Last year chef Corey Cova came out of nowhere and, along with owners Michael Cesari and Adam Clark, opened Earl's Beer and Cheese, somehow sneaking some good, interesting beer, a menu of creative, first-rate food, AND not a little bit of cool into a neighborhood that could definitely use more of all three, right there along the border between Lower East Harlem and the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The crammed Earl's Beer and Cheese is still always, um, crammed, so this year Cova and Cesari have given the community even more to enjoy, with the convivial, comparatively palatial ABV "Wine Food Bar".
Upper East Side Wine Bar Selling Alcohol by Volume – Both Fine Wines & Beers
ABV stands for Alcohol By Volume, an industry term that's also nicely descriptive of the wine menu's structure here: you can get it on tap, by the glass (starting at $9), the flight, the bottle and half-bottle, and “by consumption,” which basically means they'll charge you for whatever amount you put back. The ABV wine menu's also helpfully divided into clear, non-snobby categories such as "Spicy, Earthy, Exotic Reds" and "Clean, Crisp, Refreshing Whites" setting it apart from other UES restaurants. There are a good number of unusual selections on the all-European ABV beer menu as well. So although we didn't drink when we sat down for the first time at ABV the other night, everyone else sure seemed to be enjoying themselves in imbibing.
Cuisine at ABV Will Make it a Local Favorite for Top Restaurants in NYC
What we DID do at ABV Wine Bar is eat. A lot. And all of it was very good. As he showed at Earl's Beer and Cheese, Chef Cova is terrific at taking classic comfort food and adding a twist or three to make it his own. For example, the insanely rich Tartare Pizza, for which Cova somehow finds a balance among raw chopped beef, anchovies, olives, pepperoni, Ouray cheese, all piled on a crunchy, charred pita. Bar food taken the nth degree. And the Summer Gnocchi was maybe even better. Again, Cova doesn't shy away from big flavors, tossing his fluffy, non-gummy gnocchi here with peas, oyster mushrooms, sheep’s milk ricotta, and brown butter, but it all works. Also terrific: the Pan Roasted Chicken, a salty, satisfying dish featuring a braised leg, a disc of crackling skin, slices of juicy breast, accompanied by pickled okra and cilantro avocado purée. All the food here on the ABV menu is priced to please–the above items were $12, $11, and $20, respectively, and left the two us not enough room to finish our huge $5 platter of Fried Pickles, which, anyway, were fine but skippable, given the far more interesting items Cova's cooking up back there in the kitchen. The revolution for Upper East Side restaurants continues!
Try Out ABV – A Great Addition to Our Upper East Side Wine Bar Selection
ABV is located on the corner of 97th Street and Lexington Avenue, and is open Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. until 12:00 midnight; and on Friday and Saturday until 1:00 a.m. ABV also serves an excellent-sounding brunch from 11:00 until 3:00 on the weeks. For more information, including a look at the complete ABV menus, check out the restaurant's website.