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Manhattan & NJ (Bergen County) Restaurant Reviews

Ian Hunter's Guide to Manhattan and Bergen County, NJ's Best Restaurants, Bars, and Gourmet Markets

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EAST VILLAGE: (Houston- 13th; East of 3rd Ave)

 

Da Andrea: Italian. 35 W 13th @ 5-6th Av; 24/17/$39; 367-1979; So good it’s scary; Homestyle, affordable cuisine; Treated like family; Mouth watering menu. Homemade freshly made pastas; Giant menu with all the classics and more; Very affordable; House wine is outstanding; Non-pretentious, date friendly and always reliable; Pretty much a no-brainer. Grilled Squid; Caprese;  Zuppa di pesce; Lamb Shank.

 

Ngam: Thai. 99 3rd Av @ 13th; 27/19/$30; 777-8424;  Famous Chef Hong (Iron Chef contestant) offers cooking classes and has a great Thai cookbook; As authentic as it gets; Fairly small space so go early or for lunch; Brunch available as well; Multiple Grilled Calamari dishes; The currys are amazing; Soft Shell Crab in season; Crispy Pad Thai; Drunken Noodles; Lobster Dumplings; “Cutie” Duckling. The dishes are creative and mouthwatering. Really an amazing find.  Possibly best Thai in New York.  Grilled Surf & Turf for 2 $20; Wow wow wow; Lychee Punch and other amazing cocktails. 

 

Momofuku Ssam Bar: Japanese. 207 2nd Av @ 13th St; 25/16/$48; 254-3500; David Chang’s 3 star NY Times rated eatery; Awe inspiring pork buns and an incredible hog feast; Rotisserie duck for lunch M-F; Assorted country hams on menu; Kimchi, Sirloin steak, roasted lamb; Odd mix to the menu; Setting wise – very uncomfortable back-less wood benches. Country Hams, Grilled Mackeral. Duck dumplings.

 

Balade: Middle Eastern. 208 1st Ave @ 13th St; 23/20/$36; 529-6868; Traditional Lebanese spot known for mouthwatering mezes and mixed grills; Lunch, dinner and brunch; On healthy side, lots of salads and soups to picj from;  Over 20 different Mezes (small plates) including Hummus, Grilled Halloume Cheese;  Phyllo filled with Mozz and Lebanese Wings. Try a Shawarma platter or Lamb Chops.

 

Jeepney: Filipino. 201 1st Av @ 12th-13th; 23/18/$38; 533-4121; Try something unique and adventurous; Colorful décor; Traditional menu; Super fancy cocktails; They have a Kamayan Night – a feast eaten off of a communal table; Hard to explain…. Menu here is adventurous for even me;  There are a few things I can’t mention – ewe – like Duck embryo.  But I hear it is a lot of fun.

 

Strip House: Steakhouse. 11 E 12th @ 5th Av; 24/23/$86; 328-0000; Dark, hip joint; Amazing steaks; 1950s scene; Red interior reminding one of Moulan Rouge; Pin Up Photos, yet very female friendly; Amazing Sides; Just a different take on carnivore experience. Bone-in Rib Eye, Filet Mignon and creamed spinach stand out;  Spicy tuna tartare; Roasted Bacon; Raw Bar; Yellowfin Tuna. Not as huge a menu as other places. Brilliant cocktails. Midtown location as well.

 

Gotham B&G: American. 12 E 12th St @ 5thAv;  28/26/$92; 620-4020; New American; $38 prix fixe lunch; Terrific food; Always wonderful. Manhattan institution; Perfect service; Dates, Business or Casual.  Majestic room & epic service; Soft Shell crab in season. You can’t go wrong here. Michelin 1-star;  Just an insanely popular place that always pleases; Chef Alfred Portale; Expect to pay about $100/ person with a drink; By the way – the bar is excellent. 35 page wine list on line;   

 

Japonica: Japanese. 100 University Pl (near 4th Av) @ 12th St; 23/16/$45; 243-7752; Excellent Sushi- crazy fresh & giant in size; Japanese classic dishes – tempura, dumplings. Favorite of NYU students. Fans rave over the sashimi;  Energetic chefs and you will never walk out hungry. No Rez during peak hours; Been around since 1978 and going strong. Not a big space.  Menu is endless as is the variety.

