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A dining room with white tablecloths, banquettes, and white chandeliers.
Aquavit’s dining room
Aquavit [Official]

12 Actually Quiet Restaurants to Try in NYC

For nights when the crowds get to be a little too much

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Aquavit’s dining room
| Aquavit [Official]

There are some nights that call for going to the buzziest spot in New York and taking in the city’s energy, and others that require a little more serenity — a scene that allows more focus on dining partners, whether the meal is a romantic one or involves business discussion. The goal is to avoid distractions of loud music and raucous voices fueled by alcohol and amped up by poor acoustics, and to immerse oneself in the food and company. Here are some places where you can actually hear your table-mates.

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Aquavit

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To ensure a peaceful environment, this Michelin-starred Scandinavian restaurant hired a manufacturer of ceilings for concert halls and courtrooms to install wooden slats for maximum muffling. Tuck into Danish designed chairs with sheepskin throws and feast on chef Emma Bengtsson’s prix fixe menus, which run from $115 to $225, or pick from an a la carte available at the 40-seat bar.  Among her standouts: matjes herring with rye, pear, and cured egg yolk; pork collar with rutabaga, plum, and barley; and the signature dessert — arctic bird’s nest with blueberry and goat cheese.

Inside Aquavit, there is a giant potted plant in the foreground, bar stools, wooden floors, and a glass door can be seen in the distance. Aquavit [Official Photo]

Coco Pazzo

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Reclaimed barn wood, Venetian stucco walls, a soundproofed ceiling and muted tones of taupe and pale green keep things civilized at legendary restaurateur Pino Luongo’s 52-seat Tuscan spot Coco Pazzo in Soho. Pastas and entrees include seafood stew or braised brisket pot roast with pappardelle, but dishes for two — such as large whole branzino or three-pound roast chicken carved tableside — are ideal choices for a romantic meal.

A bald bartender stands behind the bar in the back of a dining room full of people Coco Pazzo [Official]

Oceans New York

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Designer David Rockwell took pains to soften the sound at Oceans, a newcomer from the respected Canadian Toptable Group. In addition to acoustic materials, he placed multiple speakers around the dining room so music could play at a low volume and still be audible at each table, adding plush upholstery and curtains. Booths are also extra roomy to ensure privacy. In addition to sushi and fish by the pound, Oceans has noteworthy composed dishes like peekytoe crab and shrimp salad with charred red grapefruit, as well as a section of grilled meats.

A ceramic plate with pink slices of tuna in an orange sauce. Oceans [Official]

John DeLucie’s restaurants may attract a scene, but it is a decidedly adult one without a boisterous crowd. His latest Lumaca is in the Hgu hotel within a Beaux-Arts building, and the dining room has a fireplace with marble finishes and is adorned with artwork and photography. Dim lighting, muted colors, and jazz complete the atmosphere, while the chef’s offerings include ricotta-and-spinach-filled ravioli with brown butter sage sauce and bistecca with roasted marble potatoes.

A dark, vintage-looking restaurant interior tinted in brown hues Lumaca [Official]

There are only 18 seats, including an eight-seat marble chef’s counter, at this new sushi and kaiseki boite in Astoria from restaurateur Jay Zheng and chef Darry Liu, who’s worked at restaurants like Shuko. The menu at Kōyō is omakase only, with the sushi option ($135) including dishes like Dungeness crab atop mitsuaki seaweed from Okinawa, and the kaiseki ($175) offering plates such as shirako tempura and smoked Tasmanian ocean trout.

The bar at Koyo which features a marble countertop and oval shaped chairs placed against it Kōyō [Official]

Il Poeta

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After more than a decade years, this 50-seat Venetian restaurant in Forest Hills has become a gathering place where diners can not only speak to their tablemates, but tend to socialize with neighboring diners as well. The friendly vibe at Il Poeta is a welcoming backdrop for dishes such as tagliolini with porcini mushroom, truffle oil, and speck; fresh burrata with prosciutto; and lentil soup.

Antica Pesa

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The Williamsburg location of Antica Pesa — an outpost of the Panella family’s Michelin-starred Roman restaurant in Trastevere — also uses local, mainly organic ingredients. The golden-lit room with dark wood, soft music, leather banquettes, and a warming fireplace is a popular date night spot (Rande Gerber and Cindy Crawford cozied up there last month). Couples can dig into cacio e pepe, chicken cutlet with chamomile, and show-stopping desserts like affogato 2K19 — a vanilla gelato bar with chocolate shavings served with hot espresso poured tableside.

