Feast Your Eyes on the Torpasta
Special occasion dining for any occasion
Crown Shy’s semi-secluded spot on a sedate-after-dark street in Lower Manhattan betrays its landmarked building’s grand interior. Three subtly varied dining experiences flow through it’s sweeping, 120-seat space. The long, slinky marble bar is a chic downtown destination for mysterious strangers and romantic evenings for one; the Pine Street-facing room is spacious enough for clandestine conversations; and you’ll get dinner and a show in the open kitchen-adjacent section toward the back. The excellent menu’s cylindrical Gruyère fritters, braised short ribs for two, and even the complimentary warm olive bread merit return trips, and the bar’s signature Crown cocktails (each built around a different spirit) practically require them.
Legacy fare that lives up to its name
Lucky for Chef Cedric Vongerichten, the plump shrimp satay, generously proportioned peekytoe crab cake, hearty baby back pork ribs, and lobster tangled with long ribbons of noodles at his solo premiere are all fun to eat and good enough to slake any expectations tied to his bold family name. The French-Indonesian restaurant is also beautiful from the outside in. It’s exterior is adorned in subtle flashes of bronze, the bar turns out inventive but accessible cocktails beneath a halo of foliage, and the main dining room’s golden hues bounce off of pale exposed brick and carved wood.
Modern Vietnamese with myriad possibilities
Van Da’s dining areas are split in two: cozy, light and bright at sidewalk level; dimly lit and intimate downstairs. Its de facto choose-your-own tasting menu is cut into categories, too (“sidewalk classics, reinvented;” “ancient, refined, royal;” “traditional, authentic, subtle;” “bold, modern, driven”), but it’s still hard to choose. Try to hit a few sections. The lemongrass beef tartare is perky and refreshing, the grilled cheese and shot of pho broth marries satiny provolone with yielding short rib to decadent effect, the shrimp and pork tapioca dumplings’ texture is a welcome pivot from the textbook variety, and the grilled eggplant with lamb and egg noodles all shine in one dish. Libations like the Turtle Gin and Tonic (enlivened by cucumber juice and mint) and HoChiSmokey (a margarita cousin incorporating mango and aperol) will ease you out of your typical cocktail routine.
Three destinations all under one roof
It’s easy to plan an entire night at this Australian-helmed, coastal Italian newcomer to the old Brinkley’s spot on Broome Street. Start with drinks at the long bar and see if you can spot the architectural trick that makes it feel distinct from the rest of the sprawling room. Then, move onto a table (the crescent banquettes are best, but naturally, you’ll need a large party to score one) and try to whittle down the lengthy dinner menu. Or, skip to what Gran Tivoli does best: the bread basket (filled with four bakery-caliber varieties), grilled wild scallop swimming in garlic butter in the half-shell, and paper bag baked crab and spinach bigoli rich with peekytoe. Impress your guests with a nitecap or three at Pepi’s Cellar, just underfoot. The adjoining crimson hued, candle lit, Old New York throwback cocktail den is what every ostensibly obscured subterranean spot aspires to be.
An adorable cafe, now open all day
This darling, airy, pastel-appointed modern lunchonette added dinner service to its daytime menu just in time for spring, and it’d be tempting to stop by three times a day. Order all manner of egg dishes (including the “anything,” egg, and cheese on a bialy) in the am, cold cut specials, smoked fish, salads, and root beer floats after noon, and retro plates of roast and pot pie, in the evening. Call ahead to reserve a whole rotisserie duck and sip boozy sodas (vodka cran; seven + seven; mezcal mule), canned bubbly, and selections from a robust wine and beer list all day long.
A new neighborhood go-to sans surprises
Dinner at The Fly -- where the wine, beer, and cocktail list is longer than the food menu --
is the easiest decision you’ll make all week. You’ll order rotisserie chicken bursting through its crispy skin, maybe zag and try it in sandwich form, and tack on a side of french fries, warm greens, or salad. Then you can power down your brain and rinse away any other impending decisions with familiar tipples like the lemon drop, dirty martini, or Pimm’s cup.