By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
All right, so maybe the Upper West Side can seem like the Grand Prix for the stroller set. Yet in the chill of a February night, many young uptowners feel less apt to swaddle themselves in wool and perform a dramatic reinterpretation of a trans-Antarctic expedition just to cavort with their cooler counterparts downtown. What, then, can save these doomed frigid souls from either rocking the Abominable Snowman look or indulging a newfound desire to hole up in their apartments with a stash of Netflix's bounty?
The solution is Barcibo Enoteca (2020 Broadway), a little haven on the Upper West Side opened by Lawrence Bondulich, owner of the popular Bin 71. This wine bar is a skip away from Lincoln Center and the Beacon Theater, and a door down from the probably equally recognized Tani shoe store. I arrived at BE on a Monday night, and the place was hopping. The host, who led me to the back where he'd previously located a seat for my friend, was quite a smooth operator—he had the uncanny knack for making everyone feel like they were someone, and he worked to find seats for patrons, either at the bar or among the array of marble- and wood-topped grazing tables.
That said, this place is not a "Singles Scene" or any other cheesy Zagat-esque alliteration: Efficient table service simply keeps chums together and prevents strays. Still, the very soft light emanating from mod hanging lamps—coupled with the cozy exposed-brick walls—does denote Barcibo Enoteca as a good date spot. After all, if the winter has left you with a pasty and sallow complexion, you'll feel light years more attractive in BE's flattering warm glow.
To flush the cheeks, choose from 130 varieties of Italian wine, plus a selection of unique liquors and beers. While my friend enjoyed the no-brainer $8 glasses of Pinot Grigio, I shook things up and chose Rogue Dead Guy Ale (also $8). This dark, honey-colored brew with the skeleton label hails from Oregon and was a befitting choice, since obviously only scoundrels opt for beer at noted wine bars. The rest of the crowd was more on cue. Dressed in shades of black, young professionals sipped reds and ordered small plates of crostini, risotto, or Italian meats and cheeses. Tables noshed on panini—because noshing is much more en vogue than snacking—and caught up on each other's drama.
After an evening shooting the breeze while seated by the open kitchen, we emerged onto Broadway all toasty, though smelling a bit like the griddle. Fortunately, there's time to air out when home is just a brisk walk away. And when you don't have to shell out $20 for a cab—well, it's a beautiful night in the neighborhood.
More Upper West Side spots:
So named because it's only lit with candles (way to save on the electric bill, guys), this bar serves as a local cruising joint for Upper West Siders. After all, everyone's cuter in near-total darkness. 309 Amsterdam Avenue, 212-874-9155.
Leaning heavily toward sports that the Irish play (or at least are competing in), this Irish sports bar is also a venue for beer connoisseurs. They feature cask ale (not the beer equivalent of cask wine, no), which is beer in its purest form: unfiltered, room temperature, and naturally carbonated. Typical American/Irish bar food is also available. 485 Amsterdam Avenue, 212-873-0251.
Yogi's is a down-home dive bar for those refusing to yield to the upscale, gentrified confines of the Upper West Side. Get down to some country music while swinging back $2 cans of Pabst. 2156 Broadway, 212-873-9852.