The restaurant success story of the new millennium is the Italian wine bar. By my count, we now have nearly 30 to choose from, mainly in downtown Manhattan and in Brooklyn. As far as I know, none have yet failed. The earliest examples, like 'ino, concentrated on pan-Italian snacks that went well with wine, mainly panini and platters of cold meats and cheeses. Eventually, menus became both more specialized and more ambitious. Illustrating the first principle, there are now two places—D.O.C. Wine Bar in Williamsburg and Assenzio in the East Village—that concentrate on Sardinian fare, scooped with the crisp flatbread once eaten by shepherds, called pane carasau. In the latter category, the most ambitious so far is Giorgione, which has extended its menu to include raw oysters, imaginative antipasti, small pizzas, and a short list of pastas and main courses, with nary a panini in sight. Can it still be called a wine bar if it quacks like a restaurant? Let's just say Giorgione is a restaurant organized according to wine bar principles, which encourage sipping and snacking with no obligation to pursue a multicourse meal. The food is so good, however, that... More >>>