Close to Home: Town House Restaurants

by Staff

Welcome to a winter wonderland of savings! Restaurants you've always dreamed of trying, like the fabled '21' Club and the romantic, "Will you marry me?" favorite One if by Land, Two if by Sea are eminently affordable during Restaurant Week. The charming facades on these landmark NYC town houses hark back to the storied days of the 19th century, when patrician families ruled society, à la Edith Wharton. The restaurants are enchanting inside as well, with intimate nooks and crannies and even fireplaces to take the chill off. There's the old-world elegance of the Theatre District's Barbetta, with traditional Northern Italian fare, antique furnishings and bragging rights to having fed everyone from George Gershwin to Paul Newman to Mary J. Blige. Then there are exciting new-world restaurants, like 5 Ninth and Mia Dona, which look historic from the outside but have reimagined interiors and modern menus. Check out this town house restaurant slideshow and book a table to make your dream date come true.

Introduction by Julie Besonen

Photo: Daniel Krieger

One if by Land, Two if by Sea
Woo someone special by taking them to this converted carriage house on one of the West Village’s loveliest streets, where amid fresh-cut flowers, chandeliers, tapered candles and soft, live piano music, you’ll be served elegant food like butternut squash risotto, anise-dusted John Dory and braised lamb shoulder.

Photo: Phil Kline

Owned by the same family for more than a century, Barbetta’s ornate decor and lush, fanciful back garden (replete with stone fountain) make it the most romantic Italian restaurant around. The focus is on the cuisine of the proprietors’ native Piedmont, where specialties include bollito, agnolotti and risotto. Don’t miss the Italian white truffles, an extra-luxurious treat when they are in season.

Courtesy, '21' Club

'21' Club 
This bastion of old New York still charms with its jockey-lined entryway, classic dishes (updated for the new millennium) and always-attentive service. Located in a four-story town house one block from MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art), the dining here comes in two parts: the elegant Upstairs at '21' offers a three-course prix fixe, while the downstairs Bar Room is laden with local history and a large collection of old-timey toys and sports memorabilia.

Courtesy, Mia Dona

Mia Dona
Opened by Donatella Arpaia and chef Michael Psilakis in 2008, this Midtown East spot, now run solely by Arpaia, recently renovated its looks and its food. You can now feast on affordable traditional Pugliese dishes in this simply decorated eatery. The new menu consists of irresistible antipasti, handmade pasta, entrées and desserts.

Photo: Will Steacy

5 Ninth
5 Ninth is an oasis for those in search of a warm (almost bucolic) atmosphere in the midst of the otherwise energetic Meatpacking District. The inviting hardwood floors, the weathered staircase and the sturdy front bar beckon you inside, while the high-end, hearty New American fare completes the comfort equation. The ever-changing menu features dishes like apple raisin French toast for brunch and Berkshire pork chop for dinner. If it’s warm outside, it’s worth it to wait for a table in the garden.

Photo: Erin Gleeson

Black Duck
Inside the charming Park South Hotel lies a cozy little seafaring adventure: Black Duck. Decorated with dramatic wild sea paintings and mermaid sculptures, the restaurant, named for the Prohibition era's notoriously elusive rum-running ship, delivers not just in the decor but in its upscale Pan-Atlantic cuisine. Revel in Black Duck's espresso-rubbed filet mignon or its sesame-crusted wasabi tuna with ginger emulsion.

Photo: Ian Ference

David Burke Townhouse  
This Upper East Side three-floor townhouse hotspot, dripping in style and elegance, is the perfect complement to chef and owner David Burke’s innovative and whimsical New American cuisine. Sample the "DBT" eggs Benedict for brunch—with chorizo, shoestring potatoes and hollandaise—or dive into the crispy roasted organic chicken soaked with seawater, served with succotash and chanterelle puree.

Courtesy, JoJo

A lavishly gorgeous and perfectly refined town house is home to one of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s greatest dining accomplishments. It has a Michelin star, for those who are paying attention, and the artful cuisine is beautiful from concept to execution. Enjoy your foie gras brûlée and lobster with basil butter, lemon spaetzle and winter vegetables while dining in what feels very much like a 17th-century French sitting room.

Courtesy, Firebird Russian Restaurant

Firebird Russian Restaurant  
Meant to re-create an early-20th-century Russian aristocrat’s home, Firebird’s fashionable main dining area and abundant, intriguing antiques will impress even the most jaded tourist. It’s clear that the purveyors of this restaurant have a demonstrated passion for Russian art and culture. The finely tuned menu pleases the pre-theater crowd with a tasty prix fixe, and the Chicken Kiev is said to be the best in town.