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The Party Before the Party

Three types of rehearsal dinners, six great venues.


From left, Hornblower Cruises & Events, Sotto 13, and The Yard at the Soho Grand Hotel.  

Sit-Down Dinner for Ten:

Antica Pesa
Take your parents out to Williamsburg to the first American outpost of this famed Roman restaurant. With its dramatic lighting and sleek white-brick walls, it’s cozy, but dressed-up and glamorous too. Feast on grilled rack of lamb with potato gateaux in agrodolce and toast your pending nuptials with the Pinot Nero Doc 2010 Hofstatter. Pass around a few pasta platters—they’re reliable in-law icebreakers. 115 Berry St., nr. N. 7th St., Williamsburg; 347-763-2635, anticapesa.com

Hornblower Cruises & Events
It may seem like a touristy thing to do, but it’s worth it for the view. On the three-hour Starlight Dinner Cruise on the Hudson River, you’ll see the Manhattan skyline completely unobstructed, while enjoying a four-course dinner (from $85 per person). Choose from prix-fixe options like honey-soy broiled wild salmon and petit filet mignon. An open bar is available for an additional $36 per person. Departs from Pier 40, 353 West St., at Houston St.; 888-979-7081, hornblower.com

Hors d’oeuvre for 15:

Sotto 13
The menu at this lively Italian tapas restaurant is ideal for those who want to mix and mingle—and sample a little bit of everything. You can’t go wrong with orders of chickpea fries, wood-oven-baked meatballs and ricotta, and wood-fired pizzas like the Di Parma, topped with mozzarella, arugula, and prosciutto. Wash it all down with cocktails, such as the rosemary-ginger collins (Bombay dry gin, muddled rosemary, ginger, and lemon juice, $12). Dishes from $11 to $19. 140 W. 13th St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-647-1001, sotto13.com

Fatty ‘Cue
Skip the main courses and opt instead for smaller, shareable appetizers like chilies and cheese or deep-fried bacon with sweet-and-spicy salsa verde. After knocking back a few chupacabras (tequila, chili-infused domaine de Canton, fresh watermelon, and lime, $13), everyone in the wedding party will seem like old friends. Dishes from $10 to $21; tasting menus are also available upon request. 50 Carmine St., nr. Bedford St.; 212-929-5050, fattycue.com

Cocktails for 30:

The Yard at the Soho Grand Hotel
Garden lounge by day, bar by night, this seasonal oasis comes complete with an in-house D.J. and romantic strings of lights (go early evening to avoid the nighttime rush). Summery concoctions, like the watermelon smash (Stolichnaya vodka, fresh watermelon, mint, and soda, $14), are dreamed up by resident mixologist Jeremy Oertel. Do your guests a favor and pre-arrange a block of rooms upstairs at a reduced rate. 310 W. Broadway, at Canal St.; 212-965-3000, sohogrand.com

The Beach at the Dream Downtown
Make it an all-day affair at this relaxing poolside lounge that feels more Miami than Manhattan. Guests can come and go, getting to know each other over frisky flings (Hendrick’s gin, watermelon, cucumber, and sparkling sake, $14). The 4,800-square-foot “beach” (it has sand) includes a pool deck and a bar and grill. Everything can be rented individually or in tandem, depending on the size of your bash. 355 W. 16th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-229-2336, dreamhotels.com

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