 

Hearth: American. 403 E 12th St @ 1st Av; 25/20/$62; 646-602-1300; Upscale yet relaxed; Exactly what the East Village needed; Pricy yet inspired New American selections; Limited, seasonal menu- ever hanging with daily specials. Excellent food and date friendly; $72 7-course tasting menu;  Italian dishes as well from Chef Marco Canora; Great cheese plates available;  Dinner only & Brunch.

 
Kingsley: American. 190 Av B @ 11th-12th; 26/26/$64; 674-4500;Zagat #1 ranked American & Best newcomer in 2017;  Absolutely polished service, décor and food quality; Also ideal for Happy Hour and drinks;  Closed Monday; Lunch served weekends;  French influenced cuisine;  Seasonal, local cuisine; Cocktails/Wine around $14 and beer $7; Brunch served – build your own Bloody for $14; Dinner menu is very limited so check online.  
 
Kanoyama: Japanese. 175 2nd Av @ 11th St; 26/17/$53; 777-5266; Sushi lovers come here; Fresh amazing fish; Incredible bargain for a ‘26’; Friendly servers; Sushi served straight from the Japan Sea it seems; Bluefin Toro is notable. Rare varieties available; Cool sake bar recently added; Wildly popular with East Village hipsters; Go for the omakase; Massive menu – endless appetizers.  Small place with 44 seats;  Has an oyster bar as well;  Lots of sushi rolls.

 
Momofuku Noodle Bar: Japanese. 171 1st Av @ 10-11th St; 24/15/$34; 777-7773; David Chang’s most affordable place (of his 5 restaurants); Always packed – the master does his genius on noodle soups & hall of fame pork buns. Small & hectic and the usual spartan décor;  Cool date spot (if your back isn’t hurting);  Enjoy a pork or shrimp bun – amazing; Also has Fried Chicken of all things on menu. Best for lunch.

 
Flinders Lane: Australian. 162 Av A @ 10th-11th; 25/20/$51; 228-6900; Southeast Asian inspired Aussi food served expertly in a casual environment; Closed Sunday; Michelin recommended;  Some of  the better dishes include: Pork Rib Soup, Salt & Pepper Squid, Poached Chicken Salad, Laksa Curry with Crab, Crispy Tofu, Orange Fish curry, and Australian Lamb Shank.  Not a huge menu but each dish cared for.
 

Il Cantinori: Italian. 32 E 10th St @ BWay-5th;  24/20/$55; 673-6044; Been around for over 3 decades; Gorgeous, welcoming interior with lots of flowers; Like dining in an indoor garden; Professional service; Menu features Panzella salad, Frito Misto, homemade pasta dishes, and Shrimp Scampi.  They use the freshest ingredients and strive to make your stay memorable. Lovely desserts.

 
Graffiti: American. 224 E 10th @ 1st-2nd Av; 27/22/$48; 677-0695; Gorgeous little wine bar; Perfect for light fare before heading out; Also a great date spot or for a drink pre-dinner somewhere else; Foodies love this place; Fair prices – wine is $12 / glass or $35/bottle. Food is Eclectic in style with Indian influence. The chef has appreaed twice on the Iron Chef. 15 types of wine on the menu.  Closed Mondays. 

 

Brindle Room: American. 277 E 10th St @ 1st Av – Av A; 24/18/$33; 529-9702; Cozy gastropub that features small plates of American comfort food;  You will sit on stools;  Must try the duck poutine; steakhouse burger and smoked chicken wings; Other interesting items: Panzanella salad; Kale salad; Mexican moulles frites; Garlic chili shrimp; and fisherman stew. High end pub. Serve brunch also. 

