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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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WEST & CENTRAL VILLAGE   (N of Houston to 12th; Layfayette West)

 

STK: Steakhouse. 26 Little W 12th @ 9th Av; 22/24/$78; 646-624-2444; Major scene that becomes a trendy place to grab a drink later on; Going for the lounge vibe – girl friendly obviously;  Décor – can’t be beat for the genre; $16 cocktails – overpriced. Beer $8, wine $13-$15; Raw bar available; She-she-ish appetizers; Main courses – 7 or so diff cuts of steak – excellent – and an assortment of fish and decent sides. Issue here – more of a scene than a real steakhouse.

 

Injera: Ethiopian. 11 Abingdon Sq @ Bleecker-8th Av; 24/21/$35; 206-9330; Top ranking African in Manhattan; Flavorful meats and green eaten off the traditional Injera spongy bread; Absolutely top notch service; Cool décor with zebra print walls and tribal masks; AMEX or Cash only; Best bang for the buck is getting a Combo dinner: For $42 you can get 2 chicken dishes plus 4 Vegie dishes for 2 people. 

 
Barbuto: Italian. 775 Washington @ Jane-W 12th; 924-9700; 26/19/$55; Beautiful setting, especially in summer; Freshly prepared meals with stunning presentation. Season-driven kitchen with unique entrees; Eclectic scene; Signature dish is Pollo al Forno; Top Chef winner Jonathan Waxman; Cool location set in a converted garage – which is opened in the summer. Superb wine list. Limited menu.  Website is a treat – amazing pictures of mouthwatering food.  Bruschetta, Burrata, Calamari, Zuppa di Pesce.

 

Malatesta Trattoria: Italian. 649 Washington Av @ Christopher; 24/19/$35; 741-1207; Hugely popular, this classic West Village red-sauce / red wine mecca serves amazingly inventive and tasty meals; Outdoor seating available. Features grilled calamari, spinach gnocchi and a cash only policy; Country house feel inside; Lots of specials; Fairly uncomplicated menu with Italian all-time classics. Casual dining. So affordable.

 

Upholstery Store: Seafood. 713Washington @ 11th St; 26/26/$60; 646-460-3114; Part Wine Bar, Part Seafood.  Amazing atmosphere – great for dates; Kurt Gutenbrunner owned; Treat the menu like tapas and share a few items; Try the Lobster Roll, Smoked Mackerel or Murray’s Cheese selection;  Bartenders are true mixologists; Cumfy couches and a great area; European feel to the place. 

 

Wallse: Austrian. 344 W 11th St @ Washington; 25/22/$78; 352-2300; Kurt Gutenbrunner owned;  Like dining in Vienna; Intensely authentic; Charming, semi-formal setting. One of the city’s best wine lists; Artful décor; Michelin 1 star rated; Service is spot on;  Braised rabbit on the menu is outstanding;  4 course tasting for $90, 6 courses for $120;  Halibut, Lobster, Roasted Monkfish, Icelandic Cod; Venison cheeks; and Sea Bass all usuals. Cocktails are $15; 

 

Old Tbilisi Garden: Georgian. 174 Bleecker @ MacDougal; 22/18/$45; 470-6064; Clean, well maintained dining room; Garden in back- sit there; Excellent service; Hand made food from scratch – authentic; Try the Khinkali – soup dumplings with lamb meatball inside; Lamb Stew; Cornish Hen; They have oven baked dough filled with cheese; Chicken stew with stewed tomatos; Huge menu – opportunity to be adventurous.

 

Batard: European. 239 W B-Way @ White-Walker; 27/22/$95; 219-2777; New European masterpiece cuisine; Michelin 1 star; Tasting menus and beautiful presentation; Tasting menus: 2 courses $55, 3 courses $69 and 4 courses $79.  Maine Lobster; Yellowfin Tuna; Barley Risotto; Roasted Cod; Amish Chicken; Drinks are generally $10-$14.  James Beard 2015 best new restaurant.  

