Hi, Chowhounds. Making a brief trip to NY this weekend after years away. It's very last-minute, and I've been scouring this board for ideas.
One night, we're meeting a group at Nam for Vietnamese, and the following night my partner and I would like to have Italian just the two of us probably somewhere in the Village, LES, or SoHo/TriBeCa.
We met when we were both living in Italy, and we're looking forward on this trip to eating truly excellent Italian, which is hard to come by in the Northwest, where we live now. Our favorites are probably Roman, Piemontese, and Tuscan, not necessarily in any order.
I wish I were one of those hardcore Hounds for whom atmosphere is unimportant and food's the only thing, but I'm not: I'm looking for someplace charming and special and lively. I am thinking (in descending order of splurge-ness) of Babbo, Autumn, Lupa, Bellavitae, and 'inoteca. Would appreciate any tips about these places or similar ones. We won't have reservations, but we don't mind eating quite late. Outdoor seating would be a perk. Someplace that's bustling and vibrant late into the night.
Oh, also: part of the purpose of this trip is to convince my partner to move to NY with me after grad school, so a picturesque downtown neighborhood wouldn't hurt, either -- cobblestones, leafy trees, irresistible charm, etc. Roll your eyes if you like, but I'm on a mission here.
Thanks very much.