TODAY'S PAPER
32° Good Evening
32° Good Evening
LifestyleRestaurants

Date night restaurants on Long Island

A charcuterie board for two with olives, peppers,

A charcuterie board for two with olives, peppers, prosciuto, sopresatta, truffle caciotta cheese and parmigiano reggiano cheese and a Via Truglio salad with truffle burrata over wild arugula with lemon, truffle oil, roasted peppers and tomato served at Molto Vino in Babylon. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Time spent out on the town with your special someone can take various forms. It can be romantic, playful, downright sexy or as comfortable as a pair of fleecy slippers. Here are five favorite places that will make hearts go pitter-pat.

MOLTO VINO

Babylon’s perpetually booming bar and restaurant scene is exactly that— booming—and quiet nooks in which to grab a drink can be tricky to find, at least on busy Friday nights. In the midst of all that noise, the wine bar Molto Vino serves as an oasis, a quasi-illicit grotto and a superb Italian (mostly) wine bar rolled into one. Owner Max Gargiulo designed Molto Vino to feel like a cross between a cozy living room and a wine cellar, with walls lined with bottles and lights dimmed for seduction (as well as, perhaps, obscuring any imperfections). The winning mash-up of sometimes obscure Italian wines, uncomplicated plates (salumi boards, salads, panini and crisp, thin-crusted Neopolitan pizza) and plush seating can make for date-night magic. Slide onto side-by-side leather bar stools so you can “accidentally” knock elbows and knees while you sip sparkling Branchini Pignoletto and break open some burrata with your knife. If you two are still spilling your secrets hours later, segue to Nutella pizza. And if you catch your date really vibing on a dolcetto or Napa cab (other regions are represented here, too), chances are you can find it at Molto Vino’s neighboring wine shop, Solo Vino. —Corin Hirsch

Molto Vino; 45 Deer Park Ave., Babylon; 631-983-8915

2 SPRING

Inside this polished New American spot, which opened on a downtown corner two years ago, dinner can be an adventure, with dishes as compelling to look at as they are to eat. At the controls is chef Jesse Schenker, who has two well-regarded Manhattan restaurants (Recette and The Gander, both now closed) under his belt; he was lured east by building owners Claudia and Michael Taglich. His quirky talents have found a seductive setting: By night, 2 Spring takes on an almost enchanted feel, with lots of glass, brick, sultry lighting and sleek lines. An inviting bar and a few tables cluster downstairs, and upstairs, the loft dining area feels like an aerie. Every detail seems to have been considered, from heavy, faceted water glasses to a leather banquette that extends through the downstairs dining room. With only 45 or so seats, dinner reservations can fill long in advance. (Lunch, the only time of day to grab 2 Spring’s slightly messy burger, is better suited for more spontaneous visits.) As befits the elegant environs, cocktails here exude poise, and artisanal ciders, craft beers and wines from places such as Greece, the Finger Lakes and France’s Loire Valley round out a thoughtful drinks list. The menu, equally thoughtful, channels its coastal setting; there are multiple crudos and plenty of seafood. Seemingly disparate spices, sauces and techniques intermingle in original ways with occasional assists from shaved black truffles, foie gras and caviar—reflective, maybe, of the well-heeled crowd that hangs out here. —Corin Hirsch

2 Spring; 2 Spring St., Oyster Bay; 516-624-2411, 2springstreet.com

LIDO KOSHER DELI

If you think delis can’t be sexy places, then either 1) you haven’t seen “When Harry Met Sally,” or 2) you’ve never been to Lido Kosher Deli, a true gem of Long Beach. But for decades now, Wally Goetz, and more recently his son Russ, have been serving up not so much sex but lots of love in the form of towering pastrami sandwiches capable of dislocating jaws, generous platters of corned beef and brisket, matzo ball soup, stuffed derma and all your other favorites. “Over the last 30 years, the younger generations have become less religious, and, of course, there are mixed marriages too,” Wally Goetz told us. “The kosher deli reminds everyone of the love that their bubbe used to bring to the traditional meal.” In some ways, the Lido is among the last of a dying breed. Kosher delis, which rose to prominence in the early 20th century as gathering places for new immigrants who spoke little or no English, were the original “Cheers, where everybody knew your name,” as Goetz put it. And while establishments such as the Lido may not be as vital as they once were, the welcoming tradition they’ve long espoused is as alive as ever. And as with all great delis, the Lido’s dining room remains a place to reconnect with oneself and others, to be reminded of one’s values and heritage, and to drink in decades of love and caring. —Scott Vogel

Lido Kosher Deli; 641½ E. Park. Ave, Long Beach; 516-431-4411, lidokosherdeli.com

RINCON CRIOLLO

Walk into Rincon Criollo and you find yourself wrapped in the warm embrace of the Acosta family. Almost from the moment the Cuban restaurant opened in Huntington Station, in 2015, it felt like home. This was due partly to the interior, charmingly humble, with red-checked tablecloths and family photos on the walls; partly to the Acostas’ 43-year tenure running Rincon Criollo in Queens (and, before Castro’s ascendancy, for 12 years in Cuba). But mostly it’s the friendly service and the menu, which will take you back to a Cuban childhood you may or may not have had. Start the meal with a generous mojito, then dive into the extensive menu, which covers all the bases of classic Cuban cuisine, from croquetas de jamón (potato-ham croquettes) and tortilla de Echeverria (omelet filled with shrimp, ham, potatoes and sausage), to ropa vieja (braised flank steak), camarones al ajillo (shrimp in garlic sauce) and lechon asado (roast pork). With an hour’s notice, Rincon Criollo will also prepare seafood paella or arroz con pollo (chicken with rice) for two. Save room for flan. Dining solo? Sidle up to the bar with a bowl of caldo Gallego (bean-greens- sausage soup), more comforting than many sweethearts. —Erica Marcus

Rincon Criollo; 16 W. Jericho Tpke., Huntington Station; 631-271-2277, rincon-criollo.com

THE HARRISON

If looks could kill, The Harrison would slay. With a mahogany bar, Deco details and dramatic lighting, this timeless spot feels straight out of film noir, and the dining room’s half-moon booths are perfect for canoodling. Warm, buttery Parker House rolls help set the mood for a meal that can go in a number of directions, from sushi rolls and a raw bar—including oysters on the half shell, one of the world’s legendary aphrodisiacs—to satisfying dishes like sticky, honeyed house wings, burnished rotisserie chicken, steak frites or the house burger—a double stack of Pat LaFrieda patties draped with American cheese and boosted, if you wish, with a fried egg. Weekend brunch delivers a bubblier vibe, with bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys, live jazz (Sundays), and omelets, eggs Benedict and avocado toast galore. —Corin Hirsch

The Harrison; 86 S. Tyson Ave., Floral Park; 516-775-2682, theharrisonfp.com

Latest reviews