 
Meme Mediterranean: Mediterranean; 581 Hudson @ Bank; 23/17/$48; 646-692-8450; Affordable, wonderful small plates;  Moroccan influence; Trendy, bohemian vibe; Very cool setting and solid service; Tables are tight; Get the combo appetizer platter; Brunch, Lunch or Dinner; Hummus, Homemade Mozz, Moussaka, Yellowfin Tuna, Sea scallops. 
 
Perry St: American/ New French. 176 Perry @ West; 27/24/$67; 352-1900; From the Jean-George empire; Perfect service and an elegant, awe inspiring setting; NY Times 3 stars; Way far west location; Prix Fixe options; Crispy Calamari; Chili Crab Dumplings; Weekend brunch and lunch served daily; Sea Bass, Poached Lobster; Lamb Chops;
Snapper Sashimi; Burrata; Great experience here at foodie haven.
 
L’Artusi: Italian. 228 W 10th @ Hudson-Bleecker; 26/23/$71; 255-5757; Date worthy and has an amazing wine list;  Fantastic service and run professionally; Fun cocktail list ($15);  Affordable pricing; My biggest issue is the limited menu – 10 appetizers/salads and then 18 total main courses including pastas;  But, what they have is amazing;  Try the Bucatini or Orecchiette.  Arctic Char, Bronzino, Roasted Cod. Hanger steak and Quail stand out as well.  Seasonal menu. 

 

Piccolo Angolo: Italian. 621 Hudson @ Jane; 25/15/$39; 229-9177; Great food; Neighborhood spot; Tiny and Popular; Fun staff; Red sauce classics featuring giant sized meatballs; Food expertly prepared. Family style servings; Make a Rez and go early to avoid crowded setting; Lobster cannelloni; Garlic bread perfection; Very highly rated – very popular. Very casual – perfect spot for fun time. Calamari Fra Diavolo; Artichokes, Baked Clams. Veal Ossobucco. Wine: $9/glass. 

 

Mole: Mexican. 57 Jane @ Hudson; 24/17/$34; 206-7577; Patrons rave the cooking at this mini-chain is as authentic Mexican as it gets; Friendly, speedy service and a huge menu make the experience worthwhile; Fish or crab tacos stand out; Memorable salsa; Giant portions;  Fun atmosphere. Tasty Margaritas; Laid back décor; Fun happy hour;  Table side Guac.

 
Casa: Brazilian. 72 Bedford @ Commerce; 22/20/$43; 366-9410; Diamond in the ruff; Truly delicious food for the genre; Not just meat/ steak dishes- menu has many traditional Bahia and Minas offerings; Seafood stew is tops. So are the caipirinhas. The concentration is on a unique, authentic experience. The feel is one of a Brazilian home and you’ll receive home cooking!  Brunch served;  Large menu of classics.
 

Sushi Nakazawa: Japanese. 23 Commerce St @ 7th Av-Bedford; 27/20/$150; 924-2212; Enjoy a true Tokyo experience; Sitting at the bar lets you watch the genius chef; Book a month in advance;  Chef Nakazawa is an artist; Omakase is key – but pricy – around $120/person (price changes daily based on local catch);  Alcohol is actually cheap;  Everyone agrees this is the best or close to the best sushi restaurant in NYC.  No a-la carte options. 

 
The Clam: Seafood. 420 Hudson @ Leroy; 26/21/$57; 242-7420; Come for all things clams! Unique preparations; Great for a date or family; 50 seat restaurant; Alcohol is pricy here so pre-game;  Dinner is fairly priced featuring Chilled Lobster appetizer; tons of oysters; Perfect clam dip; Lobster sliders; Littlenecks; Also a number of other seafood/fish entrees. 
 
EN Japanese Brasserie: Japanese. 435 Hudson @ Leroy; 24/26/$59; 647-9196; Gorgeous interior- large and spacious; Tapas like small plates; Décor is outstanding and transporting- recreation of a Japanese home & pond; Sushi & more. Tons of Sake on menu; Extremely popular and great for big groups; Love the Sashimi small plates;  Menu has a large mix of selections.  Date central; Known for Tofu as well;  Certainly a ‘scene’ here; $80 prix fixe – 6 courses; Can order off menu too;  9 pieces assorted sashimi $40;  Black Sea Bass;  Lobster;  Ten or so rolls. 

