Sophia Wine Bar, NYC

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Our experience at Sophia is one that we may never forget. In fact, it was so great we’ve even said we would hesitate to go back only because we can’t imagine it being that great again. But of course, I would go back in a heartbeat.

The small plates were delicious and are one of our favorite ways to enjoy dinner; the wine list is good; the atmosphere feels like a hidden neighborhood gem which for my first night in NYC was a perfect way to get a break from the chaos of the city. While these three things are enough to make a great dinner, our server was really what made our experience fantastic.

For a wine bar, I mentioned the wine list was good – although not great. The Italian heavy list did have some great options, but was actually small for a wine bar. However, after great dialog with our server he continued to bring us glasses of wine that were either not on the list or were only available by the bottle. We rarely order a bottle as we like to try different wines, but sometimes we do miss out on some of the best wines by doing this. At Sophia, we just got lucky to have the perfect server on the perfect night. More than three hours after our arrival we left with a round of hugs, happy bellies, huge smiles. It was a great way to begin our trip!

Vegetarian Options

  • Pizza – create your own with ingredients including arugula, mushrooms, onions, and olives
  • Vegetarian Lasagna
  • Spinach & Artichoke Dip
  • Assorted Olives
  • Mac n’ cheese
  • Cheese Platter
  • Mozzarella Crostini (Made in house)
  • Bruschetta trio (Tomato, Olive blend, ricotta)
  • Burrata
  • House Made Mozzarella and tomato salad

Pescatarian Options

  • Crudo & Melon
  • Crudo & Mozzarella
  • Jumbo Shrimp cocktail
  • Colossal Lump Crabmeat
  • Tuna TarTare

http://sofiawinebar.com

Chai 33

I am so excited that I found this restaurant! Chai 33 has an incredible menu, at a very good price, and it totally centers around the wine cellar with over 300 selections. In fact, each table is invited to visit the cellar to choose their bottle of wine and can peruse on their own, or with the sommelier. There are three cellars in all including one that is color coded to help you choose one for your tastes, one that contains the current house favorites, and the third for the Grands Crus.  Reservations are very easy to make, although they do prefer to communicate in French.While the restaurant is a bit out of the city center it is easily accessible by the metro and has a stop very nearby. We look forward to our visit in June and will update after our meal!

Vegetarian Options

  • Beetroot Gazpacho, Coconut Milk and Almond
  • Breaded Goat Cheese with Chives, Salad Mix
  • Scrambled Eggs with Asparagus
  • Burrata Cheese and Asparagus Duo
  • Vegetarian Gyozas, Spicy Crushed Tomatoes
  • Risotto with Grilled Vegetables

Pescatarian Options

  • Salmon, Leek and Dill Clafoutis
  • Mackerel Tartare, Mango and Avocado
  • Smoked Salmon and Tuffle Taramasalata
  • Crab Cake, Thai Salad
  • 3 Fish Keftas, Curry Sauce and Green Salad
  •  Risotto with Scallops and Red Pesto
  • 3 Fish Tartare with Fries and Green Salad
  • Cod with Mashed Vitelotte Potatoes
  • Roasted Wild Sea Bass Filet with Creamy Polenta
  • Thai Soup with Large Prawns, Coriander and Vegetables
  • Mixed Raw Fish Platter
  • Half-Cooked Tuna Albacore, Fruit Chutney and Flavored Rice
  • Meuniére or Dry Fish Sole with Mashed Potatoes and Wilted Spinach

And of course a wide selection of Cheeses and Desserts!

http://www.chai33.com/en/home

Gustavino

My husband and I are definitely creatures of habit. When we find something we love, we have a hard time deviating from it – including going to the same restaurant multiple times on the same trip. Gustavino Restaurant and Wine Bar is one of those restaurants, but well worth the repeat visit. Our time in Florence was limited on this trip – it was really only a starting place to reach the more remote area of the Cinque Terre. We were scheduled to be in Florence for two nights, and were on separate flights, both scheduled to arrive early the first morning. However, I had “one of those days” where everything went wrong and I arrived almost 13 hours late – so late I not only missed the whole first day, I even missed dinner and only arrived in time to go bed after a 10 hour trip turned into a 24 hour trip. Luckily, my husband arrived on time and was able to spend his day finding great things for us to do and see in our now even more limited time in Florence. One thing he discovered was Gustavino – and we returned the next night!

