TOP 5 | FIRST DATE SPOTS / by Brackett Bilodeau

Image courtesy of thenomadhotel.com

Image courtesy of thenomadhotel.com

Ah, first impressions. We'll take care of the hard part; these tried-and-true date destinations never cease to please.

1. The NoMad
Daniel Humm's hauntingly beautiful, multi-faceted dining destination is comprised of a series of rooms surrounding a glass-ensconced atrium, featuring a refined yet delicately approachable menu and a carefully curated wine program celebrating the great terroirs of the world. An innovative, classically-focused cocktail program complements Humm's menu perfectly, emanating the same core values that echo throughout. Be sure to plan ahead - reservations are both prized and hard to come by. There's no better way to impress on a first date than to snag a table at this surefire stunner.

2. Carbone
Carbone, the brainchild of Queens native Mario Carbone and his Major Food cohorts, is the perfect example of old-world fine dining brought to life in a modern city setting. Each piece of the puzzle fits together perfectly, from the no-frills pasta roster (with a few twists here and there) to the Godfather-inspired flooring, rounded out by service that epitomizes the 1950s New York dining experience. Head next door for a killer after-dinner cocktail at sister spot ZZ's to raise the bar even higher.

3. L'Artusi
While couples, groups and solo late night diners alike flock to this rustic Italian mainstay for the flawless fare, it’s the warmth and the romantic undertones that make L'Artusi perfect for a first date or special occasion years down the line. Start off at the buzzing bar scene downstairs to break the ice; a more intimate setting awaits upstairs. L'Artusi's standout plates are perfect for sharing, so go all out - this ultra-romantic date spot knocks it out of the park on all levels.

4. ABC Cocina
With its dark unadorned wood, back-lit bar, and a bustling open kitchen, Jean George Vongerichten's ABC Cocina is truly enchanting. This seasonally-influenced stunner prides itself on keeping things exciting yet still remaining accessible in its cuisine and ambiance while paying homage to its namesake with understatedly whimsical décor - ideal for a picture-perfect first date. From fresh fish tacos and meticulously prepared charcuterie to a rich lobster-laden arroz and a sangria second to none, ABC Cocina has it all.

5. Piora
At the intersection of Korean, French, and Italian influences is West Village gem Piora. With flavor-rich stunners like toy box tomatoes with perlini, basil and sesame and a suckling pig with radish, burdock, and pear, this date spot is as easy on the palate as it is on the eyes. An aesthetically inspiring mash-up of natural elements (think reclaimed wood and brick) married with communal tables, a stone-wrapped bar, and a slight element of feng shui embody the restaurant’s namesake, meaning “blossom” in Korean. Did we mention the hand-painted mural tracing a flower’s progression through the entire length of the restaurant? Piora's classy-yet-unpretentious vibe makes for for a first date not easily forgotten.