 
Dell’Anima: Italian. 38 8th Ave @ Jane; 24/19/$52; 366-6633; Quaint, high end newcomer; Exquisite ingredients used in unique preparations; Bruchetta is excellent; Dinner can be pricy if you order wine. Ever improving quality; Sexy crowd in this date friendly West Villager; Go next door to Andora- their sister bar for a drink while waiting; Weekend brunch. Clean, non-descript setting; Striped Bass- yum.  Tiny open kitchen. Incredibly fresh pasta dishes.  Bruschette (5 for $18);  Charred Octopus; 
 
Tartine: French. 253 W 11th St @ W 4th St; 21/15/$30; 229-2611; Dirt Cheap French Bistro; BYOB policy & no Rez; Saucy chicken in garlic white wine; Packed always; Simple classics. I suggest coming here for a terrific brunch $15 for a large selection of items; Served 10am-4pm; Main courses feature about 15 appetizers and a dozen entrees – all the typical French classics found in a bistro setting.  Cash only; 
 
Ofrenda: Mexican. 113 7th Av @ Christopher-W 10th; 23/18/$39; 924-2305; Upscale modern Mexican with a happening happy hour from 4-7pm daily with $5 Margaritas and wine/ sangria; Most main courses under $20 with $30 quality; Then bend over backwards to serve you well; These guys get it – Mexican at its best and not overpriced. (as it shouldn’t be).  Guacamole is amazing;  Major brunch/lunch scene.

 

I Sodi: Italian. 105 Christopher @ Bleecker; 25/17/$62; 414-5774; The house special is the artichoke lasagna; Smallish place that gets crowded; Maybe the way to go is to eat at the beautiful bar; Foodies love the place; Somewhat of a limited menu but nice for a casual date; Creative wine list; Antipasta is delicious with cheeses and meats galore. Known for homemade fresh pastas. Whole Bronzino.

  

SevillaSpanish. 62 Charles @ W 4th; 23/16/$42; 929-3189; Garlic lover’s paradise; Sangria is strong and flavorful; Tasty food; Friendly service. Genuine paella. Been around since 1941. Great pricing; An institution in the neighborhood; The menu has absolutely everything including an amazing Twin Lobster special. Great place for an introduction to Spanish cuisine. Grilled Calamari.  Try the paella with seafood and lobster.  
 
Mary’s Fish Camp: Seafood. 64 Charles @ W 4th; 25/13/$41; 646-486-2185; Unreal Lobster Rolls – get it - $30 for the roll with fries; Fish Shack – laid back; Not formal- down home and divey; Always packed as food is that good. Huge menu of all seafood.  Small place; Deviled Eggs with smoked salmon; Grilled Calamari; Canadian Steamers; Fish Tacos;  Red Snapper; Yellowfin Tuna;  Lunch or dinner. On Sunday only open for lunch. 
 
Extra Virgin: Mediterranean. 259 W 4th @ Charles-Perry;  22/17/$42; 691-9359;  Sexy environment and scene; Sunday Brunch is famous; Excellent fare & outdoor seating in summer. Fries with Gorgonzola fondue; Sweet-pea Risotto; Fish dishes, pasta…has it all; Try the Chilean Sea Bass; Always crowded and ever popular; Rare Yellowfin tuna; Fairly tight seating so go off hours. No Rez.  Rare Ahi Tuna.
 
Sushi Samba: Japanese. 87 7th Av @ Barrow; 21/20/$46; 691-7885; Fancy, cool & trendy; Date Spot; Great food; Party atmosphere; Brazil inspired sushi joint; High energy; Fancy drinks; Great for groups. Bachelorette parties; You pay for the scene as much as the food.  Food has gone down hill a bit but its still a fun weekend date spot. Rooftop in the summer. ‘Taste of Samba’ for $50 for 5 courses.  Brunch features unlimited Prosecco or Bloody Habiko. 

