When your dinner party sees a bigger dish variety and a smaller tab, it’s hard to argue against shared plates (sorry, solo dish devotees). And while you’ll have to be on board with your dining partner’s food tastes, these medium-format offerings carry perks — especially romantic ones. The one-dish-two-fork alternative might alleviate menu decision time (leaving more minutes for that vital first date banter), and the math associated with going Dutch is easier. Plus — has Lady and the Tramp taught us anything?Here are 10 great dishes built for two.
10. Rabbit, Glasserie, 95 Commercial Street, Brooklyn, 718-389-0640
At this Greenpoint glass factory-turned-restaurant, chef Sara Kramer uses a medley of preparations to maximize the entire three-pound rabbit ($72) required for this double serving. Paprika-fueled marinade gears loins for grilling, legs are crisped in a duck fat and turmeric root confit, and a spice-packed stew salvages bellies and trimmings.
9. Crispy Whole Snapper, CATCH, 21 Ninth Avenue, 212-392-5978
Pre-clubbing crowds congregate for Top Chef alum fare at this bi-level Meatpacking destination, where a clamorous open kitchen only adds to space’s vibrant energy. A blatant reminder of the restaurant’s seafood focus is unveiled in the show-stopping crispy whole snapper ($76), which is covered in chili and garlic before being deep fried and accompanied by a slew of peppers and oyster mushrooms.
8. Porterhouse, Commerce, 50 Commerce Street, 212-524-2301
The menu at this modern American restaurant is about as expansive as its history (the space once housed a prohibition-era speakeasy and beloved Grange Hall), with a focus on French technique-driven sizable portions. A T-bone equally divides a lofty porterhouse ($62 per person) into “his” and “hers” portions, while solo servings of creamed spinach and a red wine shallot steak sauce might require more of a fight.
7. Omakase, Morimoto, 88 Tenth Avenue, 212-989-8883
Spontaneity keeps diners glued to their seats at Masaharu Morimoto’s modern Chelsea namesake, where a seven-course omakase reveals the Iron Chef’s whimsical diversity through signature dishes, such as toro tartare and a luxe lobster tail and wagyu beef surf and turf ($125 per person). Feeling particularly indulgent? Order two days in advance for an expanded omakase offering.
6. Paellas, Socarrat, 259 West 19th Street, 347-491-4236, (multiple locations)
The “burnt” bottom of this Valencian centerpiece is called “socarrat,” and yes, it’s supposed to be there. The crisp crust was such a hit with owner Jesus Manso, in fact, that he named his multi-neighborhood venture after it and honors the tradition through a handful of paellas ($22-$24 per person), including the restaurant’s eponymous offering: a nine-ingredient surf and turf mélange of chicken, beef, mussels, and cuttlefish, to name of a few.
5. Roast Chicken, The NoMad, 1170 Broadway, 347-472-5660
Distanc, indeed makes the heart — and stomach — grow fonder, as tested and perfected by the team at The NoMad when they grace tables with a fleeting presentation of the lauded roast chicken ($79) before it retreats to the kitchen for another few minutes of cook time. Just before diners regress to breadbasket mode, the dish reappears and reassures — especially with a decadent sub-skin layer of black truffle and brioche-laced foie gras stuffing — that it was well worth the wait.
4. Peking Duck, The General, 199 Bowery, 212-271-7101
Stiletto and pocket square advocates filter through this Bowery restaurant’s 300 seats nightly, and the large format-equipped menu is ready. The Peking duck ($74), just one possibility, is a roasted, salt and peppered bird accompanied by steamed buns and hoisin sauce — ripe for a DIY onslaught.
3. Cape Cod Clam Bake, Extra Fancy, 302 Metropolitan Avenue, 347-422-0939
Balance is key at this Williamsburg locale, whose concept is rooted in breezy, no-fuss New England fare that glitters through thoughtful preparation. Just one example is the Cape Cod clam bake ($42), a steaming pot of littleneck clams, mussels, shrimp, kielbasa, lobster tail, and cob corn, all modestly and harmoniously tied together via a Budweiser broth.
2. Lasagne Napoletana, Rubirosa, 235 Mulberry Street, 212-965-0500
Whether it’s the superfluous layers of cheese, quick-to-satiate capability, or the casserole dish it’s doled from, there’s something undeniably shareable about lasagne — and luckily, the team at Rubirosa recognized this attribute. For their lasagne Napoletana ($26), an Italian-American version, the restaurant fills layers of fresh homemade pasta with housemade sausage, mini meatballs, mozzarella, and ricotta before baking it until bubbling and crisp.
1. The Sweetheart Deal, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 700 West 125th Street, Harlem, 212-694-1777 (multiple locations)
Between the hot sauce and finger-licking requirements, BBQ is pretty romantic in our book. It gets particularly so at this Harlem- and Park Slope-based “honky tonk rib joint,” where the Sweetheart Deal ($30.95) stacks an aluminum tray with a full rack of ribs, two squares of cornbread, and four sides. And with such reasonable prices, you can count on those post-fare cocktails.