Centro Vinoteca- Best Italian Small Plates Restaurant and Wine NYC!

We were dazzled last Friday night when we met one of our fave people out for a romantic dinner date. Chef Leah Cohen (of fame from Top Chef) has created a fantastic menu.

The intimate dining room downstairs (they have an upstairs as well, think less bustle more romance) was crawling with people at 8pm on Friday when we got there. We put our name down (20 minute wait) and grabbed a signature cocktail from the bar.  I don’t remember what they were called (a true testatment to how strong they were) but they were both delicious and about $12 each with tip.

Once seated, priority number one was to peruse the wine menu. Loving wine but being somewhat less than a connoisseur we were stumped. After noticing our puzzlement, we were greeted by wine specialist, Sean. He explained to us the restaurant’s philosophy on vino–it doesn’t have to be expensive here to mean you’re going to get high quality. They hand pick all their wines and ensure that even reasonably priced bottles taste like they’re a vintage private label. He recommended a bottle that was absolutely exquisite. Dum de Dum of course I don’t remember what it was. My girlfriend, as I informally call her, GF, wears the pants in our relationship and is in charge of selections like these.

Next we were on to my favorite part–the feast. GF, who is a Centro Vinotecchie (the restaurant is so good they have weekly neighborhood regulars who I have now deemed Centro Vinotecchies) recommended that we share several small plates in order to sample the binge-worthy cuisine. We indulged in:

Fried cauliflower wedges, parmigiano crust & agliata 6
Mushrooms stuffed with pork & pancetta 7
Zucchini & parmigiano fritters, spicy tomato sauce 5
Escarole salad with mushroom chips, hazelnuts, pecorino & sour apples 10
Potato gnocchi with maitake mushrooms, bacon, sage & mascarpone 19 (AMAZING!!!!!!!)
Cannoli- I don’t remember the details. Sorry!
Sweet Tarallucci with salty caramel (Essentially butter cookies with delicious caramel dipping sauce with sea salt–I’m usually a chocolate person but this dessert really tickled my tastebuds! The perfect end to our meal. Truth be told, we didn’t even order this delicious little morsel, Sean, who had assisted us in our wine selection overheard my GF and I arguing over the dessert selection and ultimately insisted that I taste it and brought it on the house!).

This restaurant is the perfect indulgence for you Smartypanties that are not raking in the dough but want to treat yourselves to a fun, delicious meal where you feel like you’ve really wined and dined yourself –but without breaking the bank. Our meal with drinks and tip ended up to be about $50 a person. Not cheap by any means, but it’s great food, delicious wine, dessert and let’s face it–no average Jane needs to order as much food as we did! But that’s what’s so great about this place. You feel like you’re a high roller- you can order basically everything on the menu–and still afford it. I wouldn’t dare dream of ordering this much food at Babbo or Il Mulino. I’m a big fan of overindulgence and gluttony so being able to go out and enjoy myself, order what I want without calculating if I’ll still make rent is a must. Not to mention–the only thing here you’re scaling back on is price–the food is just as fantastic as any 5-star restaurant.

And added bonus–the chairs are super cushiony!

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