We nibbled our way through last weekend. On Friday night, we tried Buceo 95, a tapas and wine bar located a half block from our new apartment. We sat outside to enjoy the calm after torrential thunderstorms earlier in the evening. Were it not for the residents of the halfway house located across the street ambling along the sidewalk while we dined, we could easily have been 20 blocks south in our old neighborhood. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
There are three reasons we will return to Buceo 95: 1) aforementioned proximity to apartment 2) congenial host and waitress, who were extremely accommodating 3) churrasco con salsa verde, which was the only dish worth revisiting. This is not a restaurant worthy of a special trip, but if you find yourself near the 96th Street 2/3 subway stop, pop by for a glass of wine (a taste will be provided with a smile) and an order of the churrasco.
On Saturday night, we were reservation free. On sleepy summer weekends, I try to take advantage of the ease of dining at otherwise hard-to-get-in-to restaurants that don’t take reservations. I may be one of the few people who actually enjoy NYC in the summer – sure it’s hot (June 2009 aside) and it can be smelly, but you have to share the city with far fewer people. I was excited to try Barrio Chino, but after a trip to Soho earlier in the day to go couch shopping, we couldn’t muster the energy to trek to the LES. Instead, we opted for Gottino, where we had more wine and nibbles.
We enjoyed the vittles at Gottino tremendously, but I wouldn’t recommend arriving starving and expecting a big meal – Gottino is a wine bar first and foremost. The gentlemen behind the bar (despite the fact that the head chef is a woman, there was not a woman in sight) pour your wine and make your food, which is fun to watch. My only complaint about Gottino was that the gentleman helping us was rather dour and bit too sure of himself and his palette. Some friendly banter might have lightened the mood.
We’d eaten some pre-dinner snacks when my husband’s aunt joined us for a toast to our new apartment (I made gin juleps) so we were not terribly hungry. We ordered two types of crostini – walnut pesto and fava beans with sheep’s milk ricotta – and a meat and cheese combo (including porchetta and another meat and cheese that I don’t recall…bad blogger). The serving size was very generous on the meat and cheese and, combined with three crostini a piece and a shared affogato to end the meal, we had plenty to eat. Everything was delicious, but my mouth waters just thinking about the walnut pesto crostini. I was warned of the addictive quality of these morsels by Frank Bruni, but words (even his) can’t do justice to these wonderful little creations so go try them for yourself. We may not be returning for a “meal” at Gottino any time soon, but we will certainly be back for a glass of wine and some crostini. I can virtually guarantee satisfaction if you do the same.