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Fornino pizza peel
Photograph: Courtesy of Fornino

The 6 most innovative ways NYC restaurants are enforcing social distancing

From partitions to meditation zones, how NYC restaurants are hoping to make diners feel safer.

Written by
Bao Ong

For the growing number of NYC restaurants offering outdoor dining in Phase 2 of the city’s reopening, six feet is the magic number. Tables are spaced apart, plates of food are sometimes delivered on pizza peels and sometimes you’ll never even interact with an actual human being. Here are some of the most innovative ways we’ve spotted restaurants catering to hungry diners all over the city—at a safe distance.


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It’s an introvert’s dream. While health officials recommend wearing masks and staying six-feet away from others, some restaurants are taking it step further. At Westville in Midtown, they’ve inserted wood-paneled partitions between tables. If you close your eyes, it’s almost like having your own private dining room.


Brooklyn Dumpling Shop
Courtesy of Brooklyn Dumpling Shop

Automats were all the rage in New York in the 1930’s, but at the new Brooklyn Dumpling Shop slated to open in the East Village next month, the machines are back. You can order among 32 different flavors of dumplings—including French onion soup, lamb gyro and pastrami—without having any IRL interaction.

Meditation zones

Gitano Garden of Love
Photograph: Courtesy of Gitano

No one would blame you for feeling frazzled after sheltering in place in the past few months. At Gitano’s Garden of Love—which basically sits on a city block and is likely downtown’s largest outdoor dining venue—you can calm any nerves about that diner who invaded your six-foot radius bubble by seeking out the venue’s meditation pool.


Osteria 57
Courtesy of Osteria 57

Plenty of trendy and well-designed dining rooms utilize greenery to create an ambiance that feels of the moment (you can dig into that microgreen-topped salad while talking about how your plants are doing). While we won’t be dining indoors for at least few weeks at the earliest, Osteria 57 in the West Village mats that look like artificial grass with box hedges surrounding its tables for al fresco dining.

Pizza Peels

Photograph: Courtesy of Fornino

Whether you order pizza or a chicken parm sandwich, you can pick your order from Fornino’s pick-up window, where someone will pass along your order in a basket on a pizza peel. Without worrying about getting too close to anyone, you can sit at the one tables at Pier 6 a Brooklyn Bridge Park with views of the Manhattan skyline.


Walter’s Bar on Eighth Avenue near Penn Station gets points for trying with its gazebo set up. But outdoor dining is likely here to stay, so there’s plenty of time to spruce things up.

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