Never are group-friendly accommodations at more of a premium than during that fleeting stretch between Thanksgiving and the Caribbean getaway. It’s time for you and your nearest and dearest to wine, dine, and haggle over the bill. But where? We recommend these variously priced newish spots—some sequestered for privacy, others in the full see-and-be-seen thick of it—and all equipped for seasonal merrymaking.
FOR WINE-CELLAR DWELLERS
Bacaro (View Menu)
136 Division St., nr. Ludlow St.; 212-941-5060
Frank DeCarlo’s atmospheric stage set of an East Chinatown wine bar has more party-perfect nooks and crannies than an English muffin, including two barrel-vaulted alcoves adjacent to the wine cave. The focus is cicchetti, Venetian-style small plates like spicy meatballs and marinated sardines, plus pastas like lasagne Treviso and secondi like braised duck legs over white beans—all of which pair perfectly with Northern Italian wines, like regionally appropriate Soaves and Valpolicellas from the Veneto, and can be ordered à la carte by groups up to ten.
Capacity: One room seats ten, the other up to sixteen.
Price: $6 to $18; if you’re more than ten, be prepared to pony up $50 a person for a limited family-style menu, beverages not included.
FOR TWO-MICHELIN-STAR-KITCHEN VOYEURS
Chef’s Table at Gordon Ramsay at the London (View Menu)
151 W. 54th St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-468-8888
The posh dining room has been criticized as sterile and subdued; not so Josh Emett’s daunting kitchen, which presumably self-combusts when, like the Santa Anas, a certain TV food personality blows into town. An elevated booth mere inches from the action fits eight splurging gourmands, the sort who regard visits from the cheese and bonbon trolleys with the sort of unbridled anticipation that kids reserve for Santa. The set menu changes daily; recently, it showcased such luxe nibbles as Hudson Valley foie gras with truffled quail’s egg, braised ballottine of squab, and roasted Colorado lamb.
Price: $1,000 for a five-course lunch; $1,700 for the eight-course dinner, including canapés and a glass of Champagne.
FOR HARD-TO-PLEASE PASTAVORES
Dell’anima (View Menu)
38 Eighth Ave., at Jane St.; 212-366-6633
This is what happens when a former Babbo sommelier and an ex–Del Posto kitchen whiz get together and open an unassuming little trattoria: mobs of salivating foodies and goggle-eyed scenesters clamoring to get in. The joint’s not really set up for group dining, but they’ll gladly convert three banquette tables into a cozy nook near the open kitchen for parties of ten. It’s a tight squeeze, but the bruschette, antipasti, primi, and secondi are so good, no one’s going to complain, and it’s easier to book a party here than at Lupa. For now, at least.
Price: Appetizers, $8 to $14; pastas and entrées, $15 to $25.
FOR FINGER-FOOD FETISHISTS
Grayz (View Menu)
13–15 W. 54th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-262-4600
Gray Kunz has refashioned this former Rockefeller townhouse into a cocktail lounge–cum–private-dining emporium of sorts, but our favorite spot might be the secluded eight-seat Fireside Room (yes, there’s a working fireplace) overlooking the gleaming kitchen. Any lingering doubts about why the Swiss-trained superstar chef is shaking cocktails and dabbling in finger food are quickly dismissed with one bite of Kunz’s crisped calamari, a salt-stone-grilled prawn, or, especially, the weisswurst served with German mustard and a house-made pretzel. There are full-size plates, too, like Kunz’s signature pasta fiori and his braised short rib.
Price: Small plates, $11 to $26; large plates, $16 to $39; there’s a daily $85 tasting menu available, and a $2,000 minimum for the room.
FOR CHIMAY-SWILLING GASTROPUBBERS
Resto (View Menu)
111 E. 29th St., nr. Park Ave. S.; 212-685-5585
Nominally Belgian, this rambunctious hot spot is actually an excuse for chef Ryan Skeen to indulge his deepest porcine fantasies, including a nearly lethal tête de cochon sandwich and a variety of house-made sausages. He also fancies cooking “large format” meats like imposing côtes de boeuf and curried poulardes with a boutique Pennsylvania-farm pedigree. It’s just the sort of lusty fare large parties can roll up their sleeves and dig into, while working their way through the 65-selection Belgian-beer list.
Capacity: Request the walnut farmhouse table in the window. It seats eight, which means you can order à la carte, but larger groups are accommodated as well; more than ten and you’re restricted to a set menu.
Price: Appetizers, $8 to $14; entrées, $13 to $24; large format $50 to $100.