Note: La Vineria has moved to 737 Ninth Avenue at 50th Street, the former home of La Locanda dei Vini, another Italian restaurant by the same owners. The new chef is Massimiliano “Max” Bartoli, formerly of the Miss Williamsburg Diner.
La Vineria is an unassuming trattoria that one could easily overlook, on a stretch of West 55th Street dominated by much larger places—indeed, despite knowing the address, I walked right by it the first time. Once inside, you quickly forget you’re in Midtown. The space is cozy, with the décor dominated by an exposed kitchen and a high shelf lined with old wine bottles that encircles the room.
The menu features pizzas ($14–17), antipasti ($9.50–14), pastas ($15–25) and main courses ($15–34). Many of the pastas have a heavy meat or fish component, accounting for some of the higher-priced dishes. These included the Pappardelle with duck ragout and seasoned mushrooms ($18), which I thought would have benefited from a heftier helping of duck than was offered. My friend was delighted with the mixed seafood stew ($24.50).
The wine program at La Vineria is something to celebrate. On a list with a couple of hundred selections, there are 23 reds under $45, including ten choices $30 or under. We were delighted with a 2003 Valpolicella at $30, which had a bouquet so fragrant that I couldn’t help holding the glass up to my nose every time I took a sip.
Our party of 25 guests took up about two-thirds of the restaurant. Naturally, in such a small space the kitchen and service staff struggle at times to keep up, as they are not normally geared up to serve so many meals at once. Under the circumstance, they did an admirable job.
For a moderately-priced dining option, in a neighborhood where most good restaurants cost a lot more, La Vineria is worth a look.
La Vineria (19 West 55th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, West Midtown)