Gustavino is located on a quiet street in the center of Florence between the Duomo and Town Hall. This is arguably one of the best meals I had on this trip, definitely the best we had while in Italy, although all were great. Gustavino is a small restaurant with an incredible wine list of over 800 wines. The house wines (from their own winery) are not only affordable but also very good. The staff is incredibly friendly and seem to enjoy questions and interaction from their guests. The atmosphere is more modern than most restaurants of this size in Florence. If in town, this is one to consider! (reservations recommended)

Vegetarian Options

  • Mixed salad with dried fruit, Tuscan olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Parmesan style egg-plant with balsamic vinegar
  • Herb goat’s cheese mousse with honey and black pepper
  • Italian style pasta “Maccheroncini” with cherry tomatoes and pesto sauce
  • Home made pecorino cheese and pears “Tortelli” with butter, walnuts and pistachios
  • Baked smoked “ Scamorza” cheese with grilled vegetables

Pescatarian Options

  • Mussels pepper chowder
  • Little octopus salad with celery, citrus fruits and balsamic vinegar
  • Marinated salmon with salad and little buffalo’s milk mozzarella
  • Little potato dumplings with variety of fish (fillet of fish, cuttlefish, shrimps, scampi,clams and mussels)
  • Home made seabass “Ravioli” with lemon sauce (it was made with salmon when we were there and it was divine!)
  • Home made black “Tagliolini” with sea urchin and pesto sauce
  • Baked in foil seabasswith vegetables with vegetables
  • Roasted salmon fillet with caramelized carrots

Dessert

  • Butter tartlet with cinnamon-scented apples and rosemary cream
  • Cheesecake with home made wild berries jam
  • Lemon cream with fresh strawberries
  • Amedei´s hot chocolat soufflé 70%
  • Selection of cheese with fruit mustard

 

http://www.gustavino.it/english/index.php

House Wines: http://www.lanciola.it/index-eng.html

 

 

La Vinoteca Torres

La VinotecaTorres quickly became a staple in Barcelona. It is a bit “touristy”, none of my Spanish friends eat there, however, it’s around the corner from our apartment, has great vegetarian selections, great wine, and outdoor seating. Settled next door to the Gucci store on Passeig de Gracia, the crowd watching is very entertaining. There is also a great selection of desserts including chilled chocolate truffles that serve as a great compliment to the wine!

Vegetarian Options:

  • Torre Real’s olives selection
  • Potato chips with pepper and lemon
  • Tomato-rubbed crispy bread dressed with extra virgin olive oil El Silencio
  • Selection of dairy cheeses
  • Baby-leaf salad with sprouts and roots
  • Salad of leaves, apple, nuts and goat cheese and yoghurt (my favorite salad in Barcelona!!!)
  • Warm salad of mushrooms, promegranate and nuts
  • Caesar salad
  • Patatas bravas
  • Potato omelette
  • Chick peas frittersand traditional romesco sauce

Pescatarian Options:

  • Dried anchovies from the Cantabrian Sea and virgin olive oil
  • Cockles with paprika flavoured dressing Espinaler
  • Mussels in pickling brine light marinade
  • Fresh razor clams
  • Marinated sardines in olive oil
  • Fresh oysters from Marennes
  • Sardines and roasted vegetables on flat crispy bread
  • Tuna and tomato confit tartare
  • Garlic-fried shrimp
  • Fish with clam soup
  • Creamy rice with prawns
  • Homemade marinated sardines
  • Cod with fricassèe of mushrooms

A couple of wine suggestions:

  • Celeste Crianza Tinto fino – D.0 Ribera del Duero (great for the price)
  • Salmos Garnacha Tinta, Syrah, Cariñena – D.O.Q Priorat
  • Perpetual Cariñena, Garnacha Tinta – D.O.Q Priorat (a bit pricey, but a great wine)

http://www.lavinotecatorres.com/index.php?idioma=en

Willi’s Wine Bar and Macéo Restaurant

Willi’s Wine Bar and Macéo Restaurant are sister and neighboring establishments – as you will see frequently in Paris. Not only do they offer small plate and regular menu items that will satisfy the vegetarian and pescatarian diet, but they also offer a vegetarian menu – including tofu! Stop in Willi’s wine bar for small plates and great wine, or have dinner at Macéo. And – it’s only a 10 minute walk from the Louvre!

