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New York: ‘inoteca

Our third stop of the night, was my very favorite!  ‘inoteca (not to be confused with Mario Batali’s Otto Enoteca) is a warm, lively, inviting spot also on the Lower East Side and located on Rivington. 
When we walked in, the place was packed with people waiting all over the place for seating.  We decided to take our chances as they were happy to serve us a beverage while we were waiting for a place to open.  And it turned out that a projected 45 minute wait was only about 10 minutes! 
We got a place at the bar and were able to talk with the very knowledgeable and friendly bartender.  ‘inotoeca’s wine list is exclusively Italian wines and the bartender was great at helping us negotiate our way through both the familiar and unfamiliar options.  Something I really liked was that you could order wines by the taste, glass or carafe and then there was also a very extensive list of wines by the bottle (like 500 options!).  And we found the bartender more than willing to just pour us a little sip to try something before ordering it. 
For my money, ‘inoteca has the perfect type of menu: small plates, meats and cheeses form the bulk of it, although there is also a nice selection of salads and sandwiches to choose from.  I love eating this way as it’s easy to try several things and experience a wide range of tastes without getting stuffed. 
For our wines I went with a Montepulciano and M tried a Nebbiolo.  We also decided to try Suppli, risotto balls filled with mushroom and cheese and alla toscana & rucola tramezzini, the small finger sandwiches of Italy.  Both plates were amazing!  As we were sitting there we were also watching other plates being taken out to the tables and often our gaze would follow one all the way out to it’s owner as we tried to figure out what it was.  More than once that evening a friendly diner offered us a bite of their meal, although we declined as we had pretty much reached our limit for the evening. 
At least I had.  M ordered an Affogato to end her meal.  Affogato is basically vanilla ice cream "drowned"  in espresso or kind of a coffee float.  It looked delicious and she said it was! 
I really loved this place for so many reasons:  the menu; the people – both the staff and the other customers; the overall feeling of warmth and welcome; and the lively atmosphere of it all.  This is the kind of place that I would go out of my way to get to.  And I’m sure on some upcoming trip I will do just that! 
‘inoteca vino e cucina
98 Rivington st (at Ludlow)
Lower East Side
F, J, M, Z, to Delancey St. at Essex St 

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