At Bar Majestic, live music can often be heard bouncing off the backdrop of darkly lit wood, shimmery walls, and wine racks so well stocked the place resembles a chateau wine cellar in the heart of Spain's countryside. Small, sharable portions of fresh tapas dance across tables and decorate the menu. Nibble decadent meats and cheeses, or bite bruschette such as spinach pesto, prosciutto, or mushroom tapenade ($3 each, $7 for three, $12 for five). Piping hot paninis pummel stubborn stomachs with comestibles including turkey breast, brie, romaine, and aioli ($8) or eggplant, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and balsamic ($9).
Lelabar earned a "critic's pick" from New York Magazine, bolstered by an extensive list of vintage wines such as a Bordeaux from 1970. Their sommeliers recommend selections from nearly 200 international wines, which are imported from the likes of Italy, France, and the moon. Patrons can also look to a central chalkboard, which details the daily wine and food specials. Food selections include meat plates, imported cheeses, and pressed sandwiches.
AYZA Wine & Chocolate Bar uses cocoa like a magnet. Its 80% dark-chocolate ganache by Jacques Torres draws in connoisseurs while a cluster hazelnut by Xocolatti entices sweet teeth of all stripes. There's warm chocolate molten cake topped with ice cream to mix temperatures, Belgian chocolate-covered strawberries to mix sweets, and a raspberry-chocolate martini with Chambord and Kahlua to mix one indulgence with another.
Indulgence is the overarching theme at AYZA. More than 90 types of wine from Italy, Argentina, and Chile pair with chocolatey treats—wine coming by the glass or bottle; chocolate coming by the piece or as part of a cascading fondue fountain. For more tenacious hungers, imported cheeses pair with Mediterranean-style entrees of pan-roasted wild sea bass. To make these offerings even more romantic, the bar hosts a Sunday couples' night, when the staff sprinkles tables with rose petals instead of firmly platonic palm fronds.
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.
White linen tablecloths and wooden wine racks complement Savore's hearty Northern Italian fare profiled by New York Magazine. More than 220 wines wait to be paired with Tuscan recipes, whose ingredients—including cockle clams, roasted lamb chops, and buffalo mozzarella—date back to the days of Michelangelo. New York Magazine highlights the wine bar in the backroom, a.k.a. Boutique del Vino, where dinner guests can get to know Italian wines by tasting notes, smelling bouquets, and listening to the warble of wineglass-rim choruses.
Every morning, Piccola Cucina chef Philip Guardione, a native Sicilian formerly of the Four Seasons in Milan and Tailevent in Paris, personally goes to the market to select ingredients. The effort is worth it, since without it, the entrees—swordfish carpaccio with cured tuna fish roe, beef tartare with olive oil-infused artichokes—wouldn’t have the same fresh flavor. For dessert, Sicilian cannoli and tiramisu arrive in portions large enough for diners to enjoy themselves or share with a pocket-sized attorney. Sips of primarily Tuscan and Sicilian wines enhance the food’s flavors.