151 E. 82nd St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-772-8861
With big, linen-clothed tables, lots of space between them, and a soundtrack that never rises above the conversational hum, the Simone is unabashedly old school—in a good way. And chef Chip Smith’s sophisticated American fare (entrées, $32 to $45) is equally immune to trends.
160 N. 12th St., nr. Berry St., Williamsburg; 718-218-1088
Paul Liebrandt’s restaurant sits by a peaceful park in a noise-absorbing space off the lobby of a mostly deserted hotel. Add the fact that many of the customers are demure, deep-pocketed Manhattan food pilgrims, and you have one of the more serene dining spots in this generally unplacid part of town (plates, $18 to $32).
Kokage by Kajitsu
125 E. 39th St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-228-4873
The blond-wood tables are bare, the room stripped of adornment, and the ambience as contemplative as a Buddhist temple. But unlike its prix fixe vegan sister restaurant, Kajitsu, upstairs, Kokage serves seafood and duck with housemade soba à la carte ($18 to $20).
Knickerbocker Bar & Grill
33 University Pl., at 9th St.; 212-228-8490
It may seem odd to recommend an old Village chophouse that occasionally traffics in live music as a place to engage in pleasant conversation while chomping down a 28-ounce T-bone. But that is the beauty of sound-absorbing ceiling panels, wall-to-wall carpeting, and semicircular leather booths—not to mention acoustic jazz trios.
41 W. 57th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-465-2400
This new gourmet outpost, founded by Eleven Madison Park refugees, isn’t as tranquil as the old mother ship, but if you’re looking for an oasis of relative calm amid the cacophony of 57th Street, it will do. The most peaceful tables are upstairs in the darkened balcony, but if your neighbors at this Russian-owned establishment start toasting one another with goblets of vodka, you’re out of luck (entrées, $28 to $39).
13-27 Jackson Ave., Long Island City; 718-729-4602
Dinner at this mom-and-pop ristorante is like Sunday supper at your Italian grandma’s house—but without any of the drama or shouting. Get the stuffed shells or the chicken parmigiana and let the owners Vincenzo and Ida Cerbone’s son Anthony pick out a nice Chianti.
1008 Second Ave., at 53rd St.; 212-759-7086
There are many quaint, moderately priced bistros scattered throughout the East and West Fifties, but none other has the imprimatur of chef Christian Delouvrier, best known for his reign at Lespinasse. On this humbler stage, with its cozily compartmentalized dining areas, he caters to a loyal clientele with textbook onion soup, housemade charcuterie, and impeccable roast chicken.
13 Barrow St., nr. W. 4th St.; 212-741-6699
Anita Lo’s tiny, posh institution earns high marks from the quiet police because (a) the six-seat bar is built for intimacy, instead of boozing; (b) unlike at, say, Le Bernardin uptown, the owners have not installed a jazzy new sound system; and (c) the tables are so close together that any raised voice will draw looks of alarm (entrées, $30 to $41).
10 Columbus Cir., at Broadway; 212-823-9335
The color scheme at Thomas Keller’s famously hushed gourmet palace is a somber gray, and the kitchen is sealed off in the back. But the thing that makes this the quietest restaurant in town is the attitude of the diners, who approach the great chef’s cooking with a kind of whispering reverence, like monks taking their sacraments in church ($310 prix fixe, tip included).
15 W. 56th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-757-5878
The dining room is practically soaring, but the music is played (relatively) low, the tone is conversational, and the chairs have backs. It’s the David Chang restaurant best suited for hipster septuagenarians.
144 Second Ave., at 9th St.; 212-228-9682
You wouldn’t think it, but thanks to the absence of music, the 24-hour Ukrainian coffee shop is a surprisingly civilized place to gobble down pierogi ($6.95 to $12.95) and slurp up borscht ($3.75 a cup), the occasional quasi-open-kitchen clatter notwithstanding.
124 Meserole Ave., nr. Leonard St., Greenpoint; 718-389-8083
This strictly locavore joint became a minor sensation last fall when it began hosting Sunday-night silent suppers. Even before that, the Spartan room had a spalike calm about it—the solemn mood that comes with being so hard-core they ban olive oil in favor of the local butternut-squash-seed variety.
141 E. 57th St., nr. Lexington Ave.; 212-826-7101
Somehow, despite the fact that it turns out some of the best lasagne all’Emiliana you’ll ever have, to say nothing of the cappelletti en brodo and the broccoli-rabe-topped piadina, this midtown den of serenity remains perpetually under the radar.