Best wine bars
This tiny wine bar from Mario Batali and chef Andrew Nusser sits adjacent to Casa Mono, their Spanish eatery. Find a space along one of the communal tables before selecting from the impressive Spanish wine list and tapas menu. Supplement a dish of peppery tuna nuggets with a vivacious “gazpacho salad”—starring a blanched hollowed red onion filled with cucumber, tomato, sea beans and olive oil croutons—with hand-carved Iberian ham and aged Manchego cheese.
- 125 E 17th St, (at Irving Pl)
The Seventh Avenue digs of this congenial Italian wine bar are roomier than its East Village original, but the prices remain unchanged: Most small plates cost less than $8. Only one bartender caters to the after-work, wine-swigging crowd, but you won’t have to wait long before a thin-lipped glass is placed in front of you. A sandwich of Italian tuna and ripe tomatoes is sandwiched between slices of soft white bread. Grappa-soaked apples are paired with equally bold sidekicks of speck and Taleggio cheese in one of the pressed sandwiches. Desserts, too, are reliable, especially the dense pear sorbet.
- 176 Seventh Ave, (between 20th and 21st Sts), 10003
This sleek Italian-style wine bar, where banker types devour cured meats, cheeses and olive oil, offers refuge from the South Street Seaport tourist scene. Located on historic Front Street, this TONY Eat Out Award winner boasts cast-iron columns, a polished walnut bar and a nifty metal wine rack that showcases the horizontally stowed bottles. Most patrons come for the selection of 60 wines (20 are available by the glass), but a well-stocked bar satisfies those who prefer the hard stuff.
- 220 Front St, (between Beekman St and Peck Slip)
It would be easy for a restaurant family like Bruce and Eric Bromberg’s Blue Ribbon group—with concepts as disparate as a sushi bar, a brasserie and a bakery—to lose its focus and quality. But judging by its flagship wine bar, it keeps getting the details right. The tiny space’s white-marble-topped bar offers an ideal spot for sipping vino while digging into small plates such as warm, thick toast with luxurious smoked sturgeon. Attentive bartenders offer friendly guidance with the diverse 250-bottle wine list, which has everything from a $600 Saint Emilion to a $33 Greek robola; diners can sample many more-expensive bottles by the glass. With eclecticism this refined, who needs to specialize?
- 34 Downing St, (between Bedford and Varick Sts)
- Critics choice
The owners of nearby Stinky Bklyn and Smith & Vine solidify their Smith Street empire with this slim orange-and-gold drinkery, packed with BoCoCa denizens. Cheese and charcuterie culled from Stinky make for fine accompaniments to 120 whiskeys and 50-plus wines by the glass (starting at $5). Those prowling for a mixed drink should request the namesake cocktail—the Jakewalk is a stiff, balanced blend of St. Germain, tequila, rum and ginger liqueur.
- 282 Smith St, (between DeGraw and Sackett Sts)
- Critics choice
Oeno-evangelist Paul Grieco (Hearth, Insieme) preaches the powers of terroir—grapes that express a sense of place—at this sparse wine haunt. The superknowledgeable waitstaff aptly helps patrons navigate the 50 by-the-glass options. Equally compelling was the lineup of wine and beer cocktails, including the frothy Abby Flip (Ommegang Abbey Ale, coriander syrup, pomegranate molasses and egg) and restaurant-caliber small plates (sage-wrapped lamb sausages). Stellar sips and a menu to match: Hallelujah!
- 413 E 12th St, (between First Ave and Ave A)