Our 10 Most Romantic Restaurants


Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, meaning it’s time to make a dinner resy at a romantic restaurant. But what, exactly, makes a restaurant romantic? In some cases it’s ambiance — a fireplace or candles go a long way in setting the mood. Ditto a killer view. But as a friend recently quipped, “Romance is a pig’s head split in two, with cheeks that yield to the tines of a fork.” At the end of the day, a romantic restaurant is what the customer makes out of it. Hell, if you’re tossing back sliders at White Castle with the love of your life on Valentine’s Day, that’s pretty awesome and thrilling. So with all that in mind, we present Our 10 Best Romantic Restaurants — places where we’d be stoked to be taken on a date and have some hot lovin’ afterward.

10. The Bourgeois Pig: If there were ever a restaurant designed with Valentine’s Day in mind, it is the Bourgeois Pig. Red brocade walls, plush velour chairs, a good wine list, plus multiple types of sweet and savory fondue — it’s like a bordello, but classier! And full of melted cheese! Nevertheless, a tempting spot for a tête-à-tête. 111 East 7th Street, 212-475-2246

9. Vinegar Hill House: You really can’t beat this American bistro for that classic Brooklyn date experience. It’s cozy, quaint, and yet still unassuming. Get the roast chicken for two, a bottle of champagne, and a salted caramel custard and call it a night. 72 Hudson Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-522-1018

8. PDT: Sure, the novelty aspect of PDT is high. But having to walk through a fake phone booth to enter a speakeasy that also serves wacky hot dogs and tater tots just adds to the charm of Jim Meehan’s cocktail lair. And, hello, that Chang dog is pretty effing delicious. 113 St. Marks Place, 212-614-0386

7. Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria: Sharing plates helps set the mood for romance, and there’s plenty to divvy up at this new offshoot of Il Buco (another romantic spot, though somewhat pricier). Your ideal meal: acorn squash salad and ricotta bruschetta with grapes to start, bucatini cacio e pepe as the pasta course, and spit-roasted short ribs for a main. Imbibe a bottle or two of vino and you’re good to go. 53 Great Jones Street, 212-837-2622

6. Mas (farmhouse): There’s a lot to be said for a restaurant where you can actually have a conversation with your dining companion. Plus a rustic-chic setting, tasty cocktails, and an ever-changing menu that always is luxurious (chestnut soup with cured duck leg, lobster salad on brioche). A winning combo. 39 Downing Street, 212-255-1790

5. River Café: Sure, it’s touristy, but you can’t say anything negative about that view. It’s worth a million bucks, especially as you experience the Manhattan skyline turn aglow after dusk. Even the entrance to the restaurant sparks the romance within, the trees all twinkling with lights. Note that dudes must wear jackets here; it’s all about fancy-pants romance. 1 Water Street, Brooklyn, 718-522-5200

4. The Breslin: Yes, April Bloomfield’s pork-centric restaurant in the Ace Hotel is loud and buzzy, but it can also be a really great date spot. An evening is always made better with an herbed Caesar followed by a lamb burger and thrice-cooked fries. And if things are going really well, you can always check in to a room upstairs. 16 West 29th Street, 212-679-1939

3. Ciano: Bask in the warm glow of the dining room’s commanding fireplace while nibbling on delicious bread and butter, whispering sweet nothings to each other. Shea Gallante’s Italian food is superb (and what is it about Italian food that just screams romance?). The meatballs are killer, and the pastas excellent. An innovative wine program also lets diners try everything on the list by the half-bottle, making this a fun date spot for oenophiles. 45 East 22nd Street, 212-982-8422

2. Eleven Madison Park: If we had mad money ($350 to be exact), we’d opt to celebrate Valentine’s Day here. Not only is Daniel Humm’s food so exceptional that it’ll seduce you after the first bite, the former bank space is sexily cool, and service goes above and beyond, raising the bar for what you find in most restaurants these days. 11 Madison Avenue, 212-889-0905

1. Zenkichi: This Japanese izakaya in Williamsburg is really the ultimate date restaurant, perfect for Valentine’s or any other romantic evening. The space is designed like a labyrinth: Snuggle in one of plentiful dimly lit private booths for intimate conversations (and make-out sessions), with buzzers to ensure that your waiter pops by only when summoned. Split a bunch of the small plates (oysters, jidori chicken, potato mocha), or go all out for the omakase tasting menu. Then prepare to fall in love; if not with your date, then with the restaurant. 77 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, 718-388-8985