Willi’s Wine Bar

  • A salad of green asparagus with shaved parmesan
  • fresh crab cakes, sweet and sour sauce
  • warm artichoke and pepper salad, poached organic egg with flavors of wood
  • Cream of Jerusalem artichokes, feta cheese, green olives & rosemary
  • Tails grilled ‘salt & pepper’ prawns, diced basi
  • variety of cheese and dessert plates

Macéo Restaurant

  • Butternut velouté with truffle oil
  • Organic poached egg, mesclun & green beans salad
  • Green thaï vegetable curry & coconut milk
  • Vegetable cromesquis, coriander mayonnaise
  • Sweet spiced tofu steak, oyster mushrooms, lemon grass
  • Marinated prawns in kanafeh, mango salsa & chili
  • Scallops from Erquy, carrot purée & jus
  • Scotish ‘Label Rouge’ salmon façon maki, citrus & coriander salad
  • Variety of cheese and dessert plates

Le Dauphin

Not much information regarding a menu can be found for the small and modern wine bar in the 11th, however, many posts and photos describe small plates that are both vegetarian and pescatarian friendly, and Conde Nast lists Le Dauphin as one of the best restaurants in Paris. The marble interior sets it apart from many of the other old France style bistros and as the sister wine bar to the famed Le Chateaubriand next door it may be worth a stop! We find when we travel that wine bars are often great options for dining, even if you are not one to enjoy wine – the menus are usually easily navigable for vegetarians and pescatarians.

Le Dauphin

http://parisbymouth.com/our-guide-to-paris/our-guide-to-paris-wine-bars-2/our-paris-guide-le-dauphin/

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187147-d2035917-Reviews-Le_Dauphin-Paris_Ile_de_France.html

http://www.cntraveller.com/recommended/food/paris-restaurants/le-dauphin

Verjus

Update (January 24, 2016): On my last trip to Paris, a friend and I stopped by Verjus in the hopes of having dinner. Reservations in the restaurant upstairs are required and the wine bar downstairs, while they do have small plates, is very, very small. The wine bar did not entice us that evening, however, I recently contacted the restaurant regarding our dietary restrictions. They serve a daily prix fixe menu, which is often difficult for those with any type of dietary restriction. The response was quick and gracious and they are happy to accommodate our preferences with notice. Reservations are taken up to three months in advance – my husband and I plan to dine here for our 15th wedding anniversary this October!

A restaurant and wine bar near the Louvre. Stop by the wine bar for a quick snack and a glass of wine, or make a reservation at the restaurant upstairs for tasting menu with plenty of options for pescatarians. The wine bar also offers many vegetarian options. And did I mention that the wine list looks incredible!

http://www.verjusparis.com

Wine Bar Options

  • marinated feta, roast tomato vinaigrette, purslane, olives
  • nettle and red chili cappellettis, brown butter, parmesan, sage flowers
  • buffalo milk ricotta dumplings, sweet peas, heirloom carrots, hazelnuts, wild herbs
  • gyozas of celery root, dan-dan sauce, toasted peanuts, chives, scallions
  • Joe’s shoestring fries, togarashi, ketchup
  • southern style hushpuppies, mesclun, honey butter, buttermilk dressing
  • burrata mozzarella, white peaches, chili powder, fresh almonds, mint
  • roasted broccoli, anchovy butter, lemon, korean rice cakes, parm
  • a selection of cheeses from maison Hisada with house made garnishes
  • greek yogurt sorbet, wild blueberries from Vosges, raspberries from Orgeval, almond shortbread

Sample Dinner Tasting Menu Options (this menu will change – call ahead for the evening selection)

  • sea scallop from Mont St Michel, piquillo pepper confit, milk poached salsify, sweet onions, bronze fennel
  • cappellettis of roast pumpkin, buffalo milk ricotta, nettle pesto, pine nuts, pickled pumpkin, bernet
  • supplement of 5g of white truffle from Acqualagna, Pain des Amis croutons, Bordier butter poached farm egg +25€
  • clams from Galice, roast sunchoke soup, garlic crouton, harissa, celery root, thyme oil
  • a selection of French cheeses aged by Madame Hisada, house garnishes (2 people) +14€
  • ginger and cardamom ice cream, pear cake, vadouvan granola, salted caramel, hazelnut
  • fresh sage panna cotta, red wine poached quince, wine reduction, graham crumbs