The Things We Do For Love: New York’s Top Date Spots

To some, love is motivated by how fat one’s pocketbook is. To others, it’s based on where one is able to get a reservation at peak time on a Friday night. Excite your summer love with these unabashedly romantic restaurants — incredibly sexy date spots, dripping with intimacy, dishes that arouse the senses, good lighting, or otherwise just priced to impress. For more inspiration of the culinary sort (inspiration of the other sort may be too, uh, inspirational for this site), check out Restaurants in the guides and choose the Romantic/Date Spot vibe.

Casa la Femme (West Village) – Former downtown romantic gone uptown returns to camp out in the West Vil. The softest of soft lighting, plush seating, and intricately detailed decor set the mood; signature fig martinis and French Kiss cocktails spell romance; the hip-swiveling belly dancers spell something else, but it’s all sexy. ● The Bourgeois Pig (East Village) – A dark, red room that’s a perfect post-dinner spot when things are going well, or a date spot to pull out all the stops. The fondue makes things romantic for him and her, because let’s face it; dip-able things are sexy as hell.

August (West Village) – Raw bar for those that still hang on to those aphrodisiac superstitions; comfort food for a cozy atmosphere. Sweet nothings will have to be whispered quietly, as this place is tiny. Size in this case is just an excuse to get closer. Hold hands in the romantic garden and cherish the moment — September will be here before you know it. ● Babbo (Greenwich Village) – The only dirty talk you’ll need here is “Baby, this is Mario Batali’s place,” and “I pulled strings to get a res here on short notice.” If this isn’t enough to set the mood, then the fact that you’re sandwiched between a former mayor and Gwyneth Paltrow should do the trick. The food, of course, stands on its own as reason enough to bring your summer lover by. ● One If By Land Two If By Sea (West Village) – Whenever I poll the office on where I should take my date for a romantic evening, the unanimous cry is this place. Aaron Burr’s haunted carriage house is true romance: flowers, firelight, and a piano that plays the lilting soundtrack to your dream date. Get engaged here if you think you might need some persuasion. Fall in love here by accident. ● JoJo (Upper East Side) – For those of you buying Vineyard Vines for him, and pearls for her, here is your classic UES date spot. Slightly stuffy but enduring townhouse romancer. Love, Franco-American style. Conclude with infamous warm spicy Valrhona chocolate cake. Sex to follow. ● Capsouto Freres (Tribeca) – Long-running French romantic will get you laid. But it’s not about that, it’s about romance and the presentation — the candles, tablecloths, quiet corners, and booze make the perfect ambiance to get you feeling romantical. The French know romance, and the exceptional desserts and the extensive wine list add to the way you’re looking at your other half. ● barmarché (Nolita) – Relaxing go-to brunch spot. Because honestly, brunch done right is one of the most romantic things. Subdued, rendezvous lighting. Wear his button up belted as a dress and enjoy the Barmarche Cuban Burger. The New Old American cuisine and the sight of you with bed head makes the Saturday brunch rush worth the wait. ● Relish (Williamsburg) – Cute place for young love — perhaps you might not perceive this classic diner as a place where romance blossoms at first sight, but give the outdoor patio five minutes, and suddenly you have found “your” place. But really, nothing says romance like sangria. In pint glasses. ● Dressler (Williamsburg) – Food to die for, and just enough off the beaten path to call it your own. The mirror/light/candle combo works magic, the food is above par and quite impressive for foodies, and the dark and stormys will take care of the details.

Heloise and the Savoir Faire’s Favourite Brooklyn Spots

Heloise and the Savoir Faire are gritty and glam and make me want to put on something with sequins and dance until the sun rears its head over the night’s detritus. Maybe that’s how they make Elijah Wood feel too, as he’s signed the electro-pop disco throwback outfit to his Simian Records label. Led by Heloise (pronounced “Eloise”) Williams, and with a backing band including classically trained dancer Joe Shephard, the band’s fearless and dynamic live show comes to Le Poisson Rouge this Friday, when they headline a Valium-times day party. We asked the art rockers to tell us where we could find them when they weren’t performing and, in addition to Brooklyn topless bar Pumps, here’s what they gave us.

● We sometimes have band meetings in Williamsburg at Spuyten Duyvil (which means “spitting devil” in Dutch or something). They have a really wide and obscure selection of beers, wines and cheeses from around the world and a solid jukebox. There’s also a lovely garden open in the back when it’s warm.

Zebulon in Williamsburg is where our alter ego bands (Deuce, The SavoirFarians, Sheperd’s Pie, etc.) play. The owners Jeff and Joss rule.

● Converted silver diner Relish basically funds all our band exploits as three of our members work there. The food is delicious (try the mussels or the burger) and the booze at the silvertop bar flows freely. Band dancemaster Joe once lost his job there for stripping on the bar. He thought all the customers were gone. They weren’t.

● Drummer Luke’s local is Freddy’s in Prospect Heights. It’s a classic Brooklyn dive studded with semi-sleazy video montage, chatty bartenders and a healthy mix of old poets and artists and their younger future barstool replacements.

Photo: Danielle Levitt