Hello again, Brooklyn. It’s funny, because for years I lived next door to what is now MIUSA (Made in USA) Wine Bar in Williamsburg. What was just an old, worn-down abandoned garage did little more than exist for the entire time. My father always said it would be a good business venture to stick a restaurant in there; somewhere people could get some drinks and eat some food late at night. Lo and behold…
MIUSA Wine Bar, which appeared almost immediately after I left Brooklyn for Paris, falls under the category of New American, albeit also quite Italian in both it’s cuisine style and it’s ownership. The decor is typical of what you’re finding around New York these days, white tile, reclaimed wood. Dimly lit candles and a sprawling bar. The only difference is that here… they’re doing it very, very right. One of the main parts of my Italian culture is meal time; always family style, at a big table filled with food and drink, and often surrounded by a lot of very loud, very opinionated people. Here, the feeling is mimicked by a long, beer-hall style table down the center of the restaurant. The bar also extends so that diners can sit on either side as well. There are also smaller, more intimate tables, but I think that takes the fun out of it. Speaking of fun, you’ll often come into contact with none other than Mr. Solomon, who is the server and bartender there. He’s hilarious, and quick to joke around with you, make wonderful recommendations, and just generally entertain. The first time I was there I just started laughing, and so he did too… not at anything in particular, just enjoying the light mood I suppose.
While we’re at the bar, options include an extensive and exclusively American wine list ($43 per bottle, or $9 by the glass), house-smoked agave, and a well curated beer selection. While the wine is a little expensive for the budget-diner, if you head out with a group of four or more, it certainly softens the blow.
The ambiance and the service is simply delightful, but alas, we go for the food. While you decide on what to eat, dive head first into a burrata ($17, pictured above), surrounded by thinly sliced clouds of prosciutto that has the most flavor I’ve seen in a parma ham in a long time. All of the food on the menu looks insanely inciting, you’re going to want to eat it all. Don’t miss the filet mignon tartare, or the octopus carpaccio. Other must-haves include the asparagus, tuna tagliata (with bleu cheese, fried artichoke, asparagus and pickled radish), and (ahh!) fried duck hearts. If there’s one thing that you absolutely, positively cannot miss; it’s the smoked ricotta gnudi, by far my favorite thing on the menu after two visits within one week.
To put it plainly, in a city where there’s a restaurant on every corner; MIUSA Wine Bar successfully yields Italian hospitality and style alongside elevated New American cuisine for an experience that’s hearty and satisfying for both the palette and the soul. It’s worth the trip whether you’re trekking from the Upper West Side, or simply next door.
Where: 98 South 4th Street, between Bedford & Berry (Marcy JMZ or Bedford L) | How Much: Absolute feast with a bottle of wine, about $50 per person. Cards okay. Open until 2am.