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New York City’s 10 Most Romantic Restaurants

Category Restaurants

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Whether it's your first date or your 50th anniversary, these are the 10 NYC restaurants where you need to nab a reservation pronto

The truth is that New Yorkers don’t need an overpriced prix-fixe menu as an excuse to slip into heels or a fancy shirt and park it in a sexy banquette for the evening. Whether it’s the first date or monthly date night, we love cozying up with some good food and someone special. When the mood strikes, this city teems with blush-worthy restaurants — whether tiny or sprawling, timeless or of-the-moment, daring or sure-fire, splurges or saves — and here are 10 of the city’s best for wooing your sweetheart.

The Water Club (Photo: Courtesy of The Water Club)

The Water Club (Photo: Courtesy of The Water Club)

Takashi
Canoodling carnivores head to Takashi, chef Takashi Inoue’s West Village beef shrine, where making dinner together is as alluring as eating it. Whether seated at the coveted chef’s counter or one of the small wooden tables, diners get intimate by cooking adventurous offal like heart and stomach — or the more familiar short rib and rib eye — over built-in grills. While this interactive dining experience is a surefire icebreaker, ordering cheeky items like the Tongue Experience (that’s three different cuts of the rich meat) will take things to the next level. One caveat: it’s a tight space, so once you’re through with the homemade Madagascar vanilla soft-serve ice cream, you may want to get a nightcap at the ambient cocktail bar Employees Only a few blocks away. 456 Hudson St., takashinyc.com

La Lanterna di Vittorio
Cozy La Lanterna di Vittorio, across from Washington Square Park and in the midst of chaotic New York University country, looks to be plucked from a charming European village. At this small, dark bi-level eatery that’s outfitted with a crackling fireplace, you can sit and talk over simple but satisfying fare (and with the most expensive entrée at just $16pp, it’s inexpensive too!) such as steaming bowls of minestrone soup and hearty slabs of Lasagna Bolognese. Top it off with an excellent cappuccino, or keep the night going downstairs at the intimate jazz hub, Bar Next Door. 129 Macdougal St., lalanternacaffe.com

Daniel
It may require saving more than a few pennies, but dining at Daniel is worth the potential scrimping in the aftermath. Acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud’s signature restaurant on the Upper East Side, which turned 22 in 2015, maintains an Old World elegance that feels decidedly modern, not stuffy. For this special date, dress up and splurge on a seven-course tasting menu, or piece together your own à la carte feast, perhaps including veal tenderloin “orloff” gratinéed with comté roasted porcini, Ras el Hanout spiced Dorset lamb chop baked in clay or caramelized veal sweetbreads with licorice root young spinach salad. The latter, meant for two, might leave you thinking you are too full for a molasses-poached pear, but carry on; dessert maintains the Cinderella illusion for just a tad longer. 60 E. 65th St., danielnyc.com

Butter
A clubby celebrity set flocked to Butter — and gave it cachet —  when it first opened over a decade ago in NoHo. Now, executive chef Alex Guarnaschelli, of Food Network’s Iron Cheffame, has moved the operation up to Midtown, where her cooking is at the forefront. The striking subterranean dining room, tucked inside the Cassa Hotel, gets a natural light infusion courtesy of a soaring atrium. For a more private experience, skip the communal table and head for one of the booths, where you can revel in the warmth of the wood-fired oven and order oysters on the half shell served with miso mignonette, serrano chili vinegar and house made cocktail sauce, thickly cut veal bacon paired with red wine mustard and a hearty, 28 day aged tomahawk steak for two. 70 W. 45th St., butterrestaurant.com

Gramercy Tavern
The two of you could be up front, in the warm, welcoming tavern, enjoying duck liver mousse with pickled vegetables or ensconced back in the more polished dining room tackling a multi-course seasonal affair — warm lobster salad, sunchokes, tatsoi and ponzu followed by duck breast & confit, brussels sprouts, hazelnuts and quince. Either way, at the Flatiron District’s iconic Gramercy Tavern you get treated to executive chef-partner Michael Anthony’s sophisticated greenmarket-driven cooking amid a classy, inviting backdrop that makes the hours go by far too fast. 42 E. 20th St., gramercytavern.com

Zenkichi
Oh, how Zenkichi tempts. Dining in a curtain-wrapped booth inside this labyrinthine, pebble-lined izakaya in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood is the epitome of a private experience. The small plates that keep arriving are marvels, too — white miso-topped Japanese eggplant, chicken meatballs in a soft egg dipping sauce and frozen black sesame mousse. No need to fret over waitstaff intruding upon your intimate fete, unless of course you desire more sake, in which case a buzzer instantly summons them. 77 N. Sixth St., Brooklyn, zenkichi.com

The Water Club
For a night out above the water, The Water Club is the clear choice. Dine along the windows which have sweeping views of the river and sip on Sazeracs paired with miniature beef Wellingtons, jumbo shrimp cocktail, and not your-everyday Lobster Thermidor, paired with braised leeks and mushrooms and a heady sherry sabayon. Make sure to stop and take a photo in front of the skyline. 500 E. 30th St., thewaterclub.com

One if By Land, Two if By Sea
That your three-course meal at One if By Land, Two if By Sea features executive chef Colt Taylor’s fancy dishes like hand-shaped parmesan cavatelli, wild mushroom baby leek ravioli or a marinated rack of Colorado lamb is beside the point. Instead, relish that you are in what might be the city’s most fabled carriage house. From its picturesque perch on a West Village street, to its charming arched windows and brick walls and abundance of breathtaking floral arrangements, it’s understandable why marriage proposals have been happening here over bubbly for decades. 17 Barrow St., oneifbyland.com

Mar’s
Queens’ sexiest restaurant is Mar’s, in Astoria, where the menu straddles the traditional  rib eye steak with truffle butter with an ambitious lamb and veal lemon burger on a brioche bun. The owners, who are behind neighborhood favorite Sparrow, embraced a more upscale approach with this newcomer. It oozes vintage charm: jazz plays softly out of 1930s-style retro speakers, the light fixtures are handmade and the bar — serving up classic tipples like potent Manhattans — is fashioned out of old courtroom pews. 34-21 34th Ave., Queens, lifeatmars.com

Il Buco
With rustic brick walls, eclectic decorations and a cozy atmosphere, this Noho eatery will transport you to the Mediterranean seaside. Inspired by cuisines of both Italy and Spain, Il Buco combines the rich cultures to create new flavors. Feast on the cast-iron-roasted Niman Ranch pork blade steak, broccoli di Cicco, salsa rossa or try their pan-fired Hawaiian king prawns in Trapanese coarse sea salt. Don’t forget about their olive oil tasting that can accompany your meal — impress your date by distinguishing between their three distinct variations. 47 Bond St., ilbuco.com

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