The appropriately named Mosaic Cafe & Lounge assembles three concepts to stand out in Astoria’s bar scene. The first and most obvious of these is a setting inspired by the salons of Belle epoque Paris. The other two are part and parcel: an attentive staff and a menu of fine wines that they have selected themselves.
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.
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.
Pappardella is just a short walk from Central Park, but it feels like an authentic Italian trattoria. Inside, a colorful mural of Florence sprawls across the walls. The menu sticks to traditional Italian cuisine, using homemade sauces and pastas to craft entrees such as rigatoni bolognese and linguine with roasted Brussels sprouts. Alternatively, diners can sample seared wild king salmon or pollo milanese made with free-range chicken. Pair entrees with a wine bottled directly from a wine river in Italy, or wrap up dinner with a dulcet tiramisu.
Much like an Italian piazza, an open square in the center of a town, Piazza 17 is a gathering spot where friends can meet for dinner or a glass of wine. The interior feels kind of like a rural Italian wine bar with tall wine racks lining redbrick walls and cheese plates served on rustic, wooden cutting boards. In the kitchen, chefs prepare two types of pizza. The first, a traditional round pizza, is meant for sharing, while the second, a large rectangular pizza, can be ordered by the slice or stuffed whole into a standard briefcase. Classic toppings on both include mozzarella, spicy soppressata, and mushrooms.