I love wine, what can I say I’m Italian, and luckily wine bars are as easy to find in NYC as Starbucks. I’ve been to quite a number of them and while it was tough to narrow the list to just five favorites, these are the ones that I think offer the best of everything: wine, food, service and atmosphere.
Lelabar has a lively atmosphere with a tasteful design: oblong shaped bar, beautiful iron work, tin ceilings and chalkboard highlighting daily specials. Their wine list is long and diverse with selections from all over the world, although definitely more bottle than glass options. There’s an eclectic array of bottled beer also from around the world including Japan, Germany, Scotland and the US. The meat, cheese and pressed sandwich menu is classic wine bar and matches their simple but elegant theme.
Location: West Village, 422 Hudson Street
This West Village wine bar is an interesting juxtaposition of Italian charm and sophistication. From the long elegant white marble bar to the name itself which means tiny cup, and more colloquially to share a small glass of wine with someone, to the pint sized wood berry boxes of filberts and nutcrackers scattered around the bar as munchies. Their eye for style and detail extends to the impeccable and lengthy wine selection and the tantalizing food flavors. Menu items such as the blood orange salad, sausage stuffed apples and walnut pesto crostini are equally inspired and delectable. Gottino is really more than a wine bar, being open for breakfast and lunch as well. Location: West Village, 52 Greenwich Avenue
Winebar’s feel is more laid back, darker and woodier. Candlelight, communal wood tables and stools, walls lined with bottle after bottle of wine, and the wood burning stove where they make their delicious flatbread pizzas all combine for a cozy vibe. There’s a large selection of wines from France, Spain and Italy by the glass and bottle, however there are considerably more options by the bottle. The menu is also Mediterranean influenced: antipasti, croquettes, filet mignon au poivre are some of the options, and of course the flatbreads which are my favorite. Location: LES, 65 2nd Avenue, between 3rd and 4th Streets
The exposed brick, wood tables and leather sofa living room-like lounge of this French wine bar immediately embrace you in warmth and evoke feelings of ‘long ago’. The menu is predominantly French however, the selection of wines are from across Europe including the occasional Californian. There’s a wider selection of glasses under $10 and they have specials on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Location: LES, 42 Rivington Stree
8th Street Wine Cellar
Aptly named the wine cellar since it’s a few steps down from street level. The owners are former Union Square Café bartenders so in addition to the 90 bottles of reds and whites (20 by the glass) they also have a full bar and good selection of beer. The menu has some tasty options and incorporates goodies from Amy’s Bread, The Union Square Market, Stinky Brklyn and other local places. Prices are reasonable. It’s a good spot for a date and for groups with small and large tables and seating at the bar. Location: West Village, 28 W 8th Street