A little more then a year ago, while walking to Prune for brunch, Wife and I passed a small enoteca pulling paper from its windows on 4th street between Swift’s and Bowery Bar. We said hello to the nice lady doing it, asked her about her plan, and made a mental note to make sure to get back there.
Last week, I got a publicity announcement about a happy hour deal on 3 glasses of wine at the wine bar and thought, “I can’t believe I haven’t made it there yet.” When I polled my friends, Downstairs and Mouthfeel both praised the wine list and food.
Then Lady, having just read Augieland for the first time, suggested I try her and Gentleman’s favorite little wine bar and write it up. Since she and I already had a standing date for Wednesday night, I decided too many things were pushing me to Aroma to ignore.
I met Lady around 9pm and was immediately introduced to Alexandra Degiorgio and Vito Polosa, Aroma’s proprietors. A diminutive and very cute pair, they exude Italy. As it was late and we only were meeting for wine, I can’t report on the food yet. Wine, however, is the domain of Vito and he loves it. If you want to geek out on Italian wine go to Aroma and ask for him, he is ready to rock.
The wine list is the young list of a young restaurant, organized by ascending price, and is comprised of little-known wines so you can go one of three ways: either be a geek, bring a geek, or put yourself in Vito’s hands. Each wine has descriptors of its palate and its constituent grapes so you need not be Karen MacNeil but will probably enjoy this place more if you either know more than “I like Merlot,” or want to learn more than that.
The front page has a shortlist of Vito’s recommendations and early on I realized that trusting Vito might be the way to go, as wrapped up as I was with Lady. To begin, Vito went with a Montepulciano D’Abruzzo by Solàrea (Vito was happy to remind me the winery has a tre biccieri award for a different label). It was extracted as heck, a big fruity wine with firm tannins and a nose reminiscent of figs and vin cotto.
When choosing our second wine, I had a chance to discuss the layout of the list with Vito. He mentioned he intends to reorganize it into three sections; something like Modern, Traditional, and Unique. Which led me to ask about things like Sagrantino, a pretty traditional Umbrian wine very attractive to the modern palate. This caused him to mention he had a Sag on the list by the former wine maker of Arnaldo Capri, one of the two well-respected Montefalco houses, and there was the bottle two decision. The ’01 Taccalite Sagrantino Di Montefalco by Tiburzi finished up the night for us. A huge, extracted wine, it had great tannins drawing a line right down the middle of it
Both of these were cocktail wines, but still unique to their part of the world. It was fun; I look forward to grabbing the list, ordering some food, and seeing how it all plays out.
I would like to report on the ambiance and so on but don’t think it would be fair. A party they were throwing to celebrate Aroma’s first birthday started about an hour after we arrived and, based on my one experience, I would call this place convivial at worst but would probably use words like jubilant and festive. The party involved things like cups of wine poured from a five-liter bottle and complimentary food in the basement.
At some point soon after the shooting at Bar Veloce, someone decided the little enotecca was a good business and, as often happens, the couple of awesome ones were lost in a sea of imitators, making it impossible for good, new ones to stick out. Hence my apathy about walking past Otto to seek out gems. I am very glad to have finally made it to Aroma and intend to go back soon.