Get ready to be social IRL.
There's a certain alchemy to the perfect dinner party that's tough to nail. Even if you master the controlled variables (lighting, music, food and drink), there are always the wild cards (the mix of personalities, the strong political opinions) that threaten to spoil an otherwise flawless gathering.
Which is why it takes a professional like Ariel Arce to orchestrate a seemingly effortless soiree. Today, the owner of Air’s Champagne Parlor and Tokyo Record Bar opens Niche Niche, a new 25-seat “dinner party restaurant” in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood.
Combining great wine, family-style food, and a killer playlist (the 31-year-old restaurateur is as much an audiophile as she is an epicurean), the new concept is inspired by the dinner parties Arce's parents used to throw at their childhood home in Hell’s Kitchen.
“My parents threw dinner parties all the time when I was growing up,” Arce told Travel + Leisure. "Niche Niche is an homage to them and all they taught me — specifically, the idea that you don't need a reason to throw a dinner party."
Uniquely, every evening will be hosted by a different winemaker or sommelier — Momofuku’s Jordan Salcito, Frenchette’s John Connolly, and Bay Area winemaker Dan Petroski, for example — allowing diners to walk away from the evening having learned something new — and hopefully, made new friends.
“Niche Niche was an idea I had to bring together members of the wine community in a welcoming environment, so that guests could learn from the source — winemakers, writers, and professionals,” said Arce at a preview night last week.
Every weeknight at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., attendees will mingle over their first glass of vino for 30 or so minutes before being seated at a table or the bar. Diners can either opt for the $40 wine tasting, or, for an additional $40, enjoy complementary dishes prepared by chefs Zach Fabian and Aaron Lirette.
It’s the kind of dining experience that makes you wish the night wouldn’t end. And when Arce opens a subterranean supper club and live music venue in the same building next month, that wish may very well come true.