 

Gnocco Café: Italian. 337 E 10th @ Av A-B; 23/17/$45; 677-1913; Fried Dough appetizer; Garden; Date spot- perfect in nice weather; Heavenly food. Quality pastas- especially gnocchi; Relaxed atmosphere with modest tabs for the quality. Can get crowded and cramp if not in the garden; Medium sized menu with scrumptious choices- most featuring mozzarella; Desserts are outstanding. Try the pizzas; 

 

Ippudo: Japanese. 65 4th Ave @ 9-10th St; 25/21/$23; 388-0088; Home of perfect ramen noodles done many ways; Noodle heaven; Best not to venture from this menu item; Tranquil, serene setting; Cool décor. Long waits as it is extremely popular; Inexpensive goodness; 8,500 reviews on Yelp – most I’ve ever seen and 90% are 4 or 5 stars;  The ‘it-spot’ for Ramen noodles, even if not best in city.

 
Knickerbocker B&GAmerican. 33 University Pl (near 4th Av) @ 9th St; 22/19/$46; 228-8490; Focus is on steaks, happily at less than steakhouse prices; Large portions; 70s décor. Non-pretentious; Live weekend Jazz; Dependable- notch down from top meat emporiums. Basically, a fine meat and potatoes type of restaurant; Get the T-bone; Overstuffed sandwiches are amazing. Great brunch menu – though drinks not included. 

 

Robataya: Japanese. 231 9th St @ 2nd-3rd Av; 22/23/$54; 979-9674; Popular, lively East Village hotspot; Food beautifully presented; Try sitting at the counter here & watch the chefs grill up your dinner; Mostly a small-plate format (small portions); Not a sushi restaurant; Grilled Long Island Duck; New Zealand lamb; There is a $60 or $80 Omakasa that is the way to go. Extremely unique place. Traditional Japanese BBQ; 

 

Soba-ya: Japanese. 229 E 9th @ 2-3rd Av; 23/17/$26; 533-6966; Soba noodle specialist; Array of broths; Relaxing atmosphere; Very inexpensive; The broth- the veggie stock is delicious. Soba isn’t my usual thing but this place is the best in the city for it. Also have Udon noodles and amazing Japanese ice cream. How about their 5 course $22 early bird Prix Fixe!  Great for a change of pace. 

 
Hasaki: Japanese. 210 9th @ 2-3rd; 22/15/$48; 473-3327;Has wonderful classic Japanese selections & sushi as well. Large menu; Tempura is great; No reservations. Focus is on the swimmingly fresh fish. Try the sushi and sashimi combo for two for $62- comes with their distinctive Miso soup and salad; Even have some Korean items on the menu; Yummy Shabu-Shabu.  Multiple Omakase options available
 

Veselka: Ukrainian. 144 2nd Av @ 9th St; 22/14/$29; 228-9682; Upscale diner setting with a fabulous brunch;  Always packed as the comfort food here doesn’t disappoint; Try the stuffed cabbage, pierogis ($8.50 for 4) or Borscht.  The place is an institution. Open 24/7.  The veal Goulash, Beef Stroganoff are also excellent;  Brunch is 9am to 4pm weekends.  Hard to walk away unhappy. 

 

Cafe Mogador: Moroccan. 101 St. Mark’s @ Av A-1st; 23/17/$30; 677-2226; Neighborhood mainstay; Young, hip scene; Garlic-laded entrees; Mussels with shallots & olive oil; Dirt cheap as well; Cous-cous and lamb tagine (long simmered stew) stand out; Simply put: incredibly well prepared & authentic Moroccan cuisine at Rabat level prices; Been around nearly 30 years. Super popular.  Brunch served. 

 

Klong: Thai. 7 St Marks Pl @ 2nd-3rd Av; 21/17/$29; 505-9955; Extremely affordable street food reminiscent of Bangkok; Cool overall vibe and open very late; Great soups, curries and Pad Thai variations. Try the spicy Basil Noodles – a house specialty; 5-7pm Happy Hour; Pretty cool décor. Fairly crowded and noisy but great food. Very inexpensive;  Dine tapas style by ordering several items to share. 

 

Kafana: Serbian. 116 Ave C @ 7th-8th; 24/20/$29; 353-8000; Wildly popular and probably the best Balkan restaurant in the city; Tasty regional pork dishes stand out; One of only a few Serbian places in area; Try 2-person mixed grill; Balkan cuisine has arrived at last; Small, cozy living room setting; Get the Sopska salad; Cheese and Spinach pies; Cash only; Meat-centric menu – dirt cheap. What a hidden gem. 

