Insane wine lists included…
Winter is currently hitting New York City like J-Lo…full out with feeling. Instead of showing off your new strappy heels and crossfit bod like you would in the summertime, you’re probably hibernating in your apartment wrapped up in blankets like the rest of the 5 boroughs. However amongst the endless hours of Nexflix and crockpot recipes, lies that inner city dweller dying to dress up get out of the house. If you haven’t seen your partner out of sweatpants in the last few weeks (work clothes excluded), it may be time for date night…even in the blistering cold.
There are hundreds upon hundreds Italian restaurants in NYC, so my date night list is missing some obvious winners (Lilia, Del Posto, Babbo, Carbone etc.), however I can’t speak for places I have yet to venture. Trust me, I plan to visit all of them ASAP…2018 is my year!
The below restaurants not only have a romantic vibe and great eats, but they also have amazing wine lists! So without further ado…
228 West 10th St.
When you walk into L’Artusi chic vibes and a sensual energy instantly encompass you. You look around and feel like you’re apart of an elite society that’s lucky enough to dine at such an establishment. The 110-seat restaurant named after Pellegrino Artusi and his cookbook “La Scienza in Cucina e L’Arte di Mangiare Bene,” boasts 2 floors, a cheese bar, and the option to dine in a private wine cellar holding 2500 bottles.
What to Eat: There are so many delectable options on the menu and I also can’t forget to mention the INSANE nightly specials your server will present to you. I recommend starting off with the Beef Carpaccio and then splitting a pasta dish before diving into your main. I had the Bucatini (pancetta, tomato, chilies, pecorino) and it was to DIE for. When it comes to the main course, my husband and I split a porterhouse for 2 with a side of brussels. You know that look you give your partner when something is REALLY good? Yeah…
What to Drink: Would you believe me if I told you the wine list is composed of 20 pages featuring all Italian wines by region? Because yes. The Brunello and Barolo options are endless, but you may want to take this chance to order something less common. Have you ever had wine from Calabria or Lazio? Here’s your chance! I can’t be a hypocrite, however, as I tried 2 different Barbaresco wines before we even sat down.
(c/o L'Artusi website)
90 Thompson St.
All hail Piedmont! Tucked away in downtown Manhattan is a cozy haven for all things Northern Italy. The dim lights and rustic charm make San Carlo the perfect date night destination. 6 best buds with a passion for their hometown cuisine brought us all a major gift that is the WHITE TRUFFLE MENU.
What to Eat: To start, you should definitely order “Tagliere Di Salumi Con Burrata” AKA a cured meat board with burrata. I mean burrata…do I need to explain further? Beyond the cheese of the Gods, you should also consider trying the “Polpo Rosolato” which is the charred octopus dish with lemon potato, kale pureé & black olive focaccia. For the main course just put down the dinner menu and pick up the White Truffle Menu. With this menu you can add either 3gr or 6gr of white truffle to any dish. Although you will pay the price for this menu, I highly recommend the Risotto Al Parmigiano. If you’re not into Risotto (then we probably can’t be friends), I would go ahead and order the Tajarin Alba angel hair pasta with truffle butter.
What to Drink: Is that even a question? BAROLO AND BARBARESCO…. and lots of it! More times than not, when a region is known for a particular cuisine and wine, they will pair well together. White truffle and Nebbiolo both share the soils of Piedmont making for a killer relationship and a real treat for your taste buds! Prices range from $54 to $266/bottle so there is something for every budget.
(c/o Elisabetta Riccio via San Carlo website)
57 W 57th St.
Don’t let the handful of tourists standing in front of the posted menu outside scare you away! Quality Italian oozes all things chic Midtown Manhattan. Upon walking in you are welcomed by a quaint downstairs wine bar serving a smaller, edited menu with Aperol Spritzers on tap. Feel free to grab a glass here if you’re waiting for your reservation…the bartenders are all so friendly! When you walk up the marble staircase into the main dining room, you are greeted with an ambiance that screams old world butcher shop meets Carrie Bradshaw and Samantha Jones via Sex and The City.
