Summertime is wedding season. In FitR’s first-ever Wedding Week, we’re celebrating the best wedding season ever because it’s the first during which anyone can marry, regardless of color, creed, or sexual preference. Yay! Two people joining in holy matrimony is indeed a wonderful thing. But planning a wedding is not always so. We hope to help alleviate the inevitable stress of it all with our picks for the 10 Best Restaurant Wedding Venues in NYC. We’re grading these venues not only on eats, but also according to what they offer brides and grooms (bang for buck, say) and how special or original they are. In other words, they’re where we might get married someday … (sigh).
10. Scottadito Osteria Toscana: Done up like a rustic Tuscan farmhouse, the restaurant offers its wine cellar or atrium to small wedding parties of 35 or 64, respectively. The rooms are free of charge and menus run from $15 per hour for a cocktail party, with passed hors d’oeuvres like pizzettas and arancini, to two-course meals for $29 per person, three courses for $39, four courses for $49, and so on. The food, including homemade pastas using organic ingredients when possible, may not knock your socks off, but is better than typical mess-hall fare. 788A Union Street, Park Slope, 718-636-4800
9. Golden Unicorn: Forget the white-washed or demure décor of other venues. This dim-sum favorite allows you to celebrate your nuptials in a vivid red and gold setting. Give in to the kitsch of it all, starting at $45 per person or around $60 per person for the entire space, which accommodates up to 300. The menu is standard Cantonese banquet hall (read: nothing special), but the food and drink are plentiful. And they let you bring your own booze and wedding lions for the traditional costumed dance. 18 East Broadway, Chinatown, 212-941-0911
8. EN Japanese Brasserie: Wouldn’t you be psyched to have this modern izakaya host your small wedding? You should, especially if you happen to be in a same-sex couple. Rental fees are waived for LGBT weddings from now through October. Little private rooms at the back of the restaurant range from $75 to $250, flat rate, with a capacity of up 22; the front lounge holds 40 seated and 60 standing. Menus start at a reasonable $55 per person for signature dishes pearl passage oysters with ponzu, crispy fried chicken with aromatic rock salt, and freshly made scooped tofu. Opt for an open bar for as little $15 or $25 with cocktails, and get your cake from EN’s confectionery partner, sexy Lady M. 435 Hudson Street, West Village, 212-647-9196
7. Public: It’s rare that you can host a wedding in New York these days for less than $30,000 — especially at a Michelin-starred restaurant. At Public, it’s the minimum rate, with any balance after the cost of food and drink going toward a rental fee. It has several spaces available, including its Monday Room, terrace, and back lounge, to a maximum of 120 people. Tax and tip are added onto the total, so it ain’t cheap, but as an all-inclusive option, with top food and a premium open bar, it’s about as worry-free as you can get. 210 Elizabeth Street, Nolita, 212-343-7011
6. Queens County Farm Museum: OK, so it’s not exactly a restaurant. But we figured foodie couples might also appreciate a venue where food comes from. Recite your vows amid livestock and blooming crops at the Barn Complex for parties of up to 120, the open-air Pavilion for up to 85 people, the Orchard for groups of 1,000, or the North Lawn for 200. Prices start as low as $800 for four hours for the space only. Hire your own tables, chairs, and caterer. 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Glen Oaks, 718-347-3276
5. Culturefix: This bar-slash-gallery will host your wedding for free, if you happen to be an LGBT couple. It even has its own resident minister (co-owner Ari Stern), recently ordained, just in time to offer this special. All you pay for is food — no quote was given but, judging from the supper-club dinners hosted here, it’s reasonably priced — decorations, table and chair rentals, and other usual accoutrements. 9 Clinton Street, Lower East Side, 646-863-7171
4. Housing Works Used Book Café: Get hitched among the books at this nonprofit bookstore and café. The in-house caterer, the Works, provides Greenmarket fare, starting at $100 per person, although outside caterers are also permitted. The room is a very reasonable $500 per hour, with a capacity of 120 people for a seated meal and up to 300 for cocktails. The best part? As a nonprofit, Housing Works’ rental fee is tax deductible. 126 Crosby Street, Soho, 212-334-3324
3. iCi: If you want to go for the virginal look, there are few more gleaming all-white spaces than this Brooklyn mainstay. Have your ceremony in the garden ($300), then your reception in the white room upstairs. It accommodates up to 100 for dinner, offering a menu of local, seasonal fare starting at $40 per person. The room starts at $2,000 and the open bar at $55 per person. 246 DeKalb Avenue, Fort Greene, 718-789-2778
2. Frankies 457 Spuntino: If you’re keeping the affair intimate (i.e., under 75 people), consider Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli’s pretty brick-walled stable and garden. Mix-and-match menus are made up of the restaurant’s favorite dishes, like meatballs with pine nuts and raisins, and cavatelli with sausage and browned sage butter. The food and drink minimum is $2,500. 457 Court Street, Carroll Gardens, 718-403-0033
1. The Breslin: April Bloomfield wants you to celebrate your wedding at her meat palace, especially if you’re a LGBT couple. The restaurant and the Ace Hotel, which houses it, are offering same-sex couples 15 percent off the regular food and beverage minimum for the remainder of 2011 in the event space, Liberty Hall. They will also waive the room rental fee, offer half-price suites for brides and grooms, and have “many free rounds of sparkling wine for guests before they buy any.” 20 West 29th Street, Garment District, 212-679-1939
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