TThe professional, knowledgeable staff at Vintner’s Circle share their love of the wine lifestyle with hands-on wine classes that teach guests, family, and friends how to bottle wines, distinguish between different varietals, or pair wine with cheese. The shop’s unique winemaking courses take aspiring vintners through the accessible four-step process, which begins with choosing wine juices from a selection of more than 50 internationally sourced varieties. Participants then fill more than two dozen bottles with their own vintage. They can emblazon these bottles with custom-designed labels and colorful tops. Vintner's Circle also stocks a variety of gifts for weddings, holidays, and other special occasions, as well as wine accessories and gifts for wine lovers to enjoy year-round. Wine-education classes, corporate events, and team-building events are also on offer.
For Sam Mickail, food is autobiographical. Born in Cairo, the first spices he smelled were hearty Mediterranean blends. He then spent most of his childhood in France surrounded by the cooking of world-class chefs, eventually leaving for Switzerland to turn his love of food into a bona fide culinary craft. Now, in America, he channels all of these influences and global experiences into cooking, lending his talents to numerous restaurants and further exploring all the cooking styles that inspired him throughout his life. This surfaces most clearly in Sam Mickail’s CUT Steak House, where he’s free to put international twists on the time-honored tradition of cooking delicious steaks.
Sam coats his filet mignons and porterhouses in delicious béarnaise, au poivre, or perigourdine sauces, according to his customers’ wishes. He also serves fresh oysters at his raw bar, slathers lobster tails in butter, and batters escargot with a champagne crust, a creation he calls drunken snails for their complete inability to slither in a straight line.
The brainchild of Ivan Ruiz—a sommelier who’s perfected mealtime pairings at restaurants across New York City—the Summit Wine & Food Festival celebrates the intersection between great wine and great food while simultaneously raising funds for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. Celebrity chefs from Bravo and the Food Network and local guest chefs share their knowledge during events like mixology classes and a special beer tasting hosted by Spiegelau Crystal, which includes a complementary set of beer tasting glasses for each attendee. Sommeliers also share the spotlight at the summit—showcasing varietals from domestic and international vineyards—and clear up the misconception that grapes are just confident blueberries.
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.
Philip Marie is a spacious but intimate restaurant, garnished with simple décor that pays homage to the American heartland, a theme also reflected in many of head chef and owner John Philip Greco III's recipes. The menu provides a multitude of creative takes on American classics to choose from. Lunch-hungry lunch-seekers may want to wet their lips over a bowl of butternut-squash soup ($4.95) served with cornbread crumbs. An overstuffed chicken potpie ($10.50) is a hearty classic, great for warming up chilly afternoons, while a pan-seared red-snapper filet ($11.50) in lemon-wine sauce, served with sautéed spinach and steamed broccoli, is a lighter choice, excellent for snappy dressers, finger-snapping street gangs, and cereal elves.
Lauded by Time Out New York for its earth-friendly and healthy offerings, V-Note unfolds an upscale and gourmet bistro menu overflowing with organic wines and gourmet kosher and vegan cuisine sprinkled with gluten-free options. The owners of Blossom and Cafe Blossom have expanded the vegan-eatin' scene with a vast selection of brunch, lunch, and dinner fare crafted from fresh veggies, soy, seitan, and tofu. V-Note's organic wine bar splashes palates with an array of wines that are either biodynamic or sustainable and organic—each bottle gifting mouths vibrant flavors and tasting notes handwritten by the vines they were plucked from. A dark-wood ceiling outfitted with inset track lighting casts a dim romantic glow above diners nestled into contemporary wood chairs and white booths adorned with patterned pillows. Smooth black walls encase the entire eating space, and a wine rack with x-shaped shelves stands prominently behind the candle-laden wood bar. Guests can also enjoy live jazz performances on Sunday nights.