Road Trip: 10 Great Restaurants for Parties

Published in Gourmet Live 12.07.11
As part of our monthly collaboration with BlogHer, we're celebrating the season and going cross-country to find the top 10 party-perfect restaurants

Dover, New Jersey: Attilio’s Tavern

Attilo’s Tavern in the small northern town of Dover is a wonderful Italian spot to tuck into, whether you’re looking for a quiet authentic spaghetti dinner with your better half, or a Friday night hot spot for dancing your troubles away to local bands. The tavern has a private party room and a superfriendly staff who don’t rush you through your meal. Just don’t visit without ordering the zuppa di vongole (clam soup).

Honolulu: Gyotaku

Since I have a blog on Japanese food, I’d love to throw a party at Gyotaku, a family-favorite restaurant in Honolulu that specializes in truly delicious Japanese cuisine served in beautiful bento boxes. Gyotaku has the best tempura in town, along with sushi rolls (including a very Hawaiian ahi poke roll) and noodle and rice dishes. There are several party areas in the restaurant, and the staff is welcoming, as well as very kid-friendly. We’ve had many a family party at their two locations and never been disappointed.

Jacksonville, Florida: Biscottis

There is no better place in Jacksonville to have a bash than Biscottis. The warm greeting from the restaurant’s owner, Karin, and the cozy rooms make you feel welcome and at home. Biscottis’ private dining room is lined with local art, wood ceilings, and even includes a private door so guests don’t have to enter through the front of the restaurant. After dining on duck confit flatbread and leek-crusted grouper, make sure to leave room for their croissant bread pudding—it is truly swoonworthy.

Los Angeles: Pizzeria Mozza

My absolute favorite restaurant in L.A. is Pizzeria Mozza, and it’s also the best place to have a party. The elements that make it great for a fun dinner with friends or special date carry through to their events. The food is outstanding, as chef/owners Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali serve antipasti that includes everything from olives to bone marrow, and, of course, there’s its famous pizza. The third owner is Joe Bastianich, so the wine list is suitably excellent. Two years ago, we rented out their Jack Warner room for my husband’s 35th birthday party and it was my dream way to celebrate—an intimate dinner with friends, wine flowing like the Nile, and a dinner that will go down in history as one of our favorite meals ever.

New York: Locanda Verde

Andrew Carmellini’s much-acclaimed Locanda Verde in Tribeca is one of my favorite restaurants for dinner, and my top choice for a special event. The cozy back room ensures that a party of any size feels intimate and comfortable. The well-executed Italian menu features dishes like My Grandmother’s Ravioli and Roasted Sea Scallops with Shallot Mostarda, which are paired with an impressive all-Italian wine list. Topping off the evening with one of pastry chef Karen DeMasco’s addictive desserts, such as La Fantasia di Caramello (caramel gelato with pear sorbet for two), would be the icing on the cake.

Salt Lake City: The Garden Café

With executive chef Phillip Yates at the helm, the food at The Garden Café in the Grand America Hotel is all excellent, but what I love most is the variety of foods, including exquisite dishes like Loch Duart salmon with fennel and orange salad, and good old-fashioned Texas chili with homemade Fritos. The Grand America is an incredible hotel with amazing space for parties and an inspiring view over the valley. The live music they provide every evening adds to the beauty and warmth of the space, especially during the holidays.

San Diego, California: Stingaree

The expansive rooftop at Stingaree, in San Diego’s East Village, is the perfect place for a party. This nightclub and restaurant, located in a rebuilt historic warehouse with a rooftop overlooking downtown, has the requisite rocking party vibe, but with serious food. Chef Antonio Friscia is among the region’s top chefs, transforming local ingredients into savory dishes with global influences. And, if that weren’t enough, he’s recently hooked up with chefs Andrew Spurgin and Top Chef Brian Malarkey to create Campine Catering based out of Stingaree. The three chefs each have their own culinary perspective, and the collaboration means a party filled with eclectic dishes and deviously innovative cocktails.

San Francisco: Suppenküche

Suppenküche is one of San Francisco’s most raucous German joints, with a huge selection of beer and a vibe so jovial your partygoers will make it a regular pit stop on their Friday night adventures. Suppenküche’s menu is a deliriously tasty fusion of traditional German cuisine and modern American culinary creativity. Want to cement your lively evening? Ask for The Boot. Trust me.

Seattle: Trapper’s Sushi

My favorite restaurant for celebrating is Trapper’s Sushi in Covington, about 30 minutes south of Seattle. Trapper O’Keeffe and his team are skilled at accommodating large groups, and the platters of sushi and pitchers of sake are perfectly suited for family-style dining. The menu features endless creative rolls, such as the Very Happy (tempura eel and salmon with cream cheese), along with more traditional sushi options.

Worcester, Massachusetts: NicheXChange

NicheXChange is an excellent place to host an event in Central Massachusetts, with three separate spaces to dine, drink, and celebrate. Guests can sit down to a dinner of upscale American comfort food in a cozy, private dining room, or you can throw a cocktail reception out on the heated outdoor patio. If theme parties are more your style, pull out your flapper gown and treat your partygoers to a private “Prohibition party” complete with handcrafted cocktails in the private bar area, which is housed in a renovated jail block.

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