 
Market Table: American. 54 Carmine @ Bedford; 23/22/$49; 255-2100; Very popular space started by two successful chefs; Top service, New American menu; Barnyard-chic décor; Seafood is outstanding. Great setting for a meal with friends or a date; Somewhat of a limited menu; Old Bay fries & steamed edamame are amazing sides; Duck Soup; Pork Tenderloin; Flounder; Arctic Char; Hanger Steak;  Brunch menu is excellent but pricy;  
 
Snack Taverna:  Greek. 63 Bedford @ 7th Av; 23/17/$41; 929-3499; Laid back feel but still top notch Greek dishes; Gourmet all the way without the over the top Greek stereotype. Café setting, similar to being in a store. Incredible Moussaka. French-inspired dishes. All-Greek wine list. As it is more café than restaurant, more lunch-type options including sandwiches. Would only come for lunch – but will be a Great lunch. Sauteed Calamari; Whole Branzino.
 

Jeffrey’s Grocery: Seafood. 172 Waverly @ Grove; 23/21/$52; 646-398-7630; Small, hip spot with amazing seafood; Full raw bar menu; Brunch served; Bloody Mary & Caesars on menu; Salmon tartare; King Crab; Branzino; Lobster Spaghetti; Grilled Oysters;  Hanger Steak.  Cocktails are pricy but the entire experience is a very cool one;  Suggest the Brunch.

 
Joseph Leonard: American. 170 Waverly @ Grove; 24/22/$59; 646-429-8383; West Village hot spot for New American originals; Open from 8am-2am; Small inside but very cool setting and spot on service; Very popular at lunch time;  Main courses include Crab Omelette, Irish Trout, Duck Breast, Roasted Chicken and NY Strip;  The breakfast and Brunch menus are mouth-watering.
 

Babbo: Italian. 110 Waverly Pl @ MacDougal-6th; 27/23/$83; 777-0303; Mario Batali’s flagship Restaurant; Wildly popular; Epic food; Flawless service; Carriage house setting; Probably overpriced for quality. Received 3 stars from NY Times; Truly an experience to dine here; Pasta ($95) and traditional ($99) tasting menus available; Oxtail gnocchi; Quite a large menu for a top restaurant.  1 Michelin star. Impeccable service. Always on point. Beef Cheek ravioli; Grilled Octopus;  Wine list 2 miles long;  Calamari App for lunch; Bufala Mozz. Menu affordable a la carte. 

 

Rafele: Italian. 29 7th Av S @ Bedford; 26/21/$52; 242-1999; Rave reviews from all sources; Top 1% on Trip Advisor and 4.5 on Yelp; Lunch/ Dinner daily; Pleasant ambiance, wonderful service, pasta to die for; Even great bread and coffee; Chef born & bred in Naples;  For an app try the assorted cheese & meat platter, a Margherita Pizza, grilled octopus, Buffalo Mozz or a special;  Dinner includes Fish Stew, Grilled Bronzino, NY Strip or a homemade pasta dish. Best of all – the pan seared Veal & Beef meatballs; 

 
North Square: American. 103 Waverly @ MacDougal; 24/19/$47; 254-1200; They try to pass off as a quaint American bistro with great service and they succeed; Excellent Jazz Brunch menu - $20 prix fixe includes a drink; Happy Hour 5-7pm daily; Lunch and breakfast served; Very nice dinner menu: Grilled Shrimp, Tuna Tartare, Lots of salads, Short Ribs, Duck breast, Cod, Filet, Yellowfin Tuna, Arctic Char.  

 

Blue Hill: American. 75 Washington Pl @ MacDougal-6th Av; 27/24/$92; 539-1776; Michelin gives it 1 star and NY Times 3 stars; Farm to table philosophy; Freshest possible seasonal ingredients; Celeb hot spot but unpretentious; Well presented, smallish portions; Haut cuisine for sure; Critically acclaimed; Limited  menu so check online 1st but what is served, is memorable!  Caring staff.  Dinner only. $90 prix fixe.

