Continental / Italian / Restaurants/Bars

Vinatería

Nothing says date night like a wine bar, so my mind immediately went to Vinatería when my beau and I were choosing a place to grab a drink and a bite before theater on Saturday night.  I had noticed it on a recent neighborhood walk and since it was such a gorgeous evening, we wanted a place where we could eat outside.  Bingo.

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Once we opened the drink menu, I realized this was way more than a wine bar.  The drink list also included some interesting cocktails in addition to the Italian and Spanish wines.  I tried two different whites – both good, and I appreciated the waiter helping me navigate the menu.

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I’m used to wine bars just having elevated bar snacks on the menu.  You’ll definitely find that there, but you’ll also find a whole section of pastas and entrées.  We had been on a weird eating schedule and decided we were in more of a sharing, small bites mood.  I definitely want to go back for the entrées because the smaller items were an indication of good things all around.

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We started with the olives.  Doesn’t sound special, but I liked that they included pearl onions in the mix, which soaked up the olive brine.  And the spicy hummus that came with them felt like quite the bonus – you got your money’s worth out of this $7 app.  We also got the spicy veal meatballs over creamy polenta and burrata.  Both were very good.  The burrata was dressed with golden beets, watermelon radish, orange, and something that was almost like a granita.  It was a fresh and seasonal approach that I appreciated.

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We also split the rosemary papppardelle, which was topped with ricotta and lamb ragu.  If this pasta was freshly made, they’ve managed to find a perfect dried variety, and I’d like to know what brand they’re using.  This was a homey dish that was simple but nicely done.  I definitely want to go back and try the beet root campanelle – it looks like an interesting combo of ingredients and now that I know they make a good pasta, I’m interested in trying it.

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This is the kind of spot that makes you realize Harlem is getting really gentrified.  I think the neighborhood has still managed to retain its essence, but I love that there are places like this coming to the area and just adding to the culture.

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