Little Town NYC unabashedly hearts New York. Of its three restaurants, two are located in iconic Manhattan spots: one in Union Square, the other on Theater District’s Restaurant Row. Little Town’s fancy for the Empire State shines through on the menu, too, with homestyle dishes such as the Adirondack chicken pesto and an Angus beef burger topped with crispy Berkshire bacon. The Suburb Backyard BBQ platter is piled high with enough buffalo wings, Nathan's hot dogs, and other locally inspired fare to feed a family of four.
Little Town NYC also takes great pride in its beer list, which features more than 100 local brews, including IPAs and amber ales that hail from breweries in Long Island, Ithaca, and Saratoga Springs. At the Restaurant Row location, you can enjoy a pilsner from Coney Island while sitting in a booth constructed from the beach’s old wooden boardwalk.
Mario and Anna Abitino emigrated from Naples to the U.S. in 1972. Mario quickly found work in the pizza business, and the couple eventually opened a restaurant of their own: Abitino’s Pizza and Italian Kitchen, in Midtown Manhattan. That was more than 20 years ago. Today, the couple and their three sons, Dominick, Mario Jr., and Salvatore, run six New York pizzerias bearing the family name. Each offers an expansive menu of signature pizzas and other Italian entrees, such as gnocchi sorrentino and pasta stuffed with fresh littleneck clams. Their pizzas and calzones use dough made right on the premises, and their tomato sauce is also housemade—with tomatoes from Naples, naturally.
Above the back row of coolers at Heights Beer & Wine Emporium, a long mural depicts pastoral farmland, its fields covered in rows of grapevines. This mural serves as a panoramic reminder of the origins of each of the emporium's fine wines. Bottles line the shelves like extremely fragile bowling pins, their labels declaring their heritage. In another section, there's a huge selection of beer from all kinds of craft breweries. The table at the shop's fore is often staffed by visitors from local wineries and breweries, offering tastes of their wares and as many free corks as you can fit in your pockets.
John Gizzi and Diann Greco, the American Wine Society?certified wine judges at Make Wine With Us, teach wine aficionados to create their own wines using grapes harvested in Californian and Chilean vineyards. At the start of the nine-month process (California grapes in the fall, Chile grapes in the spring), winemakers-to-be assemble with fellow enthusiasts to learn the intricacies of the trade. Patrons learn to crush and destem grapes in a machine called a crusher-destemmer, named after the device's favorite Germanic metal band. Following the crushing process, a hydraulic press forces juice into barrels, where it shall remain until the conclusion of its sweet, sweet metamorphosis.
At the end of the nine-month period, newly minted winemakers lean on family and friends to fill, cork, and custom-label the finished product. Budding vintners then tote home their vintages to share with family, friends, and robot butlers with built-in carafes.
True to its name, Just Grapes Lounge focuses on wines, with more than 30 vintages poured by the glass and 18 more varieties sequestered on a reserve bottle list. Microbrews, champagnes, and ports round out the lounge's full bar, complementing a Mediterranean-tinged tapas menu. Small plates, ranging from hummus and crostini to stuffed baked clams, are ideal for smothering appetites or boosting a tiny table's self-esteem. Three styles of rustic pizza artfully pair tomatoes with cheese, whereas molten fondue, served in a bread bowl, comes in varieties including gorgonzola and double-cream brie.
When Joan Schaming and Ronald Williams opened Balic of Clinton in 2004, they wanted to make sure their clientele understood the importance of sampling wines before they commit to a bottle. In their shop, they hold daily tastings of their rotating selection of reds, whites, dessert wines, and specialty potables, which they recommend to pair with selections from their inventory of gourmet foods and chocolates.