1483 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10021
(212) 452-3354

Going to a wine bar for cocktails may seem counterintuitive, but I’ve never been to Vero for the wine. Still, if you’re looking for a wine menu with regional variety, Vero’s the way to go. From The West Coast to Europe, with day trips to Australia and Argentina, you won’t get bored. Almost every wine is available by the glass, so if you find some tasteless plonk, you won’t have to suffer through a bottle of it. Take a peek at the wine menu. I think next time, I will.

But not this time. This time we went for cocktails. Cocktails and paninis. Cocktails and paninis and a huge plate of meats and cheese.

We got out of work early… relatively speaking. Being told on the phone that the place was dead and that finding a table wouldn't be a problem, four of us hopped a cab, got there licketty split around 9pm and squeezed past the crowd to get the last table way in the back. Suffice it to say, if this is Vero in dead mode, I can only imagine what it's like when there's a crowd.

Starting our mostly liquid dinner off we ordered a round of drinks. I ordered the Coffee Martini which tasted like a coffee (black, no sugar) made with vodka instead of water... in other words, pretty kickass. A Mojito, Mango Bellini and Raspberry Bellini were also on the list. Next thing I know, another round of bellinis (girls apparently really love bellinis), a Tropical Sangria, and a custom drink for me (2 parts vodka, 2 parts Baileys, 1 part Chambord, shake, serve).

So by this point, we're starving and starting to get mildly drunk. Time for food. The Assorted Meat and Cheese Plate was the way to go. We quickly devoured the variety of prosciutto, sopressata, and salami meats and ricotta , truffles, parmesan, pecorino, fontina, asiago and provolone cheeses. Quickly. Naturally, we needed Bruscetta. We ordered the Tuscan White Bean Spead with lemon basil pesto and bacon (amazing), the Braised Chicken with Arugula, and the Three Cheese (ricotta, asiago, and pecorino). The foodie in me won't waste anyone's time by describing the dishes. Trust that they were good, order them, chew, swallow, yum.

More drinks? Yes Please. Strawberry Bellinis , a Vero Lemonade, a Strawberry Martini, and a Raspberry Martini.

Panini time. There were two orders of the Smoked Turkey Panini, which has fontina, pesto and tomato. There was one order the Mozzarella Panini, with zucchini, tomato, onion and pepper. Everyone loved (capital "L") their paninis. I didn't eat them. And actually, I didn't like mine. My choice was the Proscuitto Panini, with figs, gorgonzola and rosemary oil. It was exceedingly sharp, to the point of not being able to taste anything. It's simply not something I'm gonna recommend. I should have ordered the Chicken with Frisee, Sweet Onions and Bacon. That sounded good. But I wanted figs. Rats.

We were told good things about Vero's signature dessert, the Cookie Monster. So we ordered one. It's a huge, warm chocolate chip cookie topped with vanilla ice cream and buried under a mountain of whipped cream, chocolate syrup and strawberries. Ohhhh man. This lasted about 45 seconds so we got another one. Good healthniks be damned, this time without those strawberries giving off unnecessary vitamins.

Monday is free panini night (with the purchase of glass of vino), and they'll be doing wine tasting classes this fall. Plus I hear that they'll be opening another location further south very soon.

A large appetizer, three bruscettas, four Paninis, two desserts, and thirteen drinks plus tax and tip came to $280.

UPDATE: 2/12/09VERO MIDTOWN, 1004 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10022, (212) 935-3530
I returned to Vero about a month ago to try out their newer one in Midtown at 53rd street. This newer Midtown expansion is a lot less playful and felt a lot less casual. I'm sure that this had to do with the crowd coming right after work, but still. Go uptown for a fun date. Go here for a more seductive one. There are seats in the back where you and lots of people can go and hang out. But since I went with just one other person, we sat at one of the windowside tall round tables.

She and I sat and ordered a few drinks before picking out some entrees. This should not be done, as you will smack yourself for having ordered $30 worth of cocktails before realizing that your date isn't going anywhere (side note, I usually NEVER blog about my dates unless the girl actually wants me to, but I haven't had a chance to return and have been putting off doing this update for just too damn long. Besides, I didn't tell you anything about the date anyway.).

I ordered the Pan Roasted Quail with fingerling potatoes and cippollini onion hash under a mushroom jus. Delicious. Tender. Crisp. A little on the small side. But order it anyway. No one outside of a mental institution will fail to enjoy eating this. She ordered the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare, served with capers, red onion, olives, lemon and an anchovy oil. She though it was very but felt that she should have ordered something more substantial. Especially given that we had already hada few drinks by the time the food came. So we ordered the Assorted Meats and Cheese Combo Plate to back it up. It was okay, but I remember it being better at the one uptown.

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