2211 Frederick Douglass Boulevard corner of 119th Street
$45 each for 2 people, with drinks, with tip
Finally, a new addition to the Harlem restaurant scene worth writing about. Shauna and I walked around the neighborhood to try and cool off from the hot Saturday weather and got a drink at Bier International before moving on to Vinateria for food. I’ve walked past it a few times while they were under construction and I’ve been looking forward to eating there since they put up their logo using a nice typeface. (Harlem is teeming with laughable typefaces on storefronts.)
Whoever thought of serving the cavatelli pasta with rabe as an appetizer was a genius. I like my pasta dishes just fine, but I never want a whole plate of it because I always lean towards trying more than 1 dish off the menu. We ended up splitting that pasta dish, which was the best out of all the lot, plus the following:
– Halibut tartare – I’ve never heard of fish tartare using halibut instead of tuna, and it felt a little short because of the usually bland white fish. There was a surprising sunchoke purée underneath–surprising because most Harlem restaurants have not jumped on the farm-to-table bandwagon–which gave the dish all its flavor, but the fish could have used some more salt and lime for added brightness. I forgot to ask where they got their fish but we trusted that they were fresh; no reports of being sick after!
– Octopus Frisée Salad – The octopus was sparse but very tender and the potatoes were a great match with the greens.
– Arugula and Radish Salad with Anchovies – We could have used more anchovies. It wouldn’t have been obvious if they served it on a small plate rather than a bowl. The vegetables were well-seasoned though and made up for it.
The service was quite attentive but they kept pushing their filtered water which is unnecessary for a New Yorker like me. The cocktails were a saving grace because I have been looking for a place in the neighborhood where I can get a decently-made drink. I hope Vinateria only gets better as the crowd starts to build up.