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.
At each Vintner’s Circle location, staffers guide customers through the roughly seven-week process of mixing, fermenting, and bottling their own wines. Each aspiring winemaker starts with a choice of 80 pre-pressed juices sourced from vineyards around the world and ends up with 28 bottles emblazoned with personalized labels and filled with their own unique vintage. Vintner’s Circle staff also guide wine tasting classes, sangria-making parties, and other beverage-related activities.
Villa Milagro Vineyard is more than a spot for the creation of fine wines. It's also a protective habitat for native species, a culinary school, and a bastion of organic and sustainable agricultural practices. On winery tours, guests stroll down lanes surrounded by vines that are grown without pesticides or herbicides. You can sign up for cooking or wine-tasting classes, or simply sit down with the vintners for dinner. Tastings let you sample the vineyard's output, and bottles are for sale once you find something you like.
Planted by hand in 1990, 56,000 special seedlings spiral toward the sun, spawning bundles of grapes that wait to be plucked and transformed into casks of delicious libations. The owners of the elegant winery and castle welcome guests to meander through the scenic vineyard or delve into the cool, climate-controlled cellar to sample wine or rifle through Dionysus’s old storage boxes. Large tasting rooms and an outdoor pavilion can also host private events on the regal grounds.
When Joan Schaming and Ronald Williams opened Balic of Clinton in 2004, they wanted to make sure their clientele understood the importance of sampling wines before they commit to a bottle. In their shop, they hold daily tastings of their rotating selection of reds, whites, dessert wines, and specialty potables, which they recommend to pair with selections from their inventory of gourmet foods and chocolates.
When Food Network staple Robert Irvine and his Restaurant Impossible crew arrived at Mamma D's, they were overwhelmed. Ambitious owner Luigi Desiato operated an eatery that was equal parts restaurant, vineyard, and petting zoo, a combination that clouded his sizable culinary prowess and led to an overabundance of greased pig races. But Chef Irvine's visit enabled the charismatic Luigi to pinpoint his vision, and Mamma D's has since transformed into a hub for high-end cuisine and fresh-off-the-vine wines. Vinos, such as a dolce vita sweet red and chardonnay pinot, gush from taps beside craft beers at the full-service bar that, along with the outdoor patio, overlooks the idyllic 2-acre vineyard. Sips on these homegrown varietals complement the menu of small plates, chops, and seafood, which, according to the Montgomery News, encompasses a "combination of recipes from Bologna and Abruzzo, where both sides of Chef Louie’s family grew up."
The host of his own Sayre Woods Media series, Wine'm and Dine'm with Chef Louie Desiato, Luigi also presides over daily classes where he shares his bottomless knowledge of cultivating grapes and pairing wines while serving up artisanal cheese and surprises from the kitchen, which is manned by his talented son, Nick Desiato.