 

Oiji: Korean. 119 1st Av @ 7th-St Mark’s; 25/20/$50; 646-767-9050; Small gem of a Korean space. Great takes on modern dishes; Very small; Just great cocktails; Tapas style small plates to share and enjoy; Braised Oxtail with Root Vegies – OMG; Pork Belly with Kimchi;  Get the Honey Butter Chips; Not a huge menu – just delicious. Dinner only.  

 

Huertas: Spanish. 107 1st Ave @ 7th St; 26/22/$64;  228-4490; Hip up and coming restaurant; Great wines and sangria; Lively bar scene; Menu is combo of larger plates and Tapas; Weekend brunch menu; Drinks are on the pricy side;  The menu is somewhat limited and changes so see website; Excellently prepared food; Service is mixed – hit or miss;  Unique preparations. 

 

Pylos: Greek. 128 7th St @ Av A-1st Av; 26/23/$55; 473-0220; Reasonable prices for Greek; Elegant décor and staff; Sexy gem and amazing homemade quality dishes; Hellenic wines and modern dishes transport you to the islands. Damn damn good; $15 prix fixe brunch with a drink;  Large assortment of appetizers; Could use more variety of seafood but otherwise exquisite.  Wildly popular & rave reviews. The moussaka is perfect;  Poached Salmon. Tons of apps. 

 
Caracas Arepa Bar: Venezuelan. 93 E 7th St @ Av A-1st Av; 26/17/$20; 529-2314; As good as Arepas (corn filled rounds with fillings) can get; Tons of varieties to choose from; Immensely popular; Incredibly tasty food; Always a line to get it for a seat as it is small- but worth it. Just wildly popular and authentic; Happy Hour drinks include $2 beers and a carafe of Rum Punch for $16; 

 

Pardon My French: French. 103 Ave B @ 7th St; 27/27/$41; 358-9683; Old school French bistro meets modern European atmosphere;  Amazing cocktails; Rave reviews; Weekend Brunch is bottomless and amazing for $29 & features Bloody Marys/ Mimosas; Dinner entrees include Slow braised Oxtail; Mulard Duck breast; Moules Frites; Striped Bass and potent cocktails for $13. Only issue is limited dinner menu. Brazilian influence; Outdoor garden seating. 

 

Haveli: Indian. 100 2nd Ave @ 6th; 24/17/$31; 982-0533; Love this place; Joined forces with nearby ‘Banjara’ to form amazing kitchen. Upscale for the neighborhood; Nicest of the 6th Street Indian restaurants; Large menu of cared for dishes; Perfectly spiced; Two levels- spacious setting. Tasteful décor. Try the Rogan Josh or Saag Paneer. This place remains somewhat of a hidden gem and the best date-option for Indian in curry alley. 
 
Brick Lane Curry HouseIndian. 306-8 E 6th St @ 2nd Av; 22/15/$35; 979-2900;  Fiery, flavorful curries; Huge portions at great prices; Step up from usual 6th St restaurants in little India;  Curries ranked in terms of burn factor; For ‘hot’ lovers. The famous standard Chicken Tiki Masala excellent here; Pillowy Naan selections that are made for the curries. London-style curries; Fun time for the daring.  Try the Phall!  Location at East 53rd street as well. 
 
Mancora: Peruvian. 99 1st Av @ 6th St; 22/15/$31; 253-1011; Bargain basement, yet high end quality Peruvian fare; Large, filling servings; Homemade meals; Authentic. Fresh fish, the best Chicken and meat dishes to die for; Large selection on menu. Try their excellent ceviche; Candle lit décor and somewhat trendy; You can order half a Rotisserie chicken with a side for $10!!; Bottomless Brunch – Mimosa, Sangria or Bloody Marys;
 
ZerzaMoroccan. 304 E 6th @ 1-2nd Av; 22/19/$37; 529-8250; Authentic food, attentive service; Meticulous care put into the cuisine & served beautifully. Lamb & chicken tanginess.  Belly Dancers on Saturday; Small plates of Moroccan food. Long, narrow bi-level space on Indian alley; Fairly exotic décor; Happy Hour and Hooka available; Great bang for the buck. Excellent location with lots to do afterwards.