 
Little Owl: American. 90 Bedford @ Grove; 26/20/$58; 741-4695; Mediterranean influenced; Extremely tiny (10 tables) but epic good food; Soft Shell crab; Intricate cuisine; Flawless preparation. Bone-in pork chop stands out; Try brunch here… outstanding; Foodies flock here; Wildly popular and with limited space so reserve in advance; Lobster risotto; Fish options. Gravy meatball sliders are famous; Arctic Char;  
 

Surya: Indian. 302 Bleecker @ Grove-7th; 23/17/$34; 807-7770; Vege dishes great; Brunch or buffet on weekends; Patio seating; Indian at its best. Extremely affordable; Large menu.  Clay oven wonders are created. $13 weekend lunch buffet can’t be beat; Amazing location near all the Bleecker Street action; Naan is heavenly; Reliable Indian fare – only average décor.  Service can be slow; Great rice dishes.  

 

Fish: Seafood. 280 Bleecker @ Jones; 21/14/$36; 727-2879; Dive Seafood restaurant/ Comfort food; Provides a relaxed Environment but still nice enough for a fun date; New England Seaside shack; Truly quality food. Try the Lobster feast or selections from the raw bar; Red White & Blue special: $8 for ½ dozen oysters & a wine or beer. Very affordable pricing makes this place a must try. Noon-4pm, all u can eat Blue Crabs $21.95!  Lobster Mac n’ Cheese; Lots of Oysters on menu including Fried or Rockefeller;  Grilled Calamari;

 
Pearl Oyster Bar: Seafood. 18 Cornelia @ Bleecker- W 4th; 26/15/$43; 691-8211; Unreal quality; Known for a perfect Lobster Roll;  Fresh fish; Long waits to get in… but worth it! Informal – New England seafood; No Rez; Lives up to the reputation. Insanely popular; Closed Sunday; Here is your order: Combo seafood Cocktail & New England Clam Chowder – then Lobster Roll with shoestring fries.  Also- Smoked Salmon, Salt Crusted Shrimp, Whole Grilled Fish of day, NE Clam Chowder w/ Bacon. 
  
Le Gigot: French. 18 Cornelia @ Bleecker- W 4th; 25/19/$54; Small place, only 11 tables, but cozy location; Incredible food; Not a huge menu but contains classics – duck, escargots etc; Parisian experience. Great staff. Very romantic environment; Lobster always on the menu; Lunch and Brunch menus available as well.  Seafood Salad;  Beef Bourguignon. 
 

Las Ramblas: Spanish. 170 W 4th @ Jones-Cornelia;  23/15/$38;  646-415-7924;  Under the radar;  Modern Tapas; Amazing Sangria; Service is friendly – like Barcelona! Incredibly small- prepare to wait to be seated. Uncomfortable Stools;  If I go back – will be at an off hour for comfort and to take advantage of amazing service. Tons to choose from.  

 
Do Hwa: Korean. 55 Carmine @ Bedford-7th Av; 23/20/$46; 414-1224;Amazing BBQ meats; Grill it yourself; Younger, pre-club crowd; Unique cocktails. As authentic as Korean BBQ gets- without the madness of Korea town; Modern décor. Kimchi considered outstanding. More of a pleasant ambience than many of its competitors – it is the West Village after all. Go for the Bibimbop.  

 
Otto: Pizza. 1 Fifth Av @ 8th St; 22/19/$38; 995-9559; Mario Batali owned; Gourmet Pizzas and great pastas; Dirt cheap for quality; North side of Wash Sq park; Great for parties. Designer pies; Incredible wine list – endlessly long; They also offer superior Gelato; Also a nice bar to have a drink sans pizza if you prefer; Detractors say the quality doesn’t match the prices. Calamari on menu but pastas/pizza way to go.
 
Neta: Japanese. 61 W 8th St @ 6th Av; 26/20/$110; 505-2610; Sublime sushi, wonderful small plates and an incredible Omakase (if you can afford it); The a la carte menu is affordable and the Rolls & Sushi/sashimi options are melt in your mouth;  Open for lunch daily as well; Rolls not elaborate – instead they showcase the perfect fish. 
 
