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Summer Dining Al Fresco

Seeing as summer’s officially arrived, I’d say we’re due for an al fresco dining roundup. Afterall, we should seize these few precious months of sunny days and balmy nights.  Albeit cement sidewalks & fire escapes dangling from above may not be your idea of romance, but it’s New York City and there’s a boundless supply of great restaurants to be had.  My top ten picks for summer:

Falai – Former Le Cirque chef Iacopa Falai has built a
successful mini-empire on the Lower East Side, launching with this
sleek modern Italian.  Spend an evening in a romantically lit, 15-seat
backyard patio, where you can nibble on fresh baked breads and perhaps
the best brown butter-bathed gnudi in town.
Address: 68 Clinton St., at Rivington St.
Phone: 212.253.1960

Spitzer’s Corner
(Premiering this summer)
While owners Will & Rob Shamlian still scramble for chefs to replace Top Chef’s
Sam Talbot, this soon-to-be LES newcomer will boast a generous raw bar
and fifty outdoor seats.  Another American gastropub in the
Address: 101 Rivington St., nr. Ludlow St.
Phone: 212.477.4088

DuMont’s – Williamsburg locals revel in the 50-seat garden at
this classic American with an outdoor bar & 15-seat treehouse to
boot.  Order the rotating cheese plate and a bottle of rose as you
settle into summer.
Address: 432 Union Ave. (Williamsburg)
Phone: 212.486.7717

Shake Shack – Grab a buzzer and volunteer to wait your turn for the perfect picnic in the park, courtesy.  Where to begin?  Danny Meyer’s brilliant burger,
beyond velvety frozen custard and a bottle of champagne.  Romantic and
cheap – enough said.
Address: Madison Ave., at 23rd St. (Madison Square Park)
Phone: 212.889.6600

Pure Food & Wine – Carnivores be warned, there’s none to be
had here.  There is, however, an exquisite garden to indulge guilt-free
on surprisingly delicious raw food & organic cocktails.  Recline on
a pillow-laden banquette while engaging in a delightful heirloom tomato
lasagna & creamy cauliflower samosas.
Address: 54 Irving Place, at 17th St.
Phone: 212.477.1010

Bar Pitti – An Italian civil war continues to rage between Bar Pitti and adjacent Da Silvano, both flaunt outdoor seating.  I’m categorically partial to the former’s daily chalkboard specials.  Don’t bother glancing at the menu, head straight to the veal meatballs, eggplant parmesan, and a preciously seasonal pesto pasta (available only in August & September).
Address: 268 6th Ave., nr. Bleecker St.
Phone: 212.982.3330

Morandi Much ado about Morandi, Keith McNally’s first
Italian venture is the newest in sceney affairs.  Snag a sidewalk seat
and a bowl of Jody William’s signature pine nut & raisin-studded
meatballs and fried olive-stuffed pork nibbles.
Address: 211 Waverly Place
Phone: 212.627.7575

The HarrisonSomewhat of a sleeper, Jimmy Bradley’s
seasonal American has become a Tribeca dining destination.  Forty al
fresco seats, an impressive wine and a blessed Hudson River view make
this airy haunt a find.  Chef Brian Bistrong’s flair for homey southern
emerges in dishes, like fried oysters with velvety grits.  He admirably
nods to summer with snapper paired with corn salad and a gentle
watercress puree.
Address: 355 Greenwich St., at Harrison St.
Phone: 212.274.9340

GrottoFormer Lo Scalco chef, Matthew Knoll, has resurfaced at this hidden subterranean gem on the Lower East Side.  Retreat to the chinese lantern-decked back garden where you’ll dine amidst basil & thyme plants on summery Italian fare.  The chef does wonders with fish, so opt for the moist lemon-stuffed turbot or a crusty semolina-crusted halibut.
Just opened for Sunday brunch. 
Address: 100 Forsyth St., btwn. Broome & Grand Sts.
Phone: 212.625.3444

GascogneSnooty waiters and bistro decor set an authentic scene at this Chelsea French spot.  Prepare for a wait for the year-round garden where your best best is a classic cassoulet or a fluffy, spinach mousse-stuffed salmon.
Address: 158 Eighth ave., btwn 17th & 18th Sts.

Until we eat again,
Restaurant Girl
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