What to Eat: You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t start with the Housemade Battenkill Ricotta. Upon arriving to the table, the server will drizzle Sicilian oregano flower honey across the entire board causing your mouth to quickly salivate. If you wanted to spilt a pasta dish with your loved one there is no competition…Dry-Aged Porterhouse Agnolotti is what you order. I’m not going to explain…just order it. For the main, in full confidence, I can say the Quality Chicken Parm for 2 is the best chicken parm I’ve ever had. I know that’s a HUGE statement right there, but it’s true. The dish is served in the shape of a large pizza pie, and for a second, you’ll think your server has brought you the wrong dish. No. This is your fate. A ginormous pizza-shaped chicken parm served on a pizza stand with a fresh arugula salad and shaved parmesan underneath.
What to Drink: The 10-page wine list is a bit more versatile with focus on Italian, American and French bottles. What’s special about this wine list is they showcase specific collections. Big Super Tuscan fan? You can find a Sassicaia “the Super Tuscan that started it all” section on the menu offering vintages 1996-2000 and 2003-2008. Just ordering the Dry-Aged Porterhouse Agnolotti? The menu offers some incredible Napa Valley Cabernets. Stags Leap, Cake Bread, Caymus and Nickel & Nickel all grace us with their presence.
47 Bond St.
Starting out as an antique shop in the mid-nineties, Il Buco has become world renowned for their Italian/Spanish menu featuring fresh ingredients imported from Italian artisans and local farmers. Frequented by celebrities, Il Buco gives you a reason to finally bust out those new Manolos you were saving for a special occasion. The ambiance is romantic rustic-chic and could make you fall in love with your spouse all over again.
What to Eat: The menu is constantly changing however make sure to always start with the Cestino di Pane, Sale, Olio which is their house baked bread served with the house extra virgin olive oil. You can even do an olive oil tasting (which I have yet to try)! Be whisked away by the house made egg pasta with Teruel black truffle, or get your Pesce on by ordering the oven poached filet of Atlantic cod. Whatever you decide to order, there’s a wine for that.
What to Drink: If you don’t take it from me take it from Wine Spectator Magazine who has presented Il Buco with the “Award of Excellence” numerous times. The 400+ wines are strategically chosen from “under the radar” artisan producers for quality over quantity. It’s important to note much of the focus is on Sagrantino di Montefalco wines as co-owner, Alberto Avalle, is originally from Umbria. Deep within the cellar, however, you’ll be sure to find balance, intensity, complexity and expressiveness.
111 N. 12th St.
If you don’t live in Brooklyn, Leuca is worth the commute. Nestled on the ground floor of the William Vale Hotel, you’ll find Chef Andrew Carmellini’s traditional Southern Italian cuisine with a modern and vibrant twist. Not only does the food exceed all expectations, but you’re 22 stories away from some of the best skyline views in the world. What’s sexier than that for date night?
What to Eat: To start- Sheep’s Milk Ricotta with Hot Honey & Garlic and the Brooklyn Salumi of the Day (when in Rome). For the main course, you would have to choose between the Burrata Mezzaluna, Bucatini Calabrese with Clams, or split the Crispy Suckling Pig for 2 from the wood-fired grill. Leuca is also offering up a great menu for Restaurant Week, so if your partner needs a little convincing to commute to Williamsburg, you can throw that down!
What to Drink: What I love most about the wine menu at Leuca is probably all the options they offer by the glass. Staying true to all things Southern Italy, you’ll find wines from Ischia, Campania, Sardinia, Sicilia, Lazio, Puglia and Abruzzo. With so many unique options, you’ll have an opportunity to try something new! After all, the best way to learn wine is to just keep tasting. Am I right?! #ItsEducational
Ok New Yorkers, we must stop using this weather as a reason not to venture out with our loves! I don’t know about you, but I received some amazing clothes and a beautiful velvet handbag over the Holiday that I can’t WAIT to bust out. It may be dark when we wake up AND when we get home from work, but a Friday night is still a Friday night and that calls for a celebration! Cheers, winos!