As America’s melting pot, New York City brings together the best of the best in food, beverage and culture. Experience the world through diverse wine and food pairings in a few of Manhattan’s vibrant neighborhoods. No airfare needed…just $2.75 for MTA (and maybe Google Translate).
French Wine at Brigitte
Transport to the South of France even amidst the bitter cold outside. Lower East Side’s new French restaurant with unique Provençal and Brazilian flair allows guests to indulge in cuisine crafted by Chef Thomas Besnard and cocktails curated by Caio Maggi. In addition to the precise yet delicate plates prepared with seasonal ingredients, Brigitte presents its festive, European-inspired Apéro Hour from 5:30PM to 7:30PM on weeknights.
Start the night at the marble bar with a glass (or bottle) of Domaine Cornu-Camus, Bourgogne, France 2015 – a light and perfumed Pinot Noir best paired with the Flourless Socca Chickpea Crepes with eggplant ezme salsa. Later, migrate to a table beneath beachside images for continued cool vibes and veggies dishes.
37 Canal St, 646-649-3378, www.brigitteles.com, @brigitte_nyc
Greek Wine at Ousia
Ousia, meaning “flavor” (in Greek, of course) offers Greek-meets-Mediterranean cuisine by Executive Chef Carlos Carreto along with a phenomenal wine program powered by Director of Operations Kamal Kouiri. Best for socializing with friends and family, the vast Midtown restaurant is complete with elevated “pub” booths, round tables and a massive two-sided bar (to view one of many televisions). Settle in and sip from rare labels (that need translation).
Recommended: Xinomavro-Syrah 15, Alpha Estate, Florina, Greece 2015 – a refreshing rose meant for a trio of soft spreads: Taramasalata with Carp Roe and almonds; Cannellini & Beet with sesame, marinated beets, roasted garlic and manouri cheese; and Tzatziki with Greek yogurt, garlic, dill and tomato confit. Caution: Mesmerization due to an illusional floor and plenty wine.
629 W. 57th St, 212-333-2000, www.ousianyc.com, @ousianyc
Israeli Wine at Shuka
Restaurateurs Vicki Freeman and Marc Meyer (Cookshop, Vic’s) flipped SoHo favorite, Hundred Acres into a Mediterranean-themed restaurant. Shuka, helmed by Chef Ayesha Nurdjaja, delivers a dynamic cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean in a lively 90 seat space dressed in ceramic Moroccan tiles, banquettes with Moroccan-style patterned pillows and linen tufted ceiling curtains.
Think “white Bordeaux,” and choose the 2010 Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc blend from Judean Hills, Israel with key lime, oily and cracked pepper scents. It’s a “match-made” with Shawarma Spiced Chicken Kebabs dressed in spiced yogurt, chermoula, charred onions and pita…and a side of crispy cauliflower. Believe it or not, you’re still in the states.
38 MacDougal St, www.shukanewyork.com, 212-475-7500, @shukanyc
Lebanese Wine at Au Za’atar
Previously an Arabian-French bistro, Au Za’atar returns to East Village as a full-on Lebanese restaurant. Owner and Chef Tarik Fallous, a Lebanon native, creates signature Lebanese dishes with an elevated taste inspired by family recipes he experienced growing up. The extensive menu can be paired with curated red and white selections representative of different regions throughout Lebanon and the country’s native grapes.
Select the Les Terroirs, Domaine Wardy, Lebanon 2014 – a pleasant red wine blended from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cinsault and Shiraz, combines smooth tannins and hints of fresh black cherries. Although drinkable on its own, enjoy with Chef Fallous’ limited Kibbeh Nayyeh. That is, lamb tartare with chopped scallion and mint. Definitely double up on pita.
188 Avenue A, 212-254-4660, www.auzataar.com, @auzataar
Mexican Wine at La Contenta Oeste
After much success at the Lower East Side location, Chef Luis Arce Mota and mixologist Alex Valencia opened La Contenta Oeste in Greenwich Village. Located in the former French Roast space (where Chef Mota began his culinary career) the kitchen dishes Mexican classics with a particular focus on chile peppers. The bar program proposes alt-agave spirits and various wines by glass and bottle that introduce guests to many unfamiliar yet unparalleled Mexican wines.
Follow the salsa beat while sipping Estacion Porvenir, Sauvignon Blanc, Guadalupe Valley, Mexico 2016. Coat your mouth with citrus and apple, then chow into the Enchiladas de Camaron, pan-roasted shrimp, stringy Oaxacan cheese and mild chipotle salsa wrapped in grilled flour tortillas, topped with flakey brussels sprouts. “Pairing wine and food is like making a sauce,” describes Chef Mota. “It is understanding colors and textures to enhance overall flavors.”
78 W. 11th St, 212-533-2233, www.lacontentanyc.com, @lacontentanyc
Japanese Wine at Flex Mussels
Across two locations, West Village and Upper East Side, Flex Mussels serves world-class seafood including fresh oysters and Prince Edward Island’s plumpest mussels cooked in a range of 23 splendid sauces in a modern ambience. Owner Alexandra Shapiro guides guests on an authentic culinary tour via the mollusk experience. “A briny east coast oyster can be highlighted fantastically by the subtle sweetness of a sake,” states Shapiro.
Try Junmai Ginjo, Jokigen “Rice Label” – a medium full-body rice wine packed with fruit flavor and sweet aromatics. “Sake complements oysters so well because the delicacy of oysters isn’t overpowered by overwhelming flavor, rather enhanced by subtle flavors. Sake brings out the nuances in food and enhances flavors so beautifully.” Pro-Tip: $1 oysters during happy hour – starting at 5:30PM daily.
Both locations, www.flexmussels.com, @flexmussels
Italian Wine at Italienne
Get situated in one of two striking, yet complementary spaces in the “old world” restaurant in Flatiron. The cuisine – delivered by Co-owner and Chef Jared Sippel – is a combination of Northern Italy, Southern France, and their borders. Wine Director Erica O’Neal showcases traditional varietals to pair alongside the tasting menu, with a wine list focusing on lesser-known producers specific to the regions incorporated in the cuisine.
Understand a dessert wine like Meroi, Picolit di Cialla, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy 2011 – a scarce varietal to be seen in the market as it was almost extinct. Made by passito, the picolit grapes are dried out to concentrate the rich flavors of the resulting raisinated grape. Complement with Pear – a warm, maple-glazed cruller with a rosemary cream, stewed pears in winter spices and topped with milk gelato. “The wine is naturally spice-forward, mimicking the cinnamon and nutmeg in the stewed pears, and has a toasted caramel finish to it, picking up on the maple glaze. The acid makes you want to go back for more. It’s a fun pairing that puts you in the holiday spirit,” explains O’Neal.
19 W. 24th St, 212-600-5139, www.italiennenyc.com, @italiennenyc