As one of the last Colonial buildings remaining in New York, Fraunces Tavern gives patrons a sense of what life was like nearly a century before America’s nationhood. Built in 1719 as a merchant’s residence, the building was purchased by tavern keeper Samuel Fraunces in 1762. It soon became a hotbed of pre- and post-Revolution activity. This includes a visit from George Washington in 1783, during which he stood in The Long Room and delivered a farewell address to officers of the Continental Army. Today, Fraunces Tavern functions as both a museum and a restaurant operated by Dublin-based The Porterhouse Brewing Co. Preserved to retain its original Colonial appearance, the dining room is defined by its plank floors, stalwart wood tables, and bench seating. At the bar, brass dispensers pour microbrews such as the Plain Porter, which has won multiple distinctions from The Brewing Industry International Awards. The Dingle Whiskey Bar, a secluded part of the tavern, invites whiskey aficionados to lay down their muskets, take off their tricorn hats, and relax in front of a crackling fire.
The story of Sweet Revenge begins in the cramped kitchen of Marlo Scott’s West Village studio, where the part-time baker and full-time corporate employee spent her nights making cupcakes and dreaming of exacting revenge on her bosses. In what she now describes as “a stroke of utter luck,” Marlo was laid off in 2007 and granted the opportunity to finally live out her dreams. Happiness, she would soon find, is the sweetest revenge. Before long, Marlo had acquired a charming spot on Carmine Street, complete with peeling paint and two expansive bay windows. She renovated the place and transformed it into the aptly named Sweet Revenge. Internationally inspired cupcakes and savory cakes take center stage on the lunch and dinner menus, which incidentally reveal the bakery’s secret weapon: it’s also a wine bar. For something you likely won’t find anywhere else, take a look at the menu of cupcake, wine, and beer pairings. Marlo’s signature Sweet Revenge flavor—a peanut-butter cake with a ganache center—pairs with a Malbec from Spain, and her Crimson and Cream cupcake can be dipped in a raspberry Bellini or stuffed into a bottle of imported pear cider.
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.
When Ristorante DeGrezia founder Tommaso DeGrezia decided to step out of his comfort zone and open a wine bar, he brought someone familiar along for the ride—his son, Thomas. Together, father and son have curated a list of more than 80 wines from every corner of the globe, each of which they keep at the proper temperature in an oversized wine cooler. Lined with exposed brick and lit by flickering candles propped up in quartz holders, Sofia Wine Bar & Cafe’s lounge marks a significant shift in tone from the bright, airy dining room of Ristorante DeGrezia. Thankfully, the menu still plays to DeGrezia’s strengths. When servers aren’t using their suspenders to slingshot bottles of wine across the room, they’re bringing out rustic Italian pizzas and plates of thinly sliced prosciutto.
Yes, there is such a thing as the American Cheese Society. What’s more, it’s an honor of the highest degree to be named a member of that society’s inaugural class of Certified Cheese Professionals. Fromager Dimitri Saad counts himself among that prestigious group, and one trip to Casellula Cheese & Wine Café is enough to see why. Saad has curated a menu of more than 40 cheeses from around the world. The menu is divided into five sections: fresh, bloomy, washed, pressed/cooked, and blue. Cheese isn’t all that Casellula has going for it. Proprietor and wine director Brian Keyser has carefully designed a wine list to accompany the cheese and food menus, the latter of which focuses on contemporary American cuisine. In another wine bar, this focus on gourmet food and drink might come with more than a hint of pretension. Not here—Casellula welcomes guests to dress casually and order in Pig Latin for all they care.
Just as a mosaic connects small pieces to form a sum greater than its parts, Mosaic Cafe and Lounge combines three core concepts to stand out in Astoria’s crowded bar scene. The first of these is an exceptional drink list that unites wines from around the world with more than 100 bottled beers. The second is a stylish setting, and in this regard Mosaic nearly outclasses the Belle Époque salons and Turkish palaces after which it was evidently modeled. Antique furnishings, handcrafted woodwork, and, yes, colorful mosaics create an ambiance worthy of the constantly evolving drink menu. Thankfully, Mosaic also places a high priority on service. Waiters bustle to and fro with small plates of cheeses and cured meats, pausing at tables to recommend wines that will leave the best impression on a date or the best stain on the suit jacket of the guy who convinced you snowpants were "in."