some kind of Latin place in Jackson Heights, and if so, post to Outer Boroughs and ask for info.

    I'm not sure how many people can be seated in the downstairs area of Supper, but that might be a possibility for Italian food. I believe their prix fixe is $70 or $75/person. Their food is nothing extraordinary, but it is very solid, good, honest food with fresh ingredients.

    Just something out of the box in case you might change your mind: Since you like Chinese food, why not consider a Chinese banquet? $100/person would go a long, long way (probably quite a bit more than necessary, actually), and there are various Chinese restaurants that are very much used to wedding banquets and have private rooms. I'm not sure how big the rooms are in each of the following places, but some of the very good Cantonese banquet places are Oriental Garden, Congee Village, and Congee. And actually, with your budget, some higher-end places might be doable (Kathryn may have more comments about that).

    1. I think Aurora in Williamsburg would suit nicely