 
AwashEthiopian. 338 E 6th @ 1st-2nd Av; 23/15/$24; 982-9589; Tasty platters of flavorful food combined with the traditional Bread; Eat with your hands; Extremely cheap and a great experience. Easily the best genre of African food and they nail it here. Great to share. Food richly spiced. Injera bread is light and flavorful. Order 2 meat and 3 vegie dishes for 2 for $29.  Lots of other combo offerings.
 
The Eddy: New American. 342 E 6th St @ 1st-2nd Av;  25/20/$58; 646-895-9884; Also a wine and cocktail ($15) bar; Trendy and a hotspot right now;  Five course tasting menu for $75;  About 15 total menu items. I like this place for a couple appetizers over a glass of wine.  The sort of place to impress a date after dinner with a finely made drink.  Bartenders are great. 
 

Upstate: Seafood. 95 1st Av @ 6th St; 27/19/$45; 917-408-3395; First rate seafood and revolving craft beer list; Very very small – often long lines;  Try the Fettuccini with clams – an unreal dish;  The hype is real here;  Besides a daily changing oyster menu, they offer a cheese and meat plate; Crab cakes; Salmon tartare; Also Fish and Scallop of the day.  Menu is extremely small – be an oyster & clam sauce fan! 

 
Buenos Aires: Argentinean. 513 6th St @ Ave A-B; 23/17/$38; 228-2775; Under the radar; Authentic local cuisine; Grilled meats and perfection in empanadas; Succulent steaks- best being the skirt steak; Carnivores playground; Large, inexpensive wine list. Short ribs, and shrimp in garlic butter also outstanding; Even have a few pasta dishes and seafood selections. Something for everyone. Order the short Ribs!  
 
Mermaid InnSeafood. 96 2nd Av @ 5-6th; 22/18/$43; 674-5870; Fresh from the ocean seafood and fish; Laid back, top service and affordable prices make this a top seafood choice. Upscale fish shack; Crazy good lobster rolls. $1 Oysters at happy hour; Get the “Mermaid Mary” – variation on the Bloody; Seared calamari; Great Raw Bar; Arctic Char tartare; Lobster Gruyere; Fish Tacos; Smoked Gouda Mac n Cheese; Decent atmosphere! 
 
Somtum Der: Thai. 85 Av A @ 5th-6th St;  25/17/$36;  260-8570; Well spiced dished, some mild, some incredibly hot;  Michelin 1 star; Reasonable pricing and unique flavorings; Try the flat noodles with shrimp & calamari; Food focus is northeastern Thailand;  Check out the online menu – photos of all dishes beautifully done. You will go running there after you see these dishes. Love the menu.  
 

Narcissa: American. 25 Cooper Sq @ 5th St; 26/22/$65; 228-3344; Hot new chef’s farm to table cuisine is ideal for a romantic date; Upscale vibe (and prices);  Great energy; Cocktails around $14;  Brunch – very expensive – is available;  Menu includes Ahi Tuna, Wagyu Beef, Barley Risotto, Steamed Bass, Whole Bronzino, Lamb T-Bone, Duck and Halibut.  Arctic Char for Two.  Creative excellent cooking.

 

Jewel Bako: Japanese. 239 E 5th @ 2-3rd Av; 27/22/$55; 979-1012;  Sushi so fresh it seems alive; Omakase is $75 or $90. A la carte – affordable. Considered the #1 sushi place downtown; Gorgeous bamboo setting; Epic good quality. Michelin 1-star; Chic setting lined with bamboo- though small; Start with Miso! Lots of amazing apps like the Assortment of Yellowtail or Salmon Sashimi;  Large special rolls are $20; Sushi or Sashimi dinners are $38. For a

Michelin restaurant – fair pricing.  

 
Degustation: French. 239 E 5th @ 2nd-3rd Av; 27/19/$85; 979-1012; Small 16 seat tasting bar; Spanish-infused small plates, French style; 12-15 items on the menu – all epic in quality; Like sitting at a sushi bar. Ten course tasting menu ($85); Not for groups; You leave yourselves in the hands of the chefs when you come here (and eat in front of them too).  Striped Bass; Burrata.  Best if you do the tasting. 
  

