by Sal, New York Guest Concierge
If you want casual dining, or if you simply desire a glass of wine with great appetizers, Arno is the place. Upon walking in one immediately notices an environment that is a clean standard for fine Italian dining: plenty of table space, dark tone wood textures and a divine wine display at the bar.
My first visit to Arno was intended to be a short lunch stop for a glass of wine and perhaps a snack at the bar, but this was not the case. One of the managers, Marian, had stepped away from her table to welcome me and my guest to Arno and she offered up a suggestion for the cheese platter, served with an eclectic choice of cheeses and a small ramekin of honey. DELISH! I wish I had taken pictures. I was there during their lunch hours and the restaurant area was quiet, but very tranquil. It was the perfect space for the mood that I was in. Small talk about wines and cheeses kept me entertained and then the enthusiastic Marian insisted that she take me and my guest on a tour. She could not have been more proud of her restaurant, and it showed her through grace and smile. She showed us the upstairs private dining area that offered the perfect amount of seclusion if one wanted to have a private party and still stay a part of the main dining area. There are still some changes that are happening to the upstairs table section that Marian was ecstatic about and I am eager to see the end result on my next visit!
After the tour from upstairs, I was amazed that the two very large dining rooms have an beautifully designed wall of panels that open to make the two rooms become one very large space. I thought it stopped there and I was already excited to know that there were options for privacy for whatever size group of 2 or 20, but then there was downstairs. This place is HUGE! She took us down the stairs and showed us a few more private dining areas that were always available for hosting the largest of events or dinners. And the amazing thing was is that they do not charge to use the space, just for the food. I accused Marian of sitting on a throne of lies, there is no way a restaurant of this size does not charge for the VIP privacy downstairs and not charge extra, but they in fact don’t.
I made a reservation for a few weeks later to actually sit in the dining hall and it could not have been more perfect. I was greeted by a hostess who recognized me and immediately brought over Marian who was excited to see me and my new guest. She sat us down and made sure we were quickly attended to. Our server was a boisterous man with a personality to match. One of the more memorable things was how he managed to pick up details about my guest and I while he took our orders. I could imagine this being a joy for any visitor of the city to have a server who showed so much interest in you and your history. This really made for an intimate dining experience with a staff that offered genuine service and care. The food itself you can tell was delicious as my guest and I kept passing our forks to each others’ plates. We shared a very large appetizer of Calamari that left me nervous that there wouldn’t be room for the entrée. But I was wrong, the portions were very appropriately sized and our server dazzled us with his presentation and excitement to make sure everything was to our liking. For such a New York staple environment that seems pretty standard, we were having a jolly good time! Now to finish up with our excitement of the evening before we left to our show, we noticed that Arno likes to play tricks on you. While you dine, they wheel a multi-level cart of DESSERTS around you and other patrons just to taunt you. Clever clever! We couldn’t have even made up our minds, so we took about 4 different desserts off that tray! On our way out we got a fond farewell from our server, the owner and finally, the lovely Marian. How could I not want to go back?