Bar Veloce, There's Just No Place Like It In NY

Thomas Crowley, Romeo, Vincent
If you walk east on 9th street from 3rd Ave., but steer left onto that unremembered street that leads you to St. Mark's Church in the Bowery, you arrive in a neighborhood which for years has anchored the ever-evolving restaurant/bar scene of the East Village.  If you then turn left onto 2nd Ave, meander around the rusty spiked metal gates of the church, emblazoned with framed historical photos and literature, right there on the west side of the street between 11th and 12th, you will find that the once seemingly private Bar Veloce has converted into this open-arm, everyone welcome, all Italian New York wine bar.  Now twice as large, with its doors unfurled and its interior revealed to the masses, patrons who once sauntered by are stepping in and wondering, "Where did this jewel come from?"
The Vespa
Every great business or work of art starts with a dream.  When speaking with Wine Director and Manager Thomas Crowley about owner Frederick E. Twomey's inspiration . . . it started of course with a motorcycle . . . touring through Italy in his early twenties.  As I looked at Thomas Crowley and his unparalleled style, nominated for the best dressed real man in America by Esquire in 2007, his story brought me back to my own travels through Italy -- that yes it's true -- even the train stations, gas stations and pit stops have amazing panini and tramezzini. . . and how you will find travelers all huddled together around the countertops for the same purpose, an espresso, a spritz, a small bite -- and everyone's origin of class or race temporarily takes the bench.  One cannot travel through that magical country without wanting to bring back more than just wine, cheese and meat in your luggage without customs finding it.  You want to cut Italy with a knife, take a piece of it selfishly, you don't care, and stick inside your chest and bear it in your heart forever.  This is what Frederick E. Twomey has done for NYC.
Wine Director Thomas Crowley
When I took Massimiliano Giovannoni, my sommelier boyfriend and Tuscan native, with me to have a drink at Bar Veloce for his first time, he almost gasped when he saw the menu . .  and the million potential reflections of himself in the angled mirrors in almost every corner of the bar -- great for peeking at other NYers without staring.  "There is no place like Bar Veloce in NY," he said.  'Pannini, tramezzini e bicchieri di vino, it's like to be in Italy."  I've never met an Italian in NY who didn't love to find a piece of home shining somewhere in the deep pockets of this international city.  This taste of Italy is accomplished with such simple strokes of an artist's brush, and yet they are signatures that are not easy to replicate. . . simplicity, minimalism, sweeping expanses with cold stone floor, modern vintage relics, like the parked vespa, the sunglass lamps, the leg of prosciutto and hunk of parmigiano on display, and let's not overlook the men dressed in suits.  When I asked Thomas if the napkins were creased to mimic the panini, his first response, was "yes, the panini and my socks."
Women and more women at Bar Veloce, you can find them here. . . and Tramezzini
But even outside of the opinion that Bar Veloce is perhaps the most chic wine bar in NYC, the wine list is truly the mark of modern and fast, as suggested by the name Veloce (fast in Italian).  What do I mean?
Doug, one of the men in suits, and the Hilberg Pasquero Vareij from Piedmont, one of my favorite Italian producers
This wine bar, beautiful and sophisticated in ambiance, has a food and wine menu that could be perhaps the most competitively priced per quality in NYC.  Though it may be true that the majority of patrons have never even come across some of the Italian varietals poured at Bar Veloce, that does not lend to lesser quality. . . .that's just the nature of Italian wine. . . and how much I love it for that reason.  One can still travel to Italy and discover wines they've never heard about, try them for the first time, and fall in love.  Take ansonica for example, an effectively unknown varietal that grows predominantly on the island of Elba off the coast of Tuscany. . . this rare wine is offered on their list for $10 a glass or $40 a bottle.  I call Bar Veloce modern because it so keenly transports the thrills of traveling to Italy and reproduces those pleasures in an environment suitable to the contemporary New Yorker.  One doesn't have to travel all the way to the island Napoleon was exiled to in order to stumble across new Italian varietals and feel the giddiness of discovering something that you are not going to find in many other wine bars or restaurants in NYC.  Thomas will make sure of that before he even buys the wine.

Wine Director Thomas Crowley pouring tastes of the wines by the glass, just in case their menu descriptions are not comprehensive enough for you

In my opinion Bar Veloce has quite a swanky menu.  You can walk in with friends
have a few small bites ranging in price from $3 - $16, you can buy a bottle of wine
with the average scope from $40 - $50, choosing from ten whites, ten reds, one rose,
few sparkling wines including one champagne, beer, and a handful of liquor such
as amaro, bourbon, cognac, grappa and sake to name a few. Thomas also focuses on 
single varietal wines like riesling, gavi, minutolo, timorasso, frappato, aglianico, barbera, schioppettino. . . . excluding the all time big hitter Super Tuscan which is usually a
blend of international grapes like cabernet, merlot, or syrah touched with sangiovese.
"I rarely feature non-indigenous grapes," Thomas assured.  This however does not 
exclude the majority of great Italian wines that pride themselves for their regional expression
such as Barolo, Brunello, Taurasi, Amarone, Sagrantino, and Nero d'Avola. . . . 

At Bar Veloce there is something for everyone and almost any occasion -- and now 
the one in the east village is even open for breakfast and lunch.  Bar Veloce has two 
locations in NYC: 175 2nd Ave in the east village and 176 7th Ave in Chelsea.  There is 
also the affiliated Bar Carrera located at 146 West Houston St., and Custom American Wine Bar
located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at 644 Driggs Avenue.  For those of you who travel or live in 
Las Vegas there is Veloce Restaurant at the M Resort and further:
I was very excited to hear about Veloce opening in Fangcaodi, Chaoyang district of Beijing,
China.  I do love to travel to China.  It will be located in the Parkview Green "shopping mall"
if you can call it that.  If you have yet to visit Bar Veloce, I highly recommend it.  They 
are in my top 5 list of all time favorite wine bars!

Jordana Nicole2 Comments