Branch-offs can often snap under pressure, but Le Bernardin has sprung a stem as strong as its base. Sitting across the galleria from that vaunted seafood restaurant, Aldo Sohm’s annexed vino-hub is far less buttoned-up than its big brother—no reservations or suit jackets required—but the level of detail here proves this apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
ORDER THIS: By-the-glass options give sippers the room to try a number of varietals. Spain’s terra-cotta–colored Hermanos Peciña rioja ($18) gets its faint smokiness from earthy tobacco, balancing out light but potentially cloying coconut. Pulling from his homeland, Sohm highlights Austrian options, like a very oaky Grüner Veltliner ($20), which opens creamy and ends crisp.
GOOD FOR: Impressing your significant other with a night of luxury that’s fairly soft on the pocket. The elegant living-room space hints at ritz (glittering globe lights, rare Keith Haring canvases), but a plush sectional at its center welcomes you to sink in and unwind. Share wallet-friendly small plates, the best of which is a succulent skewered short rib ($12), soaked in a red-wine reduction and laid atop silky, buttered potato puree.
THE CLINCHER: The sommelier service is first-rate. Toss out any preference—bold and spicy, sweet and bubbly—and the dedicated servers will cater to your every wino whim. Between pours, you can get schooled on the ins and outs of grapes and regions—without the sniff-and-swirl snootiness.