Tin ceiling, marble bar, rows of wine bottles glinting in the candle light–what could be cozier than a wine bar late in the evening? (Shown: Gottino, in the West Village)
Menupages.com lists 110 wine bars in the city. From our perambulations around town, frequently stumbling on wine bars in remote areas, we’d guess there are twice that many. It’s an appealing formula: A cafe decides to concentrate on wine, establishes a tidy collection of sure bets, wine-wise, then develops a small list of dishes to go with the wines, providing important sustenance, even though the primary function of the place is drinking. The ambiance is often intimate and appealing, the service personal, and the food fantastic in a simple sort of way.
The earliest wine bars in the city served Italian wines with Italian food, but nowadays the concept has been expanded to include French wines, Spanish wines, and eclectic mixes of wines. One new place (Xai Xai) even concentrates on South African vintages.
Following are our 10 favorite wine bars in the city, but first we begin with seven runners-up.
Centro Vinoteca, post Leah. Will it still make the top 10? Cast your eye below.
Runners-up to Our 10 Best Wine Bars
Desnuda, 122 East 7th Street, 212-254-3515; Bar Veloce, 175 Second Avenue, 212-260-3200; Centro Vinoteca, 74 Seventh Avenue South, 212-367-7470; Stonehome, 87 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-624-9443 ; Aliseo, 665 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn, 347-694-4368; Xai Xai, 365 West 51st Street, 212-541-9241; Bottega del Vino, 7 East 59th Street, 212-223-2724
Next: Numbers 6 thought 10
Rather obscurely located on the western verge of Astoria, Vesta is one of our favorite wine bars–and all-around hideouts.
Our 10 Best Wine Bars, Numbers 6 through 10
10. Vesta, 2102 30th Avenue, Queens, 718-545-5550
9. The Upholstery Store, 713 Washington Street, 212-352-2300
8. Turks and Frogs, 458 Greenwich Street, 212-966-4774
7. Ten Bells, 247 Broome Street, 212-228-4450
6. Morrell Wine Bar, 1 Rockefeller Plaza, 212-262-7700
Next: The top five
D.O.C. Wine Bar is rustic as hell, and the snacks and wines lean toward Sardinia, but did it make our top five?
Served in a crock and swimming in olive oil, Gottino’s baccalao brandade makes a perfect rich snack to go with wine.
Our 10 Best Wine Bars: The Top Five
5. Total Wine Bar, 74 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-783-5166
4. Bar Jamon, 125 East 17th Street, 212-253-2773
3. ‘inoteca, 98 Rivington Street, 212-614-0473
2. Gottino, 52 Greenwich Avenue, 212-633-2390
1. D.O.C. Wine Bar, 87 North 7th Street, Brooklyn, 718-963-1925
Don’t see your favorite wine bar on the list? Please tell us about it.
Turn page for our readers’ wine bar selections!
Kurt Gutbrunner’s new wine bar Upholstery Store has a limited but eclectic wine list, plus some excellent Teutonic snacks, like homemade liverwurst and liptauer cheese. Just don’t try to get your sofa fixed there.
Wine Bar Suggestions from Our Readers
Grape & Grain, 620 East 6th Street, 212-420-0002
Terroir, 413 East 12th Street, 646-602-1300*
Fig & Olive, 808 Lexington Avenue, 212-207-4555
Downing Street Bar, 34 Downing Street, 212-691-0404
Lelabar, 422 Hudson Street, 212-206-0594
Sorella, 95 Allen Street, 212-274-9595
Bourgeois Pig, 111 East 7th Street, 212-475-2246
*–In response to reader recommendations, we visited this wine bar. See our critique here.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 2, 2009