It’s date night in New York City. The lights, as always, glitter and sparkle. The cabs rush by. The rest of the world stands still. First date, second date, and now it’s the third date. Dinner is finally the activity of choice for the evening (to begin with, at least). You’ve got the shoes, the outfit, the hair perfectly in place – now you just need to pick the venue.
Choosing a restaurant is no easy task anywhere, much less in New York. There are so many points to consider when everything you could possibly imagine or want is available! Choose by location: West Village, East Village, SoHo, TriBeCa, UWS, UES… but they are all so close that subways or cabs can shuttle you between any of these neighborhoods within 20 minutes. So choose by food type. Unless you happened to meet your date at a curry convention or an NGO in Thailand, you probably want to stay away from the spicier options, so you ultimately decide on Italian: non-threatening, hearty and always offers the possibility for a Lady and the Tramp moment. Perfect. Then you discover your date is vegan. You were looking forward to the possibilities of meat lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs or eggplant parmesan – but Italian food, especially in America, is the furthest from vegan you could possibly imagine! Now what?
Worry not. Take a breath, and remember that you’re in New York. When I said everything is available, I really meant it. So straighten your tie, smooth your skirt, and take your date to Palà on the Lower East Side.
Palà is a very chic gourmet pizzeria. It specializes in making pizza so delicious that the critics at The Daily News claim it’s the best they’ve ever had (a fact that Palà proudly announces in the corner of their menu). To be honest, it’s definitely some of the best pizza I’ve had in New York as well. I think of Palà as a restaurant that really captures the essence of the city that surrounds it; there’s something for everyone. The thing that sets Palà apart from other restaurants, even other noteworthy vegan restaurants, is that it isn’t exclusive. Half the menu is for vegans, the other half is for everyone else, and it’s all delicious. I shared a funghi e salsiccia vegan pizza with a friend the last time I was there. We couldn’t believe the textured soy protein wasn’t actually sausage – it was incredible! Another friend had gnocchi from the non-vegan menu and reported that it was, as expected, amazing.
The venue itself is sophisticated and friendly. Candles adorn each table, winking in the evening air that drifts through the opened garage-style doors while casting the meal in a warm glow. It has all the elements of a trendy upscale restaurant, so it may come as a surprise when the bill’s total is less than $40. One pizza is large enough to be shared by two. If you absolutely must have your meat and cheese, the final check will be more, but not by a large sum. With pizza prices ranging from $14 to $17, it’s hard to believe you’re in such a fabulous atmosphere.
Its location is also incredibly convenient. On Allen Street just below Houston, it’s just a few steps away from some of the greatest little bars on the Lower East Side and the East Village. After dinner, drinks and dancing would be an easily achievable and fantastic way to close out the evening.
Take some of the edge off date night and have a wonderful time at Palà. Enjoy the wine, the pizza, the attentive and friendly waitstaff, all for an unbelievable price – and live to tell the tale of the Vegan Who Came to Dinner.