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It’s Saturday night. You’ve got theater tickets to that new play that everyone’s talking about. You look fabulous. Clothes, makeup, purse—perfect. So let’s start the night right with that pre-show ritual: dinner.
How can it be that Manhattan’s theater district has so many restaurants, but there seems to be nowhere to eat? Not to worry. We found a few standout places to help usher in your evening.
You might walk right by Bricola (370 W. 51st St.) if we didn’t give you the heads-up. This narrow, 14-seat wine bar looks one of those gems on Cornelia Street in the West Village. With its exposed brick and white tiled bar, Bricola transports you from Hell’s Kitchen to a rustic Italian deli. The small plates menu includes burrata and prosciutto, octopus salad, and gnocchi in a tomato sauce. We swear that someone’s Nonna must have been in the back room kneading dough for hours because the pasta was full-flavored yet delicate at the same time. Delicious. The wine selection is superb.
While Bricola seduces with its intimacy, Lillie’s (249 W. 49th St.) wows with its extravagance. Although it describes itself as a “Victorian establishment,” there is nothing corseted or uptight about this place. Entering Lillie’s is like walking into the Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library on 42nd St. —that is, if all the furniture were draped in blood-red velvet and if it served Guinness and single malt Scotch. The walls are a visual feast of old-time portraits and J.F. Herring-style paintings. The menu is full of pub food fare, but this is hardly your barfly grub. Hearty English standards, like Bangers & Mash and Sheperd’s Pie, dominate the choices.
After the curtain has fallen and you’ve joined in the standing ovations, head over to The Rum House, a lounge in the Edison Hotel (228 West 47th Street) for some Mad Men-style, post-theater drinks. Sip a Dark & Stormy or a Knickerbocker and nibble on some smoked almonds and mixed olives. Hold court underneath the huge wooden wheel chandelier as you and your friends critique the liveliest of all the arts.