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.
Small, sharable, Italian-style tapas inspire adventurous experiments in first-daters and longstanding partners. Baked veal meatball crostini, seared yellowfin tuna, or prosciutto with buffalo mozzarella pair well with wine selected from an Italian-only wine list.
Vino brings the authentic tastes and surroundings of an authentic Italian wine bar to New York's Upper East Side. The Italian wine flight transports three to five ombras, the traditional Italian term for a tasting or pour, to the awaiting lips of its parched patron, giving palates an elegant tasting experience and frequent flier miles for vacation loving libations.
Piccolo Café fills the boot-shaped hole in New York City’s edible heart, offering casual diners and coffee imbibers fresh, inventive lunch fare and organic Italian brews. The Gramercy menu differs slightly from Midtown’s, but both locations feature authentic Italian cuisine such as the prosciutto, baby spinach, and parmigiano salad ($7), which is served alongside garlic olive oil bruschetta. The parmigiano cheese egg sandwich ($6.50 at Gramercy, $6 at Midtown) is a hearty addition to meatless diets, and unlike fast food chains’ morning meatballs or dusk-till-dawn deep-fried sugar cubes, it’s served all day long.
Spherical lights seem to drift in smooth bubbly spirals up toward the ceiling of Flûte Bar & Lounge’s Gramercy location. Conversation bursts effervescently off walls and artwork in a palette of rosé pinks and prosecco tans. Myriad champagnes and sparkling wines, including Perrier-Jouët gran brut and a range of cavas, form lacelike crowns of bubbles in an atmosphere that aims to blend the French art de vivre aesthetic with a dash of NYC nightclub. Patrons can select single flutes or bottles, or they can sample several flights that showcase different grapes, a single producer, or the patience of a waitress willing to help you pick out all the bubbles. Cocktails lean heavily on sparkling wines and include bellinis, a blend of prosecco and fruit puree, which pair nicely with small plates of cheese and fruit or foie gras terrine.
Flûte now operates locations in Midtown, Gramercy, and Paris. In Midtown, visitors descend a short flight of stairs before sinking into intimate booths or plush benches. The original Midtown location celebrates its speakeasy roots with fiery jazz nights every Saturday, complete with performers and guests alike dressed in period apparel.
Perhaps it’s the slow, bluesy chords flowing from the guitarist in the corner that compel the customer to put down her drink, pick up a stick of chalk, and scrawl a wistful message on the bar. Or perhaps it’s the flicker of candles––their golden halos staving off the city night––that has inspired this misty-eyed inscription. Far from being annoyed at the graffiti now adorning his workspace, the bartender leans over to read the patron’s message, smiling knowingly at the freshly penned late-night bulletin. With a grin and a poured glass of wine, he coaxes a smile from her as she swipes her words from the board.
Such intimate, inviting evenings are a regular occurrence at Sweet Grapes Wine Bar, where a vast collection of vinous libations and snacks keep guests chatting and laughing into the wee hours of the morning. The chalkboard-topped bar affords customers a blank expanse to fill with favorite quotes or high-school locker combinations, while an ever-changing lineup of musicians floods the space with live tunes on a regular basis.