There is no music or other distractions because the focus is on chef Hiroki Odo, who left Kajitsu to open this Michelin-starred kaiseki restaurant in December 2018. The experience begins when entering through Hall, a cafe and cocktail bar, and beyond a secret door and passageway to be seated at the 14-seat counter. Among this month’s seasonal highlights on his nine-course, $200 tasting: the owan (soup course) made with Bluefin toro, mitsuba, daikon, and sansho; and the takiawase course, comprised of Washugyu and tofu shabu shabu, burdock, and sesame paste.

Majorelle

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Renowned restaurateur Charles Masson is lauded for his artistry with flowers, and the magnificent vases scattered throughout Majorelle add seclusion to seating areas, creating an elegant oasis within the Lowell Hotel. Start with a drink at the attached bar, Jacques, and move on to selections from chef Emmanuel Niess’s menu, like seared duck liver with port wine, veal with mushrooms and pearl onions;, and duckling breasts with orange glaze. There is also a separate garden with citrus trees and a pitched glass ceiling.

Despite having only 33 seats plus an 11-seat bar, there is a surprising amount of space between tables at this globally influenced new American place in Greenpoint. Upholstered banquettes, a lounge with an oversized sofa, and foliage up the intimacy at Madre. Among the food, stand-outs include octopus finished on a yakitori grill with chimole sauce, pickled cactus salad and green chorizo, and dry-aged rib eye cap with bordelaise and maitake mushrooms. Also do not miss the seasonal soufflés, made with fruit from local farms.

Petite Crevette

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Relaxed and unassuming, this cheery neighborhood seafood spot in Red Hook lists its fresh catch on a blackboard. At Petite Crevette, there are simple wooden tables, mismatched chairs, and random knick-knacks scattered about, but the room and service are homey and the BYOB policy keeps it particularly affordable. Simple preparations run the gamut from fried oysters to cioppino (fish stew) to Thai curry.

Saravanaa Bhavan

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A seemingly endless variety of dosas — some made with rice and lentil, others with rice and wheat — are served with three types of chutney and sambar at this 32-seat location of the popular Indian vegetarian chain. In addition to the classic thin and crisp variety, Saravanaa Bhavan offers thicker uthappams, as well as soup and rice dishes

Aquavit

To ensure a peaceful environment, this Michelin-starred Scandinavian restaurant hired a manufacturer of ceilings for concert halls and courtrooms to install wooden slats for maximum muffling. Tuck into Danish designed chairs with sheepskin throws and feast on chef Emma Bengtsson’s prix fixe menus, which run from $115 to $225, or pick from an a la carte available at the 40-seat bar.  Among her standouts: matjes herring with rye, pear, and cured egg yolk; pork collar with rutabaga, plum, and barley; and the signature dessert — arctic bird’s nest with blueberry and goat cheese.

Inside Aquavit, there is a giant potted plant in the foreground, bar stools, wooden floors, and a glass door can be seen in the distance. Aquavit [Official Photo]

Coco Pazzo

Reclaimed barn wood, Venetian stucco walls, a soundproofed ceiling and muted tones of taupe and pale green keep things civilized at legendary restaurateur Pino Luongo’s 52-seat Tuscan spot Coco Pazzo in Soho. Pastas and entrees include seafood stew or braised brisket pot roast with pappardelle, but dishes for two — such as large whole branzino or three-pound roast chicken carved tableside — are ideal choices for a romantic meal.

A bald bartender stands behind the bar in the back of a dining room full of people Coco Pazzo [Official]

Oceans New York

Designer David Rockwell took pains to soften the sound at Oceans, a newcomer from the respected Canadian Toptable Group. In addition to acoustic materials, he placed multiple speakers around the dining room so music could play at a low volume and still be audible at each table, adding plush upholstery and curtains. Booths are also extra roomy to ensure privacy. In addition to sushi and fish by the pound, Oceans has noteworthy composed dishes like peekytoe crab and shrimp salad with charred red grapefruit, as well as a section of grilled meats.

