79-28 Metropolitan Avenue
Middle Village, NY 11379
(718) 894-0052

Middle Village is a neighborhood known for... not much. Unless you're me, in which case Middle Village is know for Uvarara, a completely hidden-gem Italian wine bar/small plates restaurant that's so far off the beaten path that you'd almost ask if they were looking to be avoided. Once upon a time, the location was a headstone and monument shop, so the building resembling an ancient Gothic chapel, complete with exposed stonework, wide arches, wrought iron crosses, heavy medieval style furniture and glowing white candles, to match the architecture and ambience of the buildings at St. John's Cemetery down the block.

Operagirl's in the city often enough, thanks to the Met, and it was on one such drive to town that she called to remind me that I owed her dinner. This got me thinking. I hadn't been to Uvarara in well over a year, despite continuously wanting to go. She had some free time and a car. Driving in. eh? I noted. "Yes..." Even over the phone, I could tell that she raised an eyebrow. Soon, she had pulled in front of my building and we sped off like thieves in the night towards the Village of Middle, in the County of Queens.

Like I said, Uvarara's a wine bar. So we poured over their rather large menu and ended up pounding back two bottles of their 2005 Enfer D'Arvier. This bottle was $30, the least expensive on the menu. The average is probably in the low $40s, but you can find something for $100 if you're so inclined. One thing for sure. No bulk vineyards here, only real wine. This particular night, we were the only customers (the Valentine's Day decorations were still up, so pardon the paper hearts). "It's the rain," our waitress presumed. This is a damned crime. Uvarara should be continuously packed.

As Uvarara is also a small-plates restaurant, Operagirl and I ordered a handful of things to share. If you want an entree, they exist too, but they're specials and won't be on the menu they have on their website. We ordered one special.

First up, the Gnocchi Alla Romana (see above), a baked semolina gnocchi served in butter and Parmesan cheese. Did I say served in? I meant bathed in. It was like eating cheesy, buttery sponges and believe me, amazing is just about the only word to describe it. When I asked Operagirl what she thought she just kind of closed her eyes and said "you can coat me in this." I'll probably never eat here and not order their gnocchi. Then, the Ovidio, a collection of four meats: prosciutto, salami, prosciutto cotto, and mortadella. To me, a non-Italian who wasn't raised on the stuff, this tasted perfect. My ex, who was Italian (or at least her parents were), was indifferent to this when we ordered it some time ago.

The Tortini Di Polenta, a warm slab of polenta topped with mushroom and melted fontina cheese, was the weakest dish primarily because it was a too dry. It was still good, but I recommend a glass of water to go with it. Far better than good was our sandwich, the Colosseo, was an admittedly somewhat generic sandwich, but the quality was just so good. Foccaccia panini with grilled chicken, tomato, mozzarella and pesto. The moist warm chicken with the cold tomato to contrast it was delicious. We also split one entree, the Ravioli Al Cioccolato, chocolate ravioli. Not ravioli with a chocolate stuffing or ravioli with a chocolate sauce, like it was supposed to be a dessert dish, but ravioli made with chocolate in the dough, stuffed with ricotta and topped with mushrooms and cream. It was fantastic. By this point though, we were just too full to finish it. We asked for it to be wrapped up and used the last remaining empty bit of our stomachs for dessert.

And so the night ended by polishing off what was left of the wine and ordering a Tiramisu, served in a coffee cup and dusted with cocoa powder. "I love that you can taste the rum", Operagirl said, and we both decided that it was just about the best way to end our meal.

Two bottles of wine, three small plates, one panini, one entree and one dessert plus tax and tip, totalled about around $150.

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