This Memorial Day weekend, Wife and I decided to stay put in Manhattan for a little staycation. We pretty much enjoyed the Champions League Final, did some shopping for my sister’s wedding and ate & drank and ate & drank. Wife had been wanting to check out this spot in NoHo/East Village/Bowery area. The place is cash only and no reservations so we figured that the Saturday night while everyone runs to the Hamptons, Fire Island, Jersey Shore and Miami was as good as any. So we headed to Wife’s choice, Bianca (5 Bleecker st near Bowery).
We really didn’t know what to expect before we got there. From reading about it online we didn’t know if this was the quiet romantic spot we were looking for. Right when we got there we realized it was. Well not right when we got there…
When we first got there, there were no tables so they had us wait at Von, a bar right next door. The host said to go grab a drink next door and he would come get us. The bar was a perfect place to continue our idea of a romantic staycation. The patrons were fairly diverse. You had your artsy local hipster types and also the we-were-just playing-softball-for-our-bank types. Wife had a white wine of course and I went with a simple Kettle One up with olives. The dim lighting and not too invasive music allowed us to continue our conversation. The weathered wood bar was complemented by the exposed brick walls, creating a homey feeling. Apparently there is a dance lounge in the basement, but that wasn’t really what we were there for that night. They even brought someone’s food from Bianca to Von. When one of the dishes passed me, I knew exactly what I was ordering for my main course.
After about 10-15 minutes, the host came to get us and put us at our table (we were able to bring our drinks with us). The whole restaurant seemed to be young couples or double dates. There was a table or two of groups of girls. It was a little loud in there but it did not take away from our experience at all. If that is something that bothers you, this may not be the place for you. The restaurant is almost like you are sitting in a country house. Beat up wood floors, white wood walls and plates lining the walls.
Our waitress started a little tough on us but she certainly warmed up as the meal went on (we were there for about two hours). Wife started with thin artichoke slices with parmigiano in a lemon dressing (which she loved) and I started with the gnocco frito, fried bits of dough with staracchino cheese. The taste of truffle oil was front and center. She then had chicken poached in balsamic vinegar. I followed with the salcicce e fagioli, fennel sausage simmered with cannellini beans. Awesome.
If you are looking for a romantic night without breaking the bank, I highly recommend hitting up Bianca (and most likely Von first).