NYC’s best underground haunts

Have your pizza and eat it too.
Credit: Sotto 13

Think the best places New York has to offer are up top? Think again — many city restaurants are transforming underground, shadowy locations in basement- or lower-level floors into cozy, intimate atmospheres. Instead of walking downstairs into a building’s underbelly, these spots offer an underground sense of a hidden secret. And winter is the best time to visit: When icy winds are howling, step down into these warm, cozy spots.

355 W. 16th St., 212-929-5800
A red door opens to a long set of stairs that leads you to this sprawing lair. The wine-colored, velvet-clad space screams romance, with a theme of getting low — tables and chairs are closer to the floor than normal, creating intimacy. Jonathan Moor introduced this spot in January, and some of his BONDST staples are on the Japanese and French fusion menu, like the tuna tart. Other items to order? The lobster tacos are the perfect mix of light crunch and succulent seafood, and the seabass has a sweet, crunchy miso glaze.

Irving Farm
71 Irving Pl., 212-995-5252
Walking down the few steps into this popular, garden-level Gramercy haunt, cross your fingers that you’ll get a spot by a window, where you can peek outside as you enjoy a chai latte and green-tea cookie. The coffee shop, whose beans are sold around the city in other cafes, is a favorite for neighborhood locals, as well as celebrities like Rufus Wainwright. The lighting is dark, but the eavesdropping is worth it — artsy types seem to use it as a brainstorming hub.

The Place
310 W. Fourth St., 212-924-2711
At The Place, tucked between trees along a West Village street, the tops of the chairs are level with the sidewalk, giving you a sense that you are peeking upwards for your people-watching. The date-night restaurant has candlelit stone walls and a roaring fireplace. It makes use of its underground rooms, built more than a century ago, by decorating window-like cutouts in the wall and adding warm candelabra lighting. Entrees to savor by the fire include hangar steak, pappardelle duck pasta and winter squash chowder.

Comedy Cellar
117 MacDougal St., 212-254-3480
For underground jokes and drinks, stop in at the Comedy Cellar, which regularly hosts bold-face names. The West Village spot has shows every night of the week. And if the nooks (or the jokes) get too dark, visit the Olive Tree Cafe on the street level, above, for a quick bite or cappuccino.

Sotto 13
140 W. 13th St., 212-647-1001
Sotto 13 mixes a low-ceilinged bar with a back room that opens up into a surprisingly airy dining space. The basement-level Chelsea eatery greets customers with a low-lit bar and cocktail tables, but walk past the kitchen and the space’s high ceilings feature a funky chandelier and plant-adorned skylight. The Italian tapas-style spot boasts crispy wood-fired pizza and flavorful, Italian-style tapas and pastas. Signature cocktails include a refreshing, citrusy mango margarita.


Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."


Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.


Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.


Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.


Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…


How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.


VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.


#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.