Cornelia Street. You could easily get lost finding this one-block street that spans from Bleecker to where West 4th juts up to Sixth Avenue. But once you stumble upon this charming, minuscule street that feels removed from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, you’ll find several must-try restaurants. I don’t think there’s another block in the city with so many places to dine. It’s the West Village’s answer to a restaurant row, albeit one with cozy, intimate restaurants.
Let’s begin at the West 4th Street end with a visit to Le Gigot. This quaint, romantic bistro makes a great first date choice, with classic French dishes like the namesake dish: leg of lamb served with flageolet beans. Flambéed bananas with cognac are a good choice for dessert. Next is Pearl Oyster Bar, where I like to sit at the counter and enjoy the fruits of my native New England with oysters, chowder and lobster. I love Home for their brunch, but out-of-town relatives will like the mellow ambience and heart, homey dishes like molasses double cut pork chop or braised short ribs. With smoked salmon, bufala ricotta with honey and baked brioche French toast, Palma also serves a stellar brunch, but dinner is a good choice, too, with rustic Italian cuisine served in a farmhouse-type setting. Who doesn’t love a glass of Sangria once in a while? At Little Havana you can order it by the pitcher and then enjoy Cuban specialties like ceviche, shrimp with saffron rice and bacalao, dry cod fish. On the opposite side of street is Po, where Mario Batalia was the founding chef. Although he departed years ago, the food still stands strong, with authentic Italian antipasti, primi and secondi. Some highlights: veal marsala with crimini mushroom and truffle. White bean ravioli with brown butter sauce. Linguine with fresh clams, pancetta and chilis. For dessert, share the Po Sundae with your date: fresh mint gelato, cinnamon spiced pine nuts and chocolate sauce.
Although New Yorkers are always looking for something new, you won’t find that here on Cornelia St. What you will find are tried and true places that charm over and over again—a veritable romantic restaurant row.
Le Gigot/18 Cornelia St/212-627-3737
Pearl Oyster Bar/18 Cornelia St/212-691-8211
Home/20 Cornelia St/212-243-9579
Palma/28 Cornelia St/212-691-2223
Little Havana/30 Cornelia St/212-255-2212
Po/31 Cornelia St/212-645-2189