Café Mars

If gimmicky Italian restaurants become a lasting trend, you can blame Café Mars (and Bad Roman) for starting it. While this Gowanus spot is primarily known for wacky creations like olive-stuffed negroni gel cubes, we actually like it more for its fun setting: a neon room that looks like a space-age diner, with bright, chunky booths. And while we prefer the more satisfying, straightforward dishes (pastas, a smoked pork rib parm), some of the more experimental dishes, like black bass with shaved parmesan, work pretty well too. Either way, Café Mars deserves credit for trying something new, because everything about this spot is a conversation starter—which makes it one of our top choices for a first date in the area.

Café Mars review image

photo credit: Nick Glimenakis