For this trip to New York, we were lucky enough to stay with our friends Scott and Danielle (of Scott and Danielle’s wedding fame) in Brooklyn. The lead up to the trip was a little nerve wracking as we were coming in on the heels of Hurricane Sandy, but LaGuardia had been drained and Williamsburg was in ship shape form, so we made it with little trouble. Upon getting in, we headed out to dinner (because what else do you do at 10 at nighat in New York?). Scott had suggested we check out a little place called D.O.C. Wine Bar.
D.O.C. is a designation in Italy that means Denominazione di origine controllata or Controlled designation of origin. It is a quality assurance label for Italian food products, especially wines and various cheeses (Denominazione di Origine Protetta). It is modelled after theFrench AOC. It was instituted in 1963 and overhauled in 1992 for compliance with the equivalent EU law on Protected Designation of Origin, which came into effect that year. (thank you Wikipedia)
The wine bar itself is a quaint space that is a little bigger than what meets the eye when you walk in. At the front is a bar and few small tables, but in the back there is a large dining area the lights are kept nice and low, and the candles on the table serve a purpose, which we discovered when one went out. It wasn’t as much a romantic feeling as just a relaxed place to talk and have a meal.
Once we got seated in the back room, at a table that was just a little short for Scott and I, the first order of business was to partake in the D.O.C. wines. This meant a bottle of the Montepulciano. Once everyone had a glass, including Ashley’s friend Anna who biked in to join us, we said our salute and enjoyed the first sip of slightly dry but very delicious wine with a hint of berry (trying to channel my internal Napa oenophile), we turned our attention to the food. The menu featured a variety of appetizers, pastas and entrees…many things I had never seen before. So we just started picking things that looked interesting.
Pistachio pesto and sun-dried tomato crostonis were the first thing to arrive at the table accompanied by a plate of flat, plate-sized rosemary crackers. The crostonis are basically a large crostini that was cut into four pieces, perfect for sharing. Very subtle hints of pistachio replaced the nuttiness from the pine nuts in the fresh pesto. The bread was toasted just enough to add texture, and was chewy enough to hold up to the pesto without being dense. And the sun-dried tomato was simple, not overpowering, slightly sweet. The only real drawback was that they were more spreads than anything else so lacked a little bit.
A simple and bright arugula salad was next. It was topped with fennel and shaved pecorino. The arugula added a little peppery bite that was nice with the salty cheese. But the salad felt like it was missing a litle balance. maybe a little sweetness from a balsamic, or acidity from some fruit or a tomato. It was a little one note and at the end of the meal staff to the side unfinished.
The final dish to arrive was called a trombie…a fresh made pasta that was twisted and bite size. It was done witha red wine sauce and served with goat cheese. Instead of pouring a sauce over the pasta, it was asifitwas allowed to soak in it and absorb the red wine. Each bite offered a consistent flavor of fresh pasta and hints of red wine that was balanced out by the cool, creamy, slightly tart goat cheese. It was a good dish, but it felt like there was a little something missing that could have made it great.
The service was a bit slow, and the crostoni was probably the highlight of the night. Everything though felt like it wasn’t quite a finished dish. There were hints, but it felt like each thing just needed a little bit more. But overall, with great company and the wine flowing, we definitely had a good start to our New York trip.