Food has the ability to bring people together, and while you’ve likely experienced this with family and friends, sharing stories with strangers over a bowl of carbonara is less common. NYC may be notorious for its antisocial locals; however, these communal table restaurants prove that stereotype isn’t always true.
Brooklyn’s Roberta’s Pizza is NYC’s answer to artisanal pies and communal table restaurants. Housed in a former garage in Bushwick, you’ll find long wooden tables where you’ll eat alongside friends old and new. From the sidewalk, the storefront looks slightly abandoned, but open the doors and you’ll be hit with a blast of upbeat music, animated chatter, and the intoxicating aroma of Neapolitan-style pizza cooking in a wood-fired oven. Inside there’s an industrial-in-the-countryside feel, with cinderblock walls, checkered curtains, exposed light bulbs and wood ceiling beams—and an infamous Brokeback Mountain painting with pizza-faced characters.
The expansive array of toppings, many homegrown, gives the space a creative flare—littleneck clams, Calabrian chiles, lamb sausage and beyond—and makes for a great conversation starter at the communal tables. Suggest that your neighbor order the famous original with oregano, mixed cheese, and chili, trading a slice for your smoked paprika sausage-topped paparizza, and say cheers to new friends with bottles of funky, fluffy BFM √225 sour saison.
Wilfie + Nell
In Manhattan’s West Village you’ll find Wilfie + Nell, a subterranean restaurant and bar, with a cozy exposed-brick interior, that serves up locally sourced food and craft drinks at the bar’s social communal tables. You and your crew could squeeze into the private back room, but if you’re looking to network, the communal tables are the way to go. The menu features delicious Irish tapas to share, like a cheese board made with Murray’s famous cheeses and spicy-pickle-topped pulled pork sliders. Order a round of New York sours for the table, and toast yourself with the simple bittersweet magic of Tito’s vodka, lemon, simple syrup, and Cappelletti Aperitivo.
Don’t let Louro‘s impeccable minimalist decor make you think that folks don’t come here to mingle. Throughout the farm-to-fork modern American menu, you’ll find Chef David Santos’s signature experiments, as he loves playing with texture, pickling, nose-to-tail cooking, and atypical combinations. Come on Monday night and bond with a tableful of your new besties over some beer swapping (the dinner is BYOB) and a unique themed menu for the Nossa Mesa Supper Club. The theme is often inspired by pop culture and the seasons, and it’s a great way to get acquainted with Santos’s style — whether that’s with a sweet and spicy fluke and beef tartar Kingslayer on Games of Thrones night or beer-batter fried duck and waffles at a duck-themed dinner.
EatWith isn’t a restaurant, but a collection of unique dining experiences designed to bring strangers together. The website carefully curates talented local chefs, who host themed meals in their homes—a progressive Indian dinner in a Financial District high-rise or healthy vegan tapas savored in a funky Brooklyn loft, for example. The group, composed of locals and visitors, will vary, although the goal is always to share stories (and business cards) over good food and drink—conversations that start at the table and continue beyond the meal.