Cruising the ranks of Yelp’s highest rated New York cuisine I sought an appropriately romantic yet not bank breaking Valentine’s Day dinner experience. After several attempts (and one particularly painful cancelation at One if by Land) I settled on Paprika, an Italian restaurant deep in St. Mark’s amidst it’s neon and tattoo flecked walkways.
Getting there was a leisurely fifteen minute walk from the ninth street path station arm in arm with mon ami Jackie. A small place, outside and within, Paprika is certainly close quarters dining, though not unbearably so and somewhat adds to its sleepy and cozy charm. The atmosphere inside is warm and inviting, a welcome departure from the frenetic pace of the city. It is dimly lit and minimally designed creating a sense of welcome, but firmly rooted in the 21st century.
Our dinner began with an excellent bottle of Muller Thurgau, an incredibly delicious and reasonably priced white wine with delicate hints of peaches and summertime. To start we originally sought after the Eggplant Parmigiana upon first glance at the appetizer menu, which unfortunately they had run out of. So instead we delegated to the Italian resto standard the caprese salad. It was very fresh and quite delicious, but honestly given the right ingredients it is incredibly difficult to mess up.
Then it was on to the main course, lobster ravioli in vodka sauce for Jacquelyn and a breaded chicken and arugula for myself. Here I must admit a grave error on my part in the selection process and instead of taking a calculated risk and trying something new, I didn’t, I played it safe. No Balls. Jackie’s lobster ravioli, however, was quite good, even if the vodka sauce wasn’t divine.
The highlight of the meal, for me at least, came with the deceptively small chocolate cake. Shared for dessert, with two steaming cafe americanos, the cake was amazing; a perfect blend of sweetness and bitterness in the chocolate and incredibly rich. It was an incredible conclusion and a saving grace on the Valentine’s dinner’s ebbing complexity (partially my own fault).
The service was very attentive and certainly knowledgeable, all without being overly intrusive. Although we were in extremely close proximity to the other tables, the noise level remained decidedly low; especially considering the amount of people packed into the tiny place. Price was and is a factor when considering a dinner at Paprika as opposed to another Italian place in the village and with decent sized portions and a full meal with wine running under a hundred dollars; price is certainly not an aspect to complain about. I would definitely return maybe on a less crowded night, but my main course would definitely be the gnocci with prosciutto instead, something I’m still kicking myself over.