One of my favorite aspects of traveling is discovering tucked away local hideouts for conversation and a glass of vino to complement the evening. This is how my brother, daughter and I discovered Ino Cafe & Wine Bar in the West Village. Owners Jason and Jennifer Denton were inspired by the small enoteca's serving great comfort food in Italy after attending a friend's wedding. The result is this 24-seat cafe with a two-butt kitchen, a wide range of Italian wines,
simple food done well and friendly service.
We came in to sample some vino but stayed to try a bowl of olives and their Rabbit Tramezzino with gruyere. I've been reading about Sicilian food and wines so a bottle of of Nero D'Avola Donnata was a perfect introduction to the island's extensive wine offerings. The wine was brash like a big Australian Shiraz with distinct plum & peppery notes. I imagined the rabbit tramezzino as the Italian version of the chicken salad - but bolder. I imagined my wife's grandmother packing this for her dad's lunch when he was in elementary school (along with the thermos of coffee!).
There was no question that Ino is a local gathering spot. There were no ugly Macy's brown bags nor tourists with fanny packs. Just friends and co-workers after another day in the city. I marveled at how the two Mexican cooks whipped out dishes in that microscopic kitchen. The bartender was friendly and attentive without being too obtrusive to the few gathered around his bar.
Ino serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Wander southwest of Soho and check this cozy place out. You won't regret it.
21 Bedford Street
|Olive Bowl ($6)|
|Rabbit Tramezzino ($9)|
|Jesus, one of the two amazing cooks in the small kitchen at Ino|