TOP 5 | ROMANTIC DATE SPOTS / by Brackett Bilodeau

Mood lighting: check. Cozy banquettes: check. All the bells and whistles for the ultimate romantic date: triple check. Our 2015 picks are perfect for an intimate night out.

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. River Café
Nothing begs for a trip across the pond quite like the River Café. With panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline skirted by the rolling waves of the East River, this iconic riverfront eatery has become an institution since its debut in 1977. Following a museum-quality replica restoration after the extensive damage brought on by Hurricane Sandy, River Café reopened its doors to the jacketed public good as new (or in this case, old). The trusty menu mainstays and unbeatable view keep regulars coming back for a romantically scenic experience time and time again.

3. Per Se
Highly lauded chef and entrepreneur Thomas Keller's New York interpretation of his acclaimed French Laundry boasts three Michelin stars and an unreal view of Central Park - all the makings of a romantic date setting. Earth tones accent the grandiose space, drawing the focus to Keller's thoughtfully composed seasonal menu and extraordinary wine list. This refined destination is nothing short of breathtaking.

4. 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.

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.