Ultimate NYC Date Night: 3 Romantic Restaurants, 3 Hot Outfits

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Sometimes, date night isn't all it's cracked up to be. There, we said it. Whether you're braving a first meet-up or a blind date (come prepared with a quick exit strategy!), the whole process is laden with stress, from what to wear and what to order to who's going to pick up the check at the end of the night. (Be honest, you weren't really offering to pay, were you?) Furthermore, if you're in a long-term relationship, it can be hard to get the motivation to go out at all — why get all dolled up, and, you know, leave the house, when you have so much Homeland to catch up on?

Well, we're turning up the heat. Since we like to consider ourselves your romantic helping hands, we've put together a foolproof guide to the best night out, ever. We've handpicked our favorite NYC romantic restos to set the mood (from laid-back bites to a hot-and-heavy fireside meal), and curated the ensembles to seal the deal impress. All you have to do is make the reservation to get the magic back — or start off on the right (romantic) foot. How you end the date, however, is entirely up to you.

Black-Market2

This East Village, lowkey mainstay's decor is decidedly sexy (think: antique chandeliers that will cast you in an barely-there oh-so-flattering light, black walls, flickering candles, and a bumping soundtrack), so match the room with an equally sultry outfit. Plus, a bright red lip will let your date know you mean business.

To seal the proverbial deal, order one of the expertly crafted cocktails — masterminded by Hotel Delmano's head bartender Sam Anderson — like the "Jet Boy, Jet Girl," concocted with fresh lemon, gin, St. Germain, honey, and a champagne float. Finish it off with one of their no-frills, delicious (and reasonably inexpensive) burgers, or partake in the always reliable oysters ... they are an aphrodisiac, after all. After dinner, put them to the test at Cabin Down Below, from the same owners... it's even darker down there, so feel free to, uh, explore without prying eyes.

Inhabit Cable Scarf, $495, available at Otte; Marc by Marc Jacobs Black Sergeant Leather Jacket, $895, available at Stylebop; Steven by Steve Madden Regainn Platform Ankle Bootie, $159, available at Footnotes; Topshop Diamond Geo Dress, $190, available at Topshop; Nars Lipstick, $24, available at Sephora.

Black Market, 110 Avenue A (at 7th Street); 212-614-9798.


Photo: Courtesy of Black Market
Sel-Et-Gras

Hit up the West Village's Sel et Gras for a first outing, or for grabbing casual bite with your steady sweetheart. While the food's French, it's served without the snobbery, with a, well, salt of the earth, unique take on the typical stuffier fare (the name translates to Salt and Fat.) The parmesan garlic fries are magnifique, or, if you want to show your table-mate your adventuresome side, go ahead and order the Escargot Bourguignon. Sure, it's not exactly a getting-down-on-one-knee type of establishment, but if you're trying to keep things breezy, we're loving the Parisian pop playing in the background, the eclectic, graffiti-ed out exposed brick walls, and the ample (but reasonable) wine list.

To have them saying cherie by dessert, go with an effortlessly chic ensemble that doesn't look like you're trying to hard — you know, what the French call je ne sais quoi. Trust, you'll be leaving with a kiss that's very topical, considering the cuisine. Get it?

NSF Quinn Shirt, $248, available at OTTE; Love Moschino Handbag, $240, available at Zappos; Genetic Denim Shya Cigarette Pants, $220, available at Ron Herman; Seychelles Each and Every Day Booties, $150, available at Seychelles; Seraphina Ring, $38, available at Max & Chloe.

Sel et Gras, 131 7th Avenue (at West 10th Street); 646-558-5468.

Photo: Courtesy of Sel et Gras
Antiqua-Pesa

This brand, brand-new Berry Street haunt — an outpost of the iconic, celeb-approved Roman restaurant that dates from 1922 —  basically coins sultry-cozy, what with tufted leather sofas, darkly-stained floors, and, bonus, a wood-burning fireplace. Thankfully, the swish spot invested in some heavy dimmer switches, so you'll be looking like you're bathed in a permanent Instagram filter, all the better to enjoy what one critic dubbed "food porn" — gluten-free spinach gnocchi, broccoli and cauliflower soup with gorgonzola croquettes, and, to finish it all off, apples poached in caramel, vannila biscuit, sour cream and amaretto. Oh, and don't forget the house Sangiovese, an exceptional deal that will warm you up even better than those logs.

To get bellissima, take a cue from us and don something you can cuddle up in, like a sleek sweater dress and riding boots that would turn heads even on the Via Condotti. A bit of sparkle at the neckline will reflect the flames — if you're lucky enough to nab a coveted seat by the fire.

A.L.C. Clea Wool Jacquard Sweater Dress, $325, available at Net-A-Porter; Hansel From Basel Wool Rib Tights, $36, available at La Garconne; Madewell Stone Sculpture Statement Necklace, $75, available at Madewell; Stuart Weitzman Mount Boots, $625, available at Zappos.

Antica Pesa, 115 Berry Street (between North 8th and North 7th streets); Brooklyn; 347-763-2635.

Photo: Courtesy of Antica Pesa