Exploring Outdoor Dining Setups in NYC

By Kaia Fisher and Katya Tolunsky

New York City, New York

Ampia, a southern Italian restaurant in the Financial District, has transformed its rooftop terrace (Photo Credit: New York Post)

As temperatures remain low, restaurants in New York City are coming up with creative ways for consumers to eat safely. The number of restaurants serving customers outside has slimmed considerably during the fall and winter months, but restaurants and bars across the five boroughs remain open. Restaurants have come up with innovative ways to keep diners warm, such as using individual dining pods, partially-enclosed structures, seat heaters, and blankets. Here are a few of New York’s best outdoor dining environments.


Ampia, a southern Italian restaurant in the Financial District, has transformed its rooftop terrace into a decked-out greenery with twinkling lights, so one can find a seat in the enclosed greenhouses while enjoying festive surroundings. Ampia has also utilized its new outdoor space to transform the restaurant to fit the season. In the summer, Ambia created a vibrant floral garden that changed into an arrangement of carved pumpkins as Halloween approached. According to Ampia, upon entering 100 Broad Street, an elevator (stairs are also available) brings guests up to the second floor and directly into the restaurant, due to the open floor plan. Guests can expect a luxurious menu to indulge in an authentic Italian dining experience while maintaining social distancing protocols and multiple safety and sanitizing precautions. Ampia takes reservations on OpenTable.


The Upper West Side Italian restaurant Lucciola was one of the first places to jump on the outdoor dining bubble trend. The restaurant has twelve outdoor dining bubbles set up along West 90th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. The bubbles only seat one party at a time, distancing customers from other parties, but, in terms of ventilation and airflow within, eating in these outdoor structures is similar to eating indoors.


The classic French bistro Café du Soleil has recently upgraded its sidewalk seating with clear dome-shaped structures that encapsulate each table. The clear bubbles have closures that completely separate customers from other parties and are disinfected between each seating. Each personal dining igloo also includes personal heating. Some restaurants, such as Upper West Side Japanese restaurant Moonrise Izakaya, have been providing customers with blankets and selling sweatshirts for less than $20 to help fight the cold.


Another amazing outdoor experience is American Bass, which overlooks the East River and has a prime view of the Manhattan skyline, providing one of the most picturesque outdoor dining set-ups in all five boroughs. The locally focused brasserie from chef Kevin McGinley (formerly of Bátard) has fifteen translucent greenhouses, so nothing obstructs the view that up to six members of a quarantine pod can enjoy.

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