Risotteria Melotti: Italian. 309 E 5th St @ 1st – 2nd Av; 26/20/$38; 646-755-8939; Heavenly risotto is the stand out here;  Authentic cooking and risotto imported from Italy; Cute, romantic spot; Lunch and dinner; About 12 Risottos to picj from $17-$20 basically; Risotto pescatore with shrimp, calamari and scallops; Smoked salmon carpaccio; Wild Boar Stew; Pan seared salmon; NY Strip steak; Salads available;  If you come here – I’d share a Risotto and get a few appetizers.

 
Lavagna: Italian. 545 E 5th @ Av A-B; 24/19/$44; 979-1005;  Intimate Italian; Wine List is outstanding; Value priced top notch food; Ideal date spot; Wonderfully prepared food. Diamond in the ruff. Wine list filled with top choices, well priced;  $32 prix fixe from 6-7pm daily; Menu is full of creative dishes, but is somewhat limited in scope.  Monkfish, Cod, Pappardelle.  Probably a great lunch choice. 
 
Tuome: American. 536 E 5th St @ Av A-B; 27/20/$61; 646-833-7811;  Flavor central at this Asian inspired hotspot;  Not a ton of room; Signature dish is the Pig Out – a pork belly dish for two;  Deviled eggs and Octopus are great app choices; Excellent date spot – very trendy;  Also, Oxtail spring rolls; Spicy peanut noodles; Artichokes with spicy breadcrumbs;  Snow Crab;  Bronzino. 

 
Indochine: Vietnamese. 430 Lafayette @ Astor-4th St; 21/19/$52; 505-5111; French-influenced dishes; Super sexy staff serve up high-end Vietnamese classics with a French spin; Large, upscale menu; Unique food. People watching- fun scene. Across from the ever-popular Joe’s Pub so the crowd is trendy and usually noisy. Mixed service but overall reliable. Been around forever.  Grilled Rib appetizer;  Sea Bass. 

 

Black Ant: Mexican. 60 2nd Ave @ 3rd-4th St; 24/22/$50; 598-0300; Unique and innovative cuisine – be ready for surprises; Amazing cocktails; Dark lounge like setting; Super fresh guac made in house; Happy hour 4-7pm with great specials; Dinner only;  Beware – they have fried grasshoppers on menu and Black Ants ground up in some of the salt; Dishes are amazing, however, and nothing like you’ve seen. 

 

Nomad: African. 78 2nd Av @ 4th St; 21/20/$33; 253-5410;  Cool, almost spiritual décor inside; North African, French cuisine; Great spices; Tasty – unique food to try. Bargain- try couscous royale entrée. Most dishes served in Tapas style – small plates; Features a pretty back garden and recent menu improvements add Spanish entrees as well. Grilled Calamari salad; Lots of expensive meat entrees under $20. Algerian/ Moroccan.  Try the Trio Dip;   

 

Root & Bone: American/Southern. 200 E 3rd St @ Av A-B;  24/19/$43; 646-682-7076; Southern cuisine in a cool rustic, hip setting; Amazing cocktails and an intimate feel; Fried chicken & Waffles; Drunken Deviled Eggs; Try the biscuits; Mac n Cheese to die for; Comfort food central; Ran by young, good looking chefs; Shrimp & Grits; Striped Bass; Short Rib Meat Loaf; $65 4 course prix fixe;  Brunch served.

 

Lucien: French. 14 1st Av @ 2nd St; 24/18/$53; 260-6481; Just first rate bistro classics; Slightly cramp but what a Parisian feel; Charming service; Try the rabbit over egg noodles; Steak Frites; Fish soup with gruyere; Salmon or Ahi Tuna tartare; Grilled Octopus; Escargot; Whole Lobster fra diavolo; Chilean Sea Bass; Grilled Quail; Roasted Chicken;  Just amazing selection on the menu.

 

Bond Street: Japanese. 6 Bond (2nd St) @ Lafayette (NoHo); 25/23/$61; 777-2500; Stylish, sexy set-up; Trendy, unique sushi selections; Hip and popular; Cool downstairs lounge and this place features all-star level people watching; Impress a date; Not extremely roomy so reserve; Japanese small plates as well. Food wise, besides Sushi, the Chilean sea bass is outstanding as are the spicy crispy shrimps. Dining room and a lounge (where you can order roll, sushi and eat for cheaper). 

