In August 2007, in a subterranean space on 64th and 3rd that had previously housed duds like Mainland and Ollie’s Noodle Shop, Accademia di Vino hit pay dirt. With a busy wine bar at street level and vast dining room and wine cellar downstairs, Accademia di Vino has been churning out solid Italian fare, including an extensive snack menu to pair with the many wines in its collection. The formula works; the restaurant is always jumping. Lucky for me, it’s in my ‘hood.
If you’re just seeking some good wine and bites, grab a table upstairs in the cozy, dimly lit lounge. The full menu is offered, but my suggestion would be to order one of the many Italian reds (over 10 by the glass) and sample a bunch of appetizers. The menu can be overwhelming, and for the most part, you can’t go wrong. Suggestions, you say? But of course!
Begin with some charcuterie and cheese (both, 3 for $15). I usually stick with fresh prosciutto di parma, but there’s plenty of other high quality meats to choose from (bresaola, sopprasatta). Then, zone in on the hot and cold antipasti. The Brussels sprout ($8) preparation is one of the best in the city. Grilled with Parmesan, served cold, this dish gets me every time. Ditto the fresh ricotta, fettunta (grilled bread) and honey ($12). So simple yet so good. From the hot side, the Parmesan and prosciutto fritters ($12) stand out, especially as a crispy, salty complement to the ricotta.
A raw bar features crudo, carpaccio, tartare, oysters, and shrimp. I recommend the carpaccios and tartares. For the carpaccio—try the beef ($15). For the tartare—the tuna ($15), prepared with pine nuts, it’s a surprisingly good mix. Salads? The Caesar ($13). To finish, get one of the airy, thin crust pizzas. They change seasonally, but I usually order the black truffle and pecorino ($15).
If you’re looking for a sit-down meal, tuck in downstairs and peek at the pasta selections. The cacio e pepe ($16) and the carbonara ($17) vie for the cream sauce spotlight, but the hearty Bolognese ($22) usually wins out. For main course, the chicken Milanese ($25) is a standby, though a healthier choice like (market) fish with spicy tomato sauce ($28) is equally good. Lamb and pork chops round out the menu, while the bonus of the sirloin ($38) is the Tuscan herb fries.
Dessert is a pretty standard affair with ricotta cheesecake, tiramisu, affogato and cannoli. The standout is a grilled nutella pizza ($16) that is worth every calorie lost.
The team behind the equally popular ‘Cesca just opened another branch of Accademia di Vino on 89th and Broadway bringing the bounty of this neighborhood spot to the West Side. If it’s anything like the one on my block, I’m quite sure it will be another hit.