Angie Berry is a self-proclaimed “fancy chef” who’s logged years at Gotham Bar & Grill, the Mandarin Oriental, and Del Posto. Which means her menu at the recently opened Bottle & Bine (1085 Second Avenue; 212-888-7405) marks a break from personal tradition — one she’s more than excited to embrace.
When Berry met with the developing team, they’d envisioned approachable, casual food far from the plates she’d been putting out for most of her career, and she found herself daydreaming potential menus and devising her own interpretations of what her kind of “approachable, casual food” could be. “My gut told me that it was the one,” she tells the Voice. “It was a pay cut. It was nothing I’d ever done in my life. I was leaning toward another opportunity. But I kept thinking of Bottle & Bine. For me, that’s the litmus test, like when you’re dating someone and can’t stop thinking about them. I kept thinking, There’s something about this I want to do.”
This means the menu now combines Berry’s high skill level with touches that are a bit unusual: Wagyu hanger steak gets finished with smoked sunchokes, coffee, and hon shimeji mushrooms. Braised pork is stuffed with pickled mustard greens and coated in Carolina rice, which then gets crisped up right before serving and finished with caramelized turnips and uni foam. They’re fun comfort foods, “cool dishes that push the envelope a little but are still good flavor combinations.”
The food isn’t the only thing to keep an eye out for, though. The rest of the creative team includes sommelier Gina Goyette (formerly of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s the Mark, Alain Ducasse’s Benoit, and Andrew Carmellini’s the Dutch and Little Park) and beer expert Carolyn Pincus (head of craft beer programs at the Stag’s Head). “These women are at the top of their game, and we vibe so well,” Berry says. Beer and wine are utilized in the kitchen frequently but not obtusely, and the chef often sits in on pro tastings with Goyette — Berry notes the similarity of their palates. The same with Pincus:
“To watch Carolyn work is crazy — she can smell a beer and know everything about it. It’s not like anything I’ve ever seen before. When I was coming up with the braised pork, I had her taste it, and she picked up the one star anise in the braising liquid of this twenty-pound pork shoulder. Both of their palates are very refined.”
Their mutual affinities play into the décor, too. The trio had the same “aesthetic and mindset” when they picked out the candles, flatware, and design for the private dining room. The result is a space filled with warm dark woods, layers of blue, exposed brick, and varying levels of lighting that help the bright, clean food pop. The downstairs bar casually includes high stools and televisions; upstairs, the dining room is cozy. “It reminds me of a pop-up concept,” Berry muses. “We’re kind of breaking the rules, so I feel like I don’t have those fine-dining parameters I’ve had for most of my career. I can do whatever I want. So I like to do cool food with a little sense of humor that’s not so serious.”
The “Shellfish and Stems” dish is one of her favorites, employing the concept of parts that “might be considered trash” to impart as much flavor as possible (all while falling in line with the more restrictive food costs of a smaller, more casual restaurant). Berry uses swiss chard, tarragon, parsley, and various stems from other dishes in a cooked broth that includes shellfish, razor clams, and squid. It’s deglazed with a white-wine reduction and topped with a seared scallop, citrus, and the toasted Sardinian pasta fregola for texture. “The concept behind it is fun. I could never get away with cooking stems before.”
So far, guests have had few complaints, and Berry is happy to help them celebrate special occasions or simply drop in for a casual dinner. She isn’t fazed by special requests or diners claiming things aren’t quite right: “I want them to enjoy themselves. It’s just in my nature.”
The team keeps on adding to its food and wine and beer menus and doesn’t pay much attention to the buzz about its comprising three women. “It doesn’t matter that we’re women — we’re just very good at what we do,” Berry says. “I feel very fortunate to work with them. In all honesty, I think it’s so awesome that we are together as a trio, but we really haven’t discussed it as an issue or about the dynamic of us being women. We’re just all on the same level here. And it just so happens that we’re all women.”
The overall ethos is evident on patrons’ plates and in their glasses. Berry’s ingredients are largely sourced in the United States, but with a flavor profile wide enough to attract New York’s eclectic, international audience. Pincus’s beers are largely American, like a spiced stout from San Diego, a saison from nearby Long Island City, and a cider from Burlington, Vermont, all on draft. Goyette’s wine selections range from as local as Long Island to as far afield as Croatia. “I like to walk the line, push the envelope just a tad to expose interesting things,” Berry says.