Restaurants & Nightlife

4 MINUTE READ

NYC’s cosiest restaurants

Words by Devorah Lev-Tov

27 February 2024

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Power through the rest of winter at these picks across the Big Apple.

As the wind swirls ever faster outside and maybe even a few snowflakes fall, you probably want to snuggle up inside a cosy restaurant to eat soul-warming dishes while sipping red wine. Thankfully, plenty such snug spaces exist across the boroughs, from the West Village to Long Island City, offering all types of cuisines, including Italian, Chinese, Japanese, French, and more.

And while cosy doesn’t typically mean fancy, plenty of upscale spots manage to keep the service level at the top. But if you just want pizza, we’ve got that covered, too. So, here are nine spots to frequent for the remaining weeks of winter.

Figure Eight

This West Village newcomer is on Cornelia Street (perhaps the cosiest block in the cosiest neighbourhood) and opened a few months ago. The slim space makes it innately intimate, and the well-placed string lights, comfy-yet-elegant bucket chairs, and dark blue walls all help foster the close-knit vibe.

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18 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

The cocktails and drinks also aid the cosiness, thanks to the mash-up of Southern and Chinese food that owner Emmeline Zhao takes from her upbringing as a Chinese-American in North Carolina. This translates into heartwarming dishes like turnip tots with lap cheong mayo and shrimp ketchup, Hong Shao collard greens with pork belly and Thai chilli, and an incredible soy-poached chicken for two. For dessert, a slice of banana custard pie is perfectly seasoned with Chinese five-spice.

Bar Miller

The jewel box Bar Miller is on a quiet East Village street in a minuscule space that only fits an eight-seat sushi bar for omakase. And whilst many sushi spots are tiny, the wood walls and dark marble bar here make Bar Miller feel much snugger.

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620-622 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

And, as you might expect from the same team behind sustainable sushi spot Rosella, Bar Miller also focuses on locally sourced seafood and produce. The tasting menu showcases traditional Japanese preparations and more innovative dishes with dishes like pickled oysters in nori sauce, Hudson Valley bluefish nigiri, and Spanish mackerel in a whitefish broth with seaweed butter.

Lucali

The pizza restaurant made famous by Beyonce and Jay-Z maintains its hold as one of the best pizzerias in the city – and it’s also one of the most romantic. It’s located on a brownstone-lined street in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighbourhood, but you’ll probably find it by the line snaking outside (it doesn’t take reservations).

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575 Henry St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Still, it’s worth the wait when you score a well-worn wooden table in the small tin-ceilinged dining room. Warmth is provided by the roaring wood-fired brick pizza oven in the back, and when your pies come out, bubbling and piled high with fresh basil, we dare you to feel anything but snug.

Maiella

Over in Queens, this waterfront Long Island City spot is as rustic and romantic as it gets. Aside from the fantastic city views, the space features brick walls, exposed wood beam ceilings, lush greenery, and perfectly dim lighting for snuggling up close to read the menu. The Italian-American menu features classic dishes like shrimp oreganata, chicken and veal parmigiana, branzino puttanesca, and a lengthy menu handmade pasta pasta, all complemented by a robust wine list.

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4610 Center Blvd, Queens, NY 11109

Harts

This 30-seat, dimly lit spot in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighbourhood has been attracting comfort seekers for the last eight years. Its white-painted exposed brick walls, corner with plush banquettes, and strategically placed plants all combine to make you feel like you’re at your friend’s apartment rather than a restaurant. The Mediterranean-leaning food here is top-notch, too, with dishes such as a juicy lamb burger, clam toast, and ricotta doughnuts with green onions – all giving a new definition to comfort food.

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506 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Rafs

Nestled on Elizabeth Street in NoHo, Raf’s is the sibling to the Michelin-starred Musket Room, and where that restaurant is slightly more refined, Raf’s offers Italian comfort food in an intimate setting. Raf’s took over a former Italian bakery and the wood-burning oven in the open kitchen – the cooking mechanism for many of the dishes – can be seen from most tables, imitating a fireplace.

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290 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

The front room has a showstopping pink-marble bar, whilst the back has closely set tables, framed mirrors lining the walls, and a ceiling frescoed with fluffy clouds in a light blue sky. Must-orders include the sfincione bread – thick Sicilian pizza – presented in a piping hot cast iron pan straight from the wood-burning oven, fire-roasted leeks under stracciatella and hazelnuts, and the herb-rubbed brick oven chicken.

Il Buco

Il Buco has been synonymous with cosy dining since 1994. Exposed brick, dark wood wine racks and tables, benches dotted with comfy pillows, and an abundance of candles are the hallmarks of the dining room, all of which create a romantic vibe.

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47 Bond St, New York, NY 10012

Whilst there, you’ll sip excellent wine and nibble on the housemade sourdough bread with an olive oil sampler and handmade salumi. Later courses include torchio pasta with duck sausage, spaghetti with swordfish, and veal and Wagyu beef from Provitello Farm.

Place des Fêtes

Exposed brick, low copper tin ceilings, recycled wooden tables, a classic chalkboard menu, and perfectly placed hanging plants: this is one of the cosiest wine bars in Brooklyn. Aside from a stellar natural wine menu, Place des Fêtes also has an excellent small plates food menu, spotlighting fish and seafood through rustic yet refined dishes like sardine toast with smoked butter and kosho, yellowtail amberjack crudo with passionfruit, crispy maitake mushrooms with black garlic, and beans with smoked haddock.

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212 Greene Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Maison Sun

If sitting at someone’s kitchen counter sounds cosy to you, then Maison Sun is the place to go. The concept started in restauranteur and sommelier Dr Gasperi’s home during the pandemic and is now located inside a grocery store, Brooklyn Fare, in downtown Brooklyn.

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200-3 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Gasperi has snagged Chef Aaron Whittle (previously of Eleven Madison Park and Noksu) to cook the eight-course modern French tasting menu, which is paired with primarily French wines. Guests sit on cushy-backed stools at the stainless-steel kitchen counter in a tiny tile-lined room surrounding the kitchen in the centre.

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Devorah Lev-Tov

A New Yorker for almost 20 years, Devorah is our on-the-ground New York City writer. She covers every angle of luxury living in the Big Apple – from restaurants and hotels to spas and wine.

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