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“Bacaro/Smith & Mills”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Italian Tribeca Moderate Good

Dining comes in many forms. There's the formal feed-you know, a lavish several course meal meticulously prepared, delicately served, paired with exquisite wines, and always slowly and luxuriously savored. Then there's the more common weekly dinner, a more casual (if no less thrilling these days) affair consisting of some sort of appetizer, entrée and side dish combo, where plates are passed and shared, and beer, wine and cocktail glasses often find themselves sharing table space. And then there's eating at the bar, a favorite form of dining for many New Yorkers (myself included).

The bar is a space officially reserved for drinking, which invites a bit more excitement to the whole matter of eating, and the promise of some interaction, whether with an amusing bartender or with random-also often quite entertaining-strangers. It's also a place that let's you get closer to the person you're with. My first date with Craig was at the bar of the Flatiron Lounge. Instead of sitting across the table from each other, we were side-by-side, squished into each other, with elbows, knees, and hands inevitably touching at some point or another. Hey, it worked for me.

And in any case, whether with Craig or a friend, when it's just two, I love the bar and the dichotomy of the intimacy of sitting so close to someone-close enough to speak and only be heard by them-and yet be a part of this very public communal dining and drinking experience. Somehow, at the bar, you are separate but together at the same time. How very New York.

This week I had two meals and two bars-one at Bacaro and another at Smith & Mills-and loved both of them, not so much because the food was so brilliant (it was fine in both cases, but not great), but because the entire experience of dining and drinking was exceptional, from the service, to the cocktails, to the spectacular settings. If you're searching for a bar for drinks and a bite, for talking amongst yourselves or for exploring the world of engaging strangers, these two should be on your list.

My friend Robin and I caught up Friday night at Bacaro, the latest hot spot from Peasant's Frank DeCarlo and his wife Dulcinea Benson. Located on a quiet road called Division Street, Bacaro is an ode to the wine bar of culture of Venice where cichetti are served in small, cozy tavernas called-you guessed it-bacaros. The two-story space is really rather breathtaking. The street level boasts ... [more, click below]

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Other restaurants in Tribeca :
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