A ceramic plate with pink slices of tuna in an orange sauce. Oceans [Official]

Lumaca

John DeLucie’s restaurants may attract a scene, but it is a decidedly adult one without a boisterous crowd. His latest Lumaca is in the Hgu hotel within a Beaux-Arts building, and the dining room has a fireplace with marble finishes and is adorned with artwork and photography. Dim lighting, muted colors, and jazz complete the atmosphere, while the chef’s offerings include ricotta-and-spinach-filled ravioli with brown butter sage sauce and bistecca with roasted marble potatoes.

A dark, vintage-looking restaurant interior tinted in brown hues Lumaca [Official]

Kōyō

There are only 18 seats, including an eight-seat marble chef’s counter, at this new sushi and kaiseki boite in Astoria from restaurateur Jay Zheng and chef Darry Liu, who’s worked at restaurants like Shuko. The menu at Kōyō is omakase only, with the sushi option ($135) including dishes like Dungeness crab atop mitsuaki seaweed from Okinawa, and the kaiseki ($175) offering plates such as shirako tempura and smoked Tasmanian ocean trout.

The bar at Koyo which features a marble countertop and oval shaped chairs placed against it Kōyō [Official]

Il Poeta

After more than a decade years, this 50-seat Venetian restaurant in Forest Hills has become a gathering place where diners can not only speak to their tablemates, but tend to socialize with neighboring diners as well. The friendly vibe at Il Poeta is a welcoming backdrop for dishes such as tagliolini with porcini mushroom, truffle oil, and speck; fresh burrata with prosciutto; and lentil soup.

Antica Pesa

The Williamsburg location of Antica Pesa — an outpost of the Panella family’s Michelin-starred Roman restaurant in Trastevere — also uses local, mainly organic ingredients. The golden-lit room with dark wood, soft music, leather banquettes, and a warming fireplace is a popular date night spot (Rande Gerber and Cindy Crawford cozied up there last month). Couples can dig into cacio e pepe, chicken cutlet with chamomile, and show-stopping desserts like affogato 2K19 — a vanilla gelato bar with chocolate shavings served with hot espresso poured tableside.

Odo

There is no music or other distractions because the focus is on chef Hiroki Odo, who left Kajitsu to open this Michelin-starred kaiseki restaurant in December 2018. The experience begins when entering through Hall, a cafe and cocktail bar, and beyond a secret door and passageway to be seated at the 14-seat counter. Among this month’s seasonal highlights on his nine-course, $200 tasting: the owan (soup course) made with Bluefin toro, mitsuba, daikon, and sansho; and the takiawase course, comprised of Washugyu and tofu shabu shabu, burdock, and sesame paste.

Majorelle

Renowned restaurateur Charles Masson is lauded for his artistry with flowers, and the magnificent vases scattered throughout Majorelle add seclusion to seating areas, creating an elegant oasis within the Lowell Hotel. Start with a drink at the attached bar, Jacques, and move on to selections from chef Emmanuel Niess’s menu, like seared duck liver with port wine, veal with mushrooms and pearl onions;, and duckling breasts with orange glaze. There is also a separate garden with citrus trees and a pitched glass ceiling.

Madre

Despite having only 33 seats plus an 11-seat bar, there is a surprising amount of space between tables at this globally influenced new American place in Greenpoint. Upholstered banquettes, a lounge with an oversized sofa, and foliage up the intimacy at Madre. Among the food, stand-outs include octopus finished on a yakitori grill with chimole sauce, pickled cactus salad and green chorizo, and dry-aged rib eye cap with bordelaise and maitake mushrooms. Also do not miss the seasonal soufflés, made with fruit from local farms.

Petite Crevette

Relaxed and unassuming, this cheery neighborhood seafood spot in Red Hook lists its fresh catch on a blackboard. At Petite Crevette, there are simple wooden tables, mismatched chairs, and random knick-knacks scattered about, but the room and service are homey and the BYOB policy keeps it particularly affordable. Simple preparations run the gamut from fried oysters to cioppino (fish stew) to Thai curry.

Saravanaa Bhavan

A seemingly endless variety of dosas — some made with rice and lentil, others with rice and wheat — are served with three types of chutney and sambar at this 32-seat location of the popular Indian vegetarian chain. In addition to the classic thin and crisp variety, Saravanaa Bhavan offers thicker uthappams, as well as soup and rice dishes

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