Friday, October 22, 2010

An "Uva" For Any Occasion

One of my favorite things about writing Miss Menu is finding a restaurant that’s a keeper any way you look at it. Great food, great ambiance, great service, and great prices all make for an all-around great experience. Uva Wine Bar on the Upper East Side is definitely a keeper. I’ve heard it from dozens of friends over the years who rely on it as a go-to date spot for drinks, some who rave about the classic Italian food, and others who love it for a low-key brunch. I had been there a few years ago for drinks, and loved the atmosphere, but only recently returned to try the food.

On a cold, rainy Sunday night, I headed uptown to Uva to meet up with GF for dinner. I could not believe how packed it was. The main part of the restaurant is rustic and cozy with candlelight, chandeliers, exposed brick walls, and rugged wood tables and floors. Luckily we were able to be seated right away out on the back covered garden area.

Both of us had heard great things about the menu, so we decided it’d be fun to share a bunch of different things. We started with a Bruschetta topped with wild mushrooms, arugula, and parmigiano cheese. These toppings were a great combo of savory and earthy flavors. We also ordered a Chisolini, which is an “Emilian-style” focaccia that was topped with tomato sauce, artichokes, and smoked mozzarella.

For the main course we ordered the Gnocchi di Ricotta, which were homemade ricotta gnocchi in a creamy black truffle and chive sauce. Um…YUM. I’ve expressed my love for all things truffle on here in the past, so it goes without saying that I was a huge fan of this dish that combined that magical ingredient with deliciously delicate gnocchi. Out of this world.
We also had the Cavatelli al Pesto, which were homemade pasta shells in a creamy pesto sauce with shaved ricotta. The pesto was very pungent, but in a good way. Comparing the two dishes, though, I definitely liked the truffle gnocchi a lot more.

To round out a great meal, we ordered the tiramisu, which was pretty straightforward. It was less overwhelmingly coffee-flavored than some tiramisus that I’ve had, so that was good.

The waitress we had was fantastic. She explained each dish in great detail, weighed in on our choices, and offered great wine suggestions (and let us try a few varieties before we committed) to go with our each course of our meal. The garden was great, and would be really gorgeous during the day time and in nice weather. But, I also wanted to experience sitting in the main part of the restaurant, and I did just that on a return visit with MP for brunch.

On a Sunday afternoon, the restaurant was pretty deserted. I couldn’t believe how much quieter Uva was from my last visit there. But, it was also nice to go somewhere for brunch that wasn’t crowded and loud with a really long wait.

When we looked over the menu, we couldn’t believe how reasonable the prices were for all the brunch items. We both ordered the Ortolana omelette, which was only $7.50. It was made with eggplant, zucchini, peppers, broccoli, and fresh tomato. Since I have an aversion to tomatoes, I asked if I could add cheese instead, and asiago cheese was included. The omelettes were made with organic eggs and were served with roasted rosemary potatoes. The eggs were a little overcooked (brown spots on any eggs is a big no-no in the culinary world!), but all of the veggies were delicious. Freshly-baked focaccia was served in the bread basket, and was a nice addition.

After having been to Uva for three different occasions now, I am impressed with how versatile this little restaurant/wine bar is. Uva means “grape” in Italian, and there may be as many purposes for this restaurant as there are varieties of grapes in Italy! I have recommended it a few times to people looking for a good place for dinner with their parents, for a glass of wine on a date, and now for brunch too.

Uva
1486 2nd Avenue
b/t 77th & 78th Streets
website
Menu Pages listing

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