Alta: Mediterranean; 64 W 10th St @ 5th-6th Av; 24/23/$46; 505-7777; Scrumptious Med small plates; Fireplace highlights a homey-décor; Romantic – order wine and relax; Seafood specialist. More spacious than your usual tapas-style restaurant; Cocktails/ wine: $11; Tapas – about 40+ to choose from, $5-$14… great prices considering the overall dining experience. Just terrific.  Large dessert menu. Date central.  Get everything

on the menu for $485!! LOL  Salmon Tartare; Tuna; Grilled Octopus;

 

Villa Mosconi: Italian. 69 MacDougal @ Bleecker; 24/19/$47; 673-0390; Old school Italian restaurant that’s been there for 30+ years; Amazing service; Friendly, family run; Try the stuffed pork chop; Nice romantic setting;  Works of art on the walls; Endless menu and many specials on top of that;  Osso Buco with Risotto; Lamb Shank; Homemade Lasagna; Buffalo Mozz.  Stellar wine list.  Fett Carbonara; Soft Shell Crabs in season; Lobster tail;  Scampi.

 

Lupa: Italian. 170 Thompson @ Bleecker – Houston; 24/20/$52; 982-5089; Extremely good; Affordable pricing for quality; Popular, date central, hot spot; Compared to Babbo; Hospitality top shelf; Tough to get a table- they do take walk-ins if you go early; Perfect rustic Italian fare- Mario Batali influenced. Portions not huge but dishes always filled with flavor. Lamb short ribs delicious.

 

Carbone: Italian. 181 Thompson @ Bleecker-Houston;  25/22/$90; 254-3000;  1 Michelin star for this outstanding homage to traditional Italian-American cooking; Huge portions of delicious dishes – more main stream than normal for a ‘foodie’ place; Incredible service – rat pack feel; Try the spick vodka rigatoni; Veal Parm; Cherry Pepper Ribs; Caprese Salad; Grab a side of meatballs; Beware of prices – cocktails $15 and food is pricy- not listed on menu on website but are generally $25-$50 mains; Apps $16-$24.

 

Via Carota: Italian. 51 Grove @ 7th Av – Bleecker; 26/19/$49;  255-1962; Rustic setting transporting you to Italy; Excellent cocktails; Excellent date option with endless places to go before or after; Love the menu that features Pappardelle with wild boar ragu; Burratal Chilled Insalata di Mare; Large assortment of delicious vegetable dishes; Risotto; Salt Cod; Grilled Sea Bream; Large wine list. 
 
Old Tbilisi Garden: Georgian. 174 Bleecker @ MacDougal; 22/18/$45; 470-6064; Clean, well maintained dining room; Garden in back- sit there; Excellent service; Hand made food from scratch – authentic; Try the Khinkali – soup dumplings with lamb meatball inside; Lamb Stew; Cornish Hen; They have oven baked dough filled with cheese; Chicken stew with stewed tomatos; Huge menu – opportunity to be adventurous.

 

CamaJe: French. 85 MacDougal @ Bleecker-Houston; 22/16/$42; 673-8184; American twists to the food; Bistro feel and setting; Walls adorned with artists’ works; Romantic, like a Paris street. Lamb stew amazing. Menu is very eclectic with tons of varieties and categories of food including Mac N Cheese; Paninis; Cheese and meat plates; and seafood;  The chef offers cooking classes;  Offer Dinners in the Dark; Small location and cheap; Brunch served; Sea Bass; Crepes; Wonderful cheese plates;

 

Bourgeois Pig: French. 127 MacDougal @ W 3rd; 23/21/$48; 475-2246; Café feel yet sexy and enticing; Mimics the bourgeois lifestyle in décor; Top drawer Cheese Fondues; Cheese plates; Basically a cheese specialist. Known for excellent wines and cocktails- especially the champagne punch; Giant list of specialty drinks – amazing; Brushettas & Cheese & wine or cocktails! 

