Drink of the Vine


I had been looking forward to visiting Virgola since it first opened, so last weekend, I stopped by for a couple glasses. The thing that I found to be alluring about this wine bar is that it’s an alley that was converted into a wine and oyster bar. I think this is probably the most unique setting that I’ve encountered in my journey so far. It’s located in the West Village at 28 Greenwich Ave.

The entrance is so narrow that it’s very easy to walk by it. The only reason I knew it was there was because I had been waiting for brunch at a nearby restaurant a couple of months ago and happened to notice a plaque that said “Virgola”. I made a mental note for when I would review it so that I wouldn’t get turned around like I often do in the West Village.

Virgola is definitely the sexiest alley in New York City. It has a very sleek interior; it’s dimly lit, the brick walls are painted a glossy black, the high top tables are a brushed metal, and a medieval looking chandelier hangs in the center of the room above small tables and tufted leather couches. As you can imagine, seating is very limited and there isn’t much elbow room, but they’ve still managed to create some privacy with the table arrangements.  

All of the wine at Virgola is Italian and glasses are between $12 and $17. All but two of the wines are available in bottles as well, priced from $44 to $96. The selection is great, with some wines that aren’t commonly found in wine bars, even Italian ones. I decided on something sweet for that evening and ordered the 2009 Colombo Moscato Pastu Tardi. The server brought out the bottle and poured a taste for me before pouring a full glass. I like to see wine bars doing this for glass orders because it makes you feel like your business is appreciated just as much as if you had ordered a bottle. The Moscato smelled a little metallic and minerally and tasted almost like a sweet mulled cider with some notes of orange peel. I really enjoyed it! So much that I ordered a second glass of it.

The ambiance here is upscale and a little mysterious, yet chilled out. The service was wonderful and the server was friendly and talkative. He even poured a little extra wine in my glass because I must have looked thirsty. It was the cherry on top of a great experience at Virgola.

I really enjoyed everything about Virgola, from the wine, to the décor and the novelty of it being in an alley. The wine is a little on the expensive side, but the wine that I had was great and if the others follow suit, they’re a good value. This is a delightful little wine bar and is a treat to visit. I give this place a rating of 4.8 out of 5 glasses.

It's literally as skinny as those doors

Oh there you are, Virgola!

my glass of Moscato



My dear readers, I’m back at last! The hubster and I bought a condo, so most of our free time the past few months has been consumed by making the place our own. But on Friday I was able to go to Ara, located at 24 9th Ave in the Meatpacking district.

I didn’t know quite what to expect from a wine bar in this area, since it’s very clubby and heavily geared towards the nightlife. However, I found Ara to be surprisingly low key and quiet for a Friday evening. The interior was pretty standard for a wine bar – a long, narrow space with a bar in the front and a lounge like area in the back. When I arrived, there was only a small handful of people seated around the bar and music from the 80s was playing softly.  I took a seat on the plush bench that wrapped around the entire back room and took a look at the menu.

Glasses were between $10 and $25, with the average glass being $12. Bottles started at $42 and were not more than $65. The selection of wine was small, but consisted of some unique white wines, like a white Rioja and a Grune, which don’t often make appearances in wine bars. I decided to take advantage of this and ordered the 2012 Gobelsburger Gruner Veltliner. It smelled like fresh grapefruit and lemon with a light floral scent and had similar notes on the palate with a lively acidity. It was certainly refreshing after walking through the humidity of the October night. (what’s up with that, by the way?)

The service was ok. Once I was seated, a bartender came to my table to take my order, but after delivering the wine, I didn’t see him again for quite some time.

The atmosphere of Ara was calm and the fixtures seemed really nice. The bench in the back lounge area was made of soft green leather and had tons of oversized throw pillows tossed onto it. The rest of the seating was on squatty stools with leather cushions that actually looked kind of comfortable. The small tables were also spaced far enough apart from one another to allow for some private conversation. There were also some interesting choices in décor – the walls were covered entirely with either huge mirrored panels or bamboo print wallpaper. I’m not quite sure what look they were going for there.

Ara was enjoyable enough, but it just didn’t feel like a wine bar. It lacked the charm, cozy sophistication, and quirkiness that it takes to make a wine bar stand out in this city. Honestly, it was rather forgettable. I give Ara a rating of 3 out of 5 glasses.


The back area of the bar

My glass of Gruner