Choosing a restaurant in New York for any old Friday night dinner can easily lead to a state of indecision paralysis. Do you go to an old favorite, or try something new? Do you want to hedge your bets on a place that doesn’t take reservations? Will the restaurant be ever-so-slightly disappointing, causing you to leave wishing you’d spent your money elsewhere? Would the place next door have been better? If you think this way, you’re probably very ambitious, and you’re also possibly terrible on dating apps.
And that’s just for a standard Friday night. When the stakes for dinner are even higher, it’s easy to get even more paralyzed. For most of us, going out to the kind of restaurants where you’re expected to eat from a $100+ tasting menu and possibly wear a sports jacket isn’t something you do very often, if ever. But if that’s an experience you’re looking to have for a special occasion, let us make this easy for you with what we’re calling the Fine Dining Decider.
If you love fish and are happy to stay in Midtown, it doesn’t get any better than Le Bernardin. If you want to be able to order a la carte and enjoy feeling powerful, try The Grill. If you like the idea of “tradition” and would happily go to France on all your vacations, you’d like Daniel. If you don’t care about tradition but are very rich, consider Momofuku Ko. If you like pasta, dramatic staircases, and the idea of being downtown, go to Del Posto.
Del Posto is a big, dark space right off the West Side Highway and 16th Street that looks and feels a bit like a private club. It’s a little too fancy to be described as “cool,” but it’s also not stiff or uptight. The restaurant is set over two floors with a dramatic, fairly steep staircase, and if you sit upstairs and drink a bunch of wine, be careful when walking down.
There are two ways to go about dinner here. First, there’s a $149 four-course prix fixe option where you get to pick your appetizer, two pastas for the table, an entree, and dessert. Second, there’s a full-on eight-course chef’s tasting menu for $179, of which there’s also a vegan version. Whichever way you go, you’ll eat fantastic high-end Italian food, so the choice really depends on how much of a control freak you are. Based on what we established above, you’re probably a pretty big control freak, but we’d say as long as you’re not picky, leaving it in the kitchen’s hands can make for a memorable evening. If you’re willing to cut the evening part out, a meal at Del Posto can be had for a third of the price at lunch, when there’s a $49 three-course option, with an additional (and recommended) $10 pasta supplement.
Del Posto is not the place to come if you’re looking for a fine dining experience that involves wacky foams and gels and molecular gastronomy elements. It is the place to come if you like the idea of eating great pasta and a perfect piece of fish or veal, and you’d like to be treated like you’re at a five-star European hotel as you do it. New York is always going to be full of too many good choices (and probably even more bad ones), but as long as you enjoy excellent Italian food and outstanding service that makes you feel special, you’ll walk out of Del Posto pleased.
Hamachi In Carpione
Just what it looks like: nice slices of hamachi, topped with caviar.
If you want to eat caviar and lobster, Del Posto is not going to stop you. Another great and simple starter.
Pici Al Ragu Bolognese
There are some opportunities to get a little funkier with your pastas here (one has uni, another has smoked cod and caviar), but this simple pasta - basically a fancy spaghetti bolognese - will show you that you’re in good hands.
Roman Style Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Bauletti
Topped with a light golden tomato sauce, this is another very good pasta.
Veal Involtino Al Carbone Di Cipolla
Del Posto knows how to cook a piece of meat, and if there were ever a place to eat a rolled up piece of veal, this would be it.
Livorno Style Caciuccio
We’re always going to order a fancy restaurant’s take on the tomato-based seafood stew, and Del Posto’s does not disappoint. It’s surprisingly light but very flavorful.