Taste: Invitation Only
THE PARTY: A girls’ (or guys’) all-night out
THE PLACE: Continental A.C., the Pier at Caesars, 1 Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic City, 609-674-8300; continentalac.com
THE ROOM: For parties too big — or too rowdy — to stake out a space at the “Boardwalk” bar, there’s the lounge’s futuristic inner lair, with laid-back banquettes and low tables that seat up to 40 and bubble windows that evoke Jetsons jokes, not Rat Pack reminiscences.
THE FOOD: Continental-goers know it’s all about the cocktails — no open-bar packages here; it’s all based on consumption — but parties can fill up on fun bar nibbles like the tuna tartare potato skins for $40 a head and up.
THE PARTY: An actually cool corporate event
THE PLACE: North Bowl, 909 North 2nd Street, 215-238-BOWL; northbowlphilly.com
THE ROOM: Think Italian leather, not molded plastic. Upstairs from North Bowl’s lively bowling lounge, the private party area includes four private lanes and can accommodate 20 to 50 people. Add the adjacent exposed-brick bar for parties of up to 200. Room rental starts at $650 for two hours — oh-so-stylish shoes included.
THE FOOD: Kiddie kitsch (tater tots, mac ’n’ cheese) meets grown-up finger foods (ginger-shrimp skewers, Asian-spiced wings), buffet-style, starting at $17.95 per person, plus an open-bar option from $9 a head per hour.
THE PARTY: A foodie gathering
THE PLACE: Tria Fermentation School,1601 Walnut Street, suite 620, 215-972-7076; triacafe.com
THE ROOM: Housed in the Medical Arts building, this food-and-wine classroom, which seats 24, lecture-style, feels not like a former doctor’s office (which it is), but an exclusive extension of the Rittenhouse Square wine bar: same flattering lighting, iTunes soundtrack and accommodating staff.
THE FOOD: Take your pick of private classes — learn about Belgian beers, wine basics, classic wine-and-cheese pairings, or Tuscan wines and cheeses — starting at $35 per pupil.
THE PARTY: A business meeting!
THE PLACE: Old Original Bookbinder’s, 125 Walnut Street, 215-925-7027; bookbinders.biz
THE ROOM: Bookie’s isn’t always buttoned-down, but the restaurant’s flexible private dining space — there’s room for 10 or 260 — is computer-friendly and presentation-ready, so you can get right down to business. (And the President’s Room bar is adjacent for after work.)
THE FOOD: Bookbinder’s hasn’t forsaken its surf and turf classics. You’ll find crabcakes and filet mignon on the menu alongside wrap sandwiches and sushi. Four-course meals start at $55 a head; buffet-style, from $25.
THE PARTY: A classy cocktail hour
THE PLACE: Nineteen, Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue, Broad and Walnut streets, 19th floor, 215-790-1919; parkphiladelphia.hyatt.com
THE ROOM: Raise a toast in Nineteen’s private wine-tasting areas, with space for 10 to 20. In keeping with the theme, the smaller room’s walls are lined with temperature-controlled glass cabinets; the ceiling’s made of cork.
THE FOOD: A wine tasting can be arranged with the sommelier (price varies); a full sit-down meal, for six to 14, starts at $70 for four courses, including the restaurant’s towering seafood platter.
THE PARTY: Mom’s birthday
THE PLACE: Pond, 175 King of Prussia Road, Radnor, 610-293-9411; pondrestaurant.com
THE ROOM: The Pond’s sunny party spaces have an updated ladies-who-lunch elegance. Both the petite Garden Room, which can host 15 to 27, and the Dahrouch private dining room, which seats 35 to 54, overlook the restaurant’s gardens and swan pond.
THE FOOD: Chef Abde Dahrouch’s French-Mediterranean menu includes such entrées as herb-crusted lamb and red snapper in a basil vinaigrette. Three-course dinners start at $55 per person; an elaborate six courses, from $75.
THE PARTY: Dad’s birthday
THE PLACE: Fogo de Chão, 1337 Chestnut Street, 215-636-9700; fogodechao.com
THE ROOM: The private (60 to 70 guests) and semi-private (25 guests) dining rooms of this Brazilian steakhouse chain situated in the former J.E. Caldwell space have the same elegant design as the main dining room.
THE FOOD: The biggest perk is the private staff of gauchos who keep your plate full of the grilled meats that are the restaurant’s trademark. As always, it’s all-you-can-eat meat (and salad) for $44.50 per person.
THE PARTY: Your birthday
THE PLACE: Nectar, 1091 Lancaster Avenue, Berwyn, 610-725-9000; tastenectar.com
THE ROOM: The semi-private mezzanine overlooking the bar — and the enormous Buddha silkscreen above it — is the best, and quietest, vantage point on the Main Line restaurant’s see-and-be-scene.
THE FOOD: Luxe Asian dishes made with the best locally grown ingredients are the signature of Nectar chef Patrick Feury. A three-course dinner starts at $65.