At Winegasm Bar & Eatery, patrons poke fun at New York's smoking ban with cigars made of cheese. The menu’s housemade ricotta and feta sticks contribute delicious class to the venue's already-elegant setting: a long dining room replete with wooden shelving that features individual niches for wine bottles. At one end of the space, metal grating spirals into a curlicued design to decorate a tall archway, and the other end ensconces tables in a small alcove of exposed brick topped with a wide mirror. But it's the centerpiece of the room—a sprawling table with more than 12 chairs—that most embodies the eatery's aim of enabling shared stories, hosting communal bites, and encouraging angry juries to really consider all the evidence.
Time Out New York mentions the "sexy little winecentric spot" as an ideal place for splitting small plates. Its Mediterranean-style tapas include bacon-wrapped prunes and steamed mussels, savory openers for burgers or paninis. Also on the roster are platters of prosciutto and gruyere, specialty pizzetas, and fondue—both cheese and chocolate. Given the restaurant's name, however, many guests immediately dive into the wine list for libations from Europe and beyond, using a legend to discern if bottles are organic, made locally, or prepped sustainably. Diners can also sip cocktails and beers as well as reds and whites, tuning in to live music from area artists on Thursdays.
Aromas of saffron rice, melting manchego cheese, and oxtail drift into the two-level dining area as chef Ricardo Cardona prepares Dominican fusion fare in the kitchen. Cardona helms six restaurants, including Hudson River Cafe, Sofrito, 809, Sazon, and Manolito's, and Mama Juana in New York and Florida, in addition to hosting Que Comemos Hoy, a cooking show for the Dominican Republic. His Nuevo Latin cooking style has drawn celebrities to his restaurants including Chief Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, the New York Yankees, and Oscar de la Renta. At Gabbana, Cardona develops his own interpretation of Dominican fare, crafting dishes such as the calamari with creole tomato sauce and lemon garlic aioli, or the Chilean sea bass with a papaya ginger glaze, and noting that "anybody can cook rice and beans—what I try to do is I try to invent something that's never been done before."
In the dining room, metallic pendant lamps cast a warm glow over hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, and a wooden stair case leading up to the second-floor dining area, where leather booths sit under timber ceilings. Stationed behind the smooth stone counter top of the fully stocked bar, which houses an extensive selection of rums and wines from Latin America and Spain, bartenders mix craft cocktails while DJs spin tunes to match the satisfied samba of chomping teeth.
Black and white photos of Audrey Hepburn and Paul Newman dot the walls of Off the Boulevard Lounge, offsetting the fresh faces of the lounge's newly minted management team. The antique photos speak to the decor's overriding theme, which blends styles central to bygone eras with modern touches through rich mahogany furnishings, lush flora, and atmospheric black lights. Market-fresh ingredients anchor a trim menu consisting of sophisticated American fare, which diners chase with cocktails in the lounge or at the full-service bar accented by coiling orchids, bamboo, and flickering flat-screen TVs. Open breezes swirl around shafts of sunlight in the bistro's outdoor garden adorned in kaleidoscopic panoplies of flowers and paper lanterns that daub the private space in a soft glow as twilight paints the sky in a gauzy azure.
Colorful lights, live music, and the smell of churrasco beckon passersby into Andres Carne De Tres, where chefs recreate the bold flavors of South America. Appetizers, such as empanadas dunked in a housemade sauce and guacamole made tableside, kick off meals before the real treat: platefuls of pork loin, skirt steak, chicken, ribs and fresh seafood—all cooked Colombian style. Patrons can order their own individual helpings from the menu—which includes items such as paella and chicken-and-mushroom crepes—or share a Tejarrilla Andres platter packed with enough Colombian chorizo and smoked pork ribs for two people or one pet bear. As the night rolls on, the dance floor tempts guests out of their seats with neon lights and live music crooned from a nearby stage.
Founded by Queens native and Late Late Show vet Steve Hofstetter, Laughing Devil Comedy Club lobbed its inaugural laugh at the end of 2011 to the printed acclaim of the New York Post, Queens Courier, and Queens Tribune. Within an intimate, 70-seat venue, bartenders draw from a top-shelf drink menu to forge potions such as The Andy Kaufman's blend of St. Germain, Patron tequila, and pineapple, or to pour drafts of Chimay Triple, brewed in the traditional manner by Belgian prop comics.
Metro Tapas Bar & Lounge executive chef Lee Knoeppel packs his small plates with contemporary takes on cuisines from around the world. For the deconstructed french onion soup, he drizzles brioche bread squares in melted gruyere and onion demi-glace. Chicken satay and BBQ pork buns bespeak an Asian influence, and American classics such as mac 'n' cheese keep things down-home. Bartender Carlos Santamaria also whips up seasonal cocktails to enhance enjoyment of the outside deck or to encourage uninhibited conversation with the eatery's five high-definition TVs.