Brooklyn Winery's team crafts small-batch, artisanal wines in Williamsburg?and if winemaking in an urban environment sounds odd to customers, they can always find out how it works during Tuesday winery tours. The tour guides walk groups through their entire process, from the moment the grapes arrive at the facility to when the cork goes in the final wine bottle, trapping the wine genie inside for good. Of course, the process varies from wine to wine. The team ages some vintages in stainless-steel containers, while the barrel-fermented riesling is aged, predictably, in oak barrels, an old-school technique that originated in prerefrigeration Germany. The result? A quirky riesling with hints of soapstone, mushroom, and honey.
The team doesn't just reclaim old German traditions, though. For their unpretentious 1,200-square-foot wine bar, they also reclaimed most of the building materials. In the cozy, unpretentious bar, visitors sip vintages pulled from wine racks that were once World War II ammo boxes; the walls, meanwhile, were barn wood in a past life, and the bar itself is made from old church pews, completing the aura of modernity rooted in history.
The oenophiles behind Novit? Wine Bar and Trattoria are so passionate about wine that they had a digital, temperature-controlled wine-serving system custom built for them in Australia. It's given their bar the ability to serve 100 wines from around the world by the glass on any given day. Because of the system's ability to dole out 1/2-ounce tastes, 3.5-ounce pours, and 6-ounce full pours, it allows patrons to sample wines they might normally avoid due to their high bottle prices.
Wine may be what Novit? specializes in, but executive chef Ed Davis doesn't let it overshadow the food. He and his team whip up Naples-style pizzas and pastas topped with Maine lobster or stuffed with creamy burrata cheese. And for brunch, there's cappuccino french toast, a tastier option than the more traditional Italian breakfast dish of pancakes covered in marinara sauce.
The Avenue Cafe stockpiles its prolific culinary roster with traditional classics and contemporary cuisine featuring Spanish, Italian, and Greek specialties served within elegant Metropolitan-themed surroundings. Selections from the dinner and lunch menu include three-quarter-pound burgers—which weigh the same as three-quarter-pound dumbbells coated in ketchup—molded into specialty creations such as the Mediterranean served on toasted pita with feta cheese, peppers, onions, and mushrooms ($11.99). Signature salads, including the Southwest steak edition ($14.95), amass an Arizona-sized taco shell in grilled skirt steak, baby corn, red roasted peppers, and romaine lettuce. Taste buds can take a culinary trip to the old country with international entrees such as the penne alla vodka, a pasta dish adorned with plum tomatoes and light vodka-cream sauce ($10.99), or the chicken madrid, sautéed with spinach in lemon-white-wine-butter sauce ($16.99) and flown over Spain's capital just for good measure. More than 25 omelets occupy breakfast-menu real estate, with specialty portobello mushrooms ($9.95) packing gourmet fungi into a heap of shredded cheddar and mozzarella complemented by roasted peppers and three eggs.
Brasserie 214 traces its roots far across the space-time continuum. The original iteration of the restaurant launched way back in 1938, but recent renovations and menu evolutions have brought French, Northern Italian, Belgian, German, and Scandinavian culinary traditions to the fore. Entrees such as salmon niçoise and duck à l'orange, as well as specialty schnitzels, exemplify the kind of elegant dinner, lunch, and brunch fare prepared by the skilled chefs. Imported beers and stateside craft brews pour from the taps to complement that selection. Of course, it wouldn't be a Long Island brasserie or a valid retirement destination without a robust cocktail selection. To that end, bartenders mix together specialty martinis, sangria, and sidecars with Bacardi, Disaronno, and fresh lemon juice served in a sugar-rimmed martini glass.