Like Alice’s rabbit-hole, Jack’s beanstalk, or Huck Finn’s time-travelling river-raft, Grotto is an easy-to-miss gateway to a magical, otherworldly realm. A low-lying neon sign and a short descending staircase are all that mark the cozy eatery from the outside. But inside, a wonderland of refined continental furnishings unfolds in three distinct regions. A bar and intimate, candlelit leather-booth seating face each other between exposed brick walls immediately past the entryway, and in another section, navy wainscoting with porthole-shaped flourishes recall the dining hall on a turn-of-the-century cruise. On the patio out back, vines, fronds, and ferns clamber over a playground of trestles, offering a distinctly Mediterranean ambiance. In the words of Time Out New York, this “hidden subterranean spot” is “worth seeking out,” and the menu, “much like everything else about this place, provides a bounty of unexpected gifts.”
Originally from Munich, proprietor David Wiesner developed a love for Mediterranean culture and cuisine over the course of many summers in southern Italy. Along with co-owner (and German television host) Steven Gätjen, he updates the inspired menu on a regular basis. Offerings have included fragrant buffalo mozzarella, organic Cornish hen in a spicy balsamic reduction, and pumpkin ravioli. Additionally, the use of the finest ingredients paired with an immaculate sense of presentation and a romantic setting make Grotto an excellent choice for a first date.
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