Go for Drinks
Bierkraft (open now)
191 Fifth Ave., nr. Berkeley Pl., Park Slope; 718-230-7600
It’s hard to resist the summertime combo that is Brooklyn, beers, and a backyard—and that happens to be the M.O. of this brewshop’s newly opened garden. Six picnic tables and assorted salvaged chairs create a classic beer-garden setting, albeit one where you can try more than a thousand pours from around the world, available by the bottle, glass, or growler.
La Birreria (opens early June)
200 Fifth Ave., at 23rd St.; 212-229-2560
The buzz doesn’t stop at Eataly. In a few weeks, the Italian retail megatropolis will unveil a 4,500-square-foot rooftop beer garden, featuring three house-brewed cask-conditioned ales (the result of collaborations between Sam Calagione of the Dogfish Head brewery and two Italian brewmasters). Also: wines by the tap and a cured-meat-heavy menu.
The Trilby (opens late May)
Cooper Square Hotel, 25 Cooper Sq., at Bowery; 212-475-3400
The Cooper Square’s living-roomish lounge flows into this equally laid-back outdoor space. Planters divide the 80-person area into semi-private clusters of antique cast-iron and wicker furniture, where groups can play dominoes or just cozy up beside one of the fireplaces. Drinks tend toward the summery-cute: A cowboy martini ($12), for instance, features gin, lemon juice, and fresh mint.
Mulberry Project (open now)
149 Mulberry St., nr. Grand St.; 646-448-4536
Slip past the D.J. booth and up a staircase to find the cocktail bar’s 50-seat patio, with wooden booths, a raised seating platform, and a series of graffiti murals. Waiters deliver trays of frozen cocktails—try the Champagne piña colada ($15)—and small plates from a former Boqueria chef.
Go for Snacks
David Burke Garden at the James New York (open now)
23 Grand St., at Sixth Ave.; 212-201-9119
Three stories above charmless Sixth Avenue, chef Jedd Adair slings a typically Burkean mix of creations (tuna-tartare tacos with whipped avocado, $16; gazpacho with rock shrimp and watermelon $10) in a space straight out of an urban-development textbook. The garden is three levels in all, the second of which accommodates 100, with cabanas and a fourteen-seat chef’s table.
Pizza Roma (open now)
259 Bleecker St., nr. Cornelia St.; 212-924-1970
Vacant since 2004, when the 80-year-old A. Zito & Sons bakery closed, this Bleecker Street storefront is nowa pizza spot with a new, eight-table deck. The brick-walled space is flanked with potted plants, some of which harvest Italian herbs used in Roman-style square pizzas like the tartufina ($19.50 for a medium, $31.50 for a large), an earthy mash-up of truffle cream and Fontina.
Riverpark (opens late May)
450 E. 29th St., nr. First Ave.; 212-729-9790
If it seems like a surfeit of good fortune to find outdoor seating with river views and a menu by Tom Colicchio right-hand man Sisha Ortúzar, believe it anyway. When Riverpark’s 72-seat terrace (not to be confused with the patio, which opened earlier this year) opens later this month, it’ll include biergarten-like benches surrounded by elm trees and shrubbery, with a shareable-snack menu of a mixed-grill platter, fried chicken, and oyster tacos ($10 to $18).
Van Horn Sandwich Shop (open now)
231 Court St., nr. Baltic St., Cobble Hill 718-596-9707
This sit-down sandwich shop, which churns out offerings from south of the Mason-Dixon Line (pulled pork, hush puppies, pimento cheese), is rendered that much more southern with a backyard in which to sweat. In the small, brick-walled courtyard, a huge tree provides shade for ten tables surrounded by potted flora and picket fences.
Go for Dinner
Edi & the Wolf (open now)
102 Ave. C, nr. 7th St.; 212-598-1040
Since this appealingly rustic outpost of midtown Austrian spot Seäsonal was inspired by that country’s heurigers (rural wine taverns), it’s only fitting that it possess a vine-strewn back garden. Spanish moss and jasmine creep around 25 antique-looking seats and one ten-space communal table. The menu is more down-home than at refined Seäsonal, with such fare as pickled vegetables, sausages, and Alsatian flatbreads.
Bar Basque (open now)
839 Sixth Ave., nr. 30th St.; 646-600-7150
Designer Syd Mead’s (Blade Runner) futuristic vision for Jeffrey Chodorow’s Spanish restaurant inside the Eventi hotel extends to the 170-seat second-floor terrace. Ingeniously, glass windows and ceiling panels can be retracted when the weather is right and slide shut again at the first drop of rain. The menu offers both general Spanish specialties (like unctuous cured hams) and Basque ones (including one- or two-bite pintxos).
What Happens When (open now)
25 Cleveland Pl., nr. Kenmare St.; 212-925-8310
Dovetail chef John Fraser’s innovative pop-up restaurant has another element to play with: outdoor space. A new tent encloses 30 seats in case of drizzle, while a ten-person communal table is earmarked for walk-ins. An ambient lighted wall in the back is constructed from shipping pallets and flanked by beds landscaped with birch trees and flowers. The $58 prix fixe menu—along with the décor and soundtrack—changes according to monthly “movements.” Past dishes have included rabbit in phyllo dough and grilled swordfish.
La Terrazza at Lincoln (opens mid-May)
142 W. 65th St., nr. Broadway; 212-359-6500
The restaurant’s breathtaking modernist design is just as easily enjoyed from outside, particularly if you nab one of the seven four-tops located on Lincoln Center’s Hearst Plaza and overlooking the Paul Milstein pool.Highlights from Jonathan Benno’s (Per Se) Italian lineup include seasonally changing dishes like the linguine alle vongole ($24) and the spring-lamb shoulder ($36).
The Mussel Pot (open now)
174 Bleecker St., nr. Sullivan St.; 212-260-2700
The lush back garden at this moules specialist is not immune from the theme-park feeling that pervades the NYU area: The eighteen seats are ringed by a mossy rock wall, and there are two dripping waterfalls and a koi pond. Still, even a facsimile of nature is a welcome thing in a hazy New York summer. Of the many mussel-based dishes on order, the most popular is the Chef’s Best ($24): mussels, chunks of lobster, fried crispy pancetta, swirls of cheese fondue, and black-truffle shavings.
Stivale (opens late May)
308 Bleecker St., nr. Grove St.; 212-675-2009
Choptank’s former digs have been transformed into this elegant Italian restaurant, where a late-spring fling can be cultivated in the twenty-seat garden strewn with hanging lanterns and wafting with orange blossoms and potted herbs. On the Southern Italian menu from chef Michael Berardino (dell’anima), you’ll find a selection of spuntini (essentially anti-antipasti) including saffron-risotto arancini ($7) and chickpea fritters ($6), plus a variety of seafood and seasonal vegetable dishes.
The Mark Restaurant (opens early June)
25 E. 77th St., at Madison Ave.; 212-606-3030
If you lack a garden of your own, you can entertain in this one: An otherwise communal ten-person table will be reservable for groups, as will the rest of the plant-lined fourteen-seat space behind Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s French-American restaurant. It’s an appropriate setting for executive chef Pierre Schutz’s light, seafood-focused menu (a $21 dish of fluke sashimi with avocado and soy-yuzu dressing is new for spring) and a bottle, or a half-bottle, of one of the half-dozen rosés.