One of my absolute favorite things about living in New York City (for, ahem, the 10 years that I've been here so far) is the distinct neighborhoods, and specifically the neighborhood restaurants. Each neighborhood has a unique personality and sometimes, to be honest, multiple personalities. While there are legendary restaurants all over this city and up-and-coming scene stealers opening all the time, my favorite spots are usually established neighborhood joints that are well loved. Read on for my favorite haunts in the West Village, where I lived before moving to Brooklyn.
Hudson Clearwater - For any meal and any occasion, I absolutely adore this restaurant. I love catching up with girlfriends over a glass of wine in the back brick courtyard and doing dinner with friends in the lively, two-level main dining room. We've had celebratory family dinners in the private wine room downstairs, and Doug and I celebrated Valentine's Day at Hudson Clearwater last year. It was wonderful, and far surpassed cliches/fears of the pitfalls of dining out for Valentine's. My favorite cocktail is the King's County, and if you go for brunch, don't miss the grapefruit brûlée.
Bell, Book & Candle - The slightly subterranean location is so cozy on chilly nights, but this spot also boasts a rooftop garden which provides some produce for the restaurant. The big booths are luxurious and perfect for group dinners, and I always try to get a drink at the bar before dinner because I love the vibe. The patty melt burger and gin & tonic salmon are my perennial favorites (in the case of the latter, they mashed up two of my favorite things in life).
Rosemary's - The wait for a table can be brutally long, but I promise that Rosemary's delivers. This restaurant also has a rooftop garden, and you can even check out the garden's webcam to see what's going on up there. My perfect meal at Rosemary's starts with foccacia, moves on to the chicken and rosemary potatoes, and finishes with olive oil cake, all paired with a glass of crisp Italian white wine. I've eaten that exact combo many, many times.
Gottino - I feel like I'm divulging one of my deepest city secrets by sharing Gottino, because this place always feels delightfully undiscovered. Right around the corner from Rosemary's is this gem of an Italian wine bar. They serve small plates at the long marble bar, which runs nearly the length of the restaurant, and in the back garden over bistro tables. Gottino has a great brunch menu too, with ethereally soft scrambled eggs. For me, any visit to Gottino starts with the fig and ricotta crostini and a glass of rosé, as evidenced here.