The hottest new sushi restaurant isn't in Soho, Brooklyn or even on the Upper East Side. It's in Queens. Astoria, to be exact, which is precisely the exact opposite of where you would expect to find a restaurant like Gaijin. The name means foreigner, which is fitting for how it blends - or rather stands out - in the neighborhood.
Inside, the sleek, stone-walled space is gorgeous, as is the food coming out from behind the bar. Executive Chef Mark Garcia's sushi is perfectly balanced, exceptionally fresh and totally unique.
Available in a 9, 12 or 15-course experience, the meal starts with an unctuous umami-bomb of razor clam broth with mushrooms, sea scallop and prawn, consumed by pouring the contents of a teapot into a small cup to drink. If you're looking to sweep a special someone off their feet with an incredible experience, Gaijin won't disappoint.
Revered as one of the most elegant and upscale Italian restaurant in the city, Del Posto is the brainchild of Mario Batali, Joe and Linda Bastianich and Executive Chef Mark Ladner. Along with a top-notch wine list and unbeatable service, the menu is organized in either five or eight courses, with dishes ranging from spaghetti with dungeness crab and sliced jalepeno to more traditional offerings like sliced lamb gnocchi. Surprisingly, all of the pastas at Del Posto are gluten-free, a move that sent shock waves around the food world when it was announced in 2014. Unsurprisingly, Del Posto's kitchen has navigated through the change flawlessly - if we hadn't told you these pastas were gluten-free, you'd never know it.
The long, well-lit space combines a 12-seat bar, perfect for grabbing a glass of rosado and a few pinxtos, as well as high-top tables and inviting leather banquettes toward the back. A young, good-looking crew, replete with designer shopping bags from the surrounding SoHo stores, fill all three spaces, chattering over glasses of house-made sangria and lightly sparkling cava. The crowd-pleasing Catalonian and Iberian cuisine is the true star, though. Tables runneth over with small plates like Medjool dates wrapped in salty bacon, plus silky slices of jamon Iberico with marcona almonds, as well as more substantial dishes such as grilled trout over lentils, or seared cubes of tender lamb.
Celebrity chef Eric Ripert has created a New York space that's romantic, refined and seductive, while still managing to infuse his French-Spanish influence into every corner. Le Bernardin, regarded by many as the best restaurant in NYC, has received more James Beard Awards than any other restaurant in the city, and holds four New York Times stars, in addition to two Michelin stars.
The food, as you might imagine, is impeccable. Simple preparations and respect for the ingredients trump any type of frou-frou experiments, though the cuisine still manages to shine with creativity that can only come from years of intense love and attention-to-detail. If you love seafood, put Le Bernardin at the very top of your culinary bucket list.
Sure, dark, brooding caverns and dripped wax candles have their place in the heart of romantics everywhere. But something just as sexy? Pizza. And pizza doesn't get any cooler than at Roberta's. While this hipster haven continually makes headlines with head-turning stories like the time they unrolled a weed-tasting menu, their drug-free food more than lives up its own hype. Wood tables and outdoor seating lend an air of casualness to the atmosphere here, and their wood-burning oven is prominently displayed. As for the pies? Carlo Mirarchi's creations feature produce grown onsite, and have cemented themselves as a must-eat on any New York pizza tour.
Claro is one of the hottest and most exciting restaurants to open in New York in recent memory, which makes it perfect for impressing that certain someone. In 2018, they were awarded a Michelin star for their take on Oaxacan cuisine mixed with a refinement that's all NYC. The corn for Claro's menu comes from farms that hand-pick the non-GMO heirloom varieties, and the restaurant makes everything by hand, including the masa, cheeses and moles. The meats (chorizo, beef cheek, heritage pork rib) and produce (dandelion, spring onion) are local and organic, and the mezcal list is one of the best in town.
When Nolita's Peasant opened its doors, it did so to the applause of area residents and couples looking to get cozy, who craved a stylish alternative to the traditional Mulberry Street eateries. Everything is cooked in a wood-fired oven and the result is a rustic, modern take on Italian cuisine. Appetizers come to your table on clay earthenware, smelling as good as they taste. The kitchen staff does not spare garlic, olive oil, and Italian herbs and spices, so be sure to share. After all, if you've both had garlic, neither of you will mind going in for a late-night kiss.
Hudson Clearwater isn't new, but even years after opening, it's still one of the sexiest spots in town. With a back patio that's to die for, the cozy space oozes that quaint, romantic charm that you can only find in the West Village. But it's not just the room that will have you ooo-ing and ahh-ing: the food's also top-notch. From house-made fresh linguine to seared Long Island duck breast, this is New American done very well, with a stellar wine and cocktail list to boot. Hudson Clearwater is a great third date spot or the perfect place for an anniversary celebration.
Reserve well in advance to get a table in the central atrium, which has plush velvet chairs and polished tables beneath a vaulted ceiling that lets in scores of natural light two stories up. The side room, or parlour, is no less dramatic, with rosy tones, candlelit tables seating up to eight, and rows upon rows of framed line drawings. The top-notch kitchen produces an array of seasonally inspired plates, including an impossibly elegant hamachi crudo, perfectly seared duck and house-made tagliatelle made with Meyer lemon and tender lump crab. And stay thirsty, my friends â" the stellar cocktails are complemented by an impressive, international wine list that includes a crisp, dry rose on tap.
Tucked at the corner of Bedford and Grove Streets in the West Village, this small eatery is the perfect place for a romantic date night rendezvous. Serving up winning Mediterranean fare, The Little Owl utilizes seasonal ingredients to enhance its menu, which features fresh fish, hearty meats and other flavorful concoctions, like the mouth-watering ricotta cavatelli. Diners enjoy watching the activity street-side via floor to ceiling windows, while stealing peeks into the open kitchen. If you're visiting with 4 people, opt to sit at the chef's favorite table (hint: it's also the bar), and keep in mind that if you're planning to dine here with a party larger than 2, reservations are required.