I remember when Vinateria first opened back in 2013 on Frederick Douglas Blvd, however in the last eight years I’ve only been there maybe twice for a drink or two. That may seem quite strange, as somethings you just take for granted because you think it will always be there. So to set things right I made a reservation for dinner to finally sample the food.
This restaurant (now a Harlem stable) is billed as an Italian restaurant with influences from Spain, and run by a black female owner: Yvette Leeper-Bueno. Sort of confusing at first, until I was warmly greeted by the hostess, (who took my temperature) a very nice and well mannered older lady of color, who exuded intelligence, grace and class. She secured me a server and respectfully watched me from the bar in the corner.
It was a warm spring day in Harlem, so I did think to sit outside in one of the dining pods (very nice ones I must say) but decided to dine inside among the fascinating decor which evokes a semi-romantic mood.
I was impressed by their wine list (actually a book) and settled on the Maison Deux-Fleurs Chardonnay (2018) as I gave the menu the once over (after all the place is called Vinateria) and is one of the very few places in Harlem that serve a good Chardonnay with an exceptional vintage.
I decided to start with the Calamari Fritti ³which was just a little more than your garden variety type, in fact it was not only good but made me a little afraid that I would not have any room for the main course.
For the main course I had the Pan Seared Sea Scallops, which is served with Butternut Squash Puree, and Crispy Pork Belly Brussel Sprouts.
The sea scallops was delightfully oily and crispy which was truly Italian in presentation and taste. The complex textures of the Pork Belly Brussel Sprouts on my pallet explained the Italian and Spain connection. I was so full that I could not finish it, so I had the server wrap it up for me to go. You best believe that it tasted just as good (if not better) the next day as I devoured it post breakfast.
I also ordered the Polenta Fries, which is made with Parmigiano and Chipotle Aloli.
I still can’t decide if the Polenta Fries is better for breakfast or desert, but I do know that it’s delicious.
Vinateria Harlem: is located at 2211 Fredrick Douglass Blvd on 119th Street
I plan to eat here more often now from early Spring to late Summer.