 

Minetta Tavern: French. 113 MacDougal @ Bleecker-W 3rd; 25/21/$75; Michelin 1 star rated, NY Times 3 stars; Keith McNally’s best restaurant; Ultra cool & trendy Village environment; The $26 Black Label Burger is amazing; This place keeps getting better; Known for Bone Marrow as well; Braised Short Ribs; Basically, the place is like a French steakhouse meets a NYC tavern. Beer $10, cocktails $17.  Brunch served with 5 types of Bloody Marys; 

 
Palma: Italian. 28 Cornelia @ Bleecker; 22/20/$53; 691-2223; Known for mouth watering Sicilian specialties; Mediterranean influenced food; Adoring staff, happy to serve you; Garden in summer; Romantic- it’s like dining in Italian countryside; Smallish. Buffalo Mozz; Homemade dumplings & pastas; Sea Bass; Fisherman’s stew. Somewhat of a limited menu.  Famous for their Tiramisu. All food super fresh.
 
Po: Italian. 31 Cornelia @ Bleecker – W 4th; 25/16/$53; 645-2189; Close to perfect cooking; $60 5-course tasting menu way to go; Extremely small place; Always packed; Famous white bean bruschetta; Extremely romantic; What this place is, is a true West Village experience; Great service, unique menu and excellent cooking; Menu is seasonal so check website. Yellowfin Tuna.  
 
Il Mulino: Italian. 86 W 3rd St @ Sullivan – Thompson; 27/19/$85; 673-3783; Epic quality food; Surprisingly large portions, often too big to finish; Impossibly tender osso buco falling off the bone with risotto; Effortless service, quality wine; Every dish is sparkling with quality. Works of art. Worth the $$ splurge.  2-3 free appetizers brought to table to start meal; Order off the daily specials – but beware of cost!

 

Cuba: Cuban. 222 Thompson @ Bleecker; 23/20/$39; 420-7878; Mojitos rule the place; Lively, fun; Live music. The salsa and the halibut stand out; Authentic island tastes; Every night a party here. Consider trying one of the Paellas – seafood galore; Under the radar in terms of quality; Certainly a great place to consider for a fun Friday or Saturday night with friends. Large menu. Hand rolled cigars. Brunch served – bottomless.

 

Tomoe Sushi: Japanese. 172 Thompson @ Bleecker-Houston; 26/8/$41; 777-9346; Affordable; Monster-sized, perfect sushi; Shoebox sized place, always with lines; Just off the boat fresh; Wondrous quality; Go off-peak hours. Tokyo feel; Quality rolls; Specialty- Sashimi – melts in your mouth. They do a wonderful job with the presentation of their food.  Not a ton of menu options.  Cheap for genre.

 
ZZ’s Clam Bar: Seafood. 160 Thompson @ Bleecker-Houston; 26/18/$85; 254-3000; Speak-easy feel to this 12-seater that has won 1 Michelin star;  Very high pricing for genre;  Cocktail menu nearly just as impressive as food; All cocktails $20- try the Coconut;  Small menu as well that frequently changes;  Decent sized portions;  Order 4-5 items and share them while enjoying a couple cocktails each; Really amazing presentation. Certainly a unique dining experience. 
 
Jane: American. 100 W Houston @ LaGuardia-Thompson; 23/17/$40; 254-7000; Amazing, imaginative, and fairly priced American classics like the Jane Burger; Hanger Steak; and Ahi Tuna; Top of line Brunch- always packed; Friendly staff; Great selection. Go for lunch or brunch only to get the best experience; Satisfying & inexpensive;  French Toast & Bloody Marys stand out. Lobster rolls, Salmon Benedict Best brunch menu ever.  
 
Negril: Jamaican. 70 W 3rd St @ LaGuardia; 21/17/$34; 228-9440; Large Caribbean clientele; Jamaican/ Caribbean food; Reggae Cool; Jerk chicken and shrimp and a solid breakfast. My favorite: Oxtail Stew; To drink – Rum Punch, so good; Jerk it up at this fun alternative; Seafood Creole is amazing; Red Snapper; Curry Goat Stew; Other chicken and lamb dishes. Live Reggae on Wed; Rum lounge to chill in.  Upscale date-friendly scene;  Can get sampling plates – so good.