 

Il Buco: Italian. 47 Bond St (2nd St) @ Bowery-Lafayette; 26/24/$62; 533-1932; Unimaginably good Italian; Heavenly creations in a charming, perfect setting; Great date place & great scene; Stylish and cool; See website. Seasonal menu; Dining in a charming living room. Chef Ed Witt. Best wine list (400 labels). They have a romantic wine cellar perfect for a party; Celeb magnet; Really ideal for a special occasion.  Dining in a Tuscan home;  Seared Calamari, Burrata; 
 
Gato: Mediterranean. 324 Lafayette @ Bleecker (NoHo); 26/24/$70; 334-6400; Bobby Flay is back with one of the hippest spots in the city; Industrial setting – awesome bar; Creative dishes burst with flavor; Get the trio of spreads; Kale & Mushroom Paella; Porterhouse Pork Chop; Saffron Linguini; Crab Risotto; Cocktails - $16; Sit at the bar and get 3 appetizers for $19- Steal;  Tarragon Chicken; Soft Shell Crab. 
 
Yerba Buena: Pan-Latin. 23 Avenue A @ 2nd St; 25/19/$45; 529-2919; Very cool, hip scene; Date friendly and amazing drinks; Havana vibe; Fish tacos and the short ribs are the staples; From owners of Toloach restaurant; Brazilian paella is amazing; Black Cod; Suckling Pig; Peruvian shrimp soup; Overall a very small place with a limited menu; What they serve is excellent and the bar and drinks top notch. Rave reviews.  Sun-Fri 5-7pm Happy Hour – go for cocktails;  Brunch with unlimited cocktails.
 
Supper: Italian. 156 2nd St @ Av A-B; 24/19/$42; 477-7600;  Inexpensive amazing Italian; Wine bar next door while you wait for a table; Incredible pastas. Simple yet superb; Always packed; Cash only; No Rez; You really feel like you are in Italy – date friendly – cozy atmosphere; Tons of daily specials; Mozzarella to die for; Not a huge menu but specials rule.  Some tables are communal.  Brunch on weekends. 
 
Bar Primi: Italian. 325 Bowery @ 2nd St; 22/22/$52; 220-9100;   Daily made fresh pasta house; Gorgeous rustic setting – airy and spacious; Two levels – cool scene that’s date friendly; Fair pricing;  Lively crowd – not highly romantic; Brunch, Lunch, Dinner;  The Bruschetta is famous; Cocktails in $14 range;  Bufalo Mozz, 12 different pasta dishes each sounding wonderful; Grilled Bronzino; Cheese platters. DANI - 8

 

Saxon & Parole: New American. 316 Bowery @ 1st-2nd St;  24/24/$62; 254-0350; Ultra cool and hip hotspot that is both energetic and happening; Very stylish interior matched by great service; Equestrian themed digs; Meat and seafood focused menu; Brunch as well; Incredible cocktails including Bloody Caesar & Bloody Mary – uniquely done for brunch; Best for dinner; Seasonal menu – see website.

 
Prune: American. 54 1st St @ 1-2nd Av; 25/16/$48; 677-6221; Chef is a genius; New American; Known as Brunch haven- gets packed; You must try the Bloody Mary (10 types to pick from) & order Eggs Benedict; Epic food; Too small- 10 tables; Food produced is work of art.  Go early or be prepared to wait; Dinner is New American – casual setting. Brunch gets pricy if you drink.
 
 
Bowery Meat Company: Steakhouse. 9 E 1st St @ Bowery-2nd Av; 25/23/$90; 460-5255; Very unique menu that will

blow you away; 1960s vibe and excellent service;  Try the Broiled Oysters, Steak tartare, Burrata Ravioli, and Duck Lasagna;  Alcohol very pricy (Beer $10, Wine $15, cocktails $17); Other food choices I love: Burrata, Salmon Sashimi, Shrimp scampi, Deviled Eggs, Korean Ribs, Veal Chop, Colorado Lamb Chops, Ribeye, Hanger Steak, NY Strip, Lobster, and Grilled Branzino.