There may be a high intimidation factor when it comes to wine, but the vibe couldn’t be any more relaxed at In Vino in the East Village. In fact, you’ll generally find owner and head oenophile, Keith Beavers, working the room in a Star Wars or Ween t-shirt (he originally moved from Syracuse to Manhattan in hopes of becoming a rock star), or holding court at the bar, where he runs tasting classes on Tuesdays, for only $20 a pop.
And he can tell you anything you can possibly want to know (in layman’s terms, of course), about the 200-bottle wine list spanning 20 regions of Italy — in fact, he can generally figure out what you’re drinking just by taking a sniff. Or, you can just sit back and trust him to do the heavy lifting for you, selecting a variety of tart whites, earthy reds, floral roses and even brassy orange wines, to accompany crimson ribbons of house-cured Duck Prosciutto, or sage butter-swiped pillows of Ravioli di Spinaci, flavored with preserved lemon, and stuffed with molten clods of smoked gouda.
Fashioned by Babbo’s former executive sous chef, James Kelly, the expansive food menu is relatively new to In Vino, and perfectly complements its laid-back atmosphere and rustic, Tuscan wine cellar-like space. Traditionally divided into “Antipasti,” “Primi,” “Secondi” and “Contorni,” offerings fit snugly inside the classic Italian comfort food canon (such as tomato ragu-laked Beef Polpetti, so tender, they practically dissolve upon contact with a fork), with enough touches of whimsy to appeal to the East Village’s increasingly discerning foodie set. Luscious orbs of Burrata release rivulets of sweet cream that mingle with vanilla-scented apricot citronette; filets of highly sought after Copper River Sockeye Salmon are stacked upon a heap of nubby risotto (arborio is cleverly swapped out for starchy kernels of summer corn); and there’s even a play on that Cincinnati staple of chili-smothered spaghetti — i.e., Spaghettini with Cincinnatus’ Chili — i.e., the best Spaghetti Bolognese You’ve Ever Had — homemade noodles tossed with lip-buzzingly spicy meat sauce dotted with fat, velvety cranberry beans, and finished with a shower of sharp, aged cheddar.
They’re all available a la carte, as part of a $55, 5-course tasting menu (only $90 with wine pairings), or offered during a $25 prix fixe dinner on Sundays, coupled with $15 bottles of wine like the chilled, fizzy, NV Venturini Baldini Lambrusco from Emilia Romagna, that’s refreshing enough to drink the whole summer through. We’ll definitely raise a glass (or two) to that!