I can't stress enough that the beauty of New York is that around each corner is a gem of a place (or a man peeing on the street).
I love the popularity of back gardens in New York - not so much gardens as glass enclosures - but gardens nonetheless. *There are some restaurants that have actual gardens without a roof, this is a story about not one of those.
The theatre school alum that live here in NYC convened in one such garden the other night and I think you all should go. It's called La Lanterna and it is located in the West Village on MacDougal at 3rd Street.
This is why:
I got there first and sheltered myself from the rain. I was instantly welcomed into the cozy dark interior with tiny wooden tables and a tree lit with fairy lights. The owner, a lovely old Italian gentlemen (who later I saw reading the 'Big Butt' page of an Italian newspaper - or at least I think it was a newspaper) scurried to the garden to see if there was a table available. No. So I sat at a little table and waited.
By the time all my friends arrived, a table big enough had become available and we went to the back (this is incredible for NYC - you usually have to wait hours!). The garden is basically like a greenhouse with tables. And flickering candles. And fairy lights. And a fountain. So not like my grandma's greenhouse at all.
We sat for hours, as the rain tapped on the glass ceiling and the sky grew darker. The food is good, not over-the-top amazing but tasty and enjoyable. They specialize in thin-crust pizzas and panini's. I had the pesto pizza which was flavourful and lovely, especially with the creamy goat cheese. I also had the most delicious cappuccino AND a mind-blowing tiramisu. Like crazy mind blowing. I love love love tiramisu! And La Lanterna's was creamy, light, and flavoured perfectly with marscapone, cocoa and coffee liqueur. I clapped.
The waitress let us sit there and catch up for FOUR hours. How nice is that? I realize sometimes you want to bill, but I appreciated the 'sit and relax' atmosphere. In the dark, the glow of the candles, the sound of the rain, and good friends gave me that warm, cozy feeling I miss sometimes in this big city.
I loved La Lanterna so much that I met my friend the very next day for cappuccino's in the garden by day. As you can see in the pictures I highly enjoyed myself.
It's the perfect spot to sit and write for hours without evil daggers from the servers trying to get you to leave. You almost have to ask them if you can leave.
Conclusion? When in New York and in need of shelter from the rain, a corner to talk to a friend, or a sanctuary from busy Manhattan streets, make La Lanterna your destination.
I am making the Engineer go right now for some damn tiramisu. I am actually drooling. . .