Aamanns-Copenhagen Stunning Danish cuisine at13 Laight St. You will fall in love with pickled herring and sweet tomato compote atop the kitchen’s ever-present triangles of rye bread (not recommended for those on romantic date, this dish is breath-killing delight). Aamanns specializes in Danish small plates called smørrebrød and falls inline with the New Nordic cuisine that seems to be popping up all over the city. The room is cavernous but comforting — like a starkly staged Ikea living room — and teaming with stylish food lovers whose geometric haircuts seem to mimic the shapes on their plates.
Marc Forgione located at 134 Reade St. This cozy brick-walled space tends to attract couples who seem to be on the brink of proposals. But the effect is not based on dim lighting alone. Chef and owner Forgione combines influences of rustic Italian cooking with bits of French technique and slightly Southeast Asian flavors. Order the cooked-under-a-brick chicken, a bird so juicy and sweet that you’ll be forgiven for gnawing on the leftover bones. The pumpkin soufflé — peeking out from atop a ramekin — and gingersnap cookies are also worth sampling before the evening is over.
Kutsher’s Tribeca at 186 Franklin St. This “modern Jewish-American” restaurant mixes family recipes (“Mrs. K’s matzo-ball” soup is an almost-sweet dill-flecked consommé) with much more elevated dishes (the gefilte fish is made from wild halibut and free of the traditional jellied exterior). The spacious dining room is flooded with latke-seeking young families and JDaters on the prowl. But it won’t take four questions to answer why this restaurant is constantly packed: the food is comforting and the service is warm.
The Odeon at 145 W. Broadway. Once home to a glittery 1980s art crowd, the restaurant now caters to those who powder their faces instead of just their noses. But unrepentant partiers can still stave off future hangovers than by cracking through the gruyere ceiling on a bowl of French onion soup and soaking up its wafting steam. Other brasserie staples still deliver — a New York strip steak, dabbed with garlic butter and served with a mound of snappy fries; a grilled trout almondine so delicate and moist you’ll wonder why it’s not copied on every menu in town — but a decent meal could also be fashioned out of a heal of crusty bread and a few olives plucked from the belly of your martini glass.
Locande Verde at 377 Greenwich St. It’s De Niro’s world and we’re just living in it. At least, that’s what it can feel like at this celebrity-owned restaurant that perpetually packs in beautiful people. The chef describes the food as “family-style,” which would be true if your mama pinched together small pillows of agnolotti tender enough to sleep on. The crostini menu rotates seasonally and, if you’re lucky, it will feature the decadent truffled-ricotta-and-honey combo. Ignore the breadcrumbs that inevitably shower over your lap and instead soak up the atmosphere.