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A Very Village Graduation Dinner

November 07, 20235 min read

There are only so many milestones in life, and the older you get, the fewer and far between they become. With NYU’s graduation on the horizon, it’s time for a day of pomp and pageantry, full of triumphant toasts, tearful goodbyes, and selfies snapped in the iconic NYU violet robe and cap. After years of intense work and study, you (and your not-so-little kids) have earned it!

We can think of no better way to observe this momentous occasion than by returning from commencement in the Bronx back to where it all started: right here in The Village. So, bask in the feeling of accomplishment, but don’t forget to make reservations because the neighborhood will be teeming with new grads and their families. Just in case you’re not quite familiar with having dinner inGreenwich Village, here are our favorite local spots to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime achievement.

North Square103 Waverly Place
If you’re looking for the perfect blend of warm ambiance, delicious variety, and outstanding service, then North Square is the place to have your post-ceremony meal.

Start off with a selection of delicate appetizers, and make sure the Lobster & Crab Cakes are on that list (if you fancy Thai curry coconut, that is). . And the Blistered Carrots with lemon tahini and pistachio (oh my, what a flavor combo) . . And you must try the Chopped Salad ordained with a quail egg and colorful array of root veggies drizzled with a ginger shallot vinaigrette, so yum. Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we haven’t even made it to the dinner menu or wine list yet! Slow down and enjoy this victorious day, savor every moment (and every bite of the juicy, oversized lamb sliders).

Adjoined to the Washington Square Hotel, the North Square has space to accommodate your graduation party, too. Gather in the Deco Room with all your friends and family to enjoy this commodious yet intimate setting. While you’re here, you may as well book a room and celebrate the whole night through. There is nothing in Greenwich Village quite as artistic and idyllic as the Washington Square Hotel and North Square Restaurant.

MIMI 185 Sullivan Street
MIMI may be small, but don’t let its size fool you, the food is anything but basic. In a glowing review,  Grubstreet recently called MIMI “a pint-sized bistro with a daring French soul,” describing the plates with adjectives like “mind-bending,” and “sinfully rich”—sounds like just the place for a “special occasion feeling.” The menu changes daily, so there’s no telling what to expect, but past showstoppers have included items like Sea Trout Tartare and Gnocchi Parisienne. If you’re intrigued, join the club (and make a reservation as the tiny restaurant is likely to fill up on graduation day).

Blue Hill 75 Washington Place
Three steps below street level in a historic speakeasy, decked out in white tablecloths and exposed brick, you’ll find Blue Hill. The ambiance is charming, cozy, and energetic, but the true star of this Greenwich Village institution is the food. New York Magazine recently called this the place to go for a “smart, grown-up meal”—how appropriate for a new NYU alum! Here, “farm-to-table” actually means something; all of the ingredients are sourced from nearby farms, including their very own Blue Hill Farm in Massachusetts. It’s all about the tasting menus, and on a day as special as graduation, we recommend choosing the Farmer’s Feast, a six-course creation made from the week’s harvest. You can make a reservation for up to six, but if your group has more, you’ll want to ask about booking the Private Garden Room.

Amelie Wine Bar
22 West 8th Street
If ever there is a time to pop a bottle of something fancy, it’s graduation day. For top-notch French wines, you’ll want to head to Amelie. As Thrillist says, “it’s the kind of place where you pair the food with the wine, rather than the other way ‘round.” And after wrapping up exams and submitting final portfolios and papers, being in a wine-first state of mind is perfectly understandable. Just don’t forget the Charcuterie. The last time we checked, the menu had six varieties and includes Amelie’s signature homemade pickles.

Shuko 47 East 12th Street
Here’s an indisputable fact: sushi always sounds good. And if you want to celebrate with the city’s best raw Japanese fare, look no further than Shuko. The sleek, decidedly cool outpost is known for Omakase, which means leaving the decisions to the chef. And at Shuko, you’re in good hands. In fact, some consider eating here a religious experience. As TimeOut noted in a recent roundup of NYC’s best restaurants, your selection will be crafted by “sushi demigod Masa Takayama’s longtime disciples.” Sounds transcendent.

228 West 10th Street
Can an Italian eatery be equal parts rustic and posh? The answer, as you’ll learn upon entering L’Artusi, is yes. The ambiance is buzzy and romantic; stately chandeliers illuminate dark walls, and plush barstools line the radiant marble bar. Recently named the number one most romantic restaurant in NYC by Forbes, L’Artusi has all the special occasion feels you need for an intimate celebration. If you have a large group, consider booking the Private Wine Room. Surrounded by 2,000 bottles of wine in illuminated wooden cabinets and seating up to 16 around a long table, you’ll find specialty cuisine from a curated menu. The food is an unforgettable as the setting, with elevated traditional Italian fare, like Rabbit Gnocci and Blanco Bolognese Tagliatelle.

Shuka 38 MacDougal Street
If the weather cooperates, the floor-to-ceiling windows at Shuka are thrown wide open, letting in a light, salty, Mediterranean breeze. Okay, ocean air might require a bit of imagination, but it’s not at all unlikely that you’ll feel like you’re on a Greek vacation while dining at Shuka. The interior is bright, airy, and full of greenery, with royal blue chairs and marble tables. Although it’s the food that really shines, with light favorites like Squash Hummus and Pork Kofta Kebabs that will please a wide range of tastes. If ever there was a time to order dessert, that time is now, on your graduation day. Go big with the Mediterranean Delight, an indulgent concoction of apples, pears, pomegranates, sweet tahini, and Seed & Mills Halva.

Life can feel like a whirlwind, especially at the finish of your last year in school. But seize this natural moment for reflection and soak it up. Your future is rife with possibility. Congratulations, grads!

NYU,North Square